Betty (Jean) Eadie (born 1942) is a prominent American author of several books on near-death experiences (NDEs). Her best-known book is the No. 1 New York Times bestselling book Embraced by the Light (1992). It describes her near-death experience. It is arguably the most detailed near-death account on record. It was followed by The Awakening Heart (1996), which was also a best-seller. The Ripple Effect (1999) and Embraced by the Light: Prayers and Devotions for Daily Living (2001) were both published independently.
Early life and career
Eadie, who is part Native American, was born in Valentine, Nebraska and raised on the Rosebud Indian Reservation in South Dakota. At the age of four, Betty's parents separated and she was placed in St. Francis Indian School, one of the American Indian boarding schools at the time along with six of her siblings. While in high school she dropped out to care for a younger sister, then later returned to receive her diploma, eventually pursuing a college degree. She also converted to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church), in which she says she was largely inactive until her NDE, after which she became active and served church callings in her ward in Seattle.
After her NDE, Betty began volunteering her time at a cancer research center comforting dying patients and their families. She then studied hypnotherapy, graduating at the top of her class, and later opened her own clinic. After "Embraced" was published, Betty gave up her hypnotherapy practice and began traveling extensively throughout the United States, Canada, Great Britain and Ireland, speaking on death and the afterlife. Today, after more than 37 years of NDE studies, Betty J. Eadie continues to collect and evaluate near-death accounts, as well as giving speeches and lectures.
In her NDE account, Eadie reports many phenomena similar to other NDE accounts, and also features unique to her story. In 1973, while recovering from a surgical operation at age 31, Eadie reported she first felt herself fading to lifelessness, then felt a surge of energy followed by a "pop" and feeling of release, a sense of freedom and movement unhindered by inertia or gravity. She was met by three angelic beings who spoke with her about her prior existence and hitherto suppressed memories in order to participate in earthly experience. She traveled to terrestrial locations such as her home merely by thinking about them, returned to her hospital, and then passed on through a dark tunnel-like medium in which she reported sensing other beings in a transitory preparatory stage.
Exiting the tunnel, Eadie approached an intense white light and met in heaven the embrace of Jesus Christ, during which encounter she reported a strong sense of love and a high-speed transfer of answers to her many questions. Possessing a corporeal identity of an ethereal kind, she visited numerous places, persons, and phenomena such as natural settings and gardens beyond the character of the conventionally material, and was taken on a tour of sorts to learning experiences that she said felt equivalent to weeks or months.
In addition to discussing traditional Christian subjects such as prayer, creation, and the Garden of Eden, Eadie reported visiting a library of the mind in which it became possible to know anything or anyone in history or the present in minute and unambiguous detail, as well as being able to observe individuals on Earth and being taken to distant reaches and civilizations of the universe.
Warned initially upon arrival that she had died prematurely, Eadie was at last told she must return in order to fulfill the personal mission allocated her, though its specific character, like numerous other details, were removed from her memory, in order, she said she was told, to prevent difficulties in her fulfilling it. Upon protesting, she was made to understand the reason behind the necessity for her return and reluctantly agreed to do so, though exacting a promise that she would not be made to stay on earth longer than necessary. Her return to material corporeality she reported as extremely heavy-feeling and unpleasant, initially intermittent in phases, and accompanied not long after by a demonic visitation that was cut short by an angelic reappearance.
Eadie's doctor reportedly verified her clinical death on a return visit to the hospital, attributing it to a hemorrhage during a nurses' shift change, and took great interest in her recollections. Independent verification of the length of her decease was not possible, but she speculated it could have lasted up to four hours based on her memory of certain details preceding and following it.
Some elements of her account seem on their face inconsistent, such as the idea of an elaborately interdependent universal plan and the human ability to fail at it, but this for example she attributed to the permissible scope of free will within a larger divine control.
Subsequent to her experience, she spoke of it very little and suffered a long-term depression, which she attributed to the anticlimactic nature of returning to corporeality after experiencing the heaven of afterlife. She slowly became involved in near-death groups and studies and gave talks, going on subsequently to write her account in book form, which met with runaway success.
While her account incorporated elements of traditional Christianity, it also met with a certain degree of resistance as well, largely to its teaching (as she reported she was given it) that some denominations might approximate truth better than others but that different teachings were more appropriate for certain individuals at their given stage of spiritual development, and that therefore judgment should not be passed on them for where they were. Unlike many fundamentalist Christians, and despite her own strict Catholic upbringing as recounted in her book, and her conversion to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church), after receiving her near-death experience, Eadie refers to God as "he" instead of "He" and insists that all religions are necessary for each person, claiming that each religion is necessary for each person because of their different levels of spiritual enlightenment, contrary to the views shared by many Christians worldwide that only Christianity is the one true valid religion. Curiously, Eadie also claims that after her encounter with Jesus, she learned that Christ and God were in fact two separate entities, a view conflicting with that of her Protestant-taught tradition of the Holy Trinity. This is, however, in keeping with the teachings of the LDS Church.
In addition, unlike some other Near-Death Experiencers, Eadie claims that reincarnation does not truly exist, and everyone only has one chance on Earth at life. She taught similar withholding of censure on individuals for things like atheism and homosexuality and rejected a common traditional image of hell as an eternity of suffering, suggesting that her life review experience, in which she was made to live and feel the full positive and negative consequences of her cumulative actions in intense detail, including their effects on all around her, were a more than adequate equivalent and probably what the term truly signified.
She also stressed that her key lesson was that life's purpose was to learn love and to grow through the exercise of free will, including making mistakes. Other teachings she said she was given included the idea that there were few if any true accidents, that human lives and paths were chosen, agreed to, and prepared for in advance, with memory of such details suppressed and veiled. Suicide she said she was told was wrong because it deprived people of opportunities to learn and grow, and that there was always hope in life.
The Awakening Heart amplified on and discussed many of the ideas brought out in the narrative of her first book, with a few additional technical details. The Ripple Effect pursued these further, incorporating discussion of the numerous letters she began to receive in response from readers, as well as discussing other NDE contacts she later developed. The third book she published through her private publishing company, Onjinjinkta Press. A fourth work was assembled, Prayers and Devotions for Daily Living.
Because of their appeal to the innate human desire for an understanding of afterlife, her works led to a strong reader response which she initially attempted to answer in detail but became forced to limit. To meet some of this demand, she developed a website for general information and inspirational materials, as well as distribution of her books and related materials.
During a 2004 interview on Coast to Coast AM radio with George Noory, she said she was disappointed following her first book's publication that she was not permitted to return to the Celestial realm, but that while she could not presently know the full scope of her earthly purpose, she understood a film based on Embraced would also follow.
- Introvigne, Massimo (1996, Fall). “Embraced by the Church? Betty Eadie, Near-Death Experiences, and Mormonism.”Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, 29(3), 99–119.
- Eadie, Betty J. (1992). Embraced by the Light. Placerville, CA: Gold Leaf Press.
- “We understood that memories would be contained in the cells of our new bodies. This was an idea that was completely new to me. I learned that all thoughts and experiences in our lives are recorded in our subconscious minds. They are also recorded in our cells, so that, not only is each cell imprinted with a genetic coding, it is also imprinted with every experience we have ever had. Further, I understood that these memories are passed down through the genetic coding to our children. These memories then account for many of the passed on traits in families, such as addictive tendencies, fears, strengths, and so on. I also learned that we do not have repeated lives on this earth; when we seem to "remember" a past life, we are actually recalling memories contained in these cells.” Embraced by the Light (Hardcover Edition) (pg. 93)
- The Official Betty J. Eadie Website
- Embraced By The Light by Betty J. Eadie
- Near-Death Experience Research Foundation
- A Special Report: What Is Betty Eadie Hiding? Christian Research Institute Journal