Thursday, September 19, 2013
Eben Alexander, M. D., a neurosurgeon, has received much attention lately as the author of a book entitled "Proof of Heaven, A Neurosurgeon's Journey into the Afterlife." This book recounts his "visionary" experiences during the 5 or 6 days he was in coma and presumably unconscious. He recalls traveling to an other worldly zone, moving alternately between heavenly and hellish regions, but ultimately regaining consciousness even when all hope for saving him had been given up. The hospital medical staff (as well as his family) were in fact literally getting ready to pull the plug on him when he unexpectedly awoke and ultimately regained even his memories of his earlier time as a physician.
His book has sold well--it has been on the N. Y. Times bestseller list for many weeks and he has become famous (and presumably wealthier) as a result. It has been hailed as especially significant since it is written by a scientist and thus offers insights that other scientists might accept as proof of life after "death."
However, his account has been challenged in some quarters--apparently his "coma" was drug induced by the attending emergency physician (not from the bacteria that had attacked his body), and, from time to time, when the drugs wore off temporarily, he returned (briefly) to a conscious state. Thus some medical critics contend that his "memories" were, in fact, hallucinations produced by the overall effect of the drugs that were administered to him, and that his prefrontal cortex was not "dead" as he claims.
Alexander's sincerity is beyond question. Like most of those who undergo "near death" encounters with another world, his experience has changed his life forever.
I am in no position to judge whether or not Alexander did in fact journey to "heaven" (or hell, as parts of his encounter suggest). The book is an interesting narrative, written in simple terms that any capable reader can follow.
I do have a question concerning the "illumination" he brought back. When he "returned" he found that he was in fact in love with the universe and all it contained. He realized that heaven is in fact that realm where the concept that "God is love" is fully enacted. Certainly, one would not quarrel with his profound insight--mystics and saints and others including "ordinary people" have been making such discoveries for centuries. Again and again they remind us that love is the basis of the "god force," and that through the cosmic field of love we are all of us united to the heavenly realms and to one another and all that is. But Alexander writes as though he alone has had such an insight. The result is that his revelation lacks the wider context needed to tie it into other human discoveries of the same essential truth. What he tells us is in fact what many have known for countless eras.
I might add that Kundalini awakening is similarly profound and can also open us fully to the condition of love. Love is the final reality, and we exist as a small but important element of its cosmic manifestation. You need not "die" to find "proof of heaven."