Dannion Brinkley

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Dannion Brinkley (born July 20, 1950) is an American author who described two near death experiences (NDEs) in his 1994 book Saved by the Light.[1] He is also a hospice volunteer, speaker, and prominent figure in the New Age and New Thought Movement.[2]

First near death experience[edit]

In Saved by the Light Brinkley explained that he was struck by lightning on September 17, 1975, while using a telephone at his home in Aiken, South Carolina. He said he was clinically dead for 28 minutes. During these 28 minutes Brinkley said he experienced many characteristic details of a near death experience as well as certain unique ones. His account includes an out-of-body experience with extensive observations of physical surroundings, passing through a tunnel, a high-speed and detailed life review and an encounter with beings who showed him visions of the future and discussed with him his life mission. Brinkley said he had a strong reluctance to return to his physical body, but he was sent back to fulfill a mission.[1]

Brinkley said when he re-entered his body in the hospital he blew on the sheet that was covering his head. His friend noticed the moving sheet and said, "he's still alive!" By the end of September 1975 he was released from the hospital.[1]

Shortly after the event occurred Brinkley told his story to near-death researcher Raymond Moody.[3] In the Introduction to Saved by the Light, Moody wrote Brinkley's near death experience stands as one of the most incredible he has ever heard.[1]

Other near death experiences[edit]

In May 1989 Brinkley had heart failure and went to the East Cooper Hospital in Charleston, South Carolina where he had a second near death experience. Brinkley said he had another life review and was taken by a being to a place with pleasant sounds and smells. Brinkley was released from the hospital in a few weeks.[1]

On September 17, 1997 Brinkley had brain surgery to remove a subdural hematoma and had a third near death experience[citation needed]. In The Secrets of the Light he explained that he traveled to a "blue-gray place" that was like purgatory. In this place he said he saw soldiers, martyrs and those unable to reach a level of forgiveness. Following surgery Brinkley had a tonic–clonic seizure and after nearly thirty days in the hospital he was released.[4]

Skepticism and Controversy[edit]

First Near Death Experience[edit]

A local newspaper article published right after the first near death experience quoted Brinkley saying he was "out for a few minutes" until his wife revived him by pounding on his chest.[5] Additionally, Gilmore Eaves (dec.) told a British documentary crew that Brinkley's story about being dead was "not true.".[6] Brinkley has responded to these claims.[7]

Visions of the Future[edit]

Brinkley claims the events surrounding his first near death experience left him with "special powers," namely, psychic and paranormal abilities.[1] Brinkley said he received visions of future events during his near death experience. At least one was reported to Raymond Moody within seven months, that there would be a breakdown of the Soviet Union in 1990 and subsequent food riots. Moody later said Brinkley's forecast struck him as "silly and absurd" at the time but later proved accurate.[3] Brinkley's visions also reportedly included the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster and the 1990–1991 Persian Gulf War, but there was no written account of these visions prior to his 1994 book. Brinkley forecasted a 1995 nuclear accident in Norway and a pre-2000 economic collapse in the United States that never happened.[8] And, according to Moody, other prophetic visions Brinkley made after his first near death experience never materialized the way Brinkley said they would.[3] Brinkley responded to these claims on The West Coast Truth with Russell Scott in May 2012. Brinkley still to this day claims he has psychic visions. [9]

Military Service[edit]

Brinkley is a U.S. Marine veteran. In Saved by the Light, Brinkley said his actions as a CIA sniper in Laos during the Vietnam War were part of his NDE life review. Brinkley's account of serving as a CIA sniper in Laos was challenged by the Los Angeles Times[8] and by the book Stolen Valor by B. G. Burkett and Glenna Whitley.[10] Both accounts said military records show that Brinkley never went overseas during the war, but was stationed in Georgia as a truck driver.

According to the Los Angeles Times, Brinkley said the government was covering up his CIA mission because it was classified. But the newspaper cited several sources, including former Marines involved in similar covert operations, who said Brinkley's story was "full of holes" and that the supposedly classified files were all public.[8]

Brinkley says that certain dates and places had to be camouflaged in order to protect the rights of those who chose to remain unknown, as well as to preserve the integrity of the United States of America.[4]

Hospice and veterans advocacy work[edit]

Brinkley is co-founder and Board Chairman of the Twilight Brigade (formerly called Compassion in Action), a non-profit international organization that supports bedside volunteers who provide companionship to those who are dying, especially veterans, during the last months of life.[11][12] Brinkley's work with dying veterans and AIDS patients began in 1984 and he has logged many thousands of volunteer hospice hours. The Twilight Brigade now has offices in 16 states and over 5,000 volunteers, including a number of active duty military personnel and veterans.[11]:18

Veterans wonder if anyone will appreciate what they did. They were there for us when we needed them. We need to be there for them.
—Dannion Brinkley[11]:20

In 2001, the Twilight Brigade was nominated for the National Hospice and Palliative Care Association's Heart of Hospice Award.[13]

Brinkley is also the co-founder of Veterans Care Plus, a health care advocacy program for U.S. veterans and their families that provides access to low-cost prescription medications.[14] This program has been selected by the Veterans of Foreign Wars for its members.[15]


Saved By the Light was adapted for a 1995 Fox Broadcasting Company TV movie of the same name starring Eric Roberts, and debuted as one of the highest rated television movies in that network's history[citation needed]. Since originally airing, it has been in regular circulation on the Lifetime Movie Network.[13]

He was also featured in an episode of NBC's Unsolved Mysteries in 1994.


Saved by the Light and The Secrets of the Light were 'New York Times and international bestsellers.[13]

  • Dannion Brinkley and Paul Perry, Saved by the Light: The true story of a man who died twice and the profound revelations he received. New York: Villard Books, 1994. ISBN 0-679-43176-4.
  • Dannion Brinkley and Paul Perry, At Peace in the Light: A man who died twice reveals amazing insights into life, death and its mysteries. Piatkus, 1995. ISBN 0-7499-1581-1.
  • Dannion Brinkley and Kathryn Peters-Brinkley, The Secrets of the Light: Spiritual strategies to empower your life ... here and in the hereafter. Heart Light Productions, 2004. ISBN


  1. ^ a b c d e f Dannion Brinkley and Paul Perry, Saved by the Light, New York: Villard Books, 1994. ISBN 0-679-43176-4.
  2. ^ Noory, George. "Lifetime Achievement Award Presented to Dannion Brinkley". George Noory Lifetime Achievement Award. Conscious Life Expo. Archived from the original on June 20, 2011. 
  3. ^ a b c Raymond Moody, The Last Laugh: A new philosophy of near-death experiences, apparitions, and the paranormal, pp. 171–172. Hampton Roads Publishing Company, 1999. ISBN 1-57174-106-2.
  4. ^ a b Dannion Brinkley and Kathryn Peters-Brinkley (2004). The Secrets of the Light: Spiritual strategies to empower your life. Heart Light Productions. ISBN 0-9638490-2-6. 
  5. ^ Carl Langley, "Phone Call Almost Cost Him His Life", Augusta Herald, September 19, 1975. (Copy of full story is on discussion page)
  6. ^ Excerpt from "Reverend Death" on YouTube, June 25, 2008, produced by www.WorldofWonder.net and aired on Britain's Channel 4
  7. ^ Brinkley, Dannion. "Dannion Brinkley Exposed?!? Dannion's Official Response". Archived from the original on October 22, 2011. Retrieved November 3, 2011. 
  8. ^ a b c Roy Rivenburg, "Blinded by the Light? Tales of near-death experiences – from visions of God to meeting Elvis – fascinate millions of us. But as the stories increase, so does the criticism." Los Angeles Times, March 24, 1995. . Accessed 2009-05-23.
  9. ^ "Dannion Brinkley on The West Coast Truth". 
  10. ^ B. G. Burkett and Glenna Whitley, Stolen Valor: How the Vietnam generation was robbed of its heroes and its history, pp. 385–387. Verity Press, 1998. ISBN 0-9667036-0-X.
  11. ^ a b c Pamela Wills, "No one wants to die alone": The Twilight Brigade brings comfort and companionship to dying veterans. U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, VAnguard: VA's Employee Magazine, pp. 18–20, November/December 2007. Accessed 2009-04-25.
  12. ^ Twilight Brigade. Accessed 2009-04-25.
  13. ^ a b c Harper Collins' Dannion Brinkley bio. Accessed 2009-04-25.
  14. ^ Veterans Care Plus – About. Accessed 2009-04-25.
  15. ^ VFW Personalized Health-Savings Program. Accessed 2009-04-25.

External links[edit]