Conversation With Raymond Moody
by Simon Hunt
I was lucky enough to be asked to spend a day with Raymond Moody in preparation for an article to be titled "A Day In The Life Of Raymond Moody". During that day, and the days that followed, I accumulated an abundance of material that touched my heart. Far too much to be included within bounds of the one article I was asked to write. Dr. Moody, I discovered, is not only a prolific writer, but a captivating speaker as well. Contained in the following conversation is material exclusive to New Beginnings.
Raymond Moody: Hello! Hello!
P. N.: Hello Raymond. We came to visit with you, but you weren't here. So we've been gathering information from Linda. (Up to this point, Linda Jones, UNLV Management Assistant ll, was providing background information on the endowment from the Bigelow Foundation and how the Chair Of Consciousness Studies came into being. In short, an endowment from the foundation enabled the University to create the Chair in August 1997. Dr. Moody is the second person to hold this prestigious seat, and will be staying for a second term extending into the year 2000. This will enable Dr. Moody & UNLV to reach out further into the community by offering more classes allowing individuals to gain credits applied to the continuing education requirements in their respective fields. New classes begin January 12th... on Altered States of Consciousness, Philosophy and the Afterlife, and Humor, Nonsense, & the Mind. Call 895-3391 to register.)
Simon Hunt: : Hi Raymond. How was class?
Raymond Moody: Good. Very Good.
Simon Hunt: : You know, I was on the Internet last night looking up something or other and I came across a symposium you'll be doing up in Canada next year. Of course, seeing your name I had to look a little deeper into it, and I noticed that they said you were three times a best selling author. Life After Life, I know was a best seller all over the world, but which of your other books made the I believe it was the New York Times Best Selling List?
Raymond Moody: I didn't know that. I can't say if that's true or not.
P. N.: How many books have you written, Raymond?
Raymond Moody: Hmmm. Let's see. Life After Life, Reflections, Laugh After Laugh
Simon Hunt: : Laugh After Laugh?
Raymond Moody: Yes, that was one of my favorite books. It was done in 1978 and a friend suggested the title. It was about the medical and psychological effects of laughter and the sense of humor. And then I did a couple of books with Paul Perry One was called The Light Beyond, and another was Coming Back I think they're out of print now, but they were just kind of well they wanted something more popular than what I usually write. Paul took my research and wrote it up in a more journalistic fashion. That was about 10-15 years ago. I got fascinated with doing those past life regressions and I did them with a lot of my students and colleagues. As you know my interest in this in not exactly like that of a parapsychologist
Then about 1990 or so I did one called Reunions, and I have a new one on the way out; The Last Laugh. That again is not my title. I'm not good at titles.
Simon Hunt: : When is it due out?
Raymond Moody: I'm not really sure. You know how publishers can be. But I've got a proof of it here I'd like you to read. I'll give it to you before you leave.
P. N.: What about your book on scrying? When did you do that?
Raymond Moody: Oh, I forgot about that. Let me see if I have a copy of that. I'd like you to have one of those if there's one here. (He starts digging through a large box pulling out various books and video tapes he has done.) Hmmm. Do you have Reunions in your library?
P. N.: No. The S-E library just has Life After Life and Reflections.
Raymond Moody: Well here, take this, this is a galley proof of that book? (Looking Closer) Oh, wait a minute, this is to my wife? (Pauses and reflects as he reads the hand written dedication)
Simon Hunt: : Raymond by all means, please do not give away something like that. I can guarantee that it would be something that you'd regret life after life.
Raymond Moody: (Laughing) Oh no. I don't know how that got in there. (Still digging in the box) Okay, here's another one. There were other books here and there, but as you must know by this point in our relationship, I'm not very good at remembering things like that.
P. N.: It's safe to say you've written quite a few.
Raymond Moody: (Smiling) I'm a prolific writer.
And before I forget, this is the copy of The Last Laugh. Now remember, this is just the
first proof. It's right off the computer, definitely first draft stuff.
Now if we're going to have a relationship, you're going to have to realize that practicality is beyond me. I mean I'm just totally? (waving his hands and making funny faces. For some reason we all fell into hysterics about it.)
Simon Hunt: : I know. I know. I know exactly what you mean. If you haven't realized it yet, Patti is my practical side.
Raymond Moody: Now Cheryl, she's the one. (Cheryl Moody, Raymond's lovely wife and the mother of Carter, their 3 month old child)
Simon Hunt: : That reminds me, I brought these for you... (copies of NB & Psychic Fair fliers)
P. N.: To give to Cheryl.
Simon Hunt: : If we make it tonight, I'll be sure and give her copies too.
Raymond Moody: Please can you come to the lecture tonight?
P. N.: We're trying to re-arrange our schedule so we can.
Raymond Moody: There's going to be some mind boggling stuff from Diane Archangel. She's a Hospice Chaplain and she's been working with the psycomantium down in Texas
Simon Hunt: : That's the room that you had in your facility in Alabama described in Danion Brinkley's book where people experience reunions with their departed loved ones?
Raymond Moody: Exactly. And she's has had a much better success rate with it than I did, back when I was working with it.
Simon Hunt: : And basically, a psycomantium is?
Raymond Moody: It's a small darkened room dark colored walls very dimly lit with indirect lighting - 3 to 5, maybe 7 watt bulb at most which sets behind a chair. On the wall in front of the chair, just above head height so the person can't see themselves in it is a mirror. That's it. Its really pretty simple.
P. N.: And people see apparitions of deceased loved ones in the mirror? That's like scrying!
Raymond Moody: Yes. Diane has a great success rate. Much better than I did. (at her lecture, Diane reported 96% have reunions) And it's just not in the mirror it's just absolutely mind boggling just absolutely mind boggling
Simon Hunt: : Raymond, how did you get started in all this?
Raymond Moody: I started out fascinated by astronomy as a kid. Went to the University of Virginia to become that - an astronomy major. I had always been interested in philosophy too, but immediately realized that that's where the kind of astronomy I was interested in was the conceptual, rather than what was actually out there.
P. N.: What was out there Philosophically speaking, rather than the study of stars and such.
Raymond Moody: Yes. Exactly. So I got my Ph.D. in Philosophy pretty quickly. I was let's see 24 years old. Then I went to East Carolina University and taught philosophy there for three years. And I really loved it. I love teaching. But having gained my degree so early, and being the kind of person that's motivated by curiosity, I felt that there was so such more that I wanted to know. I really wanted to move my knowledge out into other areas, so I decided I wanted to go to medical school. And I did. I received my medical degree in (glancing at the diploma on the wall) '76, and then did my psychiatry training. That was another 4 years.
Simon Hunt: : And how did all this lead you to write Life After Life?
Raymond Moody: Well, we have to go back to 1965 and a philosophy professor, John Marshal for that. I was what they call a honor student at the University of Virginia. We had pretty much free reign; a tutorial once a week, and we could take any of the graduate or undergraduate courses in philosophy that we wanted to. And in one of those classes, Professor Marshal was talking about what is called the mind-body problem - which is an old philosophical dilemma - how it is that the consciousness and material substance of the body are related. And in this discussion Professor Marshal mentioned that there was a psychiatry professor, Dr. George Ritchie, who had had a profound experience years before when he had actually been pronounced dead. So I was fascinated by that and took that opportunity to listen to Dr. Ritchie's experience.
And then about 4 years later... about 1969 I was teaching - At East Carolina - a class on Plato's Phaedo in which he talks about life after death.
P. N.: Plato talked about life after death?
Raymond Moody: He does talk a little about that, but this dialogue is about the possibility of life after death, and I was dwelling on the logic that Plato uses. After class, this boy came up and he said? I remember his words exactly, "Dr, Moody, I wish we could talk about life after death in this class." And I said, "Why would you want to talk about that?
Now, I should explain to you that my interest in philosophy was more along the lines of what they call philosophical analysis. And from that point of view, the notion of an afterlife that's kind of like how many angels dance on the head of pin.
So I asked why he wanted to talk about that, and he said "About a year ago I had a terrible accident and my doctor said that I died. I had an experience that has just totally changed my life, but I haven't anybody that I can talk about it with."
You can imagine how I felt when the experience he told me was almost identical to what I head 4 years earlier from George Ritchie. It was at that point; that's when I really got hooked.
I gave a couple talks at the Jarvis Methodist Church in Greenville, North Carolina, and as anyone who does this knows, if you give a talk on something like this, people come up and talk; "I've never told anybody this before, but
By the time I went to medical school I had about a dozen cases of this. And obviously medical school gave me a great opportunity to talk with people who had been resuscitated. In April of 73 they asked me at the medical school to give a talk on this because the professors there had been hearing this from their own patients, too.
P. N.: So you began speaking on this in 1973?
Raymond Moody: Well actually, I had given a number of talks back in Greenville but this is where it moved to talking to the medical profession. At one of these medical meetings, there was, unbeknownst to me, a reporter present. That was the basis of an article in the Atlanta Constitution which led to a follow-up, and then another one. A publisher called up and said that this would be the making of a good book. I already had some stuff I was writing up, so the book was finished in 74 and published in 75.
Simon Hunt: : And the rest is history Raymond, I'd really like to get into scrying, or mirror gazing, a little deeper with you, but I know you're getting ready for the lecture tonight.
Raymond Moody: Ya'll will be able to make it tonight, won't you?
P. N.: We may be late, but we'll be there.
Raymond Moody: I'll introduce you to Diane, and maybe you could call her, exchange phone numbers, or something; she'll have such wonderful information for you on her experiences and studies.
Simon Hunt: : Sounds great Raymond. See you then.
P. N.: : Okay, Raymond. Well see you tonight. Bye.
Raymond Moody. M.D., Ph.D. is the author of Life after Life and numerous other books. Simon Hunt is the founder of Spiritual Endeavors. P.N. is the co-founder of Spiritual Endeavors.