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“Proof of Heaven” is a recent book by Dr. Eben Alexander, a top neurosurgeon who trained and taught at Harvard for 15 years before joining in 2006 a specialized practice in Lynchburg, Va.
In his book, Alexander tells the story of the devastating E. coli meningitis that struck him out of the blue in November 2008. E. coli is found normally in the colon. Its invasion of the cerebrospinal fluid to cause meningitis is extremely rare, and how this happened to Alexander remains a mystery to this day. He had absolutely no risk factors.
Yet, his spinal fluid tests revealed a virulent E. coli infection that surrounded his brain with tissue-destroying pus. He went into a deep coma that lasted over six days, being kept alive only by life-support machinery and the care of very dedicated doctors and nurses. By then, hope for his recovery was virtually zero. Then a miracle happened. On the seventh day, he opened his eyes! Over the next several months he went on to eventually make a full recovery.
Alexander’s story of his experiences during the week that he was comatose is astounding. Even though his brain was under mortal attack, his spirit was alive, giving him vibrant experiences that changed his life forever. One of the astonishing aspects of his “Journey into the Afterlife” (the book’s subtitle) is the fact that these vivid experiences stayed with him after he came out of his profound coma. They are the reason he wrote his book.
I’m very glad Alexander shared his unique experience. Skeptics may doubt his account, as they doubt the validity of any experiences of this kind. In fact, the title, “Proof of Heaven,” may be a bit overstated. One person’s experience hardly constitutes proof. Still, Alexander’s account has a ring of authenticity. It was clearly real to him, and it has changed his life perspective in a profound way. I recommend his book highly. It is worth reading.
“Dying to Be Me” is another fascinating book. Anita Moorjani, a young Indian woman who grew up in Hong Kong, was educated in British schools and was successful in the corporate world. In 2002 she was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
Despite treatment, her condition deteriorated. By February 2006 she was only skin and bones. She went into a coma and was taken to the hospital in terminal condition. With her organs shutting down, her doctors held out no hope for recovery. They only began a desperate course of treatment at the insistence of her husband.
While in the coma, she had vivid “other-worldly” experiences that had a profound impact on her. She learned that she was a magnificent being who was totally and unconditionally loved, and she knew this was where she belonged. She was given the choice of staying in this beautiful new world of unconditional love, or of returning to her cancer-ravaged body.
She wanted to stay, but she decided to go back, knowing her husband needed her.
When she came out of the coma, something remarkable had happened. The organs in her emaciated body began working again, and her cancer had disappeared. Her doctors did every sophisticated test possible, but could not find any trace of cancer cells in a body that was previously saturated with cancer. She had experienced spontaneous healing. Unwilling to trust their tests, the cancer specialists completed her course of chemotherapy anyway.
It took months for Anita’s weakened body to gain strength again, but today she’s a vibrant woman who enjoys life and conveys a powerful message of love. Her unique experience let her know that this material world, with all its glitter, as well as its pain and suffering, is illusory. Beyond it is a sphere of magnificent beauty and unconditional love.
Eben Alexander and Anita Moorjani both came back from their “other-worldly journeys” with the deep conviction that they were accepted and surrounded with unconditional love. Neither was spiritually inclined before their experiences, but both returned knowing that love is the foundational principle of the universe.
The skeptic position is that it’s impossible to verify these kinds of subjective experiences scientifically. That is true with our current state of scientific knowledge. Advances in science in probing matters such as love and meditation are astonishing, but we’re not yet able to establish the validity of paranormal experiences.
Even so, I’m impressed with the clear medical evidence that Eben Alexander and Anita Moorjani were both terminally ill. This evidence was solidly documented and confirmed by careful review. There is no explaining these recoveries that were beyond the limits of any current scientific knowledge. In that sense, they were miraculous.
These books carry a timely message. The human spirit is a gift of greater value than anything else we have. This message has come down through the ages for all of us. We may hear it if we pause in the hustle-bustle of our lives and tune into the universal message of love.
Ed Dodge, M.D., MPH, is a retired physician now living in Texas. Visit his website, www.thejoysofhealthyliving.com.