“Map of Heaven” and “Living in a Mindful Universe”
by Karen Larre, Carla Garcia and Dave Weaver
Dr. Eben Alexander spent over 25 years as an academic neurosurgeon, including 15 years at the Brigham & Women’s Hospital, the Children’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston. Over those years, he personally dealt with hundreds of patients suffering from severe alterations in their level of consciousness. Many of them were rendered comatose by trauma, brain tumors, ruptured aneurysms, infections, or stroke. He thought he had a very good idea of how the brain generates consciousness, mind and spirit.
In the predawn hours of November 10, 2008, he was driven into coma by a rare and mysterious bacterial meningo-encephalitis of unknown cause. He spent a week in a coma on a ventilator, his prospects for survival diminishing rapidly. On the seventh day, to the surprise of everyone, he started to awaken. Memories of his life had been completely deleted inside of the coma, yet he awoke with memories of a fantastic odyssey deep into another realm – more real than this earthly one! His older son advised him to write down everything he could remember about his journey, before he read anything about near-death experiences, physics or cosmology. Six weeks later, he completed his initial recording of his remarkable journey, totaling over 20,000 words in length. Then he started reading and was astonished by the commonalities between his journey and so many others reported throughout all cultures, continents and millennia. His journey brought key insights to the mind-body discussion and to our human understanding of the fundamental nature of reality. His experience clearly revealed that we are conscious in spite of our brain – that, in fact, consciousness is at the root of all existence.
His story offers a crucial key to the understanding of reality and human consciousness. It is having a major effect on how we view spirituality, soul and the non-material realm. In analyzing his experience, including the scientific possibilities and grand implications, he envisions a more complete reconciliation of modern science and spirituality as a natural outcome. He has been blessed with a complete recovery that is inexplicable from the viewpoint of modern Western medicine.
His first book, Proof of Heaven: A Neurosurgeon’s Journey into the Afterlife, debuted at #1 on the New York Times Bestseller list and remained in the top ten for over a year. His second book, featured in this issue of Truly Alive, The Map of Heaven: How Science, Religion and Ordinary People are Proving the Afterlife, explores humankind’s spiritual history and the progression of modern science from its birth in the seventeenth century, showing how we forgot, and are now at last remembering, who we really are and what our destiny truly is. His story was featured in a series of peer-reviewed medical articles about near-death experiences (NDEs) in Missouri Medicine (2015), now published as the book The Science of Near-Death Experiences. It concludes with his chapter, “Near-Death Experiences, The Mind-Body Debate, and The Nature of Reality.” Information on his latest book on the subject of consciousness and reality, Living in a Mindful Universe: A Neurosurgeon’s Journey into the Heart of Consciousness, co-authored with Karen Newell, has been included in this feature. The interview is a blend covering both books.
Since Proof of Heaven was released in 2012, he has been a guest on The Dr. Oz Show, Super Soul Sunday with Oprah Winfrey, ABC-TV’s 20-20,Good Morning America, and FOX-TV’s FOX & Friends. His story has been featured on the Discovery Channel and the Biography Channel. He has been interviewed for over 400 national and international radio and internet programs and podcasts. His books are available in over 40 countries worldwide and have been translated into over 30 languages.
Since his NDE, Dr. Alexander has dedicated himself to sharing information about near-death experiences and other spiritually-transformative experiences, and what they teach us about consciousness and the nature of reality. He continues to promote further research on the unifying elements of science and spirituality. Together with Karen Newell, he regularly teaches others ways to tap into our greater mind and the power of the heart to facilitate enhancement of healing, relationships, creativity, guidance, and more.
TA: How does science separate us from heaven?
Eben Alexander, M.D. (EA): Conventional science as it is presented in the media is very restrictive. It is outmoded. The Newtonian, deterministic, materialistic science has nothing at all to say about consciousness. So, it is not science per se that steers us away from understanding the subtleties. Materialism is the low hanging fruit, easy to grasp aspect of science. Note that most scientists have not been studying consciousness and human experience. This aspect is where the big difference lies. Once science starts studying the mind/brain interface, they find the materialist assumptions about the physical world is all that exists. Assuming it operates by its own laws (when considering the physical world from a solely materialist view, science misses a crucial point – that is, what we experience is inside of our own consciousness. That is not something easily demonstrable as a product of the physical brain.
In fact, there is abundant evidence that consciousness is not created by the brain at all! A large body of evidence comes from a normal waking state as reported by Walter Penfield in his book, Mystery of the Mind written in 1975. Based on his in-depth study of electrical stimulation of the brain in awake patients, he concluded that you could not explain all of the workings of the mind based on the functions of the brain. Since he conducted his studies, understanding of the mind has expanded to include non-local consciousness such as telepathy and precognition. Knowing of events before they happen and psychokinesis (mind over matter), has been demonstrated in the lab. All of these demonstrations are shown to have a basis in reality and completely defy the commonly held materialist view.
When we study the events of human lives, we find tremendous evidence of the reality of the spiritual realm as a fundamental element of this universe. Additionally, the physical seems to project from the mental. Quantum physics is probably the most fundamental presentation of the mind/body connection . In the last few decades, the quantum physics community has come to realize the value of seeing that the dominant causal forces imply a mental universe, not one primarily bound by the fundamental physics of matter. Their evolving consensus is that dominant causal aspects occur in a top-down order, not the bottom-up order of the conventional physicalist model. Among those scientists who study consciousness (physicists, and those familiar with the non-local aspects of consciousness specifically studied by parapsychologists), the notion that consciousness is primordial in the universe is making more sense than the conventional view of scientific materialism. This means the brain is not creating consciousness; it only serves as a filter to allow consciousness to express itself. Thus, when the brain dies, it is not the end of consciousness, it’s the exact opposite. That is the liberation of consciousness back to that ‘fantastic mind of the universe’. This conclusion is based in the science of the modern study of consciousness.
The last ten years of my life, since I was in that coma, have been spent exploring this entirely new world view. Keep in mind, inklings of consciousness being causal have been around in both the East and West for thousands of years. It is not new thinking. It is a matter of coming to more fully understand robust thinking about the nature of the universe from brilliant investigators of the mind, going back for centuries. We are coming into a reassessment and understanding of this wisdom in a new fashion. It is bringing science and spirituality together in a new way.
Unlike religious authority that requires belief, based on what someone else instructs, science endeavors to look for evidence and rationally interrupt that data.
What is coming to the fore, unlike any other time in recent history and is exciting, is the way quantum physics contributes to asking questions about human experience, not just a study of the human brain. We have learned that the brain is not creating human consciousness. This is the larger world view that is taking the scientific community by storm. This very large implication for humanity is uniting science and spirituality. When I use the term spirituality, I am including two major concepts: 1. We are sharing one mind, one consciousness. 2. There is meaning to it all. All of this is directed, and that direction is one in which humanity is deeply challenged to learn and profess this oneness. This connectedness through compassion, cooperation and love with all fellow human beings – this is the current lesson we are challenged to learn. Our current awakening will bring true spirituality to humanity and allow for the individual to learn our deep spiritual nature, purpose and responsibility for our individual lives expressed as a grand evolution of all of consciousness itself.
TA: Please explain what you mean by “heaven makes us human”.
EA: To pretend that there is not a spiritual aspect to this; that our mind is something that originates at a level which completely dominates this material realm, misses the greatest part of who we are. The insanity of this comes to the fore when you hear materialist scientists try to explain how the brain creates consciousness and when the physical brain dies, so too ends our conscious awareness. There is overwhelming evidence and rational thought systems that show why that is false. It is maddening to observe, especially the science writers who claim how irrational it is to consider the afterlife and reincarnation because they don’t fit the predominant material science paradigm. Our conventional science is absolutely dead in the water. It claims that consciousness doesn’t even exist. The claim is that the epi-phenomenon of chemical reactions and fluctuations in the brain is what creates consciousness. That is the best the hard-core, materialist scientists can come up with in an effort to explain consciousness and what creates it. Yet, the issue of consciousness is so fundamentally important to all human beings that to ignore the spiritual aspects of our being, heaven, and all of the evidence around the afterlife and the reality of reincarnation, can become mind numbing if we succumb to the tenants of modern scientism, the worship of science itself. Science is a faith-based religion. There are enormous falsehoods in our materialist science presentations to the masses because it is largely incorrect. It flies in the face of quantum physics.
TA: Is there something you would like our readers to know about your book Living in a Mindful Universe?
EA: I look at the book Proof of Heaven more as a question mark. The Map of Heaven expanded that question mark by pointing out that these experiences are very real; they have happened to millions of people. These experiences show us something about this world that goes far beyond the simplistic nonsense of materialist science.
A deeper understanding of quantum physics is crucial. Living in a Mindful Universe is the most ambitious book that I know of, making the effort to connect science and spirituality by bringing the power of love and compassion into the equation of how we live our lives. It also goes further than any book I am aware of that brings the spiritual and the scientific together. It shows why quantum physics is so important without drowning the reader in the deep mystery. We simply show people something at the root, the basis, that we know to be true. And that is, their soul has a reality in existence. They exist in a truly meaningful relationship with this universe. It is through discovering that relationship and amplifying that power through manifestation of free will and the choices we make about how this world should be – that can bring this into fruition. That is what I think is so important.
There is a FREE version of a workbook that goes along with Living in a Mindful Universe. The workbook is a FREE 33-day email drip course, Into the Heart of Consciousness available at ebenalexander.com.
More than 7,000 people have taken this course. Included are several offerings for acoustical deep meditation listening. It is all free. This course will definitely jumpstart your participation in this evolving awareness of humanity. Of course, the next step is to read Living in a Mindful Universe. The course will definitely educate people about where all this is heading. No soul is to be left behind. This is about the evolution of consciousness. We are all participants in that. And we will all benefit from the revolution in human thought that is underway.
Living in a Mindful Universe is far more proof of heaven than the book Proof of Heaven or Map of Heaven. We point to the eternity of consciousness, the concrete reality of the afterlife. If you don’t understand how reincarnation works, you cannot begin to glimpse any of this.
TA Is there anything else you would like readers to know?
EA: For those who want to jumpstart their experience in meditation, I would steer you to sacredacoustics.com. That is the website of Karen Newell, my life partner and co-author of Living in a Mindful Universe. She has been a great mentor to me. She has lived her whole life as an idealist. Also, know that heart consciousness is the ultimate form of conscious expression. People who visit and learn more from her website, who participate in our free email course, can certainly go a long way in their own personal investigation into this evolutionary awakening. My course links to 4 separate files on sacredacoustics.com.