LOS ALTOS, CA, June 26, 2013 — A small crowd huddled closely around Dr. Eben Alexander before his lecture last week at Sofia University in Palo Alto, hanging on his every word. This is not surprising given that this is a man whose extraordinary near-death experience just four years ago has given him insights that most people are more than anxious to hear about.
His message was clear and simple. You don’t have to go to heaven - to die, or even nearly die - in order to gain the kind of life-transforming perspective that will change your life for the better here and now.
For Alexander, an M.D. and author of the New York Times bestselling book, Proof of Heaven: A Neurosurgeon’s Journey into the Afterlife, the most lasting takeaway from the week he spent in a 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 that 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.
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 nineteenth 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,” says 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 is a much needed reminder that we can never be separated from God – a concept that 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 local 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 that the good doctor’s message was not just heard but that it was already having an effect on those who came looking for just such an assurance – a little slice of heaven, if you will, here on earth.
Eric Nelson’s columns on the link between consciousness and health appear regularly 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.
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