Proof of Heaven: A Neurosurgeon’s Journey into the Afterlife
Eben Alexander, M.D. (Simon & Schuster, 2012)
Reviewed by Lois Schroff
Who am I? Why am I here? What is my purpose? --- questions humanity as a whole share, are addressed in this deeply thoughtful book by a highly trained surgeon who had a profound near-death experience (NDE) while in a seven-day coma. In this and his second book published in 2014, The Map of Heaven: How Science and Religion, and Ordinary People Are Proving the Afterlife, Dr. Alexander relates the sudden onslaught of severe bacterial (ecoli) meningitis, and his consequent discoveries about consciousness independent of body and brain.
Both books contain a single clear message—that human consciousness holds the key to the doors of perception and understanding. Therefore he takes the reader with him through his personal NDE. First, it resulted in completely erasing, for a brief time, his “healthy sense of scientific self-preservation.” His central message, that human consciousness is the most important essence and expression of being—both individual and cosmic—reveals itself as well to be the most precise and indispensable tool for any scientific investigation.
In Dr. Alexander’s second book, in the chapter “The Enigma of Consciousness,” he gives a very convincing account of his experience as being “more real than the rest of physical existence,” he states:
“I was actually “doing science.” Science that relied on the truest and most sophisticated tool for scientific research that we possess: consciousness itself. The further I dug, the more convinced I became that my discovery wasn’t just interesting or dramatic--It was scientific…But what made my experience unusual was the jolting immediacy with which I experienced the basic role of Consciousness, or spirit.”
The author’s profession made him very familiar with the working of our brains. However, he states, that in the course of working to keep us alive on planet earth, our brains can encourage us to think materialistically by blocking our knowledge not only of the spiritual world but of our deep unity with it. “During my coma, my cortex was damaged and essentially erased. As a result, that higher world which I ordinarily kept repressed flooded into my awareness with a clarity and brilliance that blew me away.”
The directness and sincerity of his message challenges the reader to think beyond what can be mathematically calculated and verified according to accepted scientific models. He explains that this was, for him, a death and resurrection, or a second birth to the great and ”more real than real” reality.
Dr. Alexander’s experience can be compared to the central themes of many fairy tales that reflect a long and challenging path of transformation of the enchanted character by means of which the magic spell is broken and freedom is regained. Mirroring human life, this process involves struggle, often of self-sacrifice. The old must die for the new life to enter.
To hear Dr. Alexander speak in detail of his experiences, go to www.youtube.com/watch?v=gbkgj5J91hE.