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Book Review

"Into the "Proof of Heaven: A Neurosurgeon's Journey into the Afterlife", by Eben Alexander III, MD 

Review by: Raymond A. Moody, Jr., MD, PhD

Dr. Eben Alexander's near-death experience is the most remarkable I have ever heard. I say that after almost fifty years of interviewing thousands of people who almost died but were revived. In my opinion, the prosaic explanations of near-death experiences commonly offered by mainstream science fail dramatically in his case. Hence, I believe that Dr . Alexander's experience provides compelling evidence to reach the objective conclusion that human consciousness does indeed survive physical death.

 This is not a statement I make lightly. As both a medical doctor and a doctor of philosophy trained to appreciate the strict dictates of proof, I have been extremely careful to refrain from speculation or advancing unwarranted conclusions in my work in this field and in many books on the subject, including the pioneering work I wrote back in 1975 called Life After Life. But in this case, I am comfortable for the first time in my career making the claim that Dr. Alexander's experience is evidential of the continuation of consciousness or awareness after bodily death.  

 Several factors permit me to reach this conclusion. Dr. Alexander served for fifteen years as a professor of neurosurgery at Harvard Medical School. He is a distinguished internationally renowned neuroscientist. Accordingly, he was schooled in and accepted the standard neurophysiological doctrine that consciousness is a byproduct of electrical and biochemical activity in the brain. As you will learn in this most engaging book, Dr. Alexander's close call with irreversible death totally transformed his views about the brain, consciousness and the nature of ultimate reality. On a direct experiential basis he came to the crystal clear realization that consciousness is not a function of brain processes because his brain had totally and completely shut down. Indeed, the distribution of the brain infection from which he suffered ruled out the possibility that he could have been conscious during the time of his other-worldly experience, at least not in any conventional or ordinary sense.  

 Yet, while he was totally without brain function, with his neo-cortex off-line, he reports being in a hyper-real state of consciousness during which he traveled out of his body into another realm, dimension or state of existence. Moreover, while in that other world, Dr. Alexander encountered a young woman with whom he felt a powerful connection.  Then, after his recovery, he serendipitously discovered this enigmatic young woman was his own sister, a sister he did not known he had! This detail and others in Dr. Alexander's phenomenal other-worldly journey are really very difficult to explain away or account for within the confines of the traditional or conventional scientific model. Predictably, his pundits will have a hard time dismissing his inspiring, mind-expanding account, which by the way is extensively documented by clinical and medical records. 

 Dr. Alexander is a thoroughly refreshing, down-to-earth, humble, honest and enthusiastic individual. His sense of awe about the adventure he encountered on the other side and his excitement at the realization that consciousness continues beyond death of the body are palpable in this book. I am confident that Dr . Alexander's story will capture worldwide interest. It will inspire many to accept that there really is life after death. I suspect his book will be a global game-changer. It has seismic implications and may help humanity arrive at a more accurate understanding of life's true meaning and purpose in the larger sense.  

  Given the new parameters brought forth by Dr. Alexander's story, it is time someone stepped out and acknowledged that ordinary neurophysiological explanations of near-death experiences are woefully inadequate and even comical. Most researchers who try to explain away these experiences as hallucinations produced by oxygen-deprived brains, or temporal lobe seizures, or derivative of the quantum hologram, and so on, are merely armchair investigators. Most, if not all of them, have never actually interviewed people who have undergone these profound experiences. Instead, these armchair investigators offer only ungrounded speculation about the cause or origins of such experiences based on their analytical assessment of the findings published by other researchers who do the actual field work. But actual interviews with people who report near-death experiences leave one with quite a different impression.

 Furthermore, all the elements that occur in near-death experiences are frequently reported by bystanders at the death of someone else. That is, when someone passes away bystanders at the scene often report leaving their bodies and accompanying their dying loved one part way "into the light."  Yet, these bystanders are not ill or injured, so there is no question that their experiences could not have been caused by diminished oxygen flow to their brains and the like. I call these "shared death experiences" and I write extensively about them in my latest book called Glimpses of Eternity.

 Dr. Eben Alexander's near-death experience stands as perhaps one of the crown jewels of all near-death experiences. The knowledge of what he experienced raises the bar for serious investigators and pundits. It marks the beginning of a new era of rational investigation of humankind's deepest mystery, life after death. Perhaps the path of least resistance for Dr. Alexander would have been to keep this story to himself. But he would not and could not do that, not as a scientist and not as a human being. So, thanks to his great courage in laying his superb credentials and reputation on the line by coming forward with his story, it now appears that the question of life after death is indeed a mystery solved.

 I must confess that for me it is very hard to reflect on  his story without feeling that what Dr. Alexander experienced, including the harrowing physical ordeal he endured for seven days, must have been somehow divinely ordained.  As all who know Dr. Alexander will agree, there could hardly be a finer, nicer, more credible person to bring us this epochal message that we are indeed eternal beings.