from Eben Alexander MD (in response to questions posted):
Saturday, October 2, 2010 - 11:30 AM
Carol - I have been thinking that parts of your experience might coincide with the reported experiences of some of the Christian mystics, or of enlightened people from other religions as well. Their descriptions are remarkably similar to yours, but presumably their brains were functioning normally. There is some evidence of altered states produced during meditation that might lead to profound spiritual experiences. These were characterized by an absence of most brain activity (See One Taste, p. 75-77 below). I'm beginning to think that the enlightenment phenomenon is at the root of all spiritual systems, and that our organized religions and personal convictions may be somewhat irrelevent, as if we're looking in the wrong place for the truth.
Have you read anything by Ken Wilber? You might find One Taste and Up From Eden interesting, or The Essential Ken Wilber, An Introductory Reader may be a good starting place.
I assure you that I have never had an enlightment experience, although I've done some meditation, but I believe in my bones the truth of what other people report -- the oneness of All and the "love that passes all understanding".
Saturday, October 2, 2010 - 11:37 AM
Carol - Thank you so much for your thoughts.
"Light from Light," the anthology on Christian Mystics, and "Gnostic Gospels" were most helpful in my attempts to explain my experience. I meant to emphasize the role of meditation in seeking that enlightenment when I discussed how Buddha was "Awake," but I was running short on time. It is clear that one does not need a near-death experience to achieve enlightenment.
I have been musing over Ken Wilber's Quantum Questions, an excellent anthology he edited in 1984 containing essays pertinent to mysticism written by some of the leading scientists of the Twentieth Century (Einstein, Heisenberg, Schroedinger, Planck, Pauli, deBroglie, Jeans and Eddington).
Hints at my main message about quantum mechanics (QM) and science were conveyed in some of the quotes presented at St. John's, and especially the one from Einstein about "behind all the discernible concatenations [in peering into the secrets of nature], there remains something subtle, intangible and inexplicable [a force beyond our comprehension]." Current science at the cutting edge of investigating quantum gravity (synthesis of QM and General Relativity) and the holographic principle of the universe leaves the door wide open for the critical and fundamental reality of spiritual experience.
I will seek out your other recommendations by Ken Wilber.
I agree with you on the issue of organized religions - their only relevance is in providing spokes to the hub that we (all life throughout the Multiverse) share. And the coin of that Realm is --LOVE!
Saturday, October 2, 2010 - 11:38 AM
I love the analogy of spokes to the hub. That's exactly the way I have come to see it. You put it into words!
Saturday, October 2, 2010 - 11:39 AM
Thanks to all who attended my talk last night at First Presbyterian Church in Lynchburg. We had well over 200 attendees, and the love and energy in the room was very strong! Please post your comments, thoughts and questions...
Thursday, October 7, 2010 - 06:24 AM
Hi Dr. Alexander. I was just reading the synopsis of your experience over at www.reconciliationlife.com and it was truly amazing. I was talking to Eben last night and mentioned this story from my family and he suggested I tell you as well. Recently, a family member of mine also had an unbelievable blend of science and spirituality. I'm not sure if you've ever heard of Međugorje? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Me%C4%91ugorje
It's a place in Bosnia where the Virgin Mary regularly appears to these select individuals and where people who are sick travel to asking for a cure. There are actually many documented miracles at this location and it is a very powerful place.
- My father's cousin, Billy, was diagnosed with Merkel cell carcinoma over two years ago and it aggressively spread. Initially it wasn't all over his body but it metastasized.
-He even tried experimental treatment in Ohio, receiving Imugen 901 (a targeting chemotherapy)
-He was disqualified from further treatment because he developed neuropathy and fibromyalgia.
Traditional treatment and surgery was not having any real effect containing or destroying the cancerous cells.
Well my father had always wanted to visit Međugorje and Billy (his cousin with the cancer) was actually friends with one of those "documented cases" of a cure. His friend who was the "cured case" I referred to is Artie Boyle. You can Google him if you want more information (he was completely cured of lung cancer after visiting Međugorje). Artie strongly urged Billy to go and since no treatment was really working he figured at this point he would give the pilgrimage a shot. They were there for a week and they had a very moving experience and visited the house of one of the Visionaries, Ivan D. To make this very long story short.......
-His last body scan was on a Friday this past July at Dana Farber in Boston, and he received no treatment between then and his second body scan. That same night, his doctor called him and was at a loss for words. She was sitting there, speechless, holding the body scan taken before the trip and the one after. The scan taken afterwards showed the disease significantly decreasing; some spots entirely clean and in other areas the tumor had shrunk to insignificant size. She didn't know what to say other than to continue keeping the faith and praying.
-Dana Farber feels that he was too far removed from previous treatments for them to have the effects he experienced from visiting Međugorje.
The next body scan is scheduled in 3 months.
Thought you would find that interesting. I'm interested in seeing one of your talks, ever think of coming up to the Boston area for a presentation?
Hope all is well.
Saturday, October 30, 2010 - 04:22 AM
Eben Alexander III MD
Hi, Rob... Great to hear from you!
I was not familiar with Međugorje, but I am learning lots about it now. That is a wonderful story about your Dad and Billy's journey there. As a physician, I have encountered similar stories of miraculous healing. Western medicine, in fact our culture of science, does not get it all, and I am a firm believer that many such miracles occur. In my last presentation, I suggested that all possible outcomes for a subatomic observation would allow for some that would be statistically very unlikely, that yet might occur as the final result. Such improbable scenarios might be called miracles, and yet they have a realistic finite probability of happening. The Schrödinger wave equation allows for all possible outcomes of subatomic interactions, even those that are highly unlikely.
My experience was absolutely awesome in all respects, and clearly showed a very powerful realm, more real than the one in which we exist, at the foundation of our reality. I am not sure why the mind and brain cover it up so well, but they do. I will be giving a presentation to our local medical group of ~250 docs on November 8, which will be a very different audience for me. Eben was helping me come up with the proper spin, but I still need to put lots of work into it. I would like to include the "Hard Problem" of Consciousness (David Chalmers), quantum mechanics as the foundation of consciousness, and how current concepts of quantum gravity (twistor theory, spin networks, and the holographic model of the Universe) all leave the door wide open for a very powerful fundamental realm suggested by our science, and supportive of a higher spiritual level. But they are only giving me 35 minutes to talk! Luckily, there is about an hour of potential time for Q&A.
I would like to come to Boston to make a presentation. If you have a group there that would be interested, we should try to get it together. I am reaching out to others around the country for possible presentations.
I hope you are well too, and that I get to see you again soon.
Saturday, October 30, 2010 - 04:27 AM
Hi Dr. Alexander,
I enjoyed your lecture at the ARE earlier this month. I had asked you how your experience changed your approach to medicine with patients in coma. As you stated, I am going to have to wait for an answer since the book is your priority. I so look forward to reading it. I have been volunteering at a local hospital for the past three years with their palliative medicine department. I play New Age instrumental CD's for most of the patients that I see. One of my favorite recordings is "Divine Intervention" by Steven Halpern and Starr Fuentes. I tend to choose this one when I have a stroke patient. The jacket has a lovely story about being created for a church's healing service and says that, the "...recording was created to anchor the vibrational grid in which we connect to Source..." Since most of my work is primarily with the actively dying patient I use a most remarkable CD called "Transcendence" by Robin Miller. I would like to call to your attention track number 6 "Voices in Eternity". I do not know if it is anything like the music you heard during your experience but I would like to know what you think as your time permits. I find the thought of having a practice that validates the use of spiritual practices along side of medicine VERY EXCITING! Additionally, I wanted to comment on your "Nightmare" portion of your experience. It seemed to me that there was a great deal of symbolism in that experience and that your "Spirit People" were trying to get you back into your body to save your life, not try to kill you. The falling aspect was that sensation of getting back into your body after going to higher levels of consciousness. Your wife needed you to get back "down" there and the police are there to assist and protect you. Understandably your perception of being tossed off the building left you afraid, but whatever works! Thank you
Thursday, March 24, 2011 - 10:42 AM
Hi Eben. Today I heard Dr. Parnia of Cornell speak on NPR (The People's Pharmacy) about his research into non-local consciousness through AWARE and about his book "What Happens When We Die?" No doubt you are familiar with his work but I was thinking of you (and our conversation at Salem College a while back) so I thought I would just pass this on. Thank you for the important work you are doing. Best wishes, Wilda Dockery
Sunday, April 24, 2011 - 07:22 PM
Eben Alexander III MD
Thanks for your comments. I am familiar with Dr. Parnia through that interview, and want to read his book. My experience forced me to acknowledge that 'disembodied consciousness' is real. By assuming its reality, the doors were opened to realize the tremendous tsunami of evidence supporting it from so many directions. The most enlightening sources from a scientific standpoint are "Irreducible Mind" by Ed Kelly et alia and "Margins of Reality" by Jahn & Dunne, in the Reading List on this web page. Combining all of this with the profound mystery of the "Hard Problem of Consciousness" leaves no doubt in my mind. The conventional scientific community is awakening to the Truth!
Thursday, April 28, 2011 - 07:10 AM
I was fascinated to say the least when I came across your story/recollections on the web. I have studied near death experience for thirty years and have become totally convinced by the phenomena. I have pondered to the n'th degree every sceptical explanation proposed. I have read and re-read thousands of testimonies in detail and badgered and begged academia and it's inhabitant's in the uk to have a proper look and not keep trying to sweep it under the carpet. All to no avail of course. All one recieves is the condescending sceptical chuckle that fronts the barely concealed contempt....don't be so bloody stupid, it can't happen therefore it doesn't happen !
I would like to recommend Dr Michael Sabom's book 'Recollections of Death' to you. The six star cases of veridical perception are impossible to explain by normal means unless one proposes fraud. In fact I would be happy to send you a copy free of charge if you would let me know where to send it. Best Regards and thanks for revealing your experience. It will make huge difference.
Tuesday, May 17, 2011 - 10:03 AM
Thanks so much for your comment. Having been one of those skeptical scientists, I know from whence that smugness comes. I have been to the far reaches of the indescribably overwhelming awe of the Creator's Realm, and assure you that the human brain, and current science, has about the same chance of comprehending that infinite wisdom as the family dog has of expounding on the finer points of nucleosynthesis in supernovas. How they can be so simple-minded as to think that the human brain can understand everything is beyond me. The key is in fathoming the "Hard Problem of Consciousness" which most neuroscientists agree is probably insoluble, and reading the handwriting on the wall about the interpretation of quantum mechanics (they've had a century to try to get that, and it is rare indeed for a true physicist to dare go there). My book will set all on the right course. No more smugness - that is a symptom of an ego that needs to be put in time out, and of frontal bossing, a simian crease, and an intellect only a mother could love. I would appreciate a copy of Dr Sabom's book, which you could send to my home address (please email me at eaiii@LifeBeyondDeath.net and I'll email the address to you).
Tuesday, May 17, 2011 - 12:31 PM
Hello Dr. Alexander,
I found your site after someone linked to it in the comments section of a science article.I am very much looking forward to reading your book-especially because I work as an O.R. circulator/scrub nurse and am very fascinated by the brain as it relates to this subject matter.
I wonder if I might 'pick your brain' with a few questions in the meantime:
As someone who experiences lucide Dreams and apparent OBEs several times a week (and having experienced my own personal confirmations of a broader reality in the process) I am wondering if you will be covering these topics in your book as well ?
Which interpretation of quantum theory do you believe is most representative of reality when considered in the context of NDE,OBE,etc. ?
I've read most things on your reading list (among much in addition) but the Information Integration theory of Consciousness was new to me and particularly interesting.How might this theory explain novel information? And what of dream,OBE,and NDE content considering that normal sensory input channels are not adding information to the 'complexes?' Wouldn't this theory have to be extended beyond our conventional ideas of space-time and matter somehow?
The theory also seems to depend on the objective existence of matter ;but as I understand,at least at the subatomic level, matter's dynamic properties of position and momentum do not exist indepenent of measurement. This seems problematic if quantum effects are present in the brain and crucial to neural transmission as some like Henry Stapp and Evan Harris Walker have theorized. It seems to have left out free choice and will-which both John Conway and Antoine Suarez have made an excellent case for the existence of. But I might be missing something big time....
Wednesday, May 25, 2011 - 11:40 PM
So interesting. I hope to read your book. I am very interested if you experienced anything out of the ordinary "after" your NDE.
Thursday, June 2, 2011 - 01:14 AM