Return From Tomorrow

3507753940_044c2e735f I had to read further about George Ritchie’s NDE, so I ordered his book first published in 1978, “Return From Tomorrow”. Despite being couched in a Christian viewpoint, this is an excellent story. Ritchie does not dwell on his own religious trappings but on the meaning of the experience, and how it effected his choices afterword. Reading it was extra meaningful, as it was written long before Betty Eadie’s break out book, and describes Ritchie’s struggle to tell his story in a society that had no idea what an NDE was, or that they were so common. I marked notable areas I wanted to share-

As the video shows, he was in infantry training for WWII at age 20. He acquired influenza and pneumonia and had the OBE/NDE. He came out of his body and wandered around passing right through people after going unconscious with a 106 temperature. Before he was stricken with pneumonia, he was informed that he was accepted to medical school, with a glorious free pass out of WWII infantry training. The train left the next morning, but he was ill. They would not let him leave sick, so he tried to hide it. He would not be admitted to med school if her were late to the beginning of class, so he determined to do whatever it took to get on that train.  He lost consciousness during the chest x-ray, too weak to stand up. During the NDE, he was so terrified of missing his train, his mind demanded he get there, and with that he was flying over cities at a fast rate of speed. He saw a crossroads in a city from above and wanted to ask someone directions. They could not see him. He noticed a sign “cafe” and a Pabst blue ribbon beer neon sign. He realized now he was not solid and decided it would make no difference if he got to the train if he had no physicality, so he went back to find his body. He searched and searched for a long time, not really knowing where in the barracks his body was. Then he remembered to search in left hands for his black onyx ring. He found his body finally. This is when he encountered the light. The light did not really tell him he was Jesus. It was “an inner knowing”. Though the light did make reference to Christian symbolism it was not dwelled upon. Ritchie had a full life review where he was the only one judging his actions. He was asked what he had done with his life. All of the “achievements” he pointed out were just for his own pride and glory and held little to no significance. Ritchie thought how unfair it was to ask this question at only the age of 20. The light replied “death can come at any age”. Ritchie started worrying about his life insurance policy, and the light became mirthful and did somewhat of the equivalent of a belly laugh. Not mocking him, but just a “joyful” laugh.

Then the light took him on a tour of various places one can go after death. Ritchie got the impression that the relenquishment of egoic desires and attachments allowed someone to expand closer to the fullness of this light after death. He was shown an area closest to the physical plane where former alcoholics and addicts were still wandering around in taverns and workplaces trying to iron out unfinished business. He was shown bewildered suicides who begged frantically for forgiveness to people who could not see or hear them.

Then he was moved outward to a dark plane full of angry people who were shouting and trying to physically attack each other to no avail. They were trying to beat, maim, rape, or verbally abuse everyone around them. This realm has been described by dozens of people in NDE’s and OBE’s. Ritchie saw that even though the light was there among them all, none of them were capable of seeing it. He saw that there were beings of light trying to stimulate them and goad them to move on but they could not see them. Ian McCormack describes the exact same place, being shouted at violently by people around him who were angrily telling him to shut up in the dark. Monroe describes it, George Rodanaia sort of describes it. Apparently the moment you open yourself up to the slightest thought of positive emotion at all you can find your way out of this place. But some people find that virtually impossible.

Then Ritchie was moved to some sort of campus with beautiful architecture a bit further from the earth plane. The campus was earthlike and the inhabitants were sort of like robed monks, seeking knowledge, enraptured in some sort of grand experimental purpose he could not tell. They were scientists of a type. Ritchie chimes in with an editorial statement that – some people are so infatuated with the quest for truth that they can’t see it right in front of their eyes”. This is sort of where I find my impression of evolving through experience validated. Ritchie asked the light what these people were doing. “-no explanation lighted my mind, what was communicated, as before, was love: compassion for my ignorance, understanding that encompassed all my non-understanding.” This shouts to me that these people had their own ontological existence and were not part of some big astral theatrical performance. “….I sensed that even this was not the ultimate, that He had far greater things to show me if only I could see.” Ritchie begins piecing together his observations from the other places he was shown – that in this realm, one is simply incapable of perceiving that which was above their own comprehension, despite the fact that it was, figuratively speaking, right there in front of their faces. In other words, if you can’t comprehend it- you can’t see it- you are simply incapable of “going” there. “When these people were on Earth, did they grow beyond selfish desires?” The reply was “They grew, and they have kept on growing.” These sorts of things make me think that if these are real experiences, these places are tangible “consensus environments” as Monroe called them,  that certain people go to learn and to graduate from as they learn more. I think if this experience was all “made-up” by the light to please the experiencer’s imagination, he would have been given some cock and bull answer, instead of this sophisticated realization that one sees only what they can comprehend. Consider a dog living among humans. It feels loved, feels family, feels connected. But only to the extent of its own comprehension does it really recognize what a human family actually is, and it can’t comprehend it even despite being in it. There is a great NDE on the internet of a guy who encounters some beings of light. They tell him that if he can contribute some of his own concepts or even comprehend theirs he would be allowed in to that particular area. Then the being of light projected a bunch of concepts at him that he totally coudn’t understand, and the man says “oh, well then I really think that I should go back then…”. The light does the equivalent of a mirthful laugh and says,  “Yes, I really think you should!!”

Then they moved higher to the fabled city of light described by many NDErs. Ritchie got a mere glimpse from a distance, and had the impression that this is where one can go if they strive to be Christlike in their lives. He figured he wasn’t really ready for it because he wasn’t allowed to see much of it before he was told that he had to return to his body. They went back to the hospital room and he returned.

Later, not too long after the experience, Ritchie describes taking a road trip with some friends through Vicksburg Mississippi as they were passing through the state. They turned off and Ritchie started noticing the roads. He knew what the shoreline would be like around each curve before they went around it. It was a familiar place.  And then he saw the crossroads he had seen out of body. He implored his friend to keep driving forward and not go their intended direction. His friends reluctantly agreed and continued on. There to the side of the road where he remembered it was the cafe with the sign, and even the Pabst Blue Ribbon neon sign. He saw the same guy wire he had leaned on. Of course, this sort of veridical thing is only proof to the experiencer, but it is worth mentioning. Why OBEr’s cannot prove they are OOB remains the biggest reason I cannot fully accept these experiences.

Ritchie’s life was very interesting. He served in France in WWII as a med tech, helped in liberating death camps and helping to track down Jewish families. During the war, he was literally angry and upset that he was not allowed to be killed so he could go leave his body. He prayed each night to be killed so he could go back to the light. He gradually motivated himself to try to see the light in every face he met. He met a man in a death camp he called “Wild Bill”. He was a Polish man who had tons of energy and vitality who was somewhat of a leader of the Jewish inmates. He settled disputes among them, because some of the factions of prisoners hated each other as much as they did the Germans. Later, Ritchie discovered that Wild Bill had been starved, abused and mistreated as long as the others had been. He had been put against a firing squad with his wife and three children. They were shot point blank right before his eyes. He was spared only because he spoke German and could be useful. He decided then and there to not hate the Germans back. Having seen what hatred can do he decided to make it a point to love everyone he met from that day onward, sort of as a revolt against what he had seen.

Ritchie had a long career as a psychiatrist.  He died in 2007.

“Perhaps, I concluded at last,  He cannot tell me more than I can see; perhaps there is nothing in me yet that can understand an explanation.” -G.R.

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