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Let It In with Guy Lawrence

Aug 9, 2021

#181 My amazing guest today is Dr Bruce Greyson. Bruce is a retired psychiatrist who has spent years researching near death experiences and gathering personal accounts from 1000 people, all culminating in his most recent book, After. During our conversation, Bruce and I discuss near death experiences (NDE) in depth and talk about what it entails, whether it relates to religion or not, how common it actually is, and how people can, or cannot, adjust to “normal life” afterwards.

If you’ve ever been interested in knowing more about what happens after we die, or if you have ever experienced an NDE yourself, this is the episode for you.

“Now I'm quite comfortable with the idea that we're not going to have all the answers, that the unknown is not necessarily our enemy. They're just things that we can't formulate the right questions for.”

About Bruce:  Dr. Bruce Greyson is the Chester Carlson Professor Emeritus of Psychiatry and Neurobehavioral Sciences at the University of Virginia.  He was previously on the medical faculty at the University of Michigan and the University of Connecticut, where he was Clinical Chief of Psychiatry. Dr. Greyson has consulted with the National Institutes of Health and addressed symposia on consciousness at the United Nations and at the Dalai Lama’s compound in Dharamsala, India.

Dr. Greyson’s interest in near-death experiences began just a few months after graduating from medical school, when he treated an unconscious patient in the emergency room who stunned him the next morning with an account of leaving her body. That event challenged his beliefs about the mind and the brain, and ultimately led him on a journey to study near-death experiences scientifically, leading to more than a hundred publications in medical journals.

He co-founded the International Association for Near-Death Studies (IANDS), an organization to support and promote research into these experiences, and for 27 years edited the Journal of Near-Death Studies, the only scholarly journal dedicated to near-death research. Through his research, he has discovered common and universal themes in near-death experiences that go beyond neurophysiological or cultural interpretations, as well as patterns of consistent aftereffects on individuals’ attitudes, beliefs, values, and personalities.

Bruce's Website:

Bruce’s Book:

Key points with time stamp:

  • Near-Death Experiences & The Research Behind Them (00:00)
  • A retired psychiatrist with a Near Death Experience (00:13)
  • Public reception of an NDE (01:29)
  • What makes an NDE worth studying? (03:00)
  • Is an NDE a rare occurrence? (07:46)
  • What holds us back from studying or discussing an NDE? (08:24)
  • Was Bruce embarrassed of talking about his experience, as a doctor? (09:26)
  • What qualifies as an NDE? (10:37)
  • After an NDE (11:43)
  • How can you safely experience a spiritual state like that of an NDE? (16:00)
  • For the sceptic: Can spiritual experiences be measured? (18:04)
  • Difference between Western an Eastern approaches to the world (19:54)
  • The most unusual near-death experiences (22:27)
  • The interplay between consciousness and religion (27:38)
  • The experiences of Dr Eben Alexander (30:56)
  • Staying open to conversations about NDE (33:01)
  • How does being open to the unknown affect one’s life? (34:39)
  • Unpleasant NDE: What we don’t hear about (35:51)
  • Bruce’s personal experience with the unknown (37:55)
  • After: Reception and hopes for the book (38:44)
  • Bouncing back from low points (40:08)
  • Science as a source of spirituality (42:08)
  • You are not abnormal, the situation is (43:39)

Mentioned in this episode:

  • Paul Aurand
  • Dharamsala, India
  • Dr Eben Alexander
  • Anita Moorjani
  • Albert Einstein
  • Joseph Campbell
  • Dalai Lama
  • Desmond Tutu
  • Carl Sagan
  • After: A Doctor Explores What Near Death Experiences Reveal About Life and Beyond, 2021. Bruce’s latest book.

About me:

My Instagram:
My website: