Dannion Brinkley: Compassion in Action
By Cynthia Logan
Dannion Brinkley may be the most elec-tric person on the planet. It's not just that he's been struck by lightning twice. Or that he's been clinically dead three times and had the most dynamic near-death experiences ever recorded. It's his live-wire personality, spellbinding story and shocking statements.
I called to get some of those statements firsthand, but Brinkley wouldn't talk to me. There was a thunderstorm in Aiken, South Carolina that morning and Dannion never talks on the telephone during a storm. You can't blame him-doing that twenty-five years ago killed him. While talking to a business partner, he heard something that sounded "like a freight train coming into my ear at the speed of light." A split second later, seared by lightning from the inside out, he was jolted out of his body-and not just spiritually. The nails in his shoes welded to the nails in the floor so that "when I was thrown into the air I was pulled out of them." As he looked down from his out-of-body position in mid-air, he saw his stuck shoes smoking and the phone he had just held melting in his hand.
What happened next is brilliantly captured in Brinkley's best-selling book Saved By The Light, followed by the equally popular At Peace In The Light. He writes of traveling to a Crystal City, entering shimmering, Gothic-like cathedrals, watching a panoramic life review, meeting thirteen "Beings of Light," and being given graphic visions of the future. He also relates details of the "relaxation centers" he was told he should build when he returned to his body, now crisscrossed with blue lines marking the path the lightning had taken as it surged from his head to the floor.
But that was more than twenty-five years ago. Today he's on fire about healthcare and hospice. "I believe," he says in a lowered tone, "that healthcare is a battle for the souls of men, that the issues being debated now are the most important we have faced in the history of this nation." Quite a statement from a man who saw scenes of nuclear destruction, war between Russia and China, "economic earthquakes" and numerous other catastrophic global events while on the other side. "If we don't pay close attention to what's happening in the reductions of Medicare and Medicaid and support the Office of Alternative Medicine," he warns, "we will be making the biggest mistake of our generation. In the years to come, you will thank me for letting you know that this was where the spiritual fight was. It's not in Russia or China or even in the War on Terrorism. It's in the quality of the final days of people we love and in our right to choose our own way of taking care of ourselves."
Brinkley's passionate commitment to individual choice in health care comes from his personal experience with alternative medicine. Clinically dead for 28 minutes after the first lightning strike, completely paralyzed for six days and partially paralyzed for seven months, it took him two years to learn to walk and feed himself again. He lost 69 pounds and was never given more than a week to live for the first three years after the experience. In fact, more than once he overheard hospital personnel betting on how long he would survive. So, as he understates it, "I used alternative techniques because modern medicine said I wouldn't make it." He listened to Steven Halpern's healing music and meticulously studied the muscles in Gray's Anatomy, using a headdress made from a coat hanger and a pencil so he could turn the pages with the eraser on the pencil by moving his head.
Having lost nearly everything during his painful years of rehabilitation, Brinkley revitalized former businesses and built on new abilities. One enterprise sold surge suppressors-a device designed to prevent power surges from ruining household equipment. "I was the perfect salesman," he quips-"a living example of what happens to human equipment that gets too much juice!" He returned to the anti-bugging work he had previously done for the government, manufacturing and installing electronic "masking systems" to prevent eavesdropping.
Another business utilized an anti-fouling device that Brinkley was shown in one of his visions. It kept barnacles off the hulls of ships by transmitting electrical tones through the hull, cutting down on fuel consumption caused by drag and reducing discharge from the toxic paint used prior to his invention (paint so toxic that an accidental dip meant an emergency trip to the hospital)! He also worked with the deaf, again using a device shown to him in visions, modifying an audio transducer to convert speech into vibration. As if this wasn't already a taxing schedule for anyone, let alone a person who had lost 30% of his heart function, Brinkley began working as a hospice volunteer, recruiting 5,000-7,000 new members-more than any single person in the history of the movement.
It was sitting at the bedside of the dying that Brinkley made an important realization about the connection between breath and spirit. "I realized," he says, "that we breathe for spirit. We breathe so that the spiritual world can operate over here." He has since developed that realization into a program for hospice volunteers, who learn to breathe in a step-by-step pattern through the eight sinus chambers into the "third eye" area in synchrony with the person who is crossing over to the other side. It is through the mystical sharing of breath that Brinkley feels the world can be saved. "When you're breathing with a patient who's dying," he says, "the moment of death expands and the two places overlap. The quality of their final breath and the quality of your breath that will stay and go on create an expanded state of consciousness. The quality of death and of life in the final days is the key."
The "fifty-something" Brinkley, who has "died" with hundreds of people, claims he doesn't like having friends younger than 90. "I like having a relationship with someone who's going to a place I'm eventually going," he laughs. His humor is pervasive, often earthy, and much appreciated by audiences attending the seminars he gives nationwide. "My workshops," he says, "are places where people can take what's happened to me and use part of it in their lives; the stuff I teach gives them a way to prepare for what we all eventually face." He keeps them laughing, in between intensely moving statements about life, death and his experiences "over there."
The greatest experience of near-death, according to Brinkley, is the panoramic life review, where we are shown a "movie" of the life just lived, not only re-experiencing every emotion we've ever felt, but also the emotions of those we have hurt or helped. Admittedly a "bad" child who brought pain to his parents and torment to his schoolmates, Brinkley became an assassin for the government and was appalled when reliving his life from the perspective of his victims. Expecting at least admonishment and reproach, he was amazed at the loving compassion afforded him by the Light Being watching the review with him. "All that fire and brimstone-I never saw any of that on the other side. And if I didn't go to hell, few people are going. Trust me, I know."
Though he never killed Christians, and though his turnaround was more stunning than blinding, like the Apostle Paul, Brinkley has come to embrace those he once scorned. "What does the near-death experience mean?" asks the man who would have scoffed at the very mention of such an experience before his own. "I'll tell you what it means: It means there is a God, there is a life after this one and it means there is a place based on love, regardless of what dogma you choose to attach to it. NDE symbolizes a magnificent system designed by laws based on love eons of time before we came here. And those systems will be in place eons of time after we're gone. It's very safe, very natural-it's wondrous." He tells every audience that we are not human beings trying to have spiritual experiences, but spiritual beings having an earthly experience. Like most of the 14 million Americans who have had a near-death experience, Brinkley had a hard time readjusting to his earthly life. "I wanted this whole thing to go away," he says. "A friend once accused me of sounding like a retarded fundamentalist. I'm a reluctant messiah-just a guy from South Carolina who had this happen to him, who had a mission given to him."
That mission includes fostering "spiritual capitalism" by creating centers with seven special rooms where people could go to relax and reduce fear and stress, thereby realizing that they are spiritual beings who can "rely on their higher selves instead of on government and churches." Each center would consist of a psychotherapy room, a bodywork clinic where participants would both give and receive massage, a sensory deprivation room, a room equipped with biofeedback machines showing the extent to which people can control their emotions, an area for readings that allows those with psychic abilities to provide patients with personal insights, a room with a bed whose musical components enable people to relax so deeply that they could actually leave their physical bodies, and a reflection chamber made of polished steel or copper, shaped in such a way that the person inside wouldn't see his or her own reflection. This last room is still somewhat puzzling to Brinkley. "I know it has to do with tones, humming and sound refraction so that it sets a resonant frequency that lets the body move dimensionally," he says, but other than that, I don't know how it works."
An eighth component would be to revisit the biofeedback room, enter a deep state of relaxation and be guided to a spiritual realm. The biofeedback instruments would reflect what feelings are required to reach such a state. The purpose of the whole complex is to show people that they can be in control of their lives through contact with God. During his near-death experience, Brinkley was shown the operating room of the future, one devoid of scalpels or other sharp instruments. There, all healing is done by special lights that correct the vibration of diseased cells, tissues and organs. To date, Brinkley, who had to deduce how to construct the technical aspects of the centers from watching Spirit Beings operate the equipment, has completed a model center, located in South Carolina. He has tested the special bed with positive results at Dr. Raymond Moody's "Theater of the Mind," where he currently assists Dr. Moody in paranormal research.
Brinkley sees a correlation between these centers and the temples of spirit and mystery that were popular in ancient Greece. "For instance," he says, "what takes place in the bed is similar to the dream incubation that took place in the temples of Asklepios. The reading area represents the temple of Delphi, where people used to talk to spirits. The reflection chamber is the "Necromanteum" of Ephyra where the ancients went to see apparitions of their departed loved ones." He feels that the rise and fall of civilizations shows us the cyclical nature of life, and that there is a pattern by which they fall. "Every time a civilization develops a religion that does not grow with the people, then we separate from our spiritual selves and we choose intellectual and economic stability as the reason and value for why we live on this earth. We relegate our spirituality to doctors, churches and institutions; we get thicker and more earthbound and further away from our true identity. We have to learn that we are spiritual creatures; we come here for specific reasons with very well designed programs. If technological advances are not spiritually based, then that civilization will crumble and fall."
You might think someone exposed to such a broad spectrum of awareness would have difficulty staying grounded. Not Dannion Brinkley. He takes a pragmatic view of the whole thing. "I wouldn't have gotten this job if I was some Swami out here hoping for the best. They needed a strategist-someone who would stay the course and be willing to plan things up to ten years in advance." An interesting by-product of Brinkley's experience, however, was the development of clairvoyant abilities. He found himself responding to questions before they had been asked, seeing "home movies" of the lives of strangers he would meet, and scenes of earlier centuries when visiting particular places. At first he used these talents to gain advantages in business dealings and to win at card games. Soon, though, he realized he wanted to use such gifts to help others, and has since focused them unselfishly. "I kept my day job so I wouldn't become dependent on this. I want to keep my spiritual self very pure."
After a plane crash and subsequent hospitalization in 1997, when brain aneurysms threatened his life (once again, medical doctors gave him little to no hope of recovery), Brinkley had a third near-death experience. His survival encouraged thousands of people who had prayed for him and who "follow" his appearances on programs such as The Allan Handleman Show. Today, Brinkley is involved in a new CIA; his organization, "Compassion In Action" recruits, trains and places volunteers in hospice situations. As Brinkley says: If we can make people feel safe and comfortable with dying, we rekindle the strength in God that people should have.
"The place I've been is very logical, very systematic, very just, very fair and very righteous-it is a very reassuring place. I'm trying to give everybody else that place, because if we can face death by hospice we are not afraid of dying, and once we're not afraid they cannot take our freedoms. Once you're standing up for the rights of people in their last days, you really have something to fight for and all the conspiracies in the world don't intimidate you."
Brinkley sounds a call to action; "I beg everybody to write their Congresspeople and Senators in support of The Office of Alternative Medicine at the National Institute for Health. Request information. Be mindful of healthcare and what's been going on. If you're not political, become political. Pay attention to health care and how it's evolving, because you're talking about your right to choose how to take care of yourself. Supporting the NIH is the most important thing you can do in your life. As long as there's an Office of Alternative Medicine they can't create HMOs (Health Maintenance Organizations), managed care and give us a national insurance health card-that's the mark of the beast, ain't no doubt in my mind."
Though he has not had an e-mail address for several years, searching his name on the Web brings up over 2,000 links, and he is associated with the Web site lightstreamers.com. He receives mail at P.O. Box 1919, Aiken, SC 29802. To become part of "Compassion in Action," phone 310-473-1941 or FAX 310-473-1951.