In the book “Proof of Heaven”, neurosurgeon Dr. Eben Alexander remarks on his own near death experience (NDE) and how it forever changed his life. This autobiography details what happened leading up to his NDE and immediately following his experience, with flashbacks of his past that help add resolve and more meaning to the perspective of his life’s evolution. The title of this book clearly explains what the intent of its message is. Dr. Alexander attempts to confirm that heaven is real and even shed light on what heaven may be like.
There are millions of people who do not believe in heaven or are not sure it exists. On the other hand, millions of people do believe, while thousands of them devote their lives to reaching this place called heaven. Thousands of people throughout history have ventured through NDE’s. In this time their spirit leaves the human body and travels to encounter some hell and/or heaven-like place. They eventually “return” to their bodies, able to tell the story of what occurred to them in the midst of their unconsciousness. While Dr. Alexander had encounters with patients who had NDE’s, he was always doubtful of their validity. That is, until he had his own. Being a neurosurgeon, and obviously in the scientific community, his message of the proof of heaven was ultimately not received well among his peers. Yet, he maintains his story.
It all happened one November morning when Alexander awoke feeling ill as he was recovering from a mild respiratory infection. Pain overtook his body and as he attempted to get out of bed, take a bath to ease the pain, and get ready for is workday but he soon realized his body was in no shape to make it through. As he laid back in bed his wife Holley knew something was wrong and tried to comfort him. She soon understood this was not just a common sort of sickness but that something more serious could be wrong with him, so she decided to call some of his colleagues about his symptoms as she allowed him to rest. Later she went to check on him, only to discover he was having a seizure and in desperate need of medical attention. Once the paramedics arrived and transported him to the hospital emergency room his health condition continued to decline. They performed many procedures on him in order to get a clear read on his vital signs and overall health. Doctors were puzzled for days searching to figure out what caused his unexplainable predicament.
Throughout Alexander’s NDE he traveled through three places, The Realm of the Earthworm’s- Eye View, The Spinning Melody and Gateway, and The Core. He coined these names after he came out of his coma and later had time to reflect on the series of events. He explains each place in as great of detail as possible, for he often stated that our vocabulary is limited in truly explaining how wonderful, awful, terrifying , and beautiful, it all was in their respective times and places. The Realm of the Earthworm’s- Eye View was like “dirty Jell-O… Transparent but in a bleary, blurry, claustrophobic, suffocating kind of way.” And there was sound too, “… A deep rhythmic pounding, distant yet strong so that each pulse of it goes right through you.” Like the mechanical sound of “metal against metal”. In The Spinning Melody and the Gateway, he testifies, “Then I heard a new sound: a living sound, like the richest, most complex, most beautiful piece of music you’ve ever heard.” “I felt like I was being born. Not reborn or born again. Just… born.” Then he journeyed through The Core. Recalling his time there he states, “I would suggest that you couldn’t look at anything in that world at all, for the word at itself implies a separation that did not exist there. Everything was distinct, yet everything was also part of everything else, like the rich and intermingled designs on a Persian carpet… or a butterfly’s wing.” Upon departing from his NDE and coming back to earthly “reality” he says, “What happened to me is the single most important story I will ever tell. But it’s a tricky story to tell because it is so foreign to ordinary understanding.” This ordeal is his life’s major testimony, so he seeks to share with any and every one, what is “beyond the body and beyond this earth”. And to let them know how much more there is to life than what we see before and around us.
Initially, I struggled with whether or not I should read this book. When I discovered it in the book aisle I said to myself, “I don’t need proof of heaven.” Yet somehow, I wanted to know what the author had to say. I am pleased I read the book and got a chance to open my eyes to one man’s near death experience. It is a subject I did not know much about (and still do not) but I never thought it was impossible. My goal is to neither confirm nor deny near death experiences and their legitimacy, just recount and review what I thought of one man’s story.
What I did not like were the lack of biblical references or scriptures in this book. In chapter 32 (the shortest chapter) he tells of a day he goes to church after the ordeal, and in the context of its three paragraphs he finally mentions Jesus. I would have liked to see him mention more of his spiritual growth in the aftermath of his experience. I understand he was forever changed and that his depth of spiritual awakening was sparked but knowing what he planned to do to further his relationship with God would have been good for people like myself. Chapter 15 was by far my favorite in “Proof of heaven”. I did a lot of self-reflection in this chapter and I personally believe there is much truth in its pages. It illustrates how our brains forget where we originated due to the over consumption of information (especially technology) and how we have to get back to remembering our true selves in God’s eyes. I also appreciate that Alexander gives God, or (as he sometimes states “Om”) all the credit noting that he was “completely miniscule by comparison.”
In the Prologue, Alexander suggests this book is for, “People who might have heard stories similar to mine before and wanted to believe them but had not been able to fully do so.” Yet, I would not recommend this book to someone who does not “believe”. In my eyes, it is a book that should be read by people who already have a strong belief in whether or not heaven exists. This way they will not be swayed by one man’s bibically unconnected experience, and are able to read it with an objective mind. There is information in this book that may contradictory about how to get to heaven from a biblical view because he does not suggest a way to live life where one may reach heaven when they die. However, “Proof of Heaven” is a book I would suggest to someone who “believes” and wants to know more about near death experiences.
Thank you for taking the time to read my review. More to come!