May 29, 2013
Column # 1,657
“Proof of Heaven”
By Mike McManus
Eben Alexander III, a neurosurgeon, taught at Harvard Medical
School for 15 years. His scientific worldview undermined his
ability “to believe in something larger,” such as God.
He viewed the brain as a “machine that produces the phenomenon
of consciousness.” That left little room for the words he heard
in church about “life everlasting,” as he wrote in his new book,
Proof of Heaven.
At age 58 he awoke one morning with an acute headache. Within
hours he was in a coma that lasted seven days. He’d contracted
bacterial meningitis, and had only a 10 percent chance of
survival. Doctors believed that if he emerged from the coma he
would be in a chronic vegetative state.
With his body twisting in agony, he uttered three prescient
words, “God help me.”
During those days, he journeyed “to another, larger dimension of
the universe, a dimension I’d never dreamed existed.” He entered
a new world, “where death is not the end of consciousness, but
rather a chapter in a vast and incalculably positive journey.”
At the beginning of his adventure he was “in a place of clouds,
big puffy pink-white ones.” Higher than the clouds –
immeasurably higher – were “flocks of transparent, shimmering
beings arced across the sky.”
Angels? Possibly, but from them he heard a sound, “huge and
booming like a glorious chant, coming down from above.” Later he
realized that “the joy of these creatures, as they soared
along,” was such that they had to sing.
What’s more, “seeing and hearing were not separate in this
place…I could hear the visual beauty of the silvery bodies of
those scintillating beings above and I could see the surging,
perfection of what they sang,” he wrote.
Back on earth, his family gathered around his seemingly lifeless
body. His wife, Holley, two sons, Eben IV, age 20, and little
Bond, plus sisters took turns sitting by his bed, holding his
limp hand, every hour around the clock. “We are not letting you
go, Eben,” said Phyllis, his sister. “You need an anchor to keep
you here, in this world, where we need you.” That anchor of
family was of profound importance to his recovery.
In heaven he felt like he was “being born…Below me was
countryside…trees and fields, streams and waterfalls” plus
children who were laughing and playing.
At some point he realized he was not alone. Next to him was a
“beautiful girl with high cheekbones and deep blue eyes.”
More remarkable, they were riding along together on the wing of
a butterfly, and were surrounded by millions of butterflies –
“vast fluttering waves of them.”
Without using any words, she communicated three important
“You are loved and cherished, dearly, forever.
“You have nothing to fear.
“There is nothing you can do wrong.”
Her messages flooded him with a sense of relief. “We will show
you many things here. But eventually you’ll go back.”
“Back where?” he wondered, having forgotten his life on earth.
When thoughts occurred to him, such as “Where am I?” he
immediately sensed an answer, “in an explosion of light, color,
love and beauty.”
He perceived God as “Om,” as in “omniscient, omnipotent,
unconditionally loving God.”
This Being “knew me deeply and overflowed with qualities” that
are human – “warmth, compassion, pathos..even irony and humor.”
Eben realized that Evil was present and necessary “because
without it free will was impossible.” However, he sensed that
“love was overwhelmingly dominant, and it would ultimately be
Meantime, as his coma reached its seventh day, doctors became
convinced his life support should be terminated. His family
disagreed. As one prayed, “You have healed others. Now it is
your turn to be healed.”
It had rained for those seven days. As Phyllis drove to the
hospital on the seventh day, she saw a perfect rainbow. In her
mind was a text message from a prayer group in Boston, “Expect a
In his coma, Eben saw a young boy pleading for him to return. It
was Bond, his son.
As the boy stared at his Dad’s face, Eben’s eyes opened.
The man who believed “science and spirituality cannot coexist,”
realized he had been wrong. His revival “had happened for a
reason” - to communicate God’s “unconditional love and
acceptance” to an often disbelieving world.
Give the book to an unbelieving friend, to learn about “Our
Father who art in heaven.” Eileen Cramner, a relative, gave it
to believers to reinforce their faith.
It’s the most important book they will ever read, other than the
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