Chapter 2 of The Little Book of the Soul

© Ian Lawton 2007, 2010

George Rodonaia had a difficult childhood in Soviet Russia. His parents were murdered when he was very young, and he was adopted by a family from Georgia who showered him with love and made sure he received a first-class education. But then they both died of cancer, within three years of each other, and at the tender age of twelve he was left alone in their home to fend for himself.

George realized he would have to work hard, and he applied himself to his studies with vigor. His big break came when an essay of his was published in the University of Moscow newspaper. It caught the eye of the president, who liked it so much he invited him to attend, even though he was only fourteen. He soon developed into a gifted medical research scientist.

In 1974, at the age of eighteen, he was invited to study at Yale. He was delighted at this recognition of his talents, and at the opportunities it would open up. But the KGB had other ideas. He was researching the way certain chemicals acted on the human brain, and they found this useful for interrogations. If they could not keep him, they did not want the US to have him either.

Over the next two years they put various obstacles in his way but, when he got married and had a child, it finally appeared they would let him leave. Then on the day of his departure, as he stood on the pavement in Tbilisi waiting for a taxi to the airport, he was mown down by a car and pronounced dead at the scene. Bystanders confirmed that, having already sent George flying, the driver had even reversed back to run over him again.

His body lay in a morgue for three days. But as the autopsy began his eyelids flickered, and he was rushed to surgery. Naturally his family and friends were amazed and overjoyed at his survival. But that was only the beginning of a much stranger journey for them all.

As a man of science, George had never had any time for religion: ‘I was very much a typical young research scientist and a pretty skeptical one, too. I was not religious at all. I was an atheist. I had basically accepted the materialistic perspective of the hard sciences that everything can and should be reduced to a material cause. There was no room for spirituality for me at all; out of the question, totally out of the question.’

So those close to him were bewildered when, three days into his lengthy recovery, he began to describe what had happened to him while he was ‘dead’. He claimed that he had been surrounded by a bright, white light that radiated a sense of peace and joy, and that his whole life had flashed in front of him in an instant of pure understanding. He even claimed that he had been able to travel back to any period in history, and experience it exactly as if he was there, just by thinking about it. Had the trauma he suffered driven him mad?

These doubts mounted when George claimed that he had also been able to travel anywhere he liked while ‘out of body’. In particular he was drawn to the newborn daughter of a neighbor. She remained in the hospital in which his body lay because she would not stop crying, and doctors had been unable to diagnose the problem. But much to his surprise he found that he was able to communicate with her telepathically, even though the surrounding adults remained blissfully unaware of his presence. What is more, he was somehow able to scan her body and establish that her hip had been broken at birth.

Incredibly, as soon as George was able to pass on this information, the doctors x-rayed the baby and found that she did indeed have a fractured hip. But how could he have made such an accurate diagnosis while his physical body was lying in a mortuary cabinet? And, even more worryingly for any skeptic, if this part of his story was true, what about all the rest of it?

So profound was his experience that, once fully recovered, George threw himself into spiritual study and became ordained as a church minister. He moved to the US in 1989, and in 1996 founded the first international congress on spiritual enlightenment hosted by the United Nations in New York.

Sadly a massive heart attack ended his life prematurely in 2004. But not before he had been able to share his story freely, and to inspire thousands of people through talks and radio broadcasts.