Mark Horton's NDE

(Mark Died on Sept. 7, 1996. He was an active Linux proponent and started the NDE newsgoup. Usenet obituaries follow the NDE account.)

My Near Death Experience
Mark A. Horton

I "died" from total kidney, liver, and respiratory shutdown. Coupled with massive internal bleeding and the associated anemia.

Since I was already in a coma, I have no idea when my NDE actually occurred. From reading my medical chart and other sup- porting information and anectodal evidence, I presume it was on New Year's Eve, 1992. It was that evening that my kidneys had quit, my liver had ceased functioning, and the doctors had told my parents that they should contact a funeral home since it was doubtful that I would make it through the night and if I did, they would have to put me onto a kidney dialysis machine the next morning; the shock of which would probably kill me anyways. Dur- ing the evening (from what I've read in the chart) I went into full respiratory arrest and was placed on a ventilator. So there I was, kidneys shut down, liver not functioning, fluid building up, getting pneumonia, and a machine breathing for me. I suspect that's when I "left." I have vague, very vague recollections of looking down on a body in a bed with tubes and machines, but I cannot honestly say that it was mine. I was, well, floating is not an adequate description, more like held up, contained, buoyed, sustained in a warm, dry, medium of some sort, suspended without pressure or any feeling of containment, just there. I felt safe, warm, calm, without pain or fogginess at all, com- pletely aware.

Then the "experience" began.

Suddenly dusk became full, blazing daylight, except with a brightness brighter than normally associated with daylight... ev- erything was bright as I was lifted (without any feeling or pres- sure) upwards to a high point (I assume, since I was unaware of standing on anything or for that matter aware of any "body" that I had) I was pure intellect, absorbing information and knowledge through "sensors" or means that I have no concept of. From this vantage point, I had to merely think of a place and time and I was there, experiencing everything about the place and time and people present.

I have always, I don't know why, had a very strong "pull" toward Scotland. I have some Scottish ancestry, but no more so than English, Swedish, and Prussian, but I don't know why I have such a strong affinity for the land, its history, its culture, and the music. (No sound in this world can stir the feelings that the sound of bagpipes arise in me!) Well, one of my first "trips" was to Scotland, on a high cliff overlooking a grey, crashing sea during a violent thunderstorm. I was there! I could feel the wind lashing at me and the driving force of the rain while I could see and hear the crashing of the thunder and the sea. All I had done was have the mearest fleeting thought of the land and I was there! As I've said, I have no idea why I have such a strong tie to that particular piece of space/time.

I next thought of warm sunshine and I was in a place of bright warm light and comfort. I could discern nothing but a comforting brightness around me (such that "me" was... I still had no "body" that I remember, but had the "feeling" that I was an amorphous, glowing pure intellect... all sensors and no tangi- ble gross physical body to drag me down or contain me. It was a truly wonderful feeling? state? being? Words just don't exist to describe this.) This was very pleasant and comforting and went on for microseconds or billions of years, I have no idea since time just wasn't an operative construct and had no meaning or relevance to existence. I literally had the feeling that I was everywhere in the universe simultaneously.

This brightness ceased and was replaced with a view of the earth rapidly receding "below" me. I was still enveloped in a sense of warmth and comfort, but "moving" backwards at an ever- increasing velocity; the view of the earth almost instantly gave way to an overall view of our solar system which as quickly gave way to a cluster of star systems that apparently was in one of the arms of our galaxy. I was still absorbing all of this on so many different levels beyond merely what we think of as seeing as I raced outward. I could still sense the location of our planet even though at this distance that should have been impossible in the normal space/time continuum. My overall feelings were of comfort, wonder, amazement, belonging, a sense of "rightness", and overlaying it all what I can only call an overwhelming love, although that word is woefully inadequate to describe those feel- ings.

Still moving (backwards always for some reason) I suddenly just relaxed completely and allowed "myself" to dissolve (?) open up (?) merge (?) into the "oneness" that surrounded me. The ex- plosion of emotion and (again words are almost useless) over- whelming "love" that I now felt made any previous feelings I had experienced even during this episode, however "long" it had/was/is going on, seem like nothing! I cannot possibly put into words that any human language has that feeling. I was ev- erything, I was nothing. I was everywhere, I was nowhere. I was everywhen, I wasn't. My intellect had expanded to contain every thing, time, place, and even being that was, is, or ever would be! I was unique yet I was the tiniest part of the whole. I know this is sounding like gibberish... it even does to me a times when I read it on paper; but to have been it! Words don't exist to describe the joy and love and warmth. It truly is inde- scribable!

And I was still accellerating outward, absorbing, observing, and becoming more! Entire galaxies became the size of grains of sand. I saw immense galaxies colliding together. I saw "holes" in space that weren't holes at all, but were filled with some- thing I couldn't comprehend even in my "enhanced" state... proto- galaxies perhaps? And there were so many galaxies to see and feel; but still I could sense where our planet was... I say sense because our tiny Milky Way galaxy had vanished; I could "feel" it there, but could no longer "see" it.

And I kept going outward! I began to discern a curvature to the scene before me and realized that the universe was really a large sphere containing all the galaxies. It became more and more apparent as I moved (still backwards) into the "darkspace" beyond the sphere of galaxies. Still, the occasional galaxy whipped by as I continued moving outward. And then I "felt" a large something or presence behind me. I seemed to slow slightly and hesitate and then was through this barrier and looking down at the sphere that contained our universe. It seemed to be at once transparent and slightly opaque as if I were seeing the en- ergy fields that contained it. The image of the electron shell of an atom seems to fit here.

I was still moving outward and could now make out around the shrinking curvature of our universe, other spheres which could only be other universes. These seemed to be arranged in some sort of order, a spherical shell of universes around a core that I could not see. And beyond this shell, another, towards which I was now speeding. The overall impression I'm left with is of something like those little carved "spheres within spheres" of ivory that one used to see in import shops.

I never made it to the next shell. As I was moving outward to the next shell layer of universes, something started pulling at me and I was suddenly racing back forwards, inward toward our universe and then inside it. The other galaxies within our uni- verse were gone and I had one last "sight" of our arm of the Milky Way galaxy and then I was back. Stunned, confused, sad, having a tremendous sense of loss, I guess at the loss of the knowledge and love and "oneness" that I had been.

My NDE was over.

I drifted in and out of a coma for some time after that, I have no idea of how long. During this time I had a mixture of strong dreams, perhaps some halucinations if I understand how halucinations are supposed to be - very vivid, almost concrete dreams in which the "dream-people" have real, solid, bodies and with whom one can hold logical, normal conversations, and I think short "mini-NDEs" in which I was able to experience some small fraction of the overpowering love and "oneness" that I had during my major "trip."

I guess then I started to "adjust" and begin my unconscious attempt at ignoring what had happened to me and trying to "get on with" my life. But still something was missing... that hole was still there and gnawing at my mind. Finally after almost a year I sat not thinking, I guess you could say meditating and letting my mind relax, when everything starting coming back into my con- scious thoughts. I could no longer supress these memories and knew it. So I just let them flow inward, becoming ever more strongly convinced that what I had experienced WAS real, that it wasn't just an halucination or dream, that we are all individuals and "one" at the same time, and that the only thing important ev- er is love. Complete, open, giving, incredibly filling love. That is the only thing that matters. All else is superfluous.

I was changed forever. I simply am. We are all one, we are all "God." Or perhaps "God" is all of us. I have thought long on the biblical phrase "And God made man in His image." I wonder if perhaps this really means that man is created and exists in "God"'s imagination which is then man's reality. I am no bibli- cal scholar and will not debate theologies since those are so very personal, but that possible interpretation of the biblical phrase is interesting for me to contemplate. I do not profess to any specific religion at all; never have, and definitely now nev- er will, for they are all right and all wrong... merely man's at- tempt to quantify, regiment, and control even the spiritual as- pect of the individual. I now know that living to be kind and love each other is the only true "religion" there is; if one must label something "religion." From what I've read and spoken to other NDEers about, this seems to be an almost universal feeling amongst those who've had NDEs. We may describe what we've "seen" in various religious terms depending upon background and pre-NDE beliefs, but the message of universal love and forgiveness is the same.

So that is my experience. The aftereffects are still there and growing every day. To say it has changed me completely is at once obvious and an incredible understatement. I still am inter- ested in computer systems and work with them as a profession, but find myself more interested in how they can truly help people as opposed to just being intellectual "toys" that perform functions and that people pay me money for designing and tuning. I've nev- er been outwardly materialistic in the "yuppie" sense of the word, but had cherished certain possessions and worried about them; now I still cherish the beauty in things, but the posses- sion of a thing is unimportant... I find myself giving many things away to others if they express an interest or desire for them. I'm probably labeled as a "patsy." It doesn't matter. I find myself openly crying over the sadness in the world and in people's lives. I share many of the same feelings that other NDErs have... the total lack of fear of death - it's comforting actually to think of it since it'll be a return to that state that I experienced and can now only briefly make contact with, the overwhelming sense of love for everyone and everything around me, the peaceful calm that I feel, even the sometimes painful em- pathic abilities that now seem to have blossomed within me - if I can somehow relieve another's suffering by taking it from them and into me, I do so gladly.

In summary I suppose the question many would ask is "was it worth dying?"

I would have to answer joyfully, "Yes!"


From: (David G)
Newsgroups: alt.consciousness.near-death-exp
Subject: Mark A. Horton's Death
Date: 8 Oct 1996 10:39:58 -0500

It's a poignant duty to report that Mark A. Horton, one of the founders of this newsgroup, recently passed away. For those who've been around the last 2 1/2 years or so this newsgroup's been around will remember Mark as basically the one that brought it about and who held it together for quite some time with his warm concern for all.

I'm surprised to say, looking back, that although I never met Mark, he had a significant, beneficial effect on my life. I thank him for that.

Posted below is a notice (reprinted with permission) from his close friend Victoria Welch ( Mark, we wish you God speed on your journey.

In sincerely appreciation,
David G
From: Victoria W
Newsgroups: comp.os.linux.announce
Subject: In memory of Mark A. Horton
Date: Wed, 11 Sep 1996 16:46:31 GMT

Mark A. Horton ( passed away Friday September 7, 1996. Cause currently unknown, but poor health is suspected. he did have a lot of health problems, although he never let them keep him down long, in so many ways he was such an inspiration !

Having been through the rest of the *nixes, and knowing the subject well, he was one of the greatest proponents of Linux. His enthusiasm and willingness to help anyone at any time were his greatest gifts to the Linux community.

His kindness, willingness to help others in many ways including Linux and his generosity will be missed by those of us that knew him and an example for all of us to strive for. For me personally, he was my best friend and mentor. He taught myself and *MANY* others much about the nuts and bolts of Linux in a joyious way that was informative and instructive and often most pleasantly humorious. Most any interaction with Mark was a good time.

Having spent a great many hours with him personally as well as on the phone, he made is very clear that he didn't want any morose happenings should anything ever happen to him, There will be a party by his friends to honor that request sometime in the near future. Will plan on celibrating his contributions and the many wonderful things that there are to be remembered about him. He was one of the true good guys and his joyoius, creative, tenacious, encouraging spirit will be missed by those that knew him. To the many that knew Mark and to the many who didn't, hoist one to one of the greats ! He will be missed.

Thanks & Take care, Vikki.
In a previous article, g(Jonathan G) wrote: *Mark A. Horton, an individual who has made major contributions to Usenet, *is dead. [One contribution was as first author of RFC 1036.]

May God Almighty grant him eternal rest. And may He grant his family and friends the fortitute to bear the irreparable loss.

Mark, rest in peace with God.

Gee, I feel like Tom Sawyer, attending my own funeral. ;-)

Mark A Horton, a very nice and knowledgable person who did a lot of excellent Linux work, has passed on.

I'm Mark R Horton, the person involved with Usenet back in the '80s. That's my name on RFC 850 and 1036 (although I only did actual work on 850, Rick Adams did all the work on 1036, the sequel.)

And, as Twain said, the reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated.

But's it's so nice to hear people say such nice things about me! :-)

And my prayers go out to the Linux gentleman from Atlanta.

------------ Gibt es eigentlich eine IETF-Arbeitsgruppe oder sonst jemanden, der daran arbeitet, aus Son-of-RFC 1036 oder aehnlichem Material einen Internet Standard zu machen? Faende ich irgendwie passend.

Argh... Wie absurd.

Trotzdem schoen zu wissen, dass RFC 1036 nicht mehr vor sich hinduempelt. :-)


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