The cover of Newsweek magazine for the week of October 15 had in big white bold letters, “Heaven Is Real.” This cover caught my eye without a doubt. Does someone at Newsweek really know whether or not heaven is real? Has someone traveled there? Is it really true? These are all questions we all ask ourselves many times throughout our lives. Whether we like to admit it or not, we are born with this curiosity.
Dr. Eben Alexander, an academic neurosurgeon, shared his story with Newsweek about his uncanny yet life changing experience. Having taught at many prestigious universities, including Harvard Medical School, Dr. Alexander has followed his father’s path as a neurosurgeon and has well-rounded knowledge about the “astonishingly sophisticated but extremely delicate mechanism,” the brain.
He didn’t believe in “the phenomenon of near-death experiences.” Dr. Alexander believed that there were “good scientific explanations for the heavenly out-of-body journeys described by those who narrowly escape death. Reduce the amount of oxygen [the brain] receives by the smallest amount and it will react.” Dr. Alexander didn’t believe that the stories these people came back with had any truth to them, until now.
In the fall of 2008, Dr. Alexander contracted a rare form of bacterial meningitis that led him to a seven day coma, which then led to the human part of his brain to become inactive. He experienced something so profound that gave a scientific reason to believe in consciousness after death. While Dr. Alexander’s body lay in a coma in Lynchburg General Hospital in Virginia, his “mind- my conscious, inner self- was alive and well, my brain-free consciousness journeyed to another, larger dimension of the universe: a dimension I’d never dreamed existed and which the old, pre-coma me would have been more than happy to explain was a simple impossibility.”
In the Newsweek article, he continued to say that what he saw had been very similar to countless stories told by people who have claimed to journey the same path and called it heaven, “it exists.” He described what he experienced, “seeing and hearing was not separate in this place, everything was distinct, yet everything was also a part of everything else. [We] were riding along an intricately patterned surface, which after a moment I recognized as the wing of a butterfly. In fact, millions of butterflies were all around us- vast fluttering waves of them.” The images and wondrous visualizations that Dr. Alexander described are probably much more than what our minds can fathom.
While being in this dimension of the universe, he received a message that had three parts, “you are loved and cherished, dearly, forever. You have nothing to fear. There is nothing you can do wrong.” This message filled Dr. Alexander with relief, “it was like being handed the rules to a game I’d been playing all my life without ever fully understanding it.” He sensed a divine being at work. “Divine” is defined, by the Merriam Webster Dictionary, as relating to, “or proceeding directly from God or a god, supremely good, heavenly, Godlike.” He went on to talk about the universe and how it’s defined, “not only is the universe defined by unity [of these two realms], it is also- I now know- defined by love. The universe as I experienced it in my coma is- I have come to see with both shock and joy- the same one that both Einstein and Jesus were speaking of in their (very) different ways.” Dr. Alexander told Newsweek about his whole moving and remarkable journey. Check out www.newsweek.com for the full story.
Jeff Kleinstein, sophomore Accounting student, supported Dr. Alexander’s experience after reading his article in Newsweek. “I agree. You know, when I die, I expect to wake up again in a different life.” He viewed death as an ordinary sleep, “but when you wake up, you’re in a different bed.” Junior Nutrition major Maria Tavella, after hearing about Dr. Alexander’s experience, believed it to be true also. “There is something more to life, “she said, “stories like these are very inspiring; it gives people something to hope for.”
Dr. Alexander is just one of a many people who have experienced this joy of life. Individuals may think that all there is to life is the physical and they’ll only believe what they see. Some may think this “only the physical” view of life isn’t normal. Well frankly, it’s very normal. The only reason people may not believe in another realm or consciousness after death or even God is because they haven’t experienced anything to bring them to that realization. It’s almost like a gift of awareness and of truth. I’m pretty sure that nothing can change Dr. Alexander’s thoughts about what he experienced, simply because it was as real to him as eating breakfast or driving a car. Fortunately, in my opinion, it is the truth, not just for this doctor, but for everyone, some just haven’t received that gift. However, you can’t receive a gift if you don’t believe there is a gift to receive.
The comments on Newsweek.com about Dr. Alexander’s article reveal that he has just as many supporters as critics. Hearing about any kind of supernatural experience can seem like a distant idea that some people cannot attain. Was Dr. Alexander in the presence of the almighty God? Maybe; maybe not. All I know from my personal experience is that it is possible. In my opinion, there isn’t one person on this Earth that cannot experience the joy that Dr. Alexander spoke about. All it takes is a little faith.