Dr. Eben Alexander has been a prominent academic neurosurgeon for 25 years, including 15 years at Harvard Medical School in Boston. His training led him to believe that consciousness is created by the brain; and therefore, he believed that any mental or emotional experiences during the process of dying were caused by chemical reactions in the brain. However, at the age of 54 he contracted a severe form of E. Coli meningitis, which aggressively attacked his cortex, the portion of the brain that supplies conscious, rational thought. He slipped into a coma, but instead of experiencing nothingness, he describes a journey to heaven.
He saw what he understood as “higher beings” soaring through the vast spaces, making a joyful sound that was unlike anything he had ever heard before, a sound that he could feel even more than hear. He was then joined by millions of butterflies and a woman who seemed vaguely familiar. She told him, “You are loved and cherished; you have nothing to fear; there is nothing you can do wrong.”
Meanwhile, his vital signs were deteriorating and the attending physicians, whom he knew personally, were using everything in their medical arsenal in the fight to keep him alive. After days of struggling, they were on the verge of giving up and disconnecting all life support systems when he opened his eyes and began talking. While they were working on the physical side, he was having astounding experiences on the spiritual side, which he remembered in detail upon awakening.
There’s a wonderful surprise at the end that shouldn’t be revealed in a review. After he returned from being near death that surprise convinced him even more strongly that everything he had experienced during the many days he was in a coma, was very real. Those memories and conviction have informed and guided his life ever since. He felt compelled to write a book about his experiences, and has spent much of the time since then traveling and talking about his near death adventure. Many medical professionals aren’t convinced of the reality of his experience because their training tells them that when the cortex shuts down, there is no more activity or consciousness in the brain and therefore there is no way he could have had those experiences. But he knows what he felt and saw; he knows it was real.
There are many books written on near death experiences. But the clinical aspects of Dr. Alexander’s experience are what make this story unique. As his body shut down, everything was medically documented, so for him to make a complete recovery from a comatose state where the brain was simply not working for a long period of time was amazing and thought impossible. Another aspect of what makes this story unique is his conversion from a “scientific reductionist,” to a person who now understands that consciousness and the vast majority of “what is” resides outside most of our understanding of the universe and certainly outside current medical or science textbooks. In discussing his recollections with other neurosurgeons and scientists, Dr. Alexander reviewed nine hypotheses that others thought might explain his memories. But ultimately, they all failed to explain the rich, robust, intricate interactivity of his experiences–the ultra-reality of the whole thing. He knows it was real.
Since his experience, Dr. Alexander has done much research on near-death experiences and graciously offers an extensive reading list. He now understands that most people have very strong filters in place because of our educational, religious, cultural or family conditioning. These filters naturally make it difficult for us to open our minds to new ideas and concepts. This book is available at local bookstores, as well as online at Amazon or Barnes & Noble. Dr. Alexander’s website is LifeBeyondDeath.net.
PROOF OF HEAVEN A Neurosurgeon’s Journey into the Afterlife | By Eben Alexander, M.D. | Reviewed for Healthy Beginnings by June Milligan, M.Ed., CCHt