Carl Herpels died in County Kerry of food poisoning in 1997. In fact, he died three times within 4 hours. Clinically dead. Gone.

But gone where? Gone to where a man whoís just getting accustomed to resting in peace can find himself "flooped" right back into space-time; "flooped" back into the world and left trying to make sense of the most monumental event since his birthóhis death.

Carl, originally from Flanders, is a member of Cork Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) in Ireland. In the following interview he reaches to put words to what is essentially a non-verbal experience. Carl relates a happening devoid of time and bereft of a sequence; where age, gender, good, evil, names, judging and thinking have been shed with his skin; where he wears the worldís priorities turned inside out, where understanding means "youíre part of it" and where life as viewed from "there" is largely irrelevant. He makes no claims about the universality of his experience, but testifies to the truth of its authenticity for him. Carlís is a tale about the beautiful strangeness of a non-place so wonderful that his oouuuís and aahhhhís turn to anger at being "flooped back".

The Eventó"This Side": A summerís evening, 1997

Seven pm. Beside his conservatory Carl digs up what he thinks is turnip-rooted chervilóan old food staple still available in parts of France and central Europe. He has eaten common cultivated chervil on several occasions. Perhaps here in Ireland the foliage grows a bit larger? He and Katelyne his partner eat the rather aromatic roots for dinner. Katelyne watches telly. Carl begins to feel queasy and goes upstairs. He opens a window and hangs outside. Whereís the air? Memory collapses.

Downstairs Katelyne hears Carl call. Heís lying flat on the floor. He asks for milk. Katelyne realises they both must be poisoned. She has eaten but two small root-fingers, much less than Carl has eaten. She asks him if she should call the doctor. His
straight-away answer, "Yes!".

A half-hour, an hour. The doctor arrives. Carl has already started to have convulsions. He is dying. The doctor, a friend, works on Carl very, very hard. It is the first time ever he has had to work on someone so hard. Half past midnight the ambulance comes. Katelyne in the ambulance starts getting sick. She can no longer stand on her feet from eating just two small fingers. Later she learns the plantís common nameó"Dead Manís Fingers".

The Interviewó"The Other Side": Summer, 2001 (4 years later)

[Larry Southard, Derry Mohally, and Pat Mohallyóall of Cork Meetingóconverse with Carl Herpels and Katelyne Sileghem at their home in the beautiful wilds of the Iveragh Peninsula, Co. Kerry]

Larry: Can you tell us something of the experience you were having of the "other side"?

Carl: First you recall. You wake upóthatís what they call it here, you wake up. For me I didnít wake upóI came back. You lie in your hospital bed realising. Realising what? Where you are. What you are. There is a figure passing byóshe asks me my name, the date, what year weíre inÖand you laugh because itís funny. Because time is totally irrelevant; age is non-existent; names donít matter at all. I could not speak because I had bitten my tongue so badly. I couldnít even laugh (he laughs), but inwardly it felt like laughing. You just lie there and the whole film comes back to you. Itís like a puzzle coming back. You rememberÖ.

It was wonderfulóthere, I did not feel any pain. I was conscious. I was clear. I could see. I felt alrightónothing wrong with me. You have your last memories of that place when you floop back. I call it "flooping back" because itís really like, FloooopÖ with a white bang. It really is like sliding into your body and switching on the heat. An extraordinary happening.

Larry: Is this flooping when you were coming back or going there?

Carl: I was coming back. I was flooping back into the world. You want to remain there. Initially I didnít want to open my eyes and listen to what the doctors and nurses were saying or what was happening. So I want to say to people who work in hospitals, "Just treat those who return a little bit different." When people do come back, hospital staff should say, "Hello, welcome back!", not "Ha, do you know your name?"

Larry: What is the first memory that you have of being on the other side?

Carl: The first thing I remembered was travelling toward a white light and then, Floop!óI was brought back. But then I began to realise there was a lot more that I had seen and done in my dream. I call it a dream, to myself and later to other peopleóbut it is more than a dream because it affects you much more than any ordinary dream ever will affect you. Itís a
life-changerÖI became more of an observer. You observe everything, in a different light.

Larry: What were some of the things you observed there?

Carl: Well, I observed that I was all on my own there. Yet I had no fear. I didnít know what was going to happen. It felt extraordinarily peaceful there. Quiet, too. Everything you want here, you have it there. But strangely enough, you are all on your own. There is nothing, there is nobody, there is nothing to support you. You feel at home though, you really feel at home. And then it was stopped. I just flooped back. Flooping back I passed the people I had met previouslyómy father and my uncle. When I had met them first, for some weird reasonóI donít know whyóyou ask about all the people that you have known here in the world and arenít here anymore. You think of your grandfather, friends. Without the accident, I probably would never have thought of them. You ask their whereabouts, how they are, that sort of thing.

My dad and uncle were in touch with me, they were in touch with my reality. They knew meóI didnít have to say anything. They were there for me, and they were there with me and they were part of my life very much. They welcome you. You are a lost son, so to speak. I knew he was my father, but there he wasnít my father at all. There is no hierarchy there, no fathers or sisters or brothers. You are all equal! So itís only afterwards that I called him my father. It was just a nice person that was there for me and I knew him here as Father. He knew everything about me, the last bit of me. Youíd think that you would be embarrassed about thatóbut no embarrassment there. There is no privacy, no privacy at all. But it is relaxing. You meet him, you are welcomed, you are drawn into something. You keep meeting people who were a part of your circle here, who you lost or pushed out of your life here. When you meet them there, you say, "Ah! Youíre here. I didnít know you were so important." Itís like clusters of people you remember. Extraordinary again.

The questions about people that I asked my father and uncle came up in me, and through them I wanted to have an answer. Funny enough, everyone I asked about were all OK, every one of them, and I accepted it without further questioning.

Larry: Were you communicating with words there?

Carl: No, not with words. The questions that I posed, they werenít answered by my father or my uncle. You get the answer yourself, so to speak. Itís strange, but as soon as I thought of somebody, I had the answer. My grandmotherówoops!óI knew the answer immediately, where she was or what happened to her. There was only one person who bothered me afterwards. Some people had gone to the right-hand destiny and others had gone to the left. Now to the left there was nothing, a black emptiness. This person had gone to the left and I went to the right. But I didnít feel any sorrow or anger or fearónothing. It was OK there as well.

Larry: Do you have any idea how you came to go right instead of left?

Carl: Well, thatís another mystery to me, why you go left or why you go right. It just happens. I didnít feel I had any choice at all. You have no choice, and yet you are not angry nor do you want to do anything else. You accept, itís just what is. Here it creates all sorts of problems with free will, but it is not a problem there for some funny reason. There are many things that we make problems of here and they are no problem there at all. When I came back I thought perhaps the left is for people who return, who come back, reincarnation perhaps. I had no explanation. The right, you could call it the Christian thing of heaven. But that heaven is not a stable place. First of all itís not a place as such, itís a state of mindÖ.But before this (this explanation is all mixed upóI have no timetable) you see your life. Some of those things in your life are totally unimportant here, but there, they are important. There was an incident where I did something bad to a catóa cat that I tried to kill, and it took a while to kill her. I had never thought of it as a dirty deed. It just so happened that that cat was very much there (laughs), and I felt very very bad and very sorry about it all.

Larry: So there is a great deal of stuff that happens here that we would classify as important, which isnít important over there; and there are a lot of little things here that are hugely important there?

Carl: Yes, oh yes. Thatís the message to take home. You see the events of your life in a different light there altogether.

Derry: And has seeing your life events changed their importance in the life you are living now? Would a new perspective be present to you now in your dealings with cats?

Carl: Yes. There, I suffered more than here. In terms of sufferingóyou SEE. I saw the suffering of that cat and I felt horrible.

Larry: So animals will end up there or could end up there?

Carl: Oh yes, they are definitely there, for me they are there. It may sound like a joke but they are there. You enter your own world there, but you are aware of other worlds being there, and not just the animal worldóthere are other vibrancies there. I knew there were a group of souls there and that they represented the animals. My cat came to me in a flash. I saw what I had done to that cat. What a horrible day! I felt bad, I felt very bad; but as you see the bad thing, immediately itís forgiven. You forgive yourself then, and with it comes an understandingónot why you did it, but that it was a part of your life, part of my life, I suppose part of the life of the cat as well. I could have done it differently, but at that point in time I probably couldnít. I didnít have the understanding that I have now either.

So there you are, the animals are there, no doubt about it for me. That cat was there, but you also have my father, my uncle, myself, and all the other people that I felt were there.

Larry: You could feel other people there?

Carl: Oh yea, there is a vibrancy thereómovement. You know that there is a lot happening there, a lot! And yet, there is nothing happening, itís so whispering quiet.

Larry: Tell us more about the vibrancy, the movement.

Carl: (Exhales) It is very, very difficult. Itís like a magnetism pulling you. And there is a wind there as well, you feel wind all around you. You canít see the people and yet they were there somewhere all the time. They were very close and I felt comfortable with them.

So my dream about my life is like a dream in a dreamóyour life is there but it is only a fragmented flash. (Claps his hands) Just like that it goes, and you just remember bits and pieces of it.

Larry: So were you looking at your life and judging it?

Carl: Itís like a judgement. You judge yourself. But you donít feel anything about thisóthereís no good or bad there. There is no distinction. Itís all one. There is only you, and you see flashes of what is laying behind you, your actions. But these flashes are so different from the ones you think are important here. And my father and uncle were informed to the last minute and degree of my life anyway, and did not judge either; on the contrary, their initial welcome had already removed all fear of judgement that might have been lurking in me.

Larry: They knew everything?

Carl: That makes you feel so comfortable as well. You donít have to say anything or do anything. They know you. Even if you have been a very bad person, who will judge you?

Larry: Did you get a feeling that there were "bad people" there as well as "good people"?

Carl: There was nothing like that there. There is no judgement as you would have here. That is the beauty of that place that there is no judgement. But this "goodness"óletís call it thatóthis forgiveness that I saw and experienced there became a problem for me when I returned. I heard some horrible stories about people when I returned to this world, but those people are not going to be punishedóthere is no punishment. That is a hard and difficult one to understand and come to terms with here!

Katelyne: Except their life review, that is their punishment, actually.

Carl: Maybe, but "I" did not suffer in my life review. There is such a marked difference with the sensations you have here, with pain and suffering. I mean, there you donít have that at all.

Katelyne: Perhaps you did not suffer, but other peopleÖ.

Carl: I donít know. If they do suffer itís over in no time at allóit really is. And that makes you realise how short life is here. (Claps) Oops! Gone. And you know, judging in the sense that you come back and say, "I am going to readjust that, I am going to correct my life, Iím now on a mission here"óI certainly donít have any of that at all.

And thatís another thing, when you do come back, thereís a last sentence that is given to youówell, to meóand it has to do with your life. It involves living on. Itís like a new life. Iím living a new life now. I feel more like an observer, a participating observer.

Larry: May I ask you what your sentence was?

Carl: I could tell you the sentence, Larry, and it would just be a sentence. There is the way it was said and what was implied, that is the important thing. Thatís why I am hesitant to tell you what I heard, because what you hear is not relevant, actually. Itís the feeling of it, the intrinsic quality.

Larry: Who said it?

Carl: My father. That sentence remains with you forever. But of course there were other things there as well, not just my father (and uncle)ólots of other living things who could have said it.

Larry: What sort of life?

Carl: Well, that movement, that wind, thatís the life all around you. You feel a sense of coming and going there, but itís a nice coming and going, no hustle and bustle. It is a very strange sensation.

Larry: Did you get any idea of the presence of God or Jesus?

Carl: I didnít meet any "holy" person there at allóno Christ. The longest part I remember from my dream is the sensation of travel, and all around you you feel that buzz, that windóI call it a wind, there are no other words, words are very inadequate. But you feel part of something wonderful, something grandiose. Your travelóI call it travel, but you donít feel it travelling as suchóyou go towards a yellow-white light. It starts off very small and gets brighter and brighter and brighter, ahhhh! Itís like looking at the sun, but it doesnít blind you at all. Thereís a buzz there, but donít ask me what was happening. I know but I cannot tell youóitís creation itself, letís put it that way. Itís the buzz of creation. That place there is not a part of lifeóit is life. You want to go there, yet there is nothing you can see. There is nobody waiting there. It would be scary here, but it is not scary there. There is something there; you go to that light and you feel home. You feel like thatís where you came from, thatís where you go back to. And I call that God. Itís as if you have left a part of yourself behind there, and you go back to that, and itís as if itís the loveliest part of yourself that you have left behind there. An indescribably wonderful love streams out of it. Sometimes I think itís because we have left it behind there, that sense of love. Weíve left it there, we go back to it, pick it up again, do something with it, I donít know what. But that light, I cannot say itís just a light like a light bulb, no. Behind that light thereís a reality, and thatís where you want to travel to and find out the reality of it. You leave all the rest behind with no hesitation or coercion.

But my problem now is what are my father and uncle doing there still that they havenít travelled on to the end. Itís like they HAD to be there for me. Why do they have to stay there; why canít they go on; why are all the others gone? Why do they keep in touch with meóbut not with just me, but with other family members and others Iím not aware of. They are in touch with here.

Larry: While you were travelling, did you still have a sense of being Carl?

Carl: Oh yes. I was there. It was me. I did not lose my identity.

Larry: Had you gone on to the light, would you have still remained Carl?

Carl: I think I would have still remained myself. I felt very much part of a wider thing. You get a notion of what lies behind that light, see. But what is that light in the first place?óItís you!

Larry: The light is you?!

Carl: That is you. That is you. You see that light. It is something different, but you feel itís something of you as well. Itís you as well, itís part of you. You feel very much part of that thing that you see in the distance. Thatís why you feel soó"Iím going home, Iím going back. Eee!" Itís as if you have left something behind there. You want to take it up again. You are travelling toward yourself, actually. Behind that "LIGHT" lies the real truth. You feel thereís more, how would I say, love there, real love, love for the sake of love. Unconditional, welcoming. I recommend it to everybody as an experience (laughs).

Katelyne: Do you think you can reach that feeling on this earth?

Carl: No, I donít think you can. When youíre dead, you will experience it there. I feel it is important to note it, but live the life that you have gotten here to the full in an expectation that when you are not here any more, you will be part of something extraordinaryóand it is extraordinary. I know what is waiting there, in my case certainly, and I hope to go back there.

Pat: I can understand the dilemma of trying to describe something outside our experienceówe havenít a language for it.

Carl: Yes, my words are so poor. I do my best to clarify it as much as possible, but how can you? All these concepts that we have here, they donít apply there at all. Everything is one there. My vision of things is this, Iím more at ease with myself now. I donít take things so seriously any more; yet I know everything is serious. You should be able to laugh at everything. You realise that when you come back, itís a big laugh.

Larry: Even the catastrophes?

Carl: Yea. Even that. They are here and you are not going to change thatóthey are going to happen. We try to understand everything here, you see. When you are there, you donít try to understandóyou KNOW! You are part of it, you donít have to understand. Thatís the Oneness of it all. Itís like an animal almost, like with my cows. When I observe them they are happy within themselves. There, it is the same feelingóyou are happy within yourself, you are part of something and you donít pose these questions that we have here at all.

Catastrophes? Iím not saying they are necessary or unnecessary. Who am I to judge these things? I am not a judge. They are not my doing. They will happen. Thatís life, yea.

Larry: What has your experience taught you about forgiveness? What is real forgiveness?

Carl: Forgiveness is to realise that that person, that being, is what it is. Itís part of that LIGHT that you are going toward. It comes from there. Been created just like yourself, itís there. I think thatís what forgiveness is, just knowing that that being is as important as you are. It just behaves differently than you do. Perhaps in other circumstances what it does is quite normal too and OK. That is forgivenessóto be OPEN. All is One. All in one. There is no other content Iím afraid.

Larry: In light of you experience, is there any reality to the Quaker adage that there is that of God in every person?

Carl: Ah yes, yes of course. That light, as I said, you realise is you. That is you there. So yes, thatís what brings me back to the Quakers, very much so. The light is in you. But of course we all see that light in a different way. So when I see that light now, rather than having read it in a Quaker book, I have my own description, my own feeling. For me it is a reality, very much so. Yes, I have a good message here; Quakers are right and many people with them are right. You have something within you, you carry that in you and you come from there. That is the homecoming experience in a nutshell. Yes, Quakers, they are correct, that light within oneóthere is such a thing. And you can talk to that light, too.

Larry: And is it responsive?

Carl: In a certain way it is, but it doesnít give you any clues. It leads you, yet you donít get the sense that it leads you to something. It is happening, thatís all. But you know, thatís what I gained as wellóyou just know that in the end everything is OK. Everything will be alright. Whatever happens for me itís OK, I am part of it. We shouldnít try to understand it, because that is life. Nobody will ever understand life. I will never understand that light. Where did it come from? What is it? I havenít a clue. But yet I feel very good when itís thereóAh, itís wonderful. But there ends my understanding of it.

Larry: Did you get any sense of why weíre here, why we would have to go through this?

Carl: I have great difficulties with that question. Why? In the first place my own anger that I had to be back here, of all places (laughs); not my preferred place actually. But all the same I am back, and now I am not angry. Iím not going to commit suicide to be back there! No, on the contrary you have a sense that you have to go on now with whatever you are required to do here. But donít ask me why I have to do what I have to do, because to me it looks senseless. Itís totally irrelevant when Iím dead. But there must be a relevance there which I donít understand hereóbut there, itís an understanding unlike any understanding here, mark my words. Your understanding there is more in line with "You are part of it", no questions. And then that loveóI havenít a clue where that love comes from, but itís a loveÖYou can never describe it, itís not at all like making love to anybody. No, I will not attempt to describe it. Itís impossible. I havenít a clue why the planet is what it is, why we live here. Is it to understand that love there? I donít know. What I have experienced makes things worse in a sense, because now everything is up in the sky for meóI have to question everything almost and get no really satisfying answer.

Larry: Where does it put people like Jesus and Buddha and Mohamed, these world-class figures, what does it have to say about them?

Carl: They are there, just like Hitler and Pol Pot and all the rest of them.

Larry: They are there as well?!

Carl: They are there, yes. You talk about all these important people from hereóthere, as I say, they are all the same. You do have that sense of the importance of some forms that you feel. But I couldnít, I didnít put a face to these winds or whatever you call them. But I have the inclination to believe that there are forms that go there that do return here or other places. They must have come from that same light that Iíve seen, and perhaps returning here they have a better notion and tried to bring the light here a little bit. But itís not just here, thatís the point. There are other places, but donít ask me is it Mars.

There are people there that I hated here, like my grandfather, twaa! I hated him and he hated me. Other people as well. Now I have no hurt feelings or resentment towards him or the others any moreóitís gone. And I know, whether they go left or right, that they are OK. Everybody is OK there. You embrace everything there. Every religion has something. Indeed, all religions are one. They all have something to tell.

Larry: And by definition, they would all be wide of the mark to some extent?

Carl: Ah, yes of course. They are correct, but at the same time they are not right either (laughs). How could we be correct here? We bounce; we see crooked; we have been cut off.

Larry: Are you now afraid of death?

Carl: No. I have no fear of death; I donít have a fear of pain eitherónot even the pain of dying. Thatís a relief (laughs). Thatís another thingólife is not here. Life is there. This is only "something"Ö. I tell people, there is nothing to be fearful of. Iím not saying, "Please jump into it and try to be dead as soon as possible." On the contrary, Iím saying to everybody, "Live life to the full, as full as possible in your own case." You are being created. You are an identity.

Katelyne: So when people die, in fact we shouldnít be saddened by that; we should be, I will not say happy, butÖ.

Carl: It should be an occasion of thinking about the world they have entered. Life goes on. It does not end when you are dead. You take on a form. There, you are a form. You donít see yourself as a form, but you are a form, so you have an identity. You are something, but that something can be part of anything. Anything you can think of. You can be a part of it, you can be it. And thatís an extraordinary sensation as well. You are not human anymore. Your body is gone, you donít have a brain, you donít have all these thoughts that we have here. You donít have to explain anything, but you are still something very important in your own right. You are part of the creative force, and thatís a sensation you should cultivate here more. We are equally part of the animals, and I am sure other creatures from other places were around me there with whom we might have a connection. Life here is very important. Asceticism, whipping yourself and all that sort of thingódonít do that, please. Itís totally unnecessary. Just live according to your own good inner feeling. Try to relate, to go within yourself, as Friends say. Just sit back, relax, be quiet, listen to yourself because itís you out there, in there!

Pat: What I heard you saying earlier was that we donít really need to understand what itís all aboutóyou live your life here and now as full as you can.

Carl: As fully as you FEEL you have to live it. But that means that you have to reflect upon yourself and your actions. Talk to yourself. Actually prayer is talking to yourself, not something out of you there. That light that I saw there, you could call it God but I call it myself. You are God as well. There is nothing special outside of you thereóthatís my great feeling.

Pat: Can we be confident that if we need an answer to something, that by reflecting on it and taking time with it and asking the question and waiting, you can be sure you will get help?

Carl: Yes. In essence you are your own guide, but there are forces around you that will help you in guiding you. There is nobody to take over for you, but there are guides around you there, out there, and they will help you. You try to contact them. But donít pray to them.

Pat: So there is no self-inflation about it?

Carl: Hah! Well, you are there and thereís nothing to be inflated about. (Laughs) Inflation is hereóyou puff yourself up here. You go there, and what is the important point? The point is that you are going to find your own Self, and thatís what you want, thatís the only thing you look forward to. So when youíre here, go into your Self.

Pat: Be happy.

Carl: Yea. I like very much that concept of silence and being prayerful. You try to reach yourself and not something else outsideóthatís not there. You have every little answer, and if you donít, it will come to you anyway. All will be revealed! And it is not an expectation but my experience! Thatís my experience. And Ďtis wonderfulóI tell you it really is wonderful. I am not saying Iím looking forward to being dead now, because I have already had it a little bit. But only when we have a notion of death will it help us to live a bit better here.

It is like thisóI remember a film based on fact where a whole group of tinkers, travelling people in Hungary actually, just waitedóthe adult men and the young onesófor the army to kill them. I couldnít understand that. Why didnít they flee? They just sat there in peace waiting for the army to attack them. They urged the young ones to go quickly, "Go on, go on!", and then they made a circle with their vehicles. How can they do these thingsówhy donít they stand up for themselves? They look like cattle.

They must have been very spiritual people. They must have been in touch. They must have been praying a lotóbecause then you feel that peace. Itís like coming out of meetingÖsometimes you have it more than at other times. You are at peace. That is my hope, huhóthat you get that PEACE.

{Those people who are interested may contact Carl Herpels by post at Tulligelane, Mastergeehy, Killarney, Co. Kerry, Republic. of Ireland}