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Dead For 14 Minutes

Excerpts from interview:

Priest George Maximov: Hello! You are watching My Path To God. I’ll tell you right away that the guest of today’s program experienced very dramatic events in his life that led him to God. Non-religious people often say that nobody ever returned from the other world. They imply that nobody knows what awaits us after death. However, the story of our guest disproves this statement…

Vasily Lazarev: At first, I didn’t realize that I was dead. The realization came later. The pulling became faster and faster. At an increasing speed, I flew through a tunnel with semi-transparent walls. There were pictures around me that could be compared to photographs of stars taken by the Hubble telescope. A bright light was ahead. It was extremely bright. This was similar to the aqua park attraction when you spiral down into the pool of warm water. I heard a chord of some kind of ethereal music. That was when I looked at myself. Only then did I realize that I was dead. I didn’t feel any regret. Instead, I felt joy, calmness and delight. I looked at myself and saw my body lying in the ambulance. Somehow, I didn’t care about it… absolutely. I didn’t feel any contempt or hatred toward it, I simply looked at it…

Father George: As if it was something foreign to you?

Vasily Lazarev: Yes. Just like a stone that is lying on a street when you’re passing it by. You don’t care if it is there or not. Then something pulled me up, you know, as if a warm hand lifted me up. I felt the waves of happiness and absolute calmness. Absolute protection. Everything around me was full of such a strong love that I don’t even know how to describe it. I was pulled through some kind of clouds. It felt as if I was on an ascending airplane that went higher and higher. Then I saw a figure in a shining light. It was dressed in long clothes like a tunic. You know, I never even opened the Bible before that and never had any thoughts about God or Christ, but at that time I understood with every fiber of my soul that it was Him. He was like a true father. He met me, his prodigal son, with love that you can’t find on Earth. Nobody ever talked to me like that. He did not reproach, assure or scold me. He just showed my life to me. We communicated telepathically and every word of His sounded like a law. There were not any doubts about it. He spoke quietly and affectionately, and it became clearer and clearer to me that my attitude not only toward myself, but also toward my relatives and everybody else was very wrong. I wept loudly and as my heart was breaking and purifying, I gradually felt better…

Anyway, He could stop the life at any point. It was like some kind of movie. But the most interesting thing was that at any point I could walk in and look at myself and feel the situation from the point of view of everybody around me.

Father George: And understand what they thought about it?

Vasily Lazarev: Yes. I understood how you could hurt people by words. It is like… for example, the knife and bullet wounds that I had cannot even be compared to the pain caused by a single word. It is something that you remember for the rest of your life. I understood the consequences of that. I understood how you should be careful in your actions. Many people think that there is only this life and after that there is just some utter darkness and nothingness. No, my friends, everyone will have to answer for the things they did. Everyone…

Of course, even though my experience was wonderful, it could be equally bad for those who would be in hell. I wasn’t in paradise; it was probably some kind of a vestibule to paradise. I don’t know how to explain… That feeling was probably more powerful than all the drugs in the world multiplied by eternity. The explosion of omniscience literally knocked me off my feet. The truth only brushed by me, but I realized what an endless potential we had in ourselves. Knowing everything… There is no way of explaining it, simply take my word for it: it is great, we won’t be bored there for sure. It was so wonderful, warm and cozy there with Him. I felt that He was the father. The true father. Unlike my earthly fathers… I wasn’t very lucky with my biological father or my stepfather.

To cut a long story short, I was coming back, as if the movie was running backwards. The sun sets down late in May… I remember it was still sunset and I was descending through the leaves of the tree, the roof of the ambulance and back into my body. My conscience kicks back. I take a deep breath, feeling a strong pain in my ribs, and grab the paramedic by the hand…

Now I understand that all of this is related to God. He sets you on the right path. I went to work, and stopped cheating on my wife right away. Then gradually, step by step, I quit smoking and swearing. I asked God to help me in all my endeavors. I simply asked silently and He always helped…

Father George: Still, you did not embrace the Church right away?

Vasily Lazarev: No. It was a long journey. It was as if I had to remove all the unnecessary things first, and then embracing the Church was like fine-tuning to reach perfection. Getting rid of all the above-mentioned addictions [see full interview – link above] was, I think, was just a coarse tuning, and now I have to fine tune. This fine-tuning will continue till my last breath. It is far more important and infinitely more difficult than the first stage. Quitting smoking is much easier than quitting being jealous, and it is easier to quit drinking than to stop hating somebody or to forgive somebody…

I also understood that in a way we have two births. First is when we are born, and the second is when we die. In this life, while we are in this world, we must decide who are we with and what actions do we do. I am very lucky to have another chance. God gave me a new life so that I could understand what love is. You just have to clean up your act in time. As Saint Seraphim of Sarov said, “We must acquire the Holy Spirit”…

I want to attest that the personality is indestructible. I remained conscious all the time. This confirms that we do not die. I say this for atheists, for those who reject Our Lord. Here they hope for something, maybe for the prince of this world to help them; but he won’t protect them over there. Over there they will get what they deserve. It is absolutely true.

You shouldn’t only believe, you should also do good deeds. Think—Why were you were born? Can it be that the most complicated biological organism on the planet was created just to pass time idly? Our life on earth is just a moment, but it is a very important moment, as it is here that we decide if we go to Him or not. There would be no other moment like that and you can’t change anything after you die. Try to avoid doing evil, while you still have time, and ask for forgiveness from people you’ve hurt. And dedicate all your actions to the glory of God.

…Many people told me, “You just had hallucinations under the influence of drugs. Some kind of delirium that occurs when cerebellum does something…

Father George: But the fact that your life changed so drastically is already an evidence that that could not have been mere hallucinations. Drug addicts see hallucinations all the time, but they don’t change their lives. Life can be changed only by a real experience. I think that God showed you in advance the things that could happen, because everything in your past life led you to a different place, that outer darkness. Through His love, God showed what awaits you, so you could make the right choice. Thank God that you made good use of your second chance.

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