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Life After Near-Death : Changed for Good, Dianne Morrissey Leads 'Journey Into Consciousness' at OCC

March 02, 1994|JIM WASHBURN | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

SANTA FE SPRINGS — In her courses covering the paranormal, Dianne Morrissey likes to think she is able to bring a sensible amount of skepticism to people's stories of supernatural events.

But then again, she says, "I never want to doubt someone's experience when they say they've had one. Who am I to say they didn't have their experience when I'm walking around saying I died once and came back?"

That is a bit of a conversation stopper, isn't it?

Morrissey's classes, titled "Parapsychology ESP: Journey Into Consciousness" (one commences at 7 tonight at Orange Coast College in Costa Mesa; call (714) 432-5880 for information), cover an interesting range of subjects, including Tarot card readings and willing traffic signals to change, but those rather pale beside the notion of talking to someone who has actually dropped dead.

One of the core wonders of the human experience has always been: What is it like to cross that mysterious veil, to broach the infinite? Are there ATMs on the other side? Is sloughing off one's corporeal body the dramatic weight-loss plan we've all hoped for? Does Tylenol still work when you're dead?

As one might expect, being dead certainly got Morrissey's attention, and her time spent on the "other side" changed her life.

"You want to see where I was electrocuted?" Morrissey asked, leading to the den of her nice and normal Santa Fe Springs home. Now 45, she was 28 in 1977 when she was cleaning her wall-mounted aquarium one day and a faulty pump squirted water carrying 117 volts into her mouth.

"I stayed standing while I watched my physical body fall out of me. I was thrown with such force from where I was standing that my head, of my physical body, went right through the drywall about a foot and a half above the floor. The vacuum had been next to me and my arm hooked around it as I fell, and I took that through the wall too. So I fell hard, but I never felt it, because I was already out of my body, standing watching.

"I'd never even heard of an out-of-body experience. There weren't the books on it that there are now. I was raised a very religious Catholic, was the office manager of a big construction company in downtown L.A., played professional clarinet at night, and if anyone had asked me if I thought I would ever do anything weird like the paranormal, I'd have said, impossible ," Morrissey said.

Yet, there she was watching her body on the ground and aware of being in a separate, transparent astral body. She says she was unconscious for 45 minutes and was told later her heart had stopped for a portion of that time. She already knew that, claiming she had been aware of having a choice of returning to her body or not. There are now masses of data on near-death experiences (which has earned its own acronym: NDE), and Morrissey says only 6% of those experiencing them know that they are dead.

So what happened while she was out there?

"Initially it's a surprise, to find that the you that's conscious, that thinks, perceives, feels emotions and loves, is the part that is out of your body," she said. Like other of the now much-documented NDE cases, she recalls being aware of the physical world but unable to interact with it. She tried calling to her dog, but he didn't respond. She tried touching things and her hand went through them, including a person whose attention she tried to get on the street outside her house.

But, like other NDEers, she also was aware of another dimension, including a tunnel she passed through, a beckoning, enveloping light and a benevolent being. Many people brought back from death recall meeting with loved ones, but in Morrissey's case, it was a stranger.

"She looked like a person, but she was transparent. She had brownish, shoulder-length hair, a little bit turned under. I felt that she was real and that she cared a great deal for me. I had a great childhood, but if I took all my parents' love and multiplied it by 100 million it wouldn't be close to how much this lady loved me. It was that strong. And she cared so much in helping me trying to decide whether to stay or come back," she said.

Like other accounts, she said the entirety of her life was unreeled before her, but not in the judgmental manner her religion had led her to expect. Then there was the light, too bright for her to look at steadily, that reached out in a pinprick until it touched the middle finger of her right hand, "and I lost all sense of my transparent body. I was still me, still conscious, but I was in the light, and I knew the light was God. . . .It was much better than any sister or priest had told me heaven was. It was like feeling all things in the universe at the same time, like perceiving every grain of sand on every planet and knowing why each grain was in its place. I knew that if I went into the light, I would never die. Everything just changes.

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