Proof of Heaven
A few years ago, in 2008, a neurosurgeon from Lynchburg, Virginia Dr. Eben Alexander went into a coma. He had contracted an astronomically rare encephalitis of bacterial meningitis. For six days he lay in a coma, his body did not respond to antibiotics or other medications. The mortality rate for the particular type of bacterial meningitis Dr. Alexander had contracted is 97%. The 3% of patients that have survived are in a persistent vegetative state.
Then on the seventh day, Alexander opened his eyes and said that he had spent the last seven days in heaven.
Before he went into a coma, he described the pain he felt was like being struck by a freight train. His loved ones finally convinced him to be hospitalized. He was being obstinate, as doctors usually are when they get sick. But the pain he felt paralyzed him.
While his family and doctors looked after him in the hospital, Alexander had what is commonly referred to as a near death experience (NDE) that he says took him to heaven and inspired him to write this book.
In Proof of Heaven, Dr. Eben Alexander explains he received messages from an angelic being and even from God. He reassures us that we should not fear death because we will be loved forever.
But before his epiphany, Alexander had to go through what he can only explain as a place where language and logic do not exist. A place that seemed to be a strange womb of some sort where grotesque creatures appeared screaming. He states that in that place he felt emotions to an unparalleled degree; feelings of agony with a magnitude that seemed to go beyond his emotional capacities. Then he felt an equally deep sense of joy as his perception cleared and he could see a field below him. It was green and lush like the earth, and he had the ability to fly over trees and fields. He could also hear the laughter of children and people singing and dancing and sometimes a dog would run and jump between them. He also speaks of a girl, an angelic figure with whom he “rode on a horse on the wing of a blue butterfly” where he saw brilliant beings and then finally “A white sphere… a being who nourishes us: the creator.”
Alexander emphasizes that he is not a sentimental type, that he had never been particularly religious and only went to church on Christmas and Easter. Nevertheless, at the end of the book he states that the scientific community should start accepting consciousness as something connected to our bodies. It was something, he said, that could only be understood near death. An unprecedented, indescribable joy that he said made him understand death as insignificant, in a universe that will never cease to give us unconditional love.
The story of Proof of Heaven is compelling, but what makes Dr. Eben Alexander’s near death experience particularly fascinating is that the neo-cortex is the part of our brain that processes our thoughts and emotions. It is what makes us distinctly human. Alexander says that the fact that his neo-cortex was one hundred percent inactive, something which was monitored at the hospital where he lay comatose, can only mean that his experiences while in a coma cannot be dismissed or simply explained as a dream, hallucination, or any other normal mental phenomenon.