Born September 19, 1941 • NDE July 18, 1971
During the summer of 1971, just before I turned 30, I was with my husband John and our three young children in the mountains of northern Georgia while he was working with the camera crew of the movie “Deliverance.” On weekends, some of the cast and crew, and their families would take the 4-person rubber rafts out on the river for a little R&R.
They filmed on the same part of the Chattooga River we rafted on and, of the eight of us on this particular Sunday afternoon, July 18, 1971, four of us, including John and I, had rafted down this stretch once before. But the river was different this time. The water level was lower from several days of no rain; different paths had to be taken through the many rapids we encountered on this 5 hour journey. Sometimes the water level was so low, we had to portage the rafts and gear or take a different path through the rocks and around the fallen trees.
This was the case at the last set of rapids at Woodall Shoals. We couldn’t go around the far right side that we had traversed previously. It was either portage 100 yards over the rocks down the riverbank or take our chances over the hydraulic.
A “hydraulic” is a churning white water phenomena caused by a deep hole beneath a waterfall, this time with about a 5-6 foot drop due to low water level. It tends to suck anything that crosses over into itself and not let go unless it can be quickly and cleanly cleared. There were a couple of broken kayaks along the shore attesting to its destructive powers.
I learned recently from experienced kayaker, Doug Woodward, who worked on the movie as a wrangler and stunt double, that this is the most dangerous section of the Chattooga River (Wherever Waters Flow, p. 183) and a number of people have drowned there since “Deliverance” attracted adventurers to the river.
We read the river and figured out how to get a raft into the current and head directly through the rocks and over the hydraulic. We took everything out of the raft John, my 16-year old sister JoAnn, Skip Cosper’s wife and Jon Voigt’s standin were in, and put it all in the raft I was in with Wally Worsley and Sue Dwiggens (Production Manager & his assistant), and Skip Cosper (Assistant Director). This included coolers, cameras, extra oars and life vests, shoes, clothes, sunscreen, etc.
We positioned their raft into the current, shoved them off and over they went with no problems. Hoops and shouts were heard as they negotiated the rest of the rapids toward the calm pool below. We turned to each other and agreed that went so well that we’d just jump in and follow them so they wouldn’t have to make the trip back up and carry all the gear back down.
What we failed to consider was that the four of us guided their raft and shoved it head first into the current. We walked our raft into the stream, and before we were all in the raft the current grabbed it and swung it into the current as we scrambled to get inside, grab our oars and begin paddling. The raft quickly spun around and was sucked backwards between the boulders and down the waterfall, but instead of sliding across the hydraulic, the tail of the raft plunged into the water, knocking Sue out immediately. Wally and Skip were hanging on inside the raft but I was straddling the side facing the waterfall, trying to hang on to the slippery rubber, reaching for something to hang onto.
The front, now back end of the raft smashed down to the base and the raft was stuck there. Water would fill the inside of the raft which would then buck, throwing the water and everything inside out. It was like riding a bucking bronco (not something I was familiar with). I felt myself slipping off the edge and being pulled down by the waterfall. One of the men grabbed my arm at the last second as I was going over but now I was caught between the raft and the rocks, with the force of the waterfall pouring down on my head and the circulating action of the hydraulic pushing me up and sucking me down. They were trying to pull me back into the raft, but the most they could do was enable me to catch an occasional quick breath before I was sucked down again. Talk about being stuck between a rock and a hard place!
During the three or four minutes of all this happening, my mind had been racing… oh, my god, oh, my god, oh my god… and then a peaceful feeling came over me as very consciously and very calmly, I knew I was going to die. It was just a matter of how. There was no more panic or fear. Being smashed against the rocks was painful and slow, so I rationalized that drowning would be the better choice. The next time the water pushed me up and Wally or Skip pulled me up enough that my head was above the water, I yelled Let go. I heard him yell, Are you sure? I shouted Yes! And he did.
I felt the water pull me under and I relaxed into it. I knew there was no point in struggling. I didn’t try to hold my breath. As I breathed in the water, everything quickly went black.
For a moment…
The next thing I knew I was vividly conscious, well above the river and the tree tops looking down at the raft stuck against the rocks below. I saw Wally and Skip, still struggling to hold onto the raft, looking into the water for my body to come out from underneath. I saw Sue’s body rushing downstream. I watched John and JoAnn and the others, including people who had been picnicking down by the calm pool, as they were running back up the hill to find out why all the debris had arrived in the calm pool.
I watched John climb out onto a rock in the river. He couldn’t hear what the two men still in the raft were shouting to him over the roar of the water. He had no idea where I was or what had happened, but he knew I was missing. He looked as if he wanted to jump in to try to find me and I suddenly found myself at his side trying to stop him because he wasn’t much of a swimmer and I knew there was no point. When I reached out to stop him, my arm went right through his body. I looked at my arm, which appeared to be translucent, and thought… oh, my god, I’m dead!
In that instant, the physical world fell away and total knowledge of reality appeared to me. I saw the multi-dimensionality of the universe. My consciousness expanded so far beyond the physical plane that I was no longer aware of it, nor of having a body. I was so much a part of it all, there was no distinction, no duality. It appeared as a brilliant flash of light and I was allowed to see into it for a brief moment and experience a feeling of love so profound, powerful and overwhelming that I can only describe it as Pure Bliss (even though that doesn’t begin to describe it).
And, suddenly, I was whisked away and found myself traveling rapidly through a vortex toward a beautiful white light in the far, far distance. I continued to experience an overwhelming feeling of love within me and around me. There was no fear, no anxiety, no worry. I was filled with joy. I had no sense of being in a body, no feeling of limitations or boundaries; no regret that I was leaving my life. Yet, I was still me and aware that I was having this amazing experience.
My consciousness was flooded with memories of past lives and I remembered that I had made this journey many times before. I knew I was going home. Reincarnation and karma suddenly made perfect sense! I understood the Oneness of the Universe and that “God” is more than any religion ever taught (and yet all religions contain some grain of truth). The message of the Bible suddenly made complete sense to me and it wasn’t what religions taught.
God is not a human-like being sitting on a throne surrounded by angels singing praises and disembodied souls worshipping some Lord God Almighty while awaiting some Judgment Day. There is not a Heaven or a Hell for these souls to be sent to depending on whether they followed the rules or believed in this god/religion or another (these are human concepts). I saw that “God” is the Light from which every thing comes forth, of which all things are created. God is the Source of All That Is and we are the quintessence of God. We are God unfolding. Expressions of God. God Self-realizing. These are the only ways I can (now) explain it.
Before long, I realized I wasn’t alone. There was a presence, which I can only describe as a Loving Being of Light, traveling beside me… at the speed of light! Yet it was as if we were standing still. This being knew all about me and still loved me unconditionally. There was no sense of judgment or need for forgiveness. There was a sense of timelessness to all of this, everything happening at once rather than a sequence of events.
This presence had no form or countenance but was pure energy. We communicated mentally, telepathically. This was someone I have always known and I knew that as soon as I sensed the presence of this being. Yet I cannot now tell you who it was with a name. I didn’t have the sense that it was any familiar religious figure or deceased relative, but rather a special friend who is always with me wherever I am, throughout many lifetimes on earth and otherwise; perhaps, my guardian angel. This Being told me that I had a choice about going back. I thought, no, no, no, I want this to go on forever!
Suddenly, we burst into the white light and a whole new reality was revealed to me, similar in appearance to the physical world, but, in this higher vibration, more colorful, more beautiful, more amazing. I saw plants, trees, mountains, lakes, animals, and shimmering crystal-like buildings, some very large and ornate. There was no sun but light was everywhere; no shadows, no darkness. Also nothing seemed solid, rather always changing; borders weren’t well-defined. There were no edges.
I saw beings moving around, light beings going about their daily lives in groups. They didn’t have physical bodies, but they were distinct fields of energy. Some of them had features that made them appear human-like but most were featureless beings of light. They didn’t walk, they floated.
I didn’t see any vehicles of transportation. I was told they traveled by thought. Think about where you want to be and you’re there! They have lives much like ours, but without the struggles and sorrows, those are human dramas we create when our egos are in play. Here there is only love, peace and joy… by no means boring as human minds/insatiable egos might anticipate.
I had many questions and they were all telepathically answered by the Being of Light as soon as they occurred to me. We traveled over healing centers where I was told new souls come after the death of their human body to readjust to spiritual life without a physical body. Healer souls are there to acclimate new souls (somewhat comparable to physicians and hospitals on earth). We have to relearn how to control our higher mental faculties, which bring us whatever we desire immediately.
I was shown how we are working to develop this ability as humans, but it’s more difficult to manipulate matter. Some things, I learned, are easier or harder in different dimensions because of energy, matter and the time/space continuum. This is due to the process of development of beings who are both human and divine with higher consciousness. We are working on this both in the spiritual dimensions and as physical beings. The evolution of consciousness is the next step in human development.
We also traveled over areas where souls live their daily lives, where families gather and entertainment abounds. We no more lie around waiting for Judgment Day than play harps all day long, nor are there virgins and wine awaiting others as gifts for any human sacrifice.
There are musicians and choirs, and beautiful music can always be heard. They are also artists, dancers, singers, inventors, builders, healers, creators of magical things… things they will manifest in their next lifetime in a physical world. True, we don’t have to work or earn a living nor are there masters or slaves. Instead we are able to manifest everything we desire and are free to express our creativity and love for each other in many ways. Sex? That’s a physical thing; love is magical!
We left the areas that could be called “cities” (although nothing like suburbia on earth) where souls existed in small groups and we traveled across vast stretches of green hills where animals grazed in small herds. We passed over many rivers and lakes, fields of colorful flowers, and many varieties of trees. We approached a cluster of crystal-shaped spires, which grew taller as we approached until it looked like a city of very tall, crystallized skyscrapers.
Again, the Being of Light told me it was my choice to stay or go, but that there was more for me to do as Diane if I chose to continue with that life. Still reluctant to leave, I was told that if I chose to go back, I would be given certain knowledge to take back with me to share with others. I was told I wouldn’t remember everything at first because Diane had more work to do in order to make sense of it all but that it would gradually come back and I would know when humanity would be open to receive the teachings.
That didn’t make a whole lot of sense to me but after much discussion about this mission, I agreed to go back and, with that, suddenly found myself at the base of a tall conical-shaped building; so tall, it seemed to go up forever. I was told this was the Hall of Knowledge.
I entered the building (was sucked into it) and flew, spiraling upwards, through what appeared to be shelves, like in a library, of many millions of books and scrolls, and I flew through them all. It wasn’t just that I was absorbing knowledge as I traveled through/within this timeless state, but I was also sitting at the feet of the masters hearing their teachings directly from their mouths.
At the same time I seemed to be moving very fast and looking ahead I saw the pointed top of this structure coming closer and wondered how to stop. At the point of reaching the spire, I burst through it into a kaleidoscope of sparkling colors, like shards of glass shattering, flying slowly away from me in all directions and, at the same time, my head popped out of the water.
My body was down river about 100 yards from the raft rapidly approaching the calm pool and everything was back at frantic speed in real time. The sounds of the raging river, the feeling of being out of control, of having to take a breath, the commotion of the water all around me, brought me back to the physical world.
I immediately became aware of where I was and grabbed for the nearest rock. I was able to pull myself up and I coughed up a lot of water, but needed no medical attention– which was a good thing because we were miles through the forest to the nearest road which was still in the middle of nowhere.
I noticed Sue and Wally were both clinging to rocks in the river near me and I could see that Skip was still in the raft stuck in the hydraulic looking around for me. It was only when my head popped up that John saw me and made his way down river. He helped me out of the water and (recently) told me that I muttered something about having been somewhere else but that was about all I said.
I was in a state of shock not only because of what my body had just experienced in the river, but what I experienced consciously after I inhaled the water and drowned. Those around me assumed I was dead and were looking for my body to wash down the river. Once I was back in my body, I was awestruck, speechless, blown away. I had never heard of anything like this happening to anyone. I could hardly speak much less begin to try to put this ineffable experience into words. The peace. The beauty. The love. The returning home. The remembering who I was… who we really are, what this is all about…
I don’t know how long my body was swirling around under the raft or how long it took my body to travel from point A to point B; no one was looking at their watch at the time. It could have been a minute or two or five or ten, it seemed to me that I was on the other side for days, years… a thousand years. There was no time where I was.
I can’t say that I was clinically dead, perhaps hypothermic because the water was quite cold, but I have no memory of struggling under the water or trying to hold my breath until I reached the surface. (I’ve been a swimmer, water skier, scuba diver, and surfer, so I’ve had plenty of close calls under water before when I thought I might die before I reached the surface, but nothing like this. Those other times I remember perfectly well struggling to reach the surface, my lungs about to burst from trying not to inhale the water, totally aware of my physical experience, and I never had an out-of-body-experience.)
What I do remember during the time my body was at the mercy of the river under the raft or traveling through the rapids until the moment my head popped out of the water is what I have told you. The local river experts suggested the reason I survived was that I surrendered to the river… which I did.
I walked around in a state of shock for months afterwards, not knowing how to describe my experience nor integrate it into my life. When I did try to tell someone what I experienced, I was patted on the head and told to forget it, that I was lucky to be alive… or maybe I shouldn’t tell too many people or they might think I’m crazy, which is why I suppressed the memory and tried to get on with my life. Now I would say I had PTSD, then I just felt like I was walking around with a ticking time bomb inside me.
It wasn’t until 15 or so years later that I picked up a book titled Strangers Among Us by Ruth Montgomery which described similar experiences that I finally knew I wasn’t alone… or crazy. It was some time after that I learned of Raymond Moody’s book, Life After Life, which defined the near-death experience (NDE), and it actually became acceptable to talk about it for the first time. Then I found IANDS (International Association of Near-Death Studies) and felt absolved.
What happens after death is so unspeakably glorious that our imagination and our feelings do not suffice to form even an approximate conception of it. The dissolution of our time-bound form in eternity brings no loss of meaning.
–C.G. Jung, Psychiatrist and Near-death Experiencer
My life changed immediately and drastically after that day in the river and I went through some very tough times because I didn’t know what was happening to me, including a divorce (John had no clue what I was going through after the NDE and just thought I must be crazy), child custody battles, trying to find a job after not working for almost ten years, being single again. At one point someone I thought cared about me tried to kill me in several different ways. I was forced to change my name and move a number of times, including across country because he threatened to kill me if I tried to leave him, to the point I had no money, no friends and was basically homeless.
My kundalini was running amuck causing depression and suicidal thoughts and I had no idea what the problem was. I had another profound spiritual experience as I sat meditating, contemplating suicide by an overdose of pills, where I found myself in a dark void clinging to a rope that was fraying above me. I could have waited for it to break and fallen into the dark abyss below or climb above it toward the light and save myself. I suddenly remembered when I was in the 5th grade I was the only girl who could climb the rope in gym class all the way to the ceiling and I climbed up that rope as fast as I could because I decided I wanted to live!
My dark night of the soul led me on a long, winding path, to becoming a seeker of my higher purpose. I knew there was a reason I chose to come back when I was on the other side, but, once back in body, it was a mystery to me I even had a purpose. My life was in such a mess, what purpose could there possibly be, I wondered. I was overwhelmed by existential angst.
A series of coincidences and synchronicities led me to go back to school (7 years later) at age 37 to study psychology. After 5 years, I had a BA and MS in psychology and have been a counselor ever since. In college, I realized the significance of the library I flew through during my NDE. All the books I studied while at the university, it was as if I had read them already, and had no trouble making the Dean’s List most semesters, in spite of working part time (cleaning houses, dog sitting, tutoring, typing) and raising three teenagers as a single mother.
I began my metaphysical studies several years after graduation, reading every metaphysical, religious and spiritual book I could get my hands on, and talked with many teachers and gurus over the years. I began meditating a few years after my NDE, mainly to deal with stress, but eventually, by getting my kundalini under control, learned to reach and maintain a higher level of consciousness in every day life. I became an ordained minister and a spiritual counselor, and earned another master’s degree in Clinical Hypnotherapy, which lead me to past-life regression as a therapy. My education beyond the veil continues to this day and has evolved my thinking into a higher consciousness perspective.
My purpose for coming back manifested in writing Sitting in the Lotus Blossom in 1989 (it is now available as an ebook), during which time I was a Hospice volunteer, followed by Through the Tunnel: A Traveler’s Guide to Spiritual Rebirth in 1992 (out of print).
I began my web site BeyondtheVeil.net in 1996. In 2008, I developed an online training course for people who wish to teach others to be Transition Guides and have trained a number of very special spiritual midwives for the dying. Training is still available… contact me for information if you are interested.
In 2011, I put some of the conversations I had with visitors to this web site over about 12 years into two ebooks, Conversations With a Near-Death Experiencer and More Conversations With a Near-Death Experiencer. In 2012, I released a new ebook titled How to Die Consciously: Secrets from Beyond the Veil so anyone could learn the practice of conscious dying for themselves or to help their loved ones prepare for transition. In 2013, I revised some of the spiritual lessons from my web site and put them into two ebooks, The Path to Peace & Joy: a practical meditation and Reincarnation and the Evolution of Consciousness.
As a psychospiritual counselor for almost 30 years, my mission is to empower people with the tools and information they need to see beyond the veil. Becoming someone’s guru or making someone dependent upon me for his or her spiritual enrichment has never been the goal of my work. I want everyone to be his or her own guru, his or her own spiritual seeker. My role is simply to try to awaken my readers to the possibility that there is more to life than we’ve been led to believe and it needs to be investigated if you want to evolve your consciousness.
I look forward to the glorious experience of returning home when my work here is finished, but I’m not in any hurry. I still have a lot to do here on earth before it’s time to leave this body, and continue my education and development on the other side. In the meantime, I’m here to help those in need of spiritual uplifting from a near-death perspective. As I find myself in need of financial support in my senior years (because I have rarely charged for my time and expertise in the past), if you contact me for a consultation, I request a donation equal in value to the benefit you feel you receive following our interactions.
Now… I realize this near-death experience was part of my soul’s pre-birth plan to return home at some point in this life so that “Diane” would remember this secret teaching (the kind we forget during birth) and contribute to releasing it to the rest of the world. The secret is that there is nothing to fear… we don’t die… only the body dies but our consciousness is of our soul, which is eternal and lives many human lifetimes attending the University of Life on Earth through its process of spiritual development. We become physical beings to learn and to grow and to express unconditional love as we evolve toward God-Consciousness.
© 1996-2014 Diane Goble
When I returned from a quick trip west for my daughter’s wedding, I heard enthusiastic reports of the fun to be had on the river. The second unit crew had made an excursion trying to retrieve a camera lost on the river, and although their search was unproductive, they had a great time shooting the rapids at Woodall Shoals. I was easily persuaded to join Sue and Assistant Director Skip Cosper on the adventure.
On July 18, a Sunday, we headed out with two rafts and a group including me and Sue. The rapids at Woodall Shoals had a “hydraulic” in the center section, we had been told by river men, but the right side was not too difficult to navigate. The first raft went that way with no trouble, but the second, our group, was not so lucky: we went right into the hydraulic.
Though the raft stayed upright, it was tossed violently into the air and Diane (Goble) Connor, wife of an assistant cameraman, was immediately thrown overboard. Skip and I grabbed her and lost her more than once. Then, seeing her pulled under the raft and ejected downstream, I took the initiative and dove in. I struggled mightily as long as I could before surrendering, totally exhausted and ready to meet my Maker. Then I, too, was sucked under the raft and spit out downstream where Diane and Sue were surviving swimmingly. Later, our river experts told us we survived because we gave up the struggle and let the river have its own way.
~Excerpt from From Oz to E.T. Wally Worsley’s Half-Century in Hollywood. A Memoir in collaboration with Sue Dwiggins Worsley, Edited by Charles Ziarko (Scarecrow Press, London, 1997, page 110-11).
When John first saw us out in the middle of the river, Wally was trying to hold onto my arm and Skip was trying to help, the waterfall was pouring down on my head, and my body was going up and down between the raft and the rocks. He saw Sue floating down river. He and my sister were standing on the rocks in the river across from us but we were too far out into the center for him to reach without getting caught in the current. His thought was that I was not going to make it and he needed to stay alive for the children so he wasn’t going to jump in.
I’m thinking in my version when I say I came down to his side to stop him from going into the river and drowning too, that he got my message. He says he heard me yell to Wally to let go and when he did, I was sucked under by the hydraulic force and he thought I was gone because he didn’t see my body come up nor did he see me struggling in the current or floating downstream (I had become one with the river). He kept looking around the raft for my head to pop up but it never did, then Wally jumped out of the raft and when John looked down river, he saw me hanging onto a rock. He says he ran down to where I was and pulled me out of the water.
What I remember is getting out of the water feeling fine, and then helping to get the raft unstuck from the hydraulic by jumping back in the water to grab the rope that was tied to the raft and whipping back and forth in the current so we could all pull the raft out… and that Skip was still in the raft. My husband’s memory is fuzzy on that. JoAnn, who was about 16 at the time, didn’t have clear memories of details.
John remembers me telling him something about going to another place and then coming back, but I wasn’t very articulate about it and he just dismissed it as some sort of confusion during the ordeal (poor thing, she must be in delirious!).
He said there was quite a roasting on the bus the next morning on the way to location about a bunch of idiots shooting the rapids and almost getting people killed!
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Ken Ring (Lessons From the Light) interviews a number of near-death experiencers, and presents twelve insights that sum up their new attitude, proposing that, if you were actually to live by them, you would become a truly free person:
1. There is a reason for everything that happens.
2. Find your own purpose in life.
3. Do not be a slave to time.
4. Appreciate things for what they are.
5. Do not allow yourself to be dominated by the thoughts or expectations of others.
6. Do not be concerned with what others think of you.
7. Remember, you are not your body.
8. Don’t fear pain or death.
9. Be open to life and live it to its fullest.
10. Money and material things are not particularly important in the scheme of things.
11. Helping others is what counts in life.
12. Do not trouble yourself with competition – just enjoy the show.
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