TAHOE/TRUCKEE, Calif. — A small crowd huddled closely around Dr. Eben Alexander before his lecture at Sofia University in Palo Alto, hanging on his every word. This is not surprising.
This is a man whose near-death experience four years ago gave him insights most people are anxious to hear about.
His message was simple: You don’t have to go to heaven — to die or even nearly die — in order to gain a life-transforming perspective.
For Alexander, author of the New York Times bestselling book, “Proof of Heaven: A Neurosurgeon’s Journey into the Afterlife,” the most lasting takeaway from a week-long coma was three-fold:
You are loved. You have nothing to fear. There is nothing you can do wrong.
This was pretty heady stuff, especially for someone who had always assumed the brain — an organ that, in Alexander’s case, had completely shut down due to a rare meningitis infection — was the source of consciousness.
“Pull the plug and the TV goes dead,” he thought.
A Little Slice of Heaven
But if this were true, then where did these ideas come from? What do they mean? Are they of any practical value?
Alexander characterizes these and other inspirations as “a direct extension” of divine consciousness itself, an assurance of “the true spiritual self that all of us are destined someday to recover,” an all-encompassing message from God that flooded him with “a vast and crazy sensation of relief.”
In other words, heaven, a place perhaps akin to what 19th century religious reformer Mary Baker Eddy once described as “not a locality, but a divine state of Mind.”
So how does the average Joe tune into these kinds of heavenly bulletins?
“You must do the work,” said Alexander. “At the end of the day, we each have to go deep into our own consciousness, through prayer or meditation, to access these truths.”
What the individual does with these newly discovered truths is, of course, up to them.
For some making such a connection with the Divine is simply a kick in the pants to be more compassionate, more patient, more forgiving. For others it’s a much-needed reminder we can never be separated from God — a concept Alexander refers to as “the single most important thing [he] ever learned” — the opposite of which he calls a “false suspicion” and “the root of every form of anxiety in the universe.”
For others the impact is even more profound. This was the case for a woman whose prayer-based realization of her “unbreakable connection to God” was instrumental in her complete recovery from a severely broken neck. This took place within a month and without surgery or any other medical intervention.
“Communicating with God is the most extraordinary experience imaginable,” writes Alexander, “yet at the same time it’s the most natural one of all.”
Alexander’s talk ended with perhaps the most important insight of them all: the unshakable conviction that “we are all deeply loved and cherished forever.” In the moment of silence that followed, there was a sense the good doctor’s message was not just heard, but already having an effect — a little slice of heaven, if you will, here on earth.
Eric Nelson’s columns on the link between consciousness and health appear weekly in a number of local, regional, and national online publications. He also serves as the media and legislative spokesperson for Christian Science in Northern California. This article originally appeared on Communities @WashingtonTimes.com and is used with permission.