David Ditchfield was pulled under a speeding commuter train, but the spiritual encounters of his NDE left him with new artistic gifts.

photo by: Skeptiko

[Movie clip 00:00:00 – 00:00:43]

That’s Shia LeBeouf from the movie Fury, talking about the mixed feelings that come with being “chosen.” I thought it was a good fit for my interview with David Ditchfield who had a rather remarkable near-death experience. I pushed David pretty hard on his Christian interpretation of the experience, but I think we settled on some interesting, deeper truths about being chosen. 

Alex Tsakiris: [00:01:12] I’ve interviewed people, David, who’ve had multiple near-death experiences, and they’ve said that they’ve gone deeper and subsequent ones, and the reality that they were at, gave way to a deeper reality and then a deeper reality beyond that. And they even speculate that there’s almost no end to how deep or how high because it’s all moving towards the light, moving towards God, moving towards love. How does that strike you? 

David Ditchfield: [00:01:38] Yes, I do, because as I said to you, I felt like I was being prepared for something to go on to another stage and  I’ve realized now since my NDE that a lot of my teachings are still coming through now, it’s almost like they sent me back and it’s kind of, okay, so I’m back here now, but I didn’t suddenly feel like, oh, man, I don’t want to be back here. You know? Straight away I was thinking, right what’s my purpose? Why have they sent it back? 

Alex Tsakiris: [00:02:04] Welcome to Skeptiko where we explore controversial science and spirituality with leading researchers, thinkers, and their critics. I’m your host Alex Tsakiris, and today we welcome David Ditchfield to Skeptiko. He’s here to talk about a new book of his called Shine On, an amazing, remarkable near-death experience story that changed David’s life in, well, a number of ways that we’re going to talk about.

You know, we, we don’t usually do stories on near-death experience accounts, but David has a lot more to talk about, in terms of the near-death experience in general. And also, I think there’s some interesting kind of subtle cultural differences between the UK and the U S and how we all think about near-death experience.

So David, I think we’ll have a good discussion. Thanks for joining me today. 

David Ditchfield: [00:03:10] Oh, thanks for having me along. Good to meet you, Alex.


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[Movie clip 00:00:00 – 00:00:43]

That’s Shia LeBeouf from the movie Fury, talking about the mixed feelings that come with being chosen. I thought it was a good fit for my interview with David Ditchfield who had a rather remarkable near-death experience. I pushed David pretty hard on his Christian interpretation of the experience, but I think we settled on some interesting, deeper truths about being chosen. 

Alex Tsakiris: [00:01:12] I’ve interviewed people, David, who’ve had multiple near-death experiences, and they’ve said that they’ve gone deeper and subsequent ones, and the reality that they were at, gave way to a deeper reality and then a deeper reality beyond that. And they even speculate that there’s almost no end to how deep or how high because it’s all moving towards the light, moving towards God, moving towards love. How does that strike you? 

David Ditchfield: [00:01:38] Yes, I do, because as I said to you, I felt like I was being prepared for something to go on to another stage and  I’ve realized now since my NDE that a lot of my teachings are still coming through now, it’s almost like they sent me back and it’s kind of, okay, so I’m back here now, but I didn’t suddenly feel like, oh, man, I don’t want to be back here. You know? Straight away I was thinking, right what’s my purpose? Why have they sent it back? 

Alex Tsakiris: [00:02:04] Welcome to Skeptiko where we explore controversial science and spirituality with leading researchers, thinkers, and their critics. I’m your host Alex Tsakiris, and today we welcome David Ditchfield to Skeptiko. He’s here to talk about a new book of his called Shine On, an amazing, remarkable near-death experience story that changed David’s life in, well, a number of ways that we’re going to talk about.

You know, we, we don’t usually do stories on near-death experience accounts, but David has a lot more to talk about, in terms of the near-death experience in general. And also, I think there’s some interesting kind of subtle cultural differences between the UK and the U S and how we all think about near-death experience.

So David, I think we’ll have a good discussion. Thanks for joining me today. 

David Ditchfield: [00:03:10] Oh, thanks for having me along. Good to meet you, Alex. 

Alex Tsakiris: [00:03:14] So, if I can jump right into the excellent trailer that you guys did for the book.

David Ditchfield: [00:03:19] Oh cool.

[Trailer 00:03:21 – 00:03:43]

Alex Tsakiris: [00:03:44] Okay, so for folks who saw that I think it’s going to be super compelling, for folks who are listening, which is the largest part of our audience, probably didn’t have as much, except there are these amazing images that you do in your painting that we’re going to talk more about. And then also that music that all comes about as a result of this remarkable experience.

So tell people what they’re hearing in that introduction. 

David Ditchfield: [00:04:17] Okay, yeah. Well, what I wanted to condense into that trailer there, was the book itself, which is a journey. It starts at a point in my life where I was down basically on my luck. I’d hit hard times. And then we take it from that point to the train accident that I had that should have taken my life but didn’t. And then, the near-death experience, and then coming out of that, coming through the other side of all that, and suddenly being compelled to want to paint huge canvases like I’d never done before in my life. And then going from that to wanting to write classical music, which I’d also never done. And all these things came about, because I felt this strong urge to really want to be able to tell everyone what I’d seen and what I’ve been through. You know, I just felt, and still feel, it’s a very important message to get across. 

So, yeah, that’s it in a nutshell, it’s a journey, if you like. So it’s taking you from that journey of darkness at the beginning, it has to be said, because that’s where I was at. And coming out the other side and coming into a beautiful more colorful and three-dimensional way of living.

Alex Tsakiris: [00:05:33] So there’s kind of a lot to that, as I’ve kind of alluded to. On this show we’ve kind of explored a lot of different aspects of near-death experience, kind of more from a scientific standpoint. And that’s not to lessen the significance of anyone’s story, but more as a way to kind of lead us into someone’s story. Because your account is remarkable because you’re just kind of a guy there who’s in London, a very expensive place to live, and you’re having trouble making it, doing labor stuff and building tree houses and doing that stuff. And you go say goodbye to your girlfriend on the train, and you’ve got to step back from the train and your coat is caught in the train, which is quite unbelievable to think how that could happen, but it does. And you should die, I mean, from what happens, you’re dragged down the tracks, you’re thrown under the train. You should die by all accounts. But instead what happens is, what we hear so often in near-death experience, you’re thrown outside of your body, you have this amazing experience. And then as you say, you have a transformation afterwards that changes your life in some significant ways. So it is a remarkable story in all those respects. 

You know, one of the things that you deal with in your book, I guess, is kind of this interplay between two different groups. I thought this was an interesting interplay, these two different groups that are kind of advising you. In one are these folks from the Spiritualist Church, which are guiding you in this kind of profound way. And the other is this very materialistic kind of psychological, you’re going to see a therapist and she’s coming at it from a very grounded kind of, “I don’t really know if I believe this, but I’ll just go off, dah, dah, dah.”

What did you see, in your personal life, how did you experience that tension between, the kind of Spiritualist Church perspective and the psychiatrist perspective? 

David Ditchfield: [00:07:41] Well, both were absolutely relevant to me at the time, in as much as, obviously, I’d have to deal with quite a horrific accident. You know, going under a train and facing death in the eyes is very traumatic. So I had to deal with all that, that’s why I had those sessions. But at the same time, I was being helped by the Spiritualist Church. I was going to spiritual healing and I found that to be really quite remarkable, it was helping me to heal both physically and mentally. And I know that that was challenging to the people in the medical profession, i.e. the therapist, because I knew that she was kind of like, it was like the gears were grinding a bit for her, because I kept talking about my spiritual aspects and I felt that she was trying to close me down on that. But I knew that she was in, that she couldn’t deny what I was talking about. It was actually something quite strong and powerful. 

So in terms of science, I’ve been in conversations with scientists via interviews like this, and I’ve found it to be really okay, because for me, we need science. I wouldn’t still be here now without the scientists, i.e. the doctors and the consultants that saved me and put me back together. So we need the balance of two in our lives, so that’s how I see it with those two aspects. I found that I was benefiting from both, and I never found that there was, personally for me, that there was, kind of a jarring of the gears, as I put it. So yeah, both were really relevant. 

Alex Tsakiris: [00:09:24] Yeah. I just think there’s a lot of different ways to take that. One of the things I felt again and again in the book is kind of this cultural difference, that I don’t know if a lot of people pick up on, but you’re probably in a good position to talk to it. Because as part of the book, Shine On, you’ve now done a number of interviews with people in the US, as well as in the UK, and we seem to have, kind of a different take on it. People in the US seem to be much more open to the spiritual light and love stuff. And in the UK it seems like we’re still having to kind of tell the story, this is real, please believe me. You did an interview with the woman from The Guardian and she’s like, “Wow, I probably don’t really believe you and I’m really afraid of death, so tell me the story from that standpoint.” And I just wonder how you see those differences in our two cultures

David Ditchfield: [00:10:18] Yeah, there’s a massive change, most certainly, talking to US people. I don’t know what it is, I guess it’s a very cultural thing. The British are very, you know, sort of stiff upper lip and, almost like stuck in Victorian times. We don’t get in touch with emotions. It’s almost like, “Yes, okay…” There’s many a time that I’d speak to people here…

 I mean, for example, when I was in hospital, I remember I wanted to speak to the priest that was in the hospital itself, and I was dying to speak to him because I thought he’s got to get this story straight away. And he was a lovely guy, but I felt that he was like kind of closing me down as if to say, “Okay, David, that’s enough, let’s say a prayer for you.” And that was so very British, whereas, yes, when I would speak to people in the US they were a lot more wanting to listen and absorb more of it, and they’re not too quick to judge on it. But again, going back to what I was talking about earlier, it’s good to have both elements. 

In saying that, I’ve done interviews here, I remember doing an interview on, like a drive time show here, and this guy came on, he got me on the show, and I could hear him talking just before the commercial break. And I thought, this is all wrong, it’s not going to work. And it was one of the very first interviews that I did. I thought he’s just not going to get this. So he kind of went, “Come on then, tell us the story.” So, I started telling it, and by the time I’d finished it, he was going, “Look, I’ve got to stop you because we’re going to the news break, but this is great. I want to come back to this.” And it made me realize that people can deny it as much as they like, but at the end of the day, I realized that none of us actually think about death at all. It’s a strange thing, but none of us do. None of us want to go there. It’s not like I think we should be talking about it every day over our breakfast cereal, it’s just that we should actually talk about it more because it’s inevitable. It’s all going to happen to us at one point, we may as well talk about it and think about it, and the fear element will go away.

So maybe in the US a lot more people are going to be a lot more open to that point, and when that happens, when that point of death comes, there’ll be less scared, less fearful. 

Alex Tsakiris: [00:12:44] Maybe, although there are a couple other ways to pull apart those cultural differences. Like one of the things I see is, it seems to me that people in the UK have kind of bought into the atheistic kind of scientism stuff that some folks in the US have kind of gotten to the other side of, and said, “Hey, that’s probably not the whole story. We are not just biological robots in a meaningless universe, there’s something more to this story.” Versus, when I talk to people in the U K they are unapologetic about, “Well, of course I’m atheist. Of course science explains everything,” and you’re like, you haven’t maybe kept up on the research there. 

And the same thing, like when I heard your therapist say, “Okay, David, to be honest with you, I first investigated your NDE and I know about…” I think she even said MDMA receptors in the brain and all this stuff, which is like outdated, completely dismissed science as it comes to near-death experience. 

So I wonder if that just hasn’t penetrated to a certain extent. But then you also, on the flip side of that, so you guys are atheistic in kind of a mind-numbing way. And then, of course in the US, they’re Christian in a mind-numbing kind of way, where it’s, “Hey, it has to be this one way, and that’s the only way we could ever understand it.” That has its limitations too. 

David Ditchfield: [00:14:14] There’s a lot of people who aren’t actually atheists, but it’s mainly Christian, Church of England as we call it, or Catholic.

Alex Tsakiris: [00:14:23] Which is a whole mess that we could get into. 

David Ditchfield: [00:14:26] Exactly, because it’s a, it’s a faith that hasn’t changed over decades or centuries, it’s remained the same and there’s no budging. So there’s no leeway. As I talked about the priest in the hospital, it was almost like he was like a robot, the steam was coming out of his ears, “I can’t comprehend this, this is wrong.”

Alex Tsakiris: [00:14:47] In turn, we can’t understand it in terms of, he can’t process it. And then I think at this other level that we’re not even aware of, we can’t process why he can’t process it, if you know what I mean. Like, I get the sense that you weren’t a super religious guy beforehand, but you had a sense that if you went to a priest, he would have some answer and then when he doesn’t, that kind of throws you for a loop like, “Aren’t you supposed to be interested in this?”

David Ditchfield: [00:15:16] Exactly. That’s exactly how I felt. It wasn’t like I was going there for sort of confirmation on what happened. I just thought, “Wow, you guys will want to hear this because, I’m sure it’s part of your faith. But then I realized afterwards that it’s not, that in fact the afterlife is not really discussed that much in most of the British faiths. Apart from Jesus and Christ and the resurrection. But nobody really talks about what happens to us, our souls when we go. So it’s a very different sort of lockdown sort of faith, if you like.

But hey-ho, I don’t like to knock people who do have a faith, because most of them are really lovely people. There have been times when I’ve gone into churches since, and they’re really good kindhearted souls and giving, but if only I could just walk in and just do one talk to them all in the congregation, and just chat. Not to try and convert or anything like that, because that’s definitely not what I’m about. I don’t to convert anybody, I just want to talk about what I saw and what I experienced, because it was such a beautiful thing that awaits us all, that I feel can only help us overcome this stigma of the idea of death.

Alex Tsakiris: [00:16:42] You know, one of the cool things that I think the Brits do have is the Spiritualist Church tradition, and we have it here in the US but it’s very, very small and not talked about much. And you stumble into a Spiritualist Church, early on, before the NDE, right? 

David Ditchfield: [00:17:04] That’s right, yeah. Because I was traveling up to see my sister, she’d invited me up for the weekend, and I was on a train and I bumped into an elderly couple sat opposite me, and we got chatting and they wanted to know where the next station was and things. And then this lady turned around to me and said, “Look, we’re going to see a medium,” and I went, “Oh, okay.” I just didn’t want to get involved in the conversation, at that point I just wanted to be myself, but she kept coming back and chatting to me and she handed me a flyer, like a small poster as she got off the train, with the details of this thing on. So I just put it in my pocket and forgot all about it.

And I remember getting to my sister’s and the family were all doing their own thing and my sister was cooking and stuff, so I thought, “Do you know what, I’m going to go. I’m going to go to this thing and see what it’s about.” So I went and it was packed. It was a small church and I sat down, and everyone was going there trying to get messages from loved ones who had just passed over. So it was all things like, “I’m picking up your grandfather. He’s got a watch here, is that right?” It was amazing, they were bang on. And I’d got no reason to go at all, I wasn’t looking for a message, but she turned around, this medium, it was very animated, she just stopped and she went, “The man in the blue jumper, I’ve got a message for you,” and I went, “Oh, okay.” And she said, “Your life is about to change, they’re telling me it’s about to change. It’s going to be big, be ready for it.” And I said, “In what way is it going to change?” I was thinking is the money going to start coming in now, and all of these different things. She said, “They’re not telling me, but you’ll be protected,” and that was it. 

At that point I was looking for a relationship to start with somebody and it never came at all, none of those things happened, but then I realized after my NDE that’s what it was about, that’s what that message was for. So I was keen to try and find that church again because I thought those people will probably want to hear about it, and they did. As soon as I walked in there, when I found it, they wanted to hear that, they took it straight on, it was like they knew about it, they were going, “Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. Near-death experience, yeah, we’ve heard of those.”

Alex Tsakiris: [00:19:20] They had heard about yours David, because it was all over the news there, right?

David Ditchfield: [00:19:23] They possibly did, yeah. 

Alex Tsakiris: [00:19:26] It was so dramatic. Everyone who rides the train, that’s their worst fear, getting caught in the doors.

David Ditchfield: [00:19:32] I know, I couldn’t believe it. I was lying in hospital, and my surgeon was coming in each day and he was going, ‘Oh, you’re in The Guardian today, you’re in The Times,” and I was going, “What?” And then the TV guys wanted to come and interview me. It had all got really crazy. And I found it so amusing because it was keeping me going, it was really enjoying. I was in this hospital room, unable to move, but thinking, “This is brilliant.” 

Alex Tsakiris: [00:20:02] The Spiritualist Church thing, I mean, like that’s the stuff I’m so interested in, and you are too. And you go back to them and you have some amazing healing experiences. And I’m going to show people one of the quotes I had from the book, I’m going to put it up on the screen if anyone’s watching. They can see this amazing artwork that you’ve done. And again, keep in mind when people go and look at this, this is something you never had any inclination for, no experience, no training in, and you come out and you start doing these large pieces that just one in a million could kind of produce this stuff. 

But here’s the quote. I thought this was amazing from… Well, you can tell me who it’s from, but it was a woman who did a healing session for you at the Spiritualist Church. “It’s essential to understand that spirit doesn’t show up here except through us. Ultimately, it must come through us to manifest in the world. That’s why it’s so easy for us to create hell in this life. Terrible things are happening right now everywhere around us, but hell exists here on earth only because people are still working out the hell within themselves.” Talk for a minute about this healing session, and if you want to about that quote.

David Ditchfield: [00:21:30] Yeah. Well Joy is the healer and she’s amazing because a lot of the stuff that she told me, like for example, that, she would also tell me afterwards that that came through via spirit. Because I would be in the healing session, it’s a really beautiful, peaceful place, it’s almost like a meditative state, and you’re sat there and it’s kind of like a hands-on healing, just starting on your shoulders, working around your body. And the healers, they’re like guides, sorry they’re not guides, they draw into their guides and their guides send through the healing energy, through their hands and through a meditative form as well. 

So she was picking up an awful lot of stuff, and it was like there were almost like transmissions from the other side, all of these messages, that were really profound. Which is really incredible, because when I’d speak to her, say just before each session, she didn’t come across as a very profound person. So you could tell that a lot of it was definitely coming from someone else.

So, I learned an awful lot from here because I learned an awful lot about… And it all tied in with my near-death experience as well because what I’d learned from the experience all made sense. So it was almost like there were these moments of affirmation but also making me go, “Ah yeah, that’s what happened there, that’s why that happened.”

Maybe I should talk you through the near-death experience itself and chat about what happened there. It might help to explain a bit more.

Alex Tsakiris: [00:23:03] Sure please do, David, whatever

 you think. 

David Ditchfield: [00:23:05] Basically, what happened to me was, it was at the point where the paramedics had rushed me into hospital from picking me up off the rail track and we had arrived at the hospital, and I remember seeing, like there was a whole team of surgeons and doctors and nurses all waiting for me. It looked like this big semi-circle and in I went. And they were rushing around, I was losing copious amounts of blood at that point, and they were running around just trying to save me. And I remember my family had come in as well. They were there so quick, and I remember they was all chatting around me, my family, and my mother was in tears, you know, everyone was totally distressed. So it was a very stressful scenario. 

And then I suddenly went from that place to a really beautiful sort of, I thought it was a darkened room at first. It was like a really comforting place, it felt like a dark room. And I just lay there and suddenly all the pain had gone, all the noise overload and sound overload had disappeared, and there was just this silence. And then there were these beautiful orbs that were, like pulsating all around me. all different colors like ambers and greens and yellows. And I thought, “Wow, this is amazing.” And I just laid my head back and I realized that I was laid on what was like a huge sort of slate rock, if you like. It was almost like an altar, it was like a medieval altar or something. But it felt very comfortable to be laid on that.

Alex Tsakiris: [00:24:34] So you’re in your NDE, but what was your vantage point? How are you looking at it? 

David Ditchfield: [00:24:37] Yeah, I was in my body because that was one of the first things that I did, was I realized where I was. I suddenly looked at my body to see how it was looking and all the wounds had healed. I could just see, I was just covered in like a blue cloth, so there’s no clothing on me, there was just this blue beautiful satin sort of sheet that was really cool but comforting. And I looked down and everything, all the cuts and bruises and rips and everything had healed. My left arm had been severed in the accident, and that was still back in place.

So I definitely felt like I was in my body, so it was like me in this dimension, which I believe was absolutely, that I’d died. I thought, this is it, I’d passed on. That’s over, here I am in the next phase. But I had no sense of fear or anguish about it, I absolutely felt so comfortable there that I accepted it readily.

But it was at that point that I felt there was a presence with me, you know when you sense someone’s just behind you, or what have you, and you look. But this wasn’t behind me, it was like an androgynous being, a beautiful being. This was stood at my right foot and just staring at me. 

And the odd thing is, this being, they call it like a being of light, because it was like, it had this beautiful blonde, white hair, but the skin was sort of glowing  and the expression on the being’s face was like this beautiful, almost like a knowing smile, like I’d know this person throughout my whole life or in fact beyond that. It was like a soul mate I guess. And I felt that I was being cared for and protected and I thought it was really quite amazing, so I just laid my head back.

And then I looked up and I saw, like three grids of pure white lights above me and I remember lying there looking into that light and I just couldn’t take my gaze away. Normally it would be the kind of bright white light that you wouldn’t be able to look into, like an electric fluorescent strip or the sunlight even, but I kept looking at this and it just felt like it was healing me and I felt all of this energy coming from that light. And I just thought this is really beautiful.

And I suddenly then was aware of two other beings either side of me, two female form. One of them was white Caucasian I guess, and another one was Asian, American Indian and they had their hands, like hovering very slowly over my body. And I felt this sensation that they were healing me, it was almost like a form of reiki or spiritual healing, in fact, which I’d never had obviously up until that point. But the energy that was coming from all three of these beings was just like pure love, it was just like energy of, like a compressed love of all of the different types of love you experience in your life, whether it’s through your lover or your mother, your father or your pet cat that you’ve got. And it’s all of those types of love all condensed and it was just amazing. It was like a form of love that was just like, I could feel it running through me, throughout my whole being. 

I felt at that point that I was being prepared almost for something, I thought, “What are they doing, what’s going on here?” I felt like I must be getting ready to go onto the next stage of something. 00:28:09

And then I suddenly thought about my family, because as I said earlier, I knew that they were all frantically looking over me in the hospital, in the emergency department. So I thought, “I wonder how they’re doing.” So I figured if I looked over the edge of this huge rock that I would see them, but I didn’t see them. But what I did see was this most amazing site, it was like a huge waterfall of stars that was curving around in a huge curve and all these stars were just like cascading down and they were just sparkling into this beautiful sort mist. And I looked down and they seemed to be disappearing into other galaxies and other dimensions and it was just so spectacular. And then there were beautiful colors as I looked down further.

And it’s quite interesting because Hubble have been putting up all of these photographs quite recently of new parts of the universe they’ve never seen before and it’s amazing because it’s almost like what I saw in my NDE, which is amazing, because I also started painting what I saw in my NDE. And I’ve had friends phoning me up, two of them this week who’ve said, “Have you seen the Hubble thing? It’s your painting.” So I’m like, “I know, it’s incredible.”

Anyhow, I digressed there but I just had to put that in because it was just, again, a moment of affirmation.

Alex Tsakiris: [00:29:34] Well, there are so many jumping off points there, that it’s tough, and that’s why I guess, I don’t want to use the term science and take people in the wrong direction, but to try and organize what you’re saying, there are so many different parts that I don’t quite know where to begin.

One would be tying back to the synchronicity of meeting somebody on the train, them handing you a brochure, you’re having no interest in it, but you go. I mean, that’s strange. You being picked out of the crowd and being given a message. That’s strange. The message you’re given is just, it’s just too crazy to almost believe. It sounds like a made-up story, you know? “Your life is going to change, but you’re going to be okay, you’re protected.” And then you go through this incredible life changing experience that should kill you by all accounts, and you’re protected.

Alex Tsakiris: [00:30:34] What is, what is your understanding at this point, and you talk about this in the book, but let’s talk about it here. What’s your understanding of fate, of our life being predetermined, free will? All those things, they’re somewhat irreconcilable even within your story, but how are you understanding some of those things now?

David Ditchfield: [00:31:01] Well, since all this has happened, my take on it is, it’s like our lives are predestined, probably before we’re actually born into this world. And, the way I see it, it’s almost like a highway, and that’s our map, our roadmap. And we’re all tempted to take routes off that highway that we think that’s going to be the road that’s going to lead us to freedom and happiness, and all the riches we want. But we go down those roads and they are not the ones for us. 

And I took too many of those roads, I think, on my journey. And my take on it is, I feel that I’d hit such a low point in my life, it was like the dark night of the soul, if you like, that I’d gone in so deep that the only way I was going to come out of this was for something very dramatic to happen, like that train accident, and that everything was predestined to lead me towards that point 

Alex Tsakiris: [00:31:59] Hold on though David, because don’t you see, there’s kind of an implicit contradiction in what you just said. Number one, we need to understand what those deep, dark things are. I don’t know, you must have done some really horrible things, but it doesn’t sound like it from all accounts, other than playing in a punk rock band, which I don’t even know if there’s anything wrong with that, but I don’t know. Maybe you do have some really… maybe you’re doing satanic stuff in the basement or something like that, I don’t know.

David Ditchfield: [00:32:20] No, no, no. 

Alex Tsakiris: [00:32:23] Why is there the need for redemption? If you’re on your path, why does the path need to change? Why does the healing need to take place? Why are they doing anything? That would be the question right. Like if it all is just an experience, why do anything? Why does the Native American Asian person have to get together and do some heavy-duty reiki on you and put you back together? Why, why, why?

David Ditchfield: [00:32:43] Because I was destroying myself. I wasn’t doing any dark sort of stuff. It was just, the darkness was just my depression. I was drinking too much. I was drinking heavily, and that was just taking me right down, and I was beating myself up big time. What I’m trying to say is, they felt, “Right okay, he’s not a bad guy. This guy needs to be pulled out of this mess that he’s got himself into.” And it was just pulling me out of that and bringing me back onto the track that was meant for me. Which I feel now, I’m back on that highway and I follow it now. I’m not really tempted by too many of those roads that are saying, “Hey, come and take this road.”

So that’s what I’m trying to say. You know the phrase, dark night of the soul, have you not heard that phrase at all then?

Alex Tsakiris: [00:33:37] Absolutely, and I love the way you put it. Let me read another quote from the book that gets to this. “And to remember that we live in a universe that offers redemption. Perhaps that was the purpose of the message.” And I think that’s what you’re talking about, you’re talking about a redemption story. But the art piece that goes with this is a very Jesus looking figure. 

David Ditchfield: [00:34:01] It is, yeah. 

Alex Tsakiris: [00:34:01] With almost a UFO looking over his head. So talk about redemption because that’s what we’re talking about.

David Ditchfield: [00:34:10] Basically, as you rightly pointed out, I didn’t follow any faith, Christianity or anything like that. It wasn’t at all in my life. But  what happened next in NDE was, when I turned over, after looking at that waterfall of stars, I suddenly felt there was an even more powerful energy that was around me, and that’s when I looked and saw this huge tunnel of white lights coming towards me. And it was just slowly coming in, and this tunnel of white light was surrounded by all these, kind of like, slowly circulating flames of yellows and reads and what have you.

The energy coming off that, it was like it had turned the dial up big time. I could feel it like pulsating through every molecule in my body, and I just straight away thought, “That is God. That’s the energy of all creation. That’s where it’s all coming from, from this tunnel of white light, with all the flames. It’s not the Michelangelo sort of Vatican image of God with the beard, putting his hand out, that is it.”

So for me, now that’s my faith. And Jesus coming into the fold there, that happened because, when I started going for the spiritual healing sessions, one of the sessions I had, I was lying there and I had, for no reason at all, I had this image of Christ, there, looking at me, while I was being healed and I thought nothing of it. And then right at the end, Joy, the healer turned around and said, “You know you had Christ stood next to you there.” So I thought that was just too much, so I’ve got to paint that.

So that’s what I had painted, I had painted him and that seemed sort of floating above the river, which is near where I live. And I wanted to paint Christ, not in the usual form that we see him, which is hanging off the cross, which is the worst part of his life. I thought, let’s paint looking healthy and happy, which is how I saw him. And I looked at halos in all of the different Renaissance paintings that Christ is given, and they’re just like this little fine white circle, and I thought, no, I want to give him this incredible halo, because it’s a powerful image. And I incorporated some of the images that I was getting through from those healing sessions into that halo, and yes, there have been quite a lot of UFO interpretations in there. But you know what, it’s okay, because I want that painting to sort of make people stop and look, I don’t want it just to be an image of Christ and that, “Oh, there’s Christ.” I want people to think about it and chat about it. 

Alex Tsakiris: [00:36:40] One of the things I think is really interesting about that, and we’ve had this ongoing discussion about it. Like the Christ consciousness thing, to me is an undeniable part of the near-death experience, in that it comes through again and again. If you go to the researchers, they go, “Hey, this is undeniable. Christ seems to be coming through.”

When we look at Jesus historically, he slips through our fingers. There’s a good chance that he doesn’t exist, certainly in the form that he’s portrayed in the Bible and in these other things, he doesn’t exist. 

Now, I personally David, don’t have a problem with that. I am open to the idea that we do and can manifest everything, but other people have a very literal historical interpretation of that. I wonder if you’ve given that any thought and what do you think if, if someone was able to kind of lay out a bunch of biblical, historical, archeological kind of stuff and say, “Wow, the Jesus figure doesn’t really add up.” What does that mean? Does that mean anything to you? 

David Ditchfield: [00:37:48] Well, my take on it is this, and that is that he was around, obviously at the time of the Romans, and we never questioned for one minute, if we have a history lesson on Caesar or Pontius Pilate, that all those guys existed and we think, yeah, they existed, and we see paintings of them and it’s like, yeah, they existed in history. We don’t question it. Whereas with Jesus there’s this kind of thing, well maybe he didn’t exist. 

Alex Tsakiris: [00:38:14] But we do question it. And if you really look into it, like when you said the history stuff, I’ll just give you a small example. Like most of the history that Christians go to, to say that Jesus is historical, is they go to Josephus because Josephus was a Roman historian. But there’s no record if Jesus in there. The one record we have is fake and then Josephus’ writings wind up in the gospel in a very pro-Roman kind of reverse engineered way. I’m just saying historically, no, Jesus doesn’t hold up. It’s just like Satan. Satan completely slips through your fingers when you go back and look at the very early Judaic texts of Yahweh the Thunder God. There’s no Satan in there. And then the same stories are repeated afterwards, and Satan is introduced.

David Ditchfield: [00:39:06] I’m with you on the Satan. 

Alex Tsakiris: [00:39:08] Well, you can’t take one or the other. If we take your near-death experience literally, as that you were in this dimension and these things really happened, well then we have a conflict with thousands of other near-death experiences that look completely different.

I interviewed a guy, Dr. Gregory Shushan, who’s done this cross-cultural analysis of near-death experiences. For me, and I’m a spiritual believer, I look at the similarities. But if you step back, you can also look at the differences and say no one’s right. The people who see Jesus and believe it’s Jesus of this cross thing, well they can’t possibly be right because this isn’t possibly right. There are conflicts. 

David Ditchfield: [00:39:52] But if Jesus didn’t actually exist, let’s face it, Christianity would have died out and faded years ago, but it didn’t. It just stayed around, and it just grew. I’m not trying to defend Christianity, but I’m just trying to say that I can’t imagine that it would still be around now if this guy was just a myth.

Alex Tsakiris: [00:40:16] But David, it’s the opposite of that. If we understand Christianity the way we did, like at the beginning of this show, if we understand it as a social engineering mind control project, which it is. I mean the Catholic Church, look at it now. I mean, it’s completely discredited in most people’s minds. It is not an institution that’s… It was The Church for the longest time, right?

If you go back to the beginning, it was always about controlling the people. If you look at Constantine when he first establishes the Church in 412, he brings in the feudal system and turns everyone into slaves. You can no longer own property.  It’s a control mechanism in the same way that it’s being used today.

And then, you know, people who are more spiritually minded say, “Well, don’t worry about that, look for this, or look for that.” Well, you can, but you also have to consider the other aspects of it. I mean, I don’t know. 

David Ditchfield: [00:41:09] Well, of course, yeah, you have to consider the other aspects of it. That was one of the things I was very keen to do when I first started writing the book. I spoke to my co-writer and she said, “Why don’t you contact the hospital and find out the medication you were on at the time and how that may have affected you.” Whether it had been a mind-bending drug and all those different things. So we went through all that, and we discovered… Basically, she was lecturing in nursing, so she knew what she was talking about, she knew her stuff, she was qualified. So she said, “Yeah, I’ve been through everything and yes, there were drugs that you were given that could have been hallucinating, but they were given afterwards, not before you had your NDE.”

And the other thing is as well, just going back to what you were talking about, and that is that there have been studies in people who have NDEs and the different being is there are lot of intense real consistency to their near-death experiences. Like mine stayed with me and it’s as clear to me now as it was then because it was real, it wasn’t like a dream. I know it wasn’t a dream, I know it wasn’t a hallucination. It’s a totally different thing. Whereas people who are in dream states or what have you, they go within minutes, and not only that, when they tell the same dream again, it’s changed, it’s like, “Hang on a second, I thought you said the guy with blue hair walked in and now you’re saying it’s pink.” It’s a very different thing, and I don’t think that most people who have had NDEs would be bothered to just be talking about it like I am now as much. Because it’s also a thing that for me, as I said earlier, I don’t particularly want to be trying to convert people saying, “Listen to me.” It’s more this is what happened, this is what I saw. We can’t assume, just because we’re a scientist and we’ve got brilliant minds and a lot of us have, that that’s it, we’ve nailed it, we know the answers, because A and B equals X, or whatever.

Alex Tsakiris: [00:43:20] David, I’m totally with you, but here’s the rub I have with that. You can’t do what you said, do the scientism thing, which I rail against every week. But you can’t also say, my experience trumps everyone else’s experience. You can’t say, because I had this experience and it’s so important to me, I hold that dearly and that can be the only truth. And in that sense, that’s the advantage of looking at near-death experiences across the board. Like I told you, there’s nothing kind of more offensive to me than fundamentalist Christians who co-opt the near-death experience for their religion and want to shut everyone else out, and say all the genuine near-death experiences have Jesus and have all the rest of this, and if you didn’t have those, then your experience is somehow lesser or something. To me, I don’t know how you get there.

So what I’m interested in doing is climbing on top of those experiences, letting loose of them a little bit and seeing that, okay you had a realer than real experience that I accept from my research is closer to the ultimate reality then this bullshit we’re talking about here. But I would suggest to you that it’s possible that that experience is still and abstraction of a more ultimate reality, you know? And that in that realm, that’s the only way I can explain it, that you’re still interpreting and creating a reality in that extended reality. Do you think that has any possibility being true or do you think where you were is the ultimate reality? 

David Ditchfield: [00:45:04] Yeah, it was the ultimate reality. I know that to be the case. 

Alex Tsakiris: [00:45:08] There’s nothing else beyond that? 

David Ditchfield: [00:45:11] I’ve never questioned that where I was, was some kind of dream or state. It was real. But the other thing to say is, we can do all the science in the world we can, but we don’t understand the soul. No scientists can turn around and actually come up with an equation as to why we feel love and what brings two souls together to collide and fall in love. I mean, the soul is such a powerful thing. And my take on it now is that death is not the end, the soul lives on. Yes, the actual body that we’re walking around in, that decays and that dies off, but our souls live on. And where they go to, I’m not sure, but I just know that the soul lives on, and that’s exactly where, the state that I feel lucky enough to have been into, to have a look into that and say, right, this is what happens next. Our souls live on.

And of course, every account that you say that you’ve interviewed with other people, that has varied, I’m aware of that. Because since my near-death experience, it was one of the first things I wanted to do was to look around. I went straight onto the internet as soon as I could, when I got home, to have a look into this.

One of the best ones I saw actually, it was a young child, I think she must have been about five years old, and she’d had a near-death experience and she painted it. And it was unbelievable because, it was just like a matchstick sort of version of my painting that you put up earlier. It was her lying on a square table actually, but she’d got three different individual people with their hands out, with like these stick hands going over her body, and this square, which was like a blue square over her body, which is the clearly the blue cloth. And then it looked like, what was it like an ice cream cone, sort of like flying through the sky towards that. And I thought, “Wow.” And that stayed with me because that blew me away, because I just thought, there you go. Her soul passed over onto the other side, but she came back.

Alex Tsakiris: [00:47:20] I’ve interviewed people, David, who’ve had multiple near-death experiences, and they’ve said that they’ve gone deeper and subsequent ones, and that the reality that they were at gave way to a deeper reality and then a deeper reality beyond that. And they even speculate that there’s almost no end to how deep or how high because it’s all moving towards the light, moving towards God, moving towards love. How does that strike you? 

David Ditchfield: [00:47:46] Yes, I do, because as I said to you, I felt like I was being prepared for something to go on to another stage, which I didn’t do. But I’ve realized now, since my NDE, that a lot of my teachings are still coming through now, it’s almost like they sent me back and it’s kind of, okay, so I’m back here now, but I didn’t suddenly feel like, oh man, I don’t want to be back here. You know? Straight away I was thinking, right, what’s my purpose? Why they sent me back? And I’m still sort of searching for those answers. 

So I feel like I’m still getting teachings, thankfully, through the likes of Joy and through the healing. But not only that, I’ve also learned to channel with my guides to communicate with them, and they’ve helped me do those paintings, they’ve helped me have the confidence to actually say, I’m going to write a piece of music for an orchestra. And not only that, that very first piece of music that I wrote and was performed by an orchestra sold out, the concert sold out two weeks in advance, which for the orchestra itself was unheard of. They couldn’t believe it. In all fairness, it was the media buildup, you know, it was the local BBC TV guys came down and stuff. But I felt again that I was being helped. I felt like these guides from the other side, I still felt like I was attached, like there was a cord that was still pulling me back up there, and they were helping me. And they helped all of that come together and for it to be a really wonderful event and a packed-out audience. The atmosphere was just so beautiful in there that night. 

I just feel like they’re with me and that I was sent back here to continue with the work here. But I also get it that other people, because obviously I’ve read about other people’s NDEs, that they do go to different dimension and they get all sorts of teachings. They’re educated further through those deeper sorts of dimensions that they go into. So yeah, I believe that is it. We don’t just hit the stage where I went to and that’s it, there will be different dimensions.

Alex Tsakiris: [00:49:51] That’s awesome, David. And I think that is consistent with your story and with your life, and you mentioned that pretty early on. I think one of the ways that we can judge the veracity of these stories is by looking at the people and your life is a testament to your story and what you’ve learned. Not so much like a preachy thing, because you’re not a preachy guy. It’s more a testament to real spiritual transformation. 

So this book of yours, Shine On, it’s gotten some great press. You’ve got a great publisher who’s really behind it. How’s that all going for you and where do you go after this? Are you going to write another book, or I guess you’re open to being led wherever you’re led? 

David Ditchfield: [00:50:38] You’ve just said that exactly. At the moment it is being led, a bit like that concert. I feel like they’re with me, the energy is really helping me and lifting me along and we’re getting to talk to people like yourself, which is great. And it’s getting me out there and it’s getting the message more global now. I’m just sitting down and doing these interviews and the energy of the book feels great, in terms of being helped with this promotion, which is fantastic. 

And I’m not really thinking beyond at this stage at the moment. You know, the book’s coming out in June, so I’m just kind of putting all my energies towards getting that and hoping that I can get it to stay afloat and then go out to sea happily. And then I can think about what comes next. But as you said, yeah, I’ll be guided, I know.

I’m actually writing a new piece of music at the moment, so that’s been going on for a while, which is called, I Wasn’t Expecting This. So that’s coming together really nicely. So I know that that’ll probably be the next stage because I want to keep the music and the artwork coming. It all carries on, it’s like a continuous, it’s like a little industry at the moment. 

Alex Tsakiris: [00:51:50] It’s awesome. It’s a pretty high order industry. It’s been awesome getting to know you and thanks for joining me. The best of luck with all of this work. 

David Ditchfield: [00:52:01] Thank you so much. It’s been great chatting with you Alex. Really, great questions.

Thanks again to David Ditchfield for joining me today on Skeptiko. I have a level three kind of question to tee up for you.  Is there something beyond the Christian near death-experience? And if there is something beyond it, then can it really be called a Christian near-death experience? I think you understand what I’m getting at, especially if you listen to a lot of these shows. I’ve kind of hounded on this topic a lot. But I’d love to hear your thoughts about it. 

Drop me a note or come over and join others on the Skeptiko Forum. Tell me what you think. I’m delighted to see that a few of you are doing that, I wish even more of you would. But if for some reason you don’t or you can’t, know that you’re still part of this conversation just by listening to it and giving us the opportunity connect in this magic way that is podcasting. 

So, thanks for listening. I have some, I just think they’re really good shows coming up. I hope you’ll stick with me for all of that. Until next time, take care and bye for now.

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