A Brain surgeon, a scientist, and a doctor at the basis has to make peace with the fact that no matter their best intentions, they won't be able to save everyone they operate on. Scientists tend to believe in death as final and have a hard time believing in a spiritual afterlife where consciousness lives on.
Dr. Eben Alexander got to be on the other side of the table however when he suffered his own neurological near-death experience. His glimpse into the afterlife provided him with what he believes to finally be an answer to the age-old question: what happens when you die? According to him, there's life after death, here is his detailed description of the afterlife.
Near Death Experience
Dr. Eben Alexander was 63-year old when he suffered from a brain infection and fell into a week-long coma. He was placed on a medical ventilator after doctors gave him just a two percent chance of survival.
It all started when he woke up suffering from pain he described as the "worst headache of his life". He brushed it off as the flu and thought he could sleep it off. However, when his wife came to check on him, he convulsing in his bed, with his eyes rolling in the back of his head.
Alexander was immediately rushed to the same hospital he worked as a neurosurgeon. He was diagnosed with an incredibly rare and aggressive kind of bacterial meningitis that was eating away at his brain. He was induced into a coma and placed on a ventilator with his chances of survival diminishing by the hour.
As his brain was very damaged, doctors gave Alexander a just 2 percent chance of survival. It was during that time that he got so close to death that he believes he got a glimpse of the afterlife.
180 Degree Spiritual Flip
Alexander had been skeptical of the existence of heaven, an afterlife, or any form of consciousness beyond clinical death up to his point, mostly due to his 25 years working as a surgeon and confronting death daily with his patients.
"I basically used to have a very conventional, scientific and reductive materialist view that consciousness was created by the brain, and that only the physical world exists," Alexander said.
However, as he laid in a coma with his family at his bedside watching life get sucked out of him, he was experiencing a "re-birth" that would make him do a “180-degree flip” in his belief system. Alexandre believes that he saw heaven with his own eyes, calling it more real and alive than the realm we live in. Here is what he saw.
Detailed Description Of The Afterlife
Alexander recounted in his book, Proof Of Heaven exactly what the afterlife looked like in his experience. He believed he was somewhere underground and found himself inside a Jell-o-like substance. He lost all sense of self including all his memories and couldn't speak. At first, his view was all blurry. That's when he started ascending towards Heaven, heading towards light and music.
Alexander describes: "It was a circular entity, emitting heavily music that I called the Spinning Melody. The light opened up like a rip." Next, he explains:" I felt myself going through the rip, up into a valley of lush and fertile greenery, where waterfalls glowed into crystal pools."
The scenery Alexander describes is full of beauty: "There were clouds, like marshmallow puffs of pink and white Behind them, the sky was a rich blue-back, with trees, fields and animals and people." He adds: "There was water, too, flowing in rivers or descending as rain. Mists rose from the pulsing surfaces of these waters and fish glided beneath them."
Back From The Dead
It seemed like Alexander was going to stay in the afterlife, but suddenly he describes that the heavenly realm vanished and was replaced by a place of infinite depth and blackness. There was still a bright flickering light at the center. Alexander interpreted that light as the creator of the universe, feeling like he was in divine presence.
Alexander knew he was leaving one realm to the other, but just as he thought he was gone for good...he woke up. Earlier that day Doctors wanted his family they should take him off support and let him die. But he defied all odds, and woke up.
The Origin Of Consciousness
Alexandre's near-death experience challenged his core beliefs on what happens to consciousness once the physical body no longer can hold it. His newfound perspective is that "consciousness is something that is fundamental in the universe and does not originate in the brain."
“What I experienced was the most extraordinary, memorable, detailed, and ultra-real experience of my entire life," Alexander continued. Alexander explains that we believe to be the material world we live in, is more cloudy and "dreamlike" than the afterlife. The afterlife however feels more sharp, alive, and real.
"As more than half of people who've had an NDE will tell you, it’s a much more real existence than this existence in the material world."
Doctors Explain The Outer Body Experience
Dr. Sam Parnia, director of critical care and resuscitation research explains that they have witnessed other near-death patients describe similar stories: "People describe a sensation of a bright, warm, welcoming light that draws people towards it." She adds that this experience allows them to contact dead relatives and that in some cases they describe not wanting to come back because they feel so comfortable
"It is like a magnet that draws them that they don’t want to come back." The outer body experience sometimes even allows the patients a sensation of separating themselves from their physical bodies and watching the doctors work on them.
Death According To Science
While Alexander believes in a spiritual extension of life after death, scientists seem to have an alternative explanation. Dr Parnia said there are scientific explanations for the reaction. She suggests that what he saw wasn't evidence of the afterlife but rather the brain's way of scanning itself as a survival technique.
Dr. Alexander doesn't really care what traditional science says: "I would say this experience was the greatest blessing of my entire life. It has been 13 years since he woke up and he has spent them making sense of his experience:
“It's been a tremendous gift to me to go through this experience, and then go through the 13 years since then, working with other scientists and experts around the world, to make better sense of the way this universe works."
Life After Death
So what does this mean about life after death? Because near-death experiences happen with an extremely limited warning, it's hard to test and observe them to be sure about what's on the other side. However, this is one of many shared reports that confirm the possibility that consciousness may continue to live on even after our bodies die.
Alexander's findings could help to unlock the mysteries of human consciousness and suggest that life doesn't end at death but we simply move our consciousness to another realm.
“The brain is still very important. I believe it serves as a filter that allows certain states of primordial consciousness, but to believe that our conscious awareness is fully derived from the brain is erroneous.”
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