In a word, the essence of life and what follows death can be summed up in this one simple, powerful yet over-used word. So writes Eben Alexander following his own near death experience (NDE).
52 Books (The List) was conceived to stretch my thinking by including titles that I might not normally read about topics I that might not usually consider. Proof of Heaven certainly fits that bill.
This isn't a book about NDEs. It's not a book about religion. It's not a book about faith or spirituality. Quite simply its a book about what life is and can be.
Dr Eben is a practicing neurosurgeon having earned his M.D. from Duke in 1980 and completed his residency at Massachusetts General Hospital as well as Harvard. He describes himself a a scientist and a doctor and thus being compelled to “honor truth and help heal.”
In short, he's not a quack.
And his decades of study and practice coexisted with his own faint sense of agnosticism, his belief in science and observable truth paramount in his world view. There was little room for God or faith.
Or all encompassing love.
Just before Thanksgiving in 2008 in what is one of the rarest medical experiences of its type on record, Dr Eben began his Monday morning with moderate to severe back pain. By that evening he would be in a seven-day coma with his attending physicians sure he would either not survive or at best, if he did, never experience more than a persistent vegetative state following it so significant was the trauma to his brain.
I'll leave the medical details to Dr Eben to describe – did I mention he studied (and practiced) at Harvard?
The point of Dr Eben's story is this: we are more than what we see around us in the observable plane.
For more than 400 years modern science has attempted to explain human experience through the prism of consciousness the soul being brushed aside as an outdated notion. And of course, consciousness does not exist without the active brain.
Or does it?
This book describes Dr Eben's experience in multiple levels of beingness and awareness all while lying in a coma. That is, he was conscious of expereince without any active brain to abet him. But not the life we see around us in our work a day world.
In a sense, his awakening of soul.
Free from earth-bound constraints and concerns Dr Eben explores his alternate reality and develops a sense of relationship with God whom he calls Om to reflect the sound of his name. A personal relationship that in the end can be described in that one word.
You may opt not to read Proof. It's underlying premise – that another dimension to our being exists – canbe distrubing and alarming and may put you off.
Yet I found the ideal of love and an inherrent belief in the beauty of each individual simply too compelling for me to put down.
The notion of soul – a fundamental component of our self-understanding for thousands of years prior to the emergence of modern science – grows more exciting as I think about it and implications. Perhaps Proof will help you reassess that notion for you as well.
It isn't a question of science or soul. It's both.