Dr Eben Alexander: Interview with the Prophet
It would surprise me a little if you hadn’t read, or heard of, Eben Alexander’s 2012 book, Proof of Heaven: A Neurosurgeon’s journey into the Afterlife (Simon and Schuster) which narrates his astonishing journey to heaven while in a coma after a bout of bacterial meningitis. It has sold millions of copies, been translated the world over, topped the New York Times bestseller list for over a year and, if all that wasn’t enough, is soon to be made into a film.
Confidence in heaven
Why is Proof of Heaven so popular? The answer is simple: once you have read it you can have confidence that heaven exists because it is written by a neurosurgeon who had a near death experience (NDE). In my latest book, How to find Heaven: Your Guide to the Afterlife (Simon and Schuster, 2015) I mention the massive popularity of Dr Alexander’s book and suggest that it has been a catalyst for the sudden rebirth of belief in heaven in recent years, and express my sincere gratitude to him for that. It is therefore a huge privilege and honour for me to be given the opportunity to talk to the man who has made heaven ‘hot’ again.
When it was first published I devoured Proof of Heaven along with millions of other readers and it was bliss to have an hour of Dr Alexander’s time to ask questions I have wanted to ask him for a few years. A little nervous I start by telling him that I write spiritual books for his publisher, Simon and Schuster, but in the UK and my latest title is my tenth spiritual book with them and before that I wrote a number of psychic world encyclopedias and paranormal books. I tell him I feel a bit of a lone voice sometimes here in the UK, as we can be a very cynical nation, and if you write about angels, spirits and heaven you open yourself up to criticism. He jumps in right away with words of strength and encouragement and tells me we must all work together for spiritual awakening and I’m doing a great job. I’m comforted by his generosity and feel a glow of courage and inspiration. Dr Alexander is sharing a piece of heaven and offering me spirit. I feel blessed.
Spreading the word
Our conversation about Proof of Heaven now begins in earnest and what immediately strikes me is his astonishing eloquence; his ability to effortlessly use words to merge profound spiritual insights with complex scientific and medical terminology/ theories and in the process make it all sound so simple and easy to understand. He tells me that spiritual truth is extremely simple but religion and the material world have just over complicated it. The spiritual writer in me is a little envious! Not only has this man actually stepped inside heaven, seen it, felt it, he also has a medical background to give scientific substance to his beliefs and, to top it all, a remarkable gift for language. I praise him for his eloquence. He is surprised and this genuine humility suggests to me that the good doctor has been so busy spreading the word these last few years, he has no idea he has actually become the word!
Dr Alexander explains that before his coma he was a regular speaker at medical events. He believes all that public speaking prepared him well for his true purpose in life which is what he is doing right now – using words to tell us about the reality of heaven – something he says we already know but have just forgotten along the way. He believes nothing in our lives is truly random and if we open our minds to the presence of the divine in our lives we will all find fulfilment, direction and bliss. He also believes that his distinguished career as a doctor was the perfect preparation for his vocation now and frankly admits that one of the reasons the world sat up and took notice of Proof of Heaven was that he was a neurosurgeon – someone we normally think of as being sceptical and rational rather than spiritual. He looks back on his life and sees the hand of heaven gently guiding his life and career choices, although he admits he certainly wasn’t aware of this at the time and was, in fact, not deeply religious or spiritual before his NDE. He has no doubt he was chosen for his current role as a messenger from heaven – indeed while he was in heaven the divine, loving force told him that he must return to earth for this very purpose.
When Dr Alexander first woke from his coma he had no memories of his life as a neurosurgeon – earthly memories took about eight weeks to come back – all that felt real and alive to him was the spiritual world he had visited in his NDE. As I speak to him I can sense that this is very much the case for him now but, despite this other worldly quality, he is very engaged with the here and now. Three years on from publication of Proof of Heaven he is busier than ever with a frantic schedule of lectures, talks and interviews (with the likes of Oprah Winfrey) as well as promoting his books and working on new projects.
To keep himself centred he somehow manages to fit in a couple of hours of meditation each day, which he tells me is absolutely crucial for maintaining his connection to and communication with the divine energy within and around him. ‘It is how I get answers and insights and return to the wisdom and love I experienced during my NDE,’ he says. Again I feel a pang of envy and tell him I have been told many times about the benefits of meditation but have always struggled with it. He urges me to give meditation another try and again his generous, loving nature extends a helping hand. He recommends sound acoustics and urges me to visit the website of a colleague of his called Karen Newell: www.sacredacoustics.com. I promise him I will give it a go and let him know how I fare. (I will let you guys know how it goes too.)
Inevitably, I ask Dr Alexander what heaven was like for him. He describes it to me as an eternal place of butterflies, love, angels, music telepathy, lost loved ones and bliss. He states that his NDE could not have been a dream or hallucination because his coma made his cortex non-functional – in other words the human part of his brain was dead. His medical credentials give this claim serious respect as it takes a lot of courage for a respected neurosurgeon with decades of experience to openly declare that consciousness is not brain. He must have known the negative reaction it would generate among his medical peers and not surprisingly he has collected his fair share of fierce critics along the way.
I know all about critics too. I’m a mind body spirit author with a Master’s in Theology and English from King’s Cambridge so you can imagine the criticism I get from my academic peers, but I know the criticism Dr Alexander gets from scientific and medical circles must be far, far, far harsher than any I have ever experienced. This man has a lot of courage.
There is not a hint of bitterness towards the skeptics who constantly hound him though. Indeed, he insists they are actually playing an important part in the spiritual revolution which will one day light up the world. Every time skeptics disagree with him online or in books or go on the TV or radio to ‘debunk’ him he says they may not realise it but they are encouraging people to talk about heaven and that is exactly what he wants. He wants us all to wake up mentally and spiritually and start to ask deep questions of ourselves and see that the old way of thinking about this life just isn’t working anymore, that religious dogma is restrictive and science simply cannot explain consciousness. He wants us all to know that this material world, and the voice of ego (fear) in our head, are mirages distracting us from the eternal, loving reality of heaven that exists within and all around us, in both this life and the next. He sees this life very much as a place for our souls to learn and grow – a bit like soul school.
Our conversation naturally turns to the eternal, ‘Why do bad things happen to good people’ question and Dr Alexander reminds me that every tear we shed, every obstacle we face and every cut to our hearts is an opportunity for spiritual awakening. Lots of people write to him during times of grief and loss and he tries to answer as soon as he can. I can tell from the sound of his voice that he genuinely cares about every single one of his readers and anyone who writes to him will get a heartfelt response if not from him than from members of his committed team. He is a firm believer in reincarnation, stressing repeatedly that to him it makes perfect sense. I’m reminded of one of my favourite quotes here, ‘we don’t go to heaven, we grow to heaven,’ and Dr Alexander agrees wholeheartedly.
Our consciousness never dies
Dr Alexander is at pains to point out to me that you don’t have to almost die, as he did, to awaken spiritually. We don’t all need that dramatic wake up call. The divine spark of awareness is within each and every one of us, waiting for us to connect with it – and we can do that through meditation, or by recognising the presence of spirit in our daily lives in our own personal way but, most important of all, we can do it by understanding the life changing power of the message he is determined the world will hear: our consciousness never dies. NDE stories, like his, are absolutely crucial to this understanding because they demonstrate, along with phenomenon – like telepathy, psychokinesis, dreams, visions, afterlife encounters and angel experiences – that consciousness is a far deeper mystery than scientific materialism can ever explain.
Consciousness, as Dr Alexander puts it, is eternal and divine and all one. Space and time are illusions and this is something that Einstein figured out a centuries ago. (If you have read Dr Alexander’s books, you will know that he is fond of quoting Einstein to illuminate his text.) The doctor explains that as long as scientists hold onto the idea that materialism can explain the nature of reality and the brain creates consciousness they will never be able to explain the enigma of quantum physics or consciousness. There is, however, reason to be optimistic as he believes there are a growing number of open minded scientists and doctors out there, like him, who do understand and this understanding will be at the forefront of the spiritual revolution he believes is happening right now. (Interestingly, he adds that in his experiences nurses, the people who are more likely to be beside a person when they pass over, are way ahead of doctors here in understanding that death is not the end. I could not agree more as over the years I have had countless letters from nurses sharing stories of death bed visions/experiences with me – many of these stories formed the basis for An Angel Healed Me.)
See the light
Our conversation now moves to the feeling of unconditional love Dr Alexander experienced when he was in pure consciousness or heaven. While he was there he knew he was loved, could do no wrong and had nothing to fear. For him one of the reasons there is evil in the world is that people don’t love themselves and each other enough. They don’t realise they are spiritual beings and we are all one. ‘When you see the light’ he says, ‘you realise that unconditional love of self and others is the secret of eternal life, the gift we can all experience.’ For him hell does not exist: it is simply the absence of light and love. I could not agree more.
Talking to Dr Alexander is like taking a refreshing spiritual shower after a heavy, dreamless sleep. You feel alive and energised and emerge with clarity of mind and heart. Reading his books has exactly the same effect, so if you haven’t read Proof of Heaven or Map of Heaven yet you really should. You may also want to visit his website www.ebenalexander.com or write to him as I truly believe the man is a messenger from heaven. There is a name for someone like that – a prophet.
Dr Alexander would probably again be surprised and humbled if I called him a prophet, because he is too busy right now writing, teaching, talking and lighting the way for his medical and scientific peers and inspiring his readers to think about himself, but I believe in time that is what his followers will call him – an unassuming prophet, a divinely inspired messenger chosen to speak for and guide people to heaven.
Letters from heaven
I’d like to conclude now with a few quotes that sum up my reaction to Proof of Heaven and the divine message Dr Alexander is dedicating his life to spreading:
- Sometimes you read a book and it fills you with this weird evangelical zeal, and you become convinced that the shattered world will never be put back together unless and until all living humans read this book. (The Fault in our Stars)
- Words can do two major things: They provide food for the mind and create light for understanding and awareness. (John Rim)
- The conclusion is always the same: love is the most powerful and still the most unknown energy in the world. (Pierre Teilhard De Chardin)
- Death is not extinguishing the light; it is only putting out the lamp because the dawn has come. (Rabindranath Tagore)
With characteristic humility here is Dr Alexander’s response after reading and approving this interview:
Theresa – Personally, I do not feel the world needs another prophet, and I certainly do not claim to be one. My take on it is that we need to acknowledge that this is really the message of the Buddha, Christ, Muhammad and others – all teachers of love and mercy, whose message was hijacked by other humans trying to control humanity (through separation and conflict) for purposes very different from the teachings of those original prophets – we really just need to return to their original message of love.
I couldn’t agree more about the message of love, but, even if he won’t admit it, I still think there is something of the prophet, or divinely inspired speaker, about Dr AlexanderJ.