November 27th, 2013
12:07 PM ET

Anderson Cooper Special Report: To Heaven and Back

Their stories are extraordinary. Randi Kaye speaks with people who were on the brink of death, when they say they left this world for another. They offer answers to the questions we would all like to ask.

Randi spoke with Orthopedic surgeon Mary Neal, who was trapped underwater for more than fifteen minutes. She describes the moment "I felt my body break free, and I felt my spirit break free."

Anita Moorjani was living her final moments with stage 4 lymphoma. She says she had to choose whether to come back or not. In her own words, Anita tells Randi why she returned.

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  1. Gunilla

    There can be such wisdom – how to live our lives – from these near death experiences!
    But an open and a curious mind is acquired! The more we read on the subject, (and talk to open minded or searching souls), the more meaningful and rich life seems! (and less fear of death).
    It is also wonderful that the near death experiences are so similar in all religions! That gives us hope in the dialog! Also, our old scriptures has to be interprested in this light. Universal experience has to be taken more seriously.
    Look for books on Amazon ("LIfe after LIfe" for example) and form study groups. To meditate is one way to try to tune in to this dimension. Live well! Gunilla

    January 14, 2014 at 1:28 pm |
  2. Santiago Montaña

    It is very difficult to explain to people who does not live a NearDeathExperience, HOW we know it is real. More real than life. Is it because there are no words to describe what we have seen? Was it dificult to stands before the feelings you have produced with your actions, words, thougths in other people? How can you describes forgivness? A ligth suctiones you through a white tunnel? Since I was 17 didnt find people with whom share this experience. Now, I am very thankfull to the people who are showing and exposing those stories as I have mine, beacuse we need to share with believers and non believers. Native language is spanish, so apologize grammar 😉

    January 6, 2014 at 3:52 pm |
  3. M.

    I went to eat lunch today with my friend from work, she started to tell me that her brother, that had been sick in the hospital with a very bad infecction, was in the hospital room, when one of the nurses came in there, ( she had never been his nurse or been in the room before), as he saw her, he told his wife to write something down ( he is paralized from the neck down) and to tell her to come see him, as she aproached him he proceeded to tell her that he had talked to God and that God told him to tell her that all of her struggles were going to be fine, that everything was gonna be ok, the nurse started to cry hysterically and told him and his wife that she had just been diagnosed with lung cancer, by the way what he had asked his wife to write down was the nurses last name, wich he had never seen before or knew. Miracles exists, we just have to look around and noticed them, God talks to us in different ways all the time, we just have to listen.

    December 11, 2013 at 3:20 pm |
  4. Felix Sinclair

    Why should be accept these accounts as real? Why not dreams? Or experiences while under anesthesia?

    December 9, 2013 at 9:33 am |
    • Olga Arango

      Dr. Neal didn't get any anesthesia when she drowned.

      January 2, 2014 at 5:53 pm |
  5. Bruce

    I had a near-death experience 20 years ago, consistent in all respects to the conventional paradigm and to all the accounts in your documentary, involving my drowning off the coast of Barbados. It really is one of those things you have to go through to believe! There was a pretty good 1993 movie on the subject called Fearless, starring Jeff Bridges and Rosie Perez. The movie's focuses on the emotionally trying aftermath of such an experience, when you feel for a time bizarrely inviolate, living outside the fear of death. I also recommend Herman Melville's novel White Jacket which contains, IMHO, the best and most poetic description of the classic near-death experience – like mine, a drowning incident. The earlier poster, like one of the witnesses from your documentary, puts a distinctly Christian spin on passing from this world to the next, and it's probably the case that each near-death is wrapped in the language and tropes to which the individual is most accustomed. My own experience was more existential than religious – which probably says something about my own personal philosophy. There was a voice that said "Not now, not yet" but I hesitate to call it angelic; and the vision of life beyond death presented to me bore little resemblance to the traditional Christian heaven.

    December 3, 2013 at 10:30 pm |
    • Anne

      Thanks for your post. From my experience and my family's I agree that we put our own religious spin on the experience. But life after death is universal and as much science and matter as religious.

      December 9, 2013 at 11:43 am |
  6. constance

    I grew up in the church, was saved and baptized. I still did not understand God until I had a near death experience. God is Love pure and simple. We are all children of God..

    December 3, 2013 at 2:01 pm |
  7. Peter Herz

    My beloved grandmother passed the night this aired.. I'm glad it aired because it helped me believe she is taken care of '.. or “she believed in heaven, so she's covered afterlife-wise,” as they say in Ratoutille. Thanks for making this piece and introducing all these miracles and angels into our collective awareness.

    December 3, 2013 at 12:57 pm |
  8. Doug Wadeson

    Yes, we should all put our faith in the stories of those whose brains were starved of oxygen and/or loaded with medications. This is the way knowledge progresses. Not! Any rational person should see the shortcomings of such stories.

    December 2, 2013 at 7:59 pm |
    • Jaafar

      Once you set out with the axiom (i.e. leap of faith) that only the physical is real you'll never recognize the metaphysical, even if it stares you in the face.

      December 6, 2013 at 3:59 pm |
  9. Leslie

    I was absolutely fascinated and inspired by this program. Thank you so much for airing it. It came along at exactly the right time for me and gave me a great deal of hope!

    December 2, 2013 at 6:13 pm |
  10. Linda mcmillan

    This was a wonderful program and something rarely discussed on a major media outlet. It exceeded my expectations and will be looking to view it a second time if it re-airs and to tell my friends to also. Very well done, very believable,and very inspiring, Thank you, Anderson cooper, randi Kaye, and everyone else involved in this project!

    December 2, 2013 at 3:04 pm |
  11. Jose Pereira

    No my friend, it is not a lie! We are all imortal spirits and we reincarnate as many times as we need to evolve until we become perfect. There is no hell, there is no devil, there is no demons. We are the "demons" and we are the "Angels", will be, when we become perfect spirits. The Angels, has some call it, were also like us until they become pure and perfect. There are no special creatures in criation, God doesnt give more to some and less to others. We make our desteny with the help and love of God, and Jesus. Jesus is the governer of our planet and was also a spirit like us that already reached perfection millions of years ago.
    After we "die" (death does not exist, only our fisical body dies) we live in the spirit world, and the place we go to, dependes on our evolution, on our actions, the good and the bad we did. Then we keep learning and working and one day we reincarnate again. It dependes on many factors, its our choice, depends on our needs to evolve. This is only a small resume. No one can escape from life, it is eternal, never endes...

    December 2, 2013 at 2:38 pm |
    • Barb Pachin

      Perfectly stated Jose!

      December 8, 2013 at 8:43 am |
  12. Ian

    Randy, Yes Heaven is a holy place and sometimes God gives some people a little glimpse of it before it's their final time to be called home aand it usually helps them to build up their faith and understanding. I have not had the pleasure of meeting Mary Jo yet, but I have met both Mary Neal and Anita Moorjani, and I can tell you that both of these women are extremely honest and are doing God's work right now in telling of their experiences. God works in many mysterious ways and this is one of them. Jesus wants people who have these experiences to tell as many people as they can about the incredible unconditional love that God has for us all. Take care brother and if you get a chance please read/watch as many of these experiences as possible as they each give us a little glimpse into the Heavenly Realms, just like little jig-saw puzzle pieces and we can gradually build up a big picture perspective and understanding.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:46 pm |
  13. Sam

    I watched this last night and enjoyed it very much. You (Randy) may call these people all liar's if you choose. As a Christian I fully understand "what it takes" or what is required to make it into Heaven. However, I do not believe the people who have had near death, or clinical death experiences are liar's when they recount their brief journey. I find these stories amazing, with an essence of hope and quite possibly bring other's to Christ. By the way, it's spelled accepted, not excepted, as your wrote.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:19 pm |
  14. Libby Peck

    I replied to Randy yesterday and either my post has not been approved yet or will not be approved at all.

    Did you watch the broadcast Randy? All credit was given to our Heavenly Father and every miraculous event was experienced by people who Are born again!

    I found each person to be credible witnesses to the power of our Savior!

    Well done CNN and Anderson Cooper! I wish television programing was filled with these types of broadcasts!

    December 2, 2013 at 9:13 am |
  15. ABIM

    2 Corinthians 4:16 : Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our
    outward man
    is perishing, yet the
    inward man
    is being renewed day by day.

    Man is made of 2 part : flesh and spirit. The only part of man that can recognize God and divinity is the "inner man". Men who become born again in Jesus, have the power to recognise their inner man, even in the body...that why they can hear God. Excellent investigation. Man is simply the image and likeness of God, if you are open to it.

    This will be clearer when you die....either you are a christian or not.....but do not wait until near death experience to verify these, cos it might be too late.

    December 2, 2013 at 8:38 am |
  16. Barbara

    Thank you for an excellent report. I'm glad the medical community is stepping forth and sharing these experiences which ordinary people have been telling for eons.

    December 1, 2013 at 11:52 pm |
  17. Ron

    Thank You for playing a wonderful and uplifting show. God really is an amazing God. I would love to watch a show like this every week.

    December 1, 2013 at 8:31 pm |
  18. Felix

    Dear Randy, what you are describing is for those who believe in Christianity, at least a sect of it. Did I write sect? Another faction believes something totally different as in the Mormons. In your description, those who worship Hinduism, Buddism, etc are not worthy and will not enter the Kingdom of Heaven? By the way, 'excepted' should be 'accepted'. Thank you.

    December 1, 2013 at 7:37 pm |
  19. karen

    I love hearing peoples testimonies..I myself have heard Jesus walk and breathe.

    December 1, 2013 at 7:05 pm |
  20. Norman

    Having had a significant Near Death Experience (NDE) in 2005, I know whereof these people speak. Both have been compelling presenters at IANDS-Santa Barbara (International Association for Near Death Studies),

    However, similar to Anita Moorjani, I am not Christian. I did not experience any of the iconic religious symbolism an earlier post suggests is necessary for such experiences. Indeed, there is a range of experiences (within a general framework) reported by the growing number of such people.

    Hopefully, the Cooper program will expand the awareness of a wider audience, many of whom I am sure, have had such experiences and did not discuss them because they seemed too odd..

    December 1, 2013 at 4:59 pm |
  21. Pedro bundol

    Who knows what waits for us in afterlife ? But when respected professionals like Dr Eben Alexander, Dr Mary C Neal, Anita Moorjani then maybe it is true. But people who do not believe in God will always try to tear down that belief. It is their problem.

    December 1, 2013 at 11:30 am |
  22. Barb G.

    Spirituality vs Man made religion......the near death experiences demonstrate and reveal one's true spiritual being self and the unconditional love that one can encompass which is a positive breath of fresh air compared to man made religions.

    December 1, 2013 at 5:46 am |
  23. Linda

    As a nurse with 35 years of ER and flight experience, I have heard countless stories and I BELIEVE them. The NDE is a deeply personal experience with profound after-effects. They have much to teach all of us, so listening is vital, especially for health care professionals. Thank you Anderson and CNN for this airing this episode. I find it ironic that in talking about death, the hidden message is realizing what's important in life and learning to live in the moment. It's all about hope.

    November 30, 2013 at 3:09 pm |
  24. Mark G

    I hope the program includes interviews with neuroscientists providing explanations about near death experiences (NDE). If not, this cannot be a news program, and it will qualify for the Ridiculist. Remember anecdotes are not evidence of anything.

    November 30, 2013 at 8:22 am |
  25. Bob

    I can't pretend to know for sure, because nobody knows for sure. But, the most likely explanation for these experiences is, and probably always will be this. The mind is a device that evolved to interpret our environment and react to it. In the moments before death the brain goes haywire. It makes sense that with all the synapses firing, in one last desperate attempt to perceive and react, that we would have moments of tremendous sensation. That incomprehensible experience, mixed with the need of the mind to comprehend (interpret) the experience, easily leads to a miraculous/religious explanation. It is likely not reality, though again, we cannot know for sure. On a slightly different tangent, the most rational explanation for all of our existence is that we are simply matter and energy, a part of the larger environment around us. It is most likely that awareness evolved due to the inherent benefit it provides to survival. However, my opinion is that the cost is that awareness leads to an illusion of separation, that we are something more than our environment, our universe. We aren't... we are all the same stuff, we are the universe observing itself. If true, that reality would not make existence any less real, or special. It merely provides perspective that we are all equal, we are all special, yet we should not fear the return to that from which we came.

    November 29, 2013 at 10:20 pm |
  26. Randy

    This is all a liar, heaven is a holy place and those that Enter must be born again of the water and of the spirit, those that have excepted Jesus as their personal savior and have been born again of the baptism of the Holy Ghost will make it in.

    November 29, 2013 at 12:58 pm |
    • Libby

      I agree with you that the Only way a person will see the Kingdom of God, is through His Son, Jesus Christ.

      Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. John 14:6 KJV

      However, I did not see anywhere in the previews above where these people, at some point in their lives, had not prayed to receive Jesus into their hearts and lives. Unless it is stated that these were unsaved souls, in tonight's Special Report, you should reserve your judgments and not assume that these people are liars. You may not only be missing out on a great blessing but you may also be leading others astray by encouraging them not to watch.

      In His Service,

      December 1, 2013 at 9:03 am |
    • Pedro bundol

      Like I said who knows, Only those who experienced it can testify. Not unless there is something wrong with their moral character.

      December 1, 2013 at 11:32 am |
    • Shannon

      I find it beyond hilarious that accounts like these are called lies by people who actually believe that dunking their heads in water and claiming to believe that one man who lived 2000 years ago is what it takes to have a glorious afterlife. If there's a god, I doubt he'd shun all those who came before Christ and all of those who aren't Christians since his death. Christianity makes no sense.

      December 1, 2013 at 1:42 pm |
    • Brenda

      How can you say it is a lie? You don't know if these people have had baptism or not.. Besides maybe their stories are of them dying but not yet into heaven. You should not be so judgmental. It may keep you from entering heaven.

      December 1, 2013 at 2:15 pm |
    • Ishmar

      You are going to have a big surprise when you leave your body. God is more than a dogma and all the religions teach. God is an energy that is inside everything and everybody. Heaven is not a place is a state of mind. That's experiences are real. Blessings!!!!!!!

      December 1, 2013 at 4:05 pm |
    • Simone

      Everything in the universe is not cut and dry Randy. Everyone has a different journey in this lifetime.

      December 1, 2013 at 7:24 pm |
    • Diane

      Randy, how can you judge these people? You do not know them and the bible tells us not to judge.

      December 1, 2013 at 8:31 pm |
    • Debbie

      This was a wake-up call for these individuals. It awakened me!

      December 1, 2013 at 10:23 pm |
    • Jane

      Randy, living a good life and being kind to others is more important than holy water and will place you at a higher level of existence when you pass from this life. Growing up Catholic, I have been baptized but "not of my will." It was a decision my parents made for me. I have crossed over briefly several times and can only compare this existence as a classroom and when we cross over we will return to our real home. We are here for a purpose and when we pass from this life it is then we will be born again. Don't judge others because you believe differently. Keep an open mind and heart, pray for guidance and the answers will come to you. Take care,

      December 2, 2013 at 2:30 pm |
    • Jane

      it is not up to you to call someone a liar. too much of this information has been recorded for it to be a lie.

      December 2, 2013 at 2:45 pm |

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