A few weeks ago, I was incredibly fortunate to interview Dr. Eben Alexander on Lucid Planet Radio. This interview took me through a whole range of emotions, and helped to provide language and expression to concepts that have been solidifying in my consciousness but that I had been unable to articulate. You can listen to the full podcast here.
Who is Dr. Eben Alexander?
If you haven’t heard of Dr. Eben Alexander, he was a world renowned Harvard neurosurgeon who had spent 54 years as a scientist and 20+ years in academic neurosurgery when he made global headlines in 2012 after he published the book Proof of Heaven. In the book, he tells the story of his 2008 Near-Death Experience (NDE) which included a spiritual odyssey where he ascended through a number of higher dimensions until he reached the universal deity he refers to as “OM,” The Core of all creation, the infinite source of universal, unconditional love where time and space collapses upon itself.
As Dr. Alexander explains in detail in the book Proof of Heaven, and summarizes in our interview on Lucid Planet Radio, one of the most remarkable things about his otherworldly journey was that bacterial meningitis had essentially shut down his brain, including all eight lobes of his neocortex. Scientifically, the visions he had during his 7 day coma were impossible, because without a functioning neocortex, he could not have possibly had a dream, a vision, or even been ‘hallucinating’ from the release of DMT.
And yet, his experiences felt more real than this very reality, including a spinning white light that took him through a portal to a brilliant gateway reality with earth-like features, jubilant celebrations and joy, swooping orbs of golden light emanating incredible hymns, chants and anthems, and the message:
You are Deeply Loved and Cherished
You Have Nothing to Fear
You Will Be Taken Care Of
By the end of the 7 days in a coma with severe bacterial meningitis and puss-saturated brain being eaten away, he had been given a 2% chance of survival, which meant he would most likely die in a nursing home once the antibiotics were stopped. And yet just as doctors were about to stop the antibiotics, he miraculously made a full (and unexplainable) recovery.
But when Dr. Alexander first came back to this world, his brain had been devastated. He had no words, no memories, no knowledge and no language, and yet he remembered in vivid detail his journey to these other realms and his interaction with OM. He underwent tremendous conflict upon waking up, not only because of the extreme reintegration into this reality, but also because his experience violated everything he had learned about the neocortex and the nature of brain/mind consciousness.
In the years that followed, Dr. Alexander read over 150 books and tried to reconcile his experiences with his knowledge of neuroscience, physics and cosmology. He explored meditation, consciousness studies and sacred sound healing, and starting finding that modern science, spirituality and people’s own stories were actually converging upon a universal truth about human consciousness which he discusses in our podcast and in his new book, The Map of Heaven.
Where Is Consciousness?
According to Dr. Alexander, the struggle begins with the traditionally accepted notion in science and psychology that the brain creates consciousness. We think that the external world is somewhere outside of ourselves,
“but in fact the only thing that any human being has ever experienced is an internal construct, a model created within mind that is supposed to represent a reality that is out there. All we have ever really done is been inside our own mind.”
This is the beginning step to understanding that there is a far more profound mystery out there that we can actually solve by going within: Because going within is actually going without, into the depths of the entire universe.
Psychology and materialist science really hits the wall when you consider the fidelity of our internal model and how it compares to our external reality. According to Dr. Alexander, research in quantum mechanics, as recently as only a few moths ago, has shown that
“there is NO objective reality out there in the simplistic form that we like to think it is, but every bit of it requires an observing mind in order to come into existence.”
In other words, the observer is intimately related to what emerges as our version of reality, and yet we have developed a false sense of separation between human form and the form of the outside world.
Dr. Alexander makes a compelling argument that:
“Consciousness is FUNDAMENTAL in the UNIVERSE: To try and pretend that the brain creates consciousness is a huge part of the problem. Modern science is rapidly showing on all fronts that the physical brain does NOT create consciousness.”
So how do we experience consciousness? According to this perspective, the brain is essentially a reducing valve that limits the vast primordial consciousness in our universe down to the tiny here and now that we are able to process in our brains using our finite perceptions. The entire material world emerges out of this grander consciousness, and humans, Earth and material world is only a very small part of what actually exists. Even the Big Bang might only be a punctuation mark on an eternity of conscious existence.
9 Lessons We Can Learn From Soul School
What does this mean for humanity? Dr. Alexander believes that our purpose in this material realm is to attend “Soul School” where we learn and teach the lessons that are part of the grander scheme of the overall evolution of consciousness: For ourselves, for our soul group and for humanity as a whole. Based on our interview, here are 9 lessons from the ‘Soul School’ of life:
1. We Are Eternal Spiritual Beings Divinely Connected to the Infinite Source of All That Is
Our sense of separation from each other and from the divine is due to the linguistic part of brain. Death is not the end of the soul but the liberation of the soul. Each living being is a point of light that is a source of unconditional love.
2. Unconditional Love Heals All
Although the term “unconditional love” can be overused and lose its meaning, the truth is that unconditional love has the power to heal us all: Spiritual healing comes first, by recognizing we are infinite beings connected to the divine, and the physical, mental and emotional realms will follow.
3. The Biggest Source of Problems in Our World Today is that We Don’t Love Ourselves Enough
You must recall the infinite love of the creator for you, and recognize that you are connected to each and everyone. Then you will be able to give love, compassion, forgiveness, acceptance and mercy to yourself and to all living beings. We can solve all problems on Earth by recognizing this, and the more conscious beings who participate in this way of thinking, the more love will be brought into this world.
4. Offering Gratitude is the Only Appropriate Response to Our Existence
Because an infinitely loving source exists at the core of the universe, and we are intimately connected to this source, we can be grateful and thankful for our opportunity to grow in the physical realm. The more gratitude we express, the more we will have to be grateful for in this life.
5. Hardships and Challenges in This Life Are Gifts
How we deal with these difficulties is what enables our soul to grow. The challenges and hardships are part of the very reason why we are here. The more we can learn to deal with these difficulties, the more all of humanity can evolve towards the divine.
6. We Do Not Need to Die or Have a Near Death Experience to Know This Truth
Meditation and sound-healing techniques can bring us into these transcendental states. Going deep within and quieting our ego can actually take us into the depths of the universe. Visit SacredAcoustics.com for more on the techniques Dr. Alexander is working on, and listen to Episode 2 of Lucid Planet Radio for more on meditation and sound healing.
7. The Illusion of Separation is a Massive Source of Our Confusion
Anytime we separate ourselves due to language, dogma, categories and or stereotypes, we confuse ourselves further from the one true source of love to which we are all connected. This is especially true about modern organized religion, which has been dominated by what Dr. Alexander calls “dogmatic interpretations and dysfunctional humans who have twisted the words the prophets.”
8. Science and Spirituality Demand Each Other
These are not separate perspectives as we thought, but rather, we are reconciling the deepest ancient wisdom traditions from the East and the West with how they can help advise the front edges of modern physics and cosmology to reach a deeper understanding of reality.
9. Humanity is on the Verge of the Most Fundamental Revolution in all of our Recorded History
We seem to be finally nearing a resolution to 2,600+ year old mind-body debate, as ancient spiritual traditions seem to be intersecting with modern scientific research and findings. Who knows how far this revolution can go, or where it might lead us.
Science may not yet have developed all of the tools to prove Dr. Alexander’s theories or explain his incredible story, but this nonetheless remains a compelling and beautiful perspective. Hearing the conviction with which he speaks, it is hard not to resonate with his story at least on some level. So what do you think? Do you believe this life is a “Soul School” where we are learning lessons to help our souls evolve? Have you ever had a Near-Death Experience? Or do you think Dr. Alexander is way off base?
You can listen to our full podcast here, and learn more about Dr. Alexander (and pursue all kinds of further reading) on his website, and check out his new Sacred Acoustics videos and webinars to learn to attune your inner wisdom and access universal consciousness.
About the Author
Dr. Kelly Neff is a renowned psychologist, author, founder of The Lucid Planet and the host of the hit new show, Lucid Planet Radio. She has reached millions of people with her articles on psychology, transformation, and wellness, which have been featured on websites like The Mind Unleashed, Mind Body Green, My Tiny Secrets, Wake-Up World and now, The Lucid Planet. Before she became a full-time author, Dr. Neff spent seven years as a psychology professor where she helped thousands of students learn about health, relationships, love and sexuality, and co-authored the groundbreaking manual in her field, Teaching Psychology Online. She has a B.A. in Psychology from Georgetown University and an M.A. and Ph.D. in Social Psychology from Claremont Graduate University. Dr. Neff is an avid participant in the visionary art, music and culture scene in her home state of Colorado and beyond. You might find her traveling the globe to give workshops, speeches and do research at transformational festivals. You can find her on Facebook and Twitter. Light and Love!