Product Added : January 2nd, 2013
Category : Books
"This Best Selling Proof of Heaven: A Neurosurgeon’s Journey into the Afterlife Tends to SELL OUT VERY FAST! If this is a MUST HAVE product, be sure to Order Now to avoid disappointment!"
A SCIENTIST’S CASE FOR THE AFTERLIFE
Thousands of people have had near-death experiences, but scientists have argued that they are impossible. Dr. Eben Alexander was one of those scientists. A highly trained neurosurgeon, Alexander knew that NDEs feel real, but are simply fantasies produced by brains under extreme stress.
Then, Dr. Alexander’s own brain was attacked by a rare illness. The part of the brain that controls thought and emotion—and in essence makes us human—shut down completely. For seven days he lay in a coma. Then, as his doctors considered stopping treatment, Alexander’s eyes popped open. He had come back.
Alexander’s recovery is a medical miracle. But the real miracle of his story lies elsewhere. While his body lay in coma, Alexander journeyed beyond this world and encountered an angelic being who guided him into the deepest realms of super-physical existence. There he met, and spoke with, the Divine source of the universe itself.
Alexander’s story is not a fantasy. Before he underwent his journey, he could not reconcile his knowledge of neuroscience with any belief in heaven, God, or the soul. Today Alexander is a doctor who believes that true health can be achieved only when we realize that God and the soul are real and that death is not the end of personal existence but only a transition.
This story would be remarkable no matter who it happened to. That it happened to Dr. Alexander makes it revolutionary. No scientist or person of faith will be able to ignore it. Reading it will change your life.
As someone who has experienced an NDE, and struggled with many of the same things that Eben discusses here, I am not surprised at the response that many are having to this book. To say “people who have NDE experiences often find the telling of their story, while trying to impart the information they receive during their experience, a difficult task,” would be an understatement as vast as the universe.
The clinical aspects of Dr. Alexander’s experience are what make this story unique, along with his outright conversion from a “Scientific Reductionist” to someone who sees clearly that consciousness and the vast majority of “what is,” are found outside of our space/time universe and current medical or science books.
To get the most out of any book on NDEs, and especially one that intertwines a very personal journey to find family and self, you must start with an open mind and heart. Unfortunately, those who have already hardened their views on both sides of the spectrums of Science and Religion, will dismiss much of what anyone writes on this topic, because it doesn’t fit their narrow, dogmatic view of the world.
Even worse, it forces them to look outside of their safe little boxes, and take the effort to learn, while being open to the possibility that current models of both science and faith are a good starting point, but not the ENTIRE answer.
Einstein’s quote at the beginning of the chapter “A Final Dilemma” says it best…
“I must be willing to give up what I am in order to become what I will be.”
Whether you begin as a Christian, a Buddhist, Quantum Physicist or a simple seeker of knowledge beyond current understanding, moving outside of the constructs of your current ways of thinking is imperative to discovery.
Fundamentalism, whether it be religious or scientific, is really no different than intellectual bigotry, closed to expanded thoughts, or encompassing new ways of looking for expanded information. Eben’s book embraces both worlds, and does so gracefully, without discounting any specific ideology.
Eben’s experience was certainly deeper, and far more expansive than most I have read (including my own NDE). I do agree that the lack of detail about his time in “heaven” (a term that I find limiting) is frustrating to a point. And yet, the need to spend much of this book on the technical side of his coma, his quest and victory regarding his family (past and present), as well as touching on the scientific aspects of the current science regarding external consciousness, make this short book an excellent jumping-off point for deeper study and discussion.
And there’s the rub…
After experiencing my own NDE (in 1996), I spent almost two obsessive years trying in vain to “connect the dots of knowledge imparted to me,” before putting it all back “in a box” so that I could get on with living my life. Through a series of events over the past two years, I find myself very much back into “telling the story.” I now realize that no book, video, or movie is able to even scratch the surface of answering the great questions of life after death, consciousness, and how they all relate to quantum theory. Expecting “the answers” from a book of this size and configuration is naïve and lazy at best.
There is a reason that the section in this book called “Reading List” is expansive. Much has been written on this topic from both the spiritual and scientific approach. If you are a true seeker of the truth, you will not start or end your journey for knowledge with Eben’s book. Instead, you will appreciate the facts of his experience, the unique medical reality of his coma, and the amazing revelations about family, love and the eternal nature of consciousness, as the BEGINNING of the journey to true understanding.
While this book in not an expansive, all-inclusive answer to the melding of Science and Religion, I give it 5 stars for being an important, unique story, bringing focus to the need for a global change in the perception and understanding of reality, consciousness and the interconnectedness of everything in creation.
Many of the points the Dr makes were theories that I have personally had for years but couldn’t put words to…he puts another’s voice to it that is far more technically knowledgeable about the brains function than I.
How time differs from what we understand, how we aren’t separate from God or heaven but in our human “suit”(my words not his) we have filters in place which don’t allow us to see the glory and miracle all around us…not immediately visible until you understand them for what they are.
It helps explain on a deeper level why it was so painful for Jesus to be separated from God even if only for a short while. That once you have been there you realize that while life in this realm(earthly)is precious, what is ahead is so much better. That we realize the fear of this new place or what happens next is completely unfounded. Sort of like a childs first day of school….by the afternoon most love what they initially feared and never look back to the time before as “better”.
I am not sure why but I am certain there is a deep truth to what this Dr experienced. Once I got started I literally stayed up all night reading it.
I come from 25yrs of a very technical background myself where everything has to have an answer, a reason why it works or fails…we don’t allow shades of gray or the unexplained in my work. I am the ultimate doubting Thomas and need proof and then documented observational testing/PROOF of it working before I am sold on it and put it into production. Perhaps that is why this Dr’s approach…the measuring, going analytical AGAINST what your natural thoughts tell you, making certain to measure in great deal the opposing hypothesis to your thoughts/beliefs ….really works for me. The world is full of crackpots and those easily fooled with emotional tales….but this guy isn’t a crackpot and I am no emotional fool. While I don’t know him personally I know plenty like him.
Doc if you read these reviews, don’t be concerned if you find some haters/doubters/non-believers…in the end it won’t matter as we all will experience it and KNOW for certain. I commend you talking about your experience and wish you all the best.
Dr. Eben Alexander, a prominent neurosurgeon at Harvard University, has written a fascinating book about his near-death experience. At the age of 54, he contracted a severe form of E. Coli meningitis, which aggressively attacked his cortex, or the portion of the brain that supplies conscious, rational thought. He slipped into a coma, but instead of experiencing nothing, like in deep sleep, Dr. Alexander describes a journey to heaven.
His experience began in a place of fluffy clouds. Above the clouds, he visualized beings soaring through the sky, beings that he describes as `higher forms.’ These beings (or angels?) made a joyful sound that was unlike anything he had ever experienced before. A sound that he could feel, even more than hear. He was then joined by millions of butterflies and a woman. This woman gave him the following three messages: You are loved and cherished; You have nothing to fear; and There is nothing you can do wrong. Her words are comforting and reassuring.
While Dr. Alexander’s experiences have startling similarities to other near-death experiences I’ve read about, what sets his book apart is the fact that Dr. Alexander is a neurosurgeon with great knowledge of what makes up consciousness. The parts of his brain that would create experiences like he underwent (such as in a dream state) were not functional at the time he experienced them. He is also a man of science and a skeptic, who changed his views completely after experiencing this. This transformation is interesting and notable. His descriptions of heaven are vivid, uplifting, and fascinating.
If you enjoy this book, there are two books from physicians which I would highly recommend. Dr. Francis Collins’ The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief is an easy-to-read book about integrating Christian beliefs with modern science. Collins, the head of the Human Genome Project, describes how belief in God and the Bible doesn’t have to be in conflict with science and its findings. As a physician, I’ve struggled with these conflicts ever since my college biology courses. His book helped me immensely.
In Stitches by Dr. Anthony Youn is a lighter but highly entertaining coming-of-age story about one young man’s struggles with parents, romance, medicine, God, and finding your place in the world. It’s especially recommended for people who struggle with who they are and why they’re here. Dr. Youn’s book is fun, uplifting, and an absolute joy to read.
As a researcher who has been studying the nature of consciousness and trying to build bridges between the best of science and the best of spirituality for more than 50 years, I was fascinated by Eben Alexander’s Proof of Heaven: A Neurosurgeon’s Near-Death Experience and Journey Into the Afterlife.
One of the ways we get new knowledge and refine our knowledge about the spiritual is by listening closely to and working with the accounts of people who have what I will loosely call “spiritual experiences.” In recent decades our culture, e.g., has been strongly affected by previously unheard of familiarity with Near-Death Experiences, NDEs. When I first began working in psychology 50 years ago, I knew about NDEs because I had read a lot of very esoteric psychical research literature, but aside from knowing that NDEs happened and a few of their characteristics, very little was known by anyone, and the average person had never heard of them. When Raymond Moody published his Life After Life book on NDEs in 1976 and it hit the bestseller lists (more than 13 million copies sold to 2012!), it resonated with people’s spiritual needs, and now there is widespread knowledge about qualities of NDEs.
One of the things that most impressed me about people’s accounts of their NDEs back then was that people with very different backgrounds and religious beliefs, including people with no formal religious beliefs to speak of, described the qualities of NDEs in a similar way. But if NDEs were nothing but the distorted functioning of a distressed brain, you would think that, like most hallucinations resulting from brain malfunctions, the content of those hallucinations would be very much affected by a person’s life experiences, cultural background, and individual beliefs. That there was so much commonality immediately made a case that people were telling you about something that might be real in some sense. By analogy, I have never been to Rome, but accounts I have heard of what Rome looks like by people who claim to have been there show so much commonality that I have high confidence that there really is a place called Rome.
From my perspective as a researcher, however, there is a major drawback to collecting more accounts of NDEs today that didn’t apply when they were first collected. Back then, almost everyone who finally came forth with an account noted that they had never heard of such things before they had their own NDE. Indeed they usually had never talked to anyone about what they had experienced, or had tried to talk to others and been so severely rejected (you must have been hallucinating, that’s crazy, the work of the devil, etc., etc.) that they remained silent about it, and so there was very little obvious influence from cultural background or others’ opinions creating the similarity in their accounts. Now there have been so many articles, books, TV specials, etc., about NDEs that when you hear about someone’s recent NDE, you have to wonder how much is this an accurate report of something that is “real” and how much their experience has been colored by all their previous knowledge about what NDEs are supposed to be about.
I am particularly concerned with the potentially biasing effects of previous knowledge because a lot of my early research was on hypnosis, and I had it constantly demonstrated in my research that about a quarter or so of the population could have profoundly real-seeming experiences of any arbitrary nature whatsoever suggested to them by a hypnotist. I doubt that most NDEs are in this category of the purely arbitrary, all a product of suggestion, even the ones occurring today, but even if a major part of what a person experiences is “real” in the sense of belonging to some reality external to their belief system, still the way they perceive it may be influenced to some unknown degree by the now widespread cultural knowledge of what NDEs are supposed to be about. This doesn’t mean there’s no point in studying most people’s NDEs, just that we have to be careful about this possible biasing factor. There’s nothing particularly novel about this, of course, people’s descriptions of ordinary reality are often biased by what they believe, emotions of the moment, etc.
So one way of getting a less biased picture of what NDEs are like might be to simply give more weight to experiences collected in the early days of research, when most accounts were from people who had never heard anything about what NDEs were supposed to be about. Another way of trying to get beyond such a biasing factor is to study more extreme types of NDEs, NDEs with characteristics that are not all that common or known in our culture, and this is a major reason why I find Doctor Eben Alexander’s Proof of Heaven book of great value. One of the most common features of NDEs established in the early research, for example, was that at some point the person having the NDE, the NDEr, reaches some kind of “border,” or “barrier,” or “bridge” or “gateway,” and although they want to go on to what seem even more wonderful heavenly reaches of the experience, they are not allowed to go cross this border or go through this gateway, because if they did, there would be no chance of them returning to physical life. Sometimes, knowing this, the NDEr chooses to come back to physical life, sometimes he or she is forced to come back to physical life even though they desperately want to go on.
What lies beyond this gateway?
Doctor Alexander is a neurosurgeon, and he describes a seven days long NDE caused by a usually fatal brain infection that, given our current medical knowledge, we would say totally knocks out all the higher functioning of the brain, everything that makes us conscious human beings. From the outside medical perspective, he’s in a totally unresponsive coma. Inside, at first he experiences his NDE almost like a vegetative state, with no real thoughts occurring in it, and going on “forever,” although no ordinary concept of time or duration meant anything to him in that condition. And yet eventually he rose above this, with assistance that he perceived in a most interesting way – - I won’t give away this very thought-provoking aspect of the book – - and eventually went through a gateway, and reported an exceptionally profound experience.
Because his experience was exceptionally “positive,” a word that hardly begin to convey its power, as a human being I want to believe that his was a true glimpse of the reality of the universe, that we’re all under the care of a loving, alive, intelligent universe, like physician Richard M. Bucke reported in his Cosmic Consciousness experience, described in my The End of Materialism: How Evidence of the Paranormal is Bringing Science and Spirit Together.
That’s my personal reaction, but as a scientist, I have to bracket that reaction. That is I don’t deny it or suppress it, but I recognize that this is something with strong emotions underlying it and it has a possibility of biasing an otherwise relatively objective attempt of mine to understand the experience. So as a scholar and scientific investigator of NDEs, I look at the content of Doctor Alexander’s experience, in so far as he can convey it, note the similarities and differences between some other reports of profound experiences by different people in different times and places (like the Bucke Cosmic Consciousness experience mentioned above, or the Darkness of God experience reported by John Wren-Lewis reported on my TASTE (The Archives of Scientists’ Transcendent Experiences) site (go to [...] Collected Archives, and select account number 0051, The Darkness of God), and – - – Here’s where I’d like to say I understand it’s clearly connected to such-and-such phenomena in ways that are very interesting – - – but I can’t yet say much more than that this is really interesting, and I want us to learn a lot more about this kind of thing! I know, this is the traditional scientific conclusion to almost all reports, “More research is needed,” but it’s true! Indeed I would say the implications of NDEs are infinitely more important than 99 percent of what we study in science, so research on NDEs should have an enormous priority in life, but that’s not the political reality we live in. ;-(
I also give some extra credence to Doctor Alexander’s account because he wasn’t a “believer,” he wasn’t heavily invested in some religious belief system that he had a desperate need to prove. He had a certain, shallow, conventional religiosity from his family background: going to church on Christmas and Easter, otherwise not really giving religion and spirituality any thought. He had heard of reports of NDEs, but, like too many physicians, who are closed minded rather than scientific about this area, he dismissed them as nothing but the hallucinations of a malfunctioning brain. He wouldn’t tell a patient they were crazy if they reported unusual experiences to him: in his role as a doctor, as a healer, he would always be nice to them. But accounts of NDEs were just noise to him, damaged brain hallucinations. When he had his own NDE, though, that was something else again!
So, moving into book review mode, am I recommending Proof of Heaven: A Neurosurgeon’s Journey into the Afterlife? Absolutely! Who am I recommending it to? Anyone seriously interested in the meaning of life, and anyone willing to try to bracket their own previous beliefs and preconceptions and be very, very stimulated…
I am a Near Death Experiencer. I was really excited when I ran across Dr. Eben Alexander’s book on his Near Death Experience. I spent last night and most of today reading his book.
I am happy that someone with Dr. Alexander’s years of experience and qualifications has told his story of one of the deepest and longest and most significant NDE’s I’ve ever read about or heard of.
Dr. Alexander is a neurosurgeon who has worked at some of the finest hospitals in the country. He has also been a teacher at Harvard Medical School. He is a professional who understands the workings of the brain from the viewpoint of a surgeon and a scientist. This is a man who carefully analyzes and considers all points of view before presenting his thoughts on his own NDE.
What I see in this book is a portrait of an NDE’r who is a top professional in the field of brain surgery, a strong family man, and a man of integrity and good sense.
I particularly liked his honesty in dealing with his battles with depression, and his sense of rejection stemming from his having been an adopted child. To my mind, his honesty and his vulnerability help to give this book integrity.
It is very encouraging to all us NDE’rs who are out there, working to spread the word about what has happened to us, to find this kind of corroboration of both the reality and the value of our experiences. Thank you, Dr. Alexander.
(I have added an EDIT comment to this review below – please look for EDIT in the review text.)
Let me start off this review by giving you a view of my perspective on this subject. I’m a Christian and so I believe in God and Heaven, but I’m kind of on the agnostic side, since I feel that we know much less about God than many people seem to claim. I think that God is, in many ways, still a mystery to us. I have my beliefs, but they seem to be quite different from so many of today’s Christians that want to make pronouncements, legislate their beliefs onto society as a whole, and use their religion to attack others. But all Christians believe in an afterlife with God, so I do believe Dr. Alexander could very well have taken a 7 day round trip to Heaven. That belief didn’t prevent me from reading this book with a skeptical eye, however.
(There are some spoilers here)
Proof of Heaven is an interesting read, but I can’t say I wasn’t disappointed. Let’s start with the title. You can’t really offer proof and I knew that going in. What he does is look at all the scientific explanations for what he experienced and rules them out (though he doesn’t spend a lot of time on this, so it’s not like you’re reading an academic paper). Perhaps they all can be ruled out, but that’s not proof, since there just could be some other explanation that he did not consider or is unaware of that rules out an actual near death experience (NDE).
So maybe the title overpromised, but there were other issues, also. He claimed he got a three part message that went like this:
1) “You are loved and cherished, dearly, forever.” Ok, no problem there.
2) “You have nothing to fear.” I’d agree with that for the most part, though some would say you’ll burn in Hell if you don’t accept Jesus as your savior and that generally makes people fearful. This is kind of a tough one. It’s nuanced. Lots of things to think about here.
3) “There is nothing you can do wrong.” What!? Let’s look at some extreme examples here: Hitler? Stalin? They didn’t do anything wrong? Even your average murder or rapist. That person didn’t do something wrong? I think that’s going to leave most readers scratching their head. And nowhere in the book is that idea fleshed out. And that’s a big one. Perhaps the biggest. So we’re left with a pretty amazing statement with no explanation, no supporting statements, nothing, nada, zip. Should I just go out and start robbing banks and living a selfish life because nothing I can do is wrong? To just put this out there with no real explanation or discussion is, to my mind, doing a disservice to the reader and leaving us hanging on a very key point. This is probably my biggest problem with the book.
EDIT: In a comment from Dr. Alexander on my review, he says these “rules” applied in that Heavenly realm. I pointed out to him that maybe that wasn’t too clear and he agreed and said he understood why I had interpreted it like did. Read the comments on my review and you will see our conversation. I have chosen to leave the review as I orginally posted it since that is needed to understand the comments. Please read his comments where he addresses some of the points in my review.
There are other issues, too. He speaks of a friend of his wife’s who is an “intuitive” and a “channel” and she contacts coma patients while they are in the coma to help them heal. Sorry, but this is an area where I’m highly skeptical. Supposedly this friend contacted him, but he’s kind of short on details. I won’t say I completely rule out this type of thing, but it’s just way too easy for these types of people to take advantage of the gullible. There’s no way to prove anything about what they do and if the person does recover, they can just take credit.
He also talks about seeing faces while he was “out beyond” and later identifying them (he claimed he did not recognize them while having his NDE). My question is did he just merely want them to be the faces of his friends and family and so that’s what they became in his mind after his recovery? Similarly, he spoke of a female companion that helped him during his experience. He felt an immense platonic love from this being, but could not identify her. Later he determined this was the sister he did not know from his birth family (he was adopted and met his birth family later in life after one of his biological sisters had died). Again, was this just who he wanted that being to be? Was it just the convenient explanation?
Another thing that’s not dealt with is the purpose and meaning of our Earthly, bodily life. I was hoping for a little insight there, but found none.
Also, he sometimes calls God “Om”. That seemed kind of weird as I was reading the book, given that it’s a Hindu thing, but I did find this on Wikipedia: “Hindus believe that as creation began, the divine, all-encompassing consciousness took the form of the first and original vibration manifesting as sound ‘OM’.” Actually, that does fit in pretty well with his discussion of consciousness in the book, so maybe that’s not so odd. And I suppose it should remind us that God is the God of all people, not just Christians, Jews, and Muslims.
I did like a quote from Descartes that he used. I found it to be highly accurate.
Let me end on a positive note and mention the part in the book that appealed to me the most. His first words after waking up (as he recounts it in the book, at least) were “thank you” because they removed his ventilator tube (it’s always good to remember your manners, even after a coma!). The second words he spoke were “All is well.” He mentions in this part of the book how his sister, Phyllis, took that as him “imparting a crucial message from the beyond, that the world is as it should be, that we have nothing to fear.” This parallels a story my father (a retired Methodist minister) tells about what he experienced when his beloved Grandmother died. Standing in front of her casket, looking at her body, he heard in his great grief “All is well” in his mind as clearly as someone had spoken the words in his ear. He felt it was a message from God or his grandmother letting him know that she was still alive and living in a better place, a place of joy and love. He uses this story at funerals to help comfort the grieving.
Though I had some issues with the book, its message is still a good one and it’s probably going to be an interesting read for most people with an interest in these matters. I guess we always want more answers, don’t we? This book does not provide them, but its message that God is there, God is real, He loves us, and we have a lot to look forward to is an important one.
Normally, I avoid books about Near Death Experiences (NDEs). It isn’t that I dismiss the possibility. It’s just that few have anything other than subjective observations of their experience to offer the reader. But Alexander, who spent fifteen years on the faculty of Harvard Medical School as an associate professor of surgery with a specialization in neurosurgery, is not someone whose NDE account is easily dismissed. Alexander spent seven days in a coma suffering from an extremely rare disease, E. coli meningitis, during which time he suffered a complete loss of neocortical functions – i.e., the part of his brain which makes us human was absent.
The neocortex is that part of our brains involved in higher functions such as sensory perception, generation of motor commands, spatial reasoning, conscious thought and language. While Alexander’s neocortex was completely shut down by the disease, he nonetheless experienced being conscious somewhere else. For those who believe that the brain is the source of consciousness, as did Dr. Alexander prior to this experience, consciousness is thought to be impossible in the absence of a functioning neocortex. Yet Alexander was conscious.
Alexander’s NDE caused him to rethink the relationship between mind and brain, concluding that the brain, rather than being the source of consciousness, is, in fact, a filter for consciousness. Although many scientists will refuse to even consider the challenge which Alexander’s observations raise to materialist orthodoxy, neither can they easily answer the questions his experience raise in both subjective and objective aspects.
For those with theological training, such as myself (a priest in the Episcopal Church), Alexander’s voyage is fascinating for other reasons. Although Alexander is a life-long Episcopalian, he is, as many of us are, theologically unversed. He uses language which differs significantly from classical theology and yet he describes an encounter with God which, I believe, will be recognizable to mystics of many traditions, including my own. Speaking as a Christian, the Trinity is clearly recognizable in his account and, but for the language he uses to describe it, is entirely consonant with classical Christian mysticism.
Alexander concludes that consciousness and love are fundamental to the structure of the universe, in and through and above it all. This marvelous book has profound implications for science, philosophy and theology, as well as interfaith dialogue. I recommend it as well worth the time spent reading and reflecting upon it.
Fr. Joseph Farber+, Sapulpa, Oklahoma