Over the course of about 6 days, both the Fiance and I finished the book Proof of Heaven. In fact, he started reading it before I even finished so, at one point, we had two separate bookmarks holding two separate places in the book. Never before have I simultaneously read the same book as someone else but both of us were so intrigued by the premise, we simply couldn't wait for the other to finish.
Proof of Heaven is neurosurgeon Dr. Eben Alexander's account of what he considers to be his journey into the afterlife. A few years ago, Dr. Alexander suddenly became ill with a rare case of e. coli bacterial meningitis. Though not uncommon in infants, the illness is incredibly rare in adults - according to the book, only 1 in 10 million people will contract the disease in their lifetime. And of those rare cases, they are fatal roughly 90% of the time.
Doctors were baffled by his illness and completely unable to figure out how he got it in the first place. But that's not even the most significant part. His illness completely attacked the outer layer of his brain. The part of his brain that creates & stores memories, deciphers feelings, controls consciousness - basically the part of his brain that makes him human - was completely within the grips of the attacking bacteria that were determined to consume his life during his 7-day coma. It reached the point where his mortality rate was almost 100%. It was almost 100% certain that he would die as a result of this illness. Needless to say, a recovery of any type was practically out of the question.
And then, on the seventh day of his coma, much like God resting on the seventh day of creation, Dr. Alexander just ... woke up. Though somewhat delirious and rambling, he was in good spirits and, with lots of hard work, made a full recovery within a few months. But that medical miracle alone is not enough to make the story a New York Times bestseller. It's what happened to Dr. Alexander during the coma that is mystifying, bewildering, and awe-inspiring.
Simply put, Dr. Alexander, a neurosurgeon with quite an impressive history of work in the realm of science, experienced heaven. He traveled to other realms of consciousness, interacted with relatives who died before he ever had the chance to meet them (and who, interestingly enough, he had never even seen a photo of...), and received a message of unconditional love to carry back to his earthly life. Whether you're a skeptic like Dr. Alexander was or you fully believe in God and an afterlife, this book is absolutely fascinating.
I have to admit, I'm probably the ideal audience for this book. I know it doesn't make sense for me to believe in an afterlife, especially considering how drawn I am to logic, reason, and solid evidence (I was a lawyer after all), but when it comes to spirituality and our larger place in the world, I'm a believer despite the lack of evidence. Isn't that the very definition of faith? Belief and trust in a concept despite a lack of proof to support it? I just find it very close minded and simple to believe that our life and purpose is limited to the few decades we spend here on Earth. This physical world has been in existence for a few million years, and will continue on long after we've all left it. The universe is massive, expansive, and filled with mysteries that science is constantly trying to prove or simply understand. Yet I'm supposed to believe that our role in all of that is limited to however long our physical lifetime lasts here on Earth?
Well, if you believe Dr. Alexander's account, it's not. We play a much greater role in the overall flow of the universe than we may realize. We are all connected, all part of the same world. And the best part of his message is that we are all surrounded by an unconditional love. His experience left him with one message that he believes to be a solid truth: You are loved and cherished, you have nothing to fear, and there is nothing you can do wrong.
This book touched me on many levels, not just spiritually but in my personal life as well. For one, I've lost many loved ones in my 31 years and there's a great comfort in reading about an afterlife experience so pure and beautiful. Knowing my loved ones are in place so filled with love and joy is a comforting though. But more than that, I share a lot of similarities with the author and the thought that we are all loved unconditionally by a force greater than ourselves -despite the challenges and difficulties and feelings of inferiority we all struggle with at times, despite the fact that that unconditional love is not always experienced here on Earth- is something I just believe in my core to be true.
This story would be pretty amazing no matter who it happened to, but it happened to a neurosurgeon. A self-proclaimed skeptic and man of science who had fully given up the thought of a god or an afterlife. A scientist who believed that death meant darkness and nothingness. A complete end to our existence. And now he's so fully convinced of our continued existence after death that he's made it his life's mission to tell this story. Whether you are also a scientist or a believer, it's a pretty fascinating one, and will make you seriously reconsider all that you previously thought to be true.
Happy reading. :)