Afterlife TV: I’m excited to revisit Dr. Eben Alexander’s extraordinary near-death experience while in a coma. If you’re not familiar with this now famous Harvard and Duke associated neurosurgeon, this is one of the most compelling near-death experiences of our time. A rare disease made this doctor incapable of hallucination and imagination during his coma, which is why even skeptical scientists have taken a second look at Dr. Alexander’s afterlife experience.
Join me in watching or listening to this in-depth interview (on video) where we discuss what this neurosurgeon learned about life after death, life’s true purpose, plus comforting and hopeful messages spoken with such articulation and eloquence that you’ll be mesmerized by his words. Pulled from the vault, I listened to this recently under the paradigm of new global circumstances and could not believe how appropriate and necessary Dr. Alexander’s message is for each one of us right now. Even if you know his story, you’ll feel like you’re hearing it for the first time.
With a boatload of love, Bob Olson
If you’d like to watch this video, Harvard Doctor’s Near-Death Experience Into The Afterlife, visit www.afterlifetv.com/?p=3462
Afterlife TV is presented by Afterlife Investigator & Psychic Medium Researcher Bob Olson, who is the author of Answers about the Afterlife: A Private Investigator’s 15-Year Research Unlocks the Mysteries of Life after Death.
Check out Bob Olson’s other sites: BestPsychicDirectory.com (a directory of hundreds of psychics & mediums by location with reviews & Instant Readings) & BestPsychicMediums.com (his personal recommended list of tested psychics and mediums) or visit Bob’s Facebook Page. Bob also has a popular workshop for psychics and mediums at PsychicMediumWorkshop.com.
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Hey, everybody. Bob Olson here with “Afterlife TV.” This is where I talk about the big questions you have concerning life and death. You can find this and every episode at afterlifetv.com.
Bob Olson, Afterlife TV: Hi everybody. Bob Olson here with Afterlife TV. You can find us on www.AfterlifeTV.com. This is where we search for evidence of life after death, and ask the meaningful questions around that subject.
Wow! Today, what an amazing time we’re going to have! I’m excited for you. I’m excited for me. We have an author to a book, which is written about his near death experience, that has just hit New York Times Bestseller. Not number 2, not number 5, not number 20; number one on the New York Times Bestseller list. People want to hear about this subject. They want to learn more about it and this is proof of that.
Speaking of proof, the title of it is Proof of Heaven: A Neurosurgeon’s Journey into the Afterlife. There’s a picture of him. You guys can see him beside me.
Welcome, Dr. Eben Alexander. We are so happy to have you here.
Dr. Eben Alexander: Thank you, Bob. It’s great to be here.
Bob Olson, Afterlife TV: This is really exciting for me, it’s exciting for a lot of people who are familiar with Afterlife TV and have been watching Afterlife TV for about a year now. We only started about a year ago, and people have heard a lot about near death experiences. Yours is really unusual. It’s a very unusual near death experience, as you found out after you finally started researching them, which was after you wrote the book, right?
Dr. Eben Alexander: During the process of writing the book, right.
Bob Olson, Afterlife TV: Yeah, I mean you wrote down all your experiences. Well, we’ll get to that, right. But you wrote down all your experiences before you started doing the research. Really smart stuff; advice from your son, there.
Why don’t we just start with your background because it’s your background, also that makes this story of yours so unusual, so significant. It kind of reminds me a little bit of Dr. Brian Weiss when he first came out with Many Lives, Many Masters. Tell us about that background.
Dr. Eben Alexander: Well, I grew up in a scientific family. My father was an academic neurosurgeon and he instilled a very strong sense of science as the path to truth. I majored in chemistry, then went to Duke Medical School and did my neurosurgical training at Duke and at Harvard. And then I spent about 15 years on faculty at Harvard Medical School, at the Brigham Women’s and the children’s hospitals, and thought I had a very good idea about how the brain and mind and consciousness all worked. It was against that background that I then had my NDE, that changed everything that I thought about that relationship.
Bob Olson, Afterlife TV: Yeah, which is really cool because what I love about this – Can I call you Eben?
Dr. Eben Alexander: Yes, of course.
Bob Olson, Afterlife TV: What I love about this, Eben, is that first of all, you were the kind of skeptic that didn’t really think too much about it at all, right? I mean, that was just something for other people –
Dr. Eben Alexander: I thought I really understood it, right. And that meant that there was no real way to explain any kind of an afterlife. No way to explain how soul or spirit or consciousness could live beyond the death of the brain and body.
Bob Olson, Afterlife TV: Well, it reminds of me of my own experience. I was a private investigator who only looked at the evidence. I never had any evidence of the afterlife and it wasn’t until my father passed that I decided to look into it, you know. In your case, you had this experience that made you aware of things that you just weren’t looking at earlier.
Why don’t we start off with what happened to sort of put you into this coma so that you had this NDE.
Dr. Eben Alexander: Okay. I think just to cut right to the chase; it was about four years ago right now. It hit me like a freight train at 4:30 in the morning. I woke up, severe back pain, and then over the next three hours or so, that got much worse; a severe headache. And then I remember my last words to my wife and son, “Don’t call 911. Trust me, I’m a doctor. It’s just a muscle spasm.”
I was already so far gone with a severe headache and slipping into coma that I didn’t realize what was happening to me. Then I was just gone and I was gone for a week. I had a grand mal seizure. I don’t remember anything beyond that moment. My wife did call 911 and they came and packed me up and took me off to the hospital, but I was gone. I was already done for.
Interviewer: Really cool. Really interesting story. So you’re in a coma for a week. I’m curious, and I’ll say this ahead of time, I recognize that just because you have a near death experience doesn’t mean you understand everything that happened. But I love to explore things that I haven’t run into before and maybe you probably haven’t thought about before.
So you’re in a coma for a week. Any sense at all, on whether this near death experience happened in a second. Maybe the second you went into the coma, halfway through the week, throughout the whole week? I know you’ve got the whole time issue there. You do a really good job explaining that. Any sense?
Dr. Eben Alexander: Well, one thing I can tell you is the whole experience felt like it went for years. I mean, I was in there a very, very long time. Of course, I realized when I was in that realm that time flow in that realm is completely different and much freer than time flow in the earthly realm. And in fact, from that outer realm we have access to any part of our space time here. It explains so much about things like reincarnation, deathbed visions, and all of that and appearance of departed loved ones in near death experiences.
But to get to your question, all I know is that it happened, for the most part, deep in coma. There were a few anchors to earth events; that is, to people in the earthly realm that were hinged mainly around the fifth and sixth day of my seven-day coma and into the seventh day morning. Those things kind of helped to peg at least those particular events along that three-day interval, although so much of it, as I said, seemed to last for centuries. I mean it was amazing.
I had no memory of my life before, of my earthly existence. Although I was made aware of earth during the journey inside, but the meningitis was so severe, it had wiped out all of my personal memories and that was very helpful. That was, I think, a part of what helped make my journey very illustrative of near death experiences in their ultra-reality at large. So that was helpful, but very hard to say exactly when it all happened but it most likely occurred over several days as I was in this coma.
Bob Olson, Afterlife TV: Definitely, it sounds like it. A couple things. It really is significant that you did not have any sense of your human, earthly personality at that time. I think that’s one of the things that makes it so different; your experience over other near death experiences. I think most people do remember who they are. They even see their bodies, that sort of thing and you didn’t.
You say you think it almost brought your near death experience to a new level because of that, because you weren’t really aware of your earthly existence. Why is that? Why would that make it better?
Dr. Eben Alexander: Well, I think in a sense, what ended up happening is because of the severe meningitis – and meningitis is probably the perfect model for human death because it very specifically attacks the whole outer surface of the brain, the neocortex. That’s the part that makes us human.
Everything that we experience as a human being in terms of seeing things, hearing, language, understanding, our relationship with things around us, relationships with people, all of our memories of life, all of our consciousness, is put together in the cortex. By wiping out my cortex that gave me, based on my previous view of neuroscience, there should have been no way to have any kind of a rich, ultra-real interactive experience and odyssey that seemed to last for years.
I mean that should not have been able to happen at all in a brain that was like that. In fact, I came up with nine hypotheses in the months after my coma when I was writing this up and trying to understand it; nine hypotheses that might have explained that ultra-reality and the intense interactive and very rich fabric of this prolonged journey. And none of those hypotheses worked to explain that this could have happened in my brain.
The conclusion is that it was a very real experience because it really happened. It did not happen in my brain and it did not happen in the physical universe, and that’s a very important thing to take away from my lesson. Even though the meningitis had provided a setting where I did not remember personal details of my existence on earth, there were tremendous lessons that I was taught deep in coma all about the reasons for our existence on earth, and really the reasons for existence of the whole universe.
In a sense, I would say that my experience is the exception that proves the rule because it was not your “typical” near death experience and yet by showing that a very rich consciousness exists, independent of the brain, when the brain is dead, that is the biggest part of the lesson from my journey, which supports the eternity of our consciousness and of our spirit and soul.
Bob Olson, Afterlife TV: Yeah. It’s probably the most compelling evidence that this was not a hallucination. That this was a real experience that you had. But when you say that, it’s interesting, because I know that the bacterial meningitis that you had, you don’t even know how you got it, right? They have no idea how you got it.
Dr. Eben Alexander: Right. It was very rare. I mean spontaneous, e-coli meningitis in adults, there’s less than one in ten million annual incidents. We never found a reason. I mean, in those rare, I mean the one in ten million cases you can find there is some problem with the immune system, possibly involving HIV, possibly involving diabetes or some other medical condition and I didn’t have any of those things at all.
So my physicians never found a cause and that, I think, has helped to keep me focused. That it was a very rare disease; exceedingly rare, and then, of course, to be driven into coma so rapidly. I went in coma in a few hours. If you look at the literature for bacterial meningitis in general, if the patient goes into coma in the first few hours, and that’s the history you have when they get to the emergency room, already they’re down to less than 10 percent chance of survival of that illness then and there.
By not responding to antibiotics for the better part of that first wee, and by having a declining neurologic status that was not showing any signs of recovering towards the end, I was down to about a two percent chance of survival and no chance of a neurologic recovery.
Bob Olson, Afterlife TV: Right. So they would have expected you’d be in a vegetative state. So, with that, let me think about this; put this in order. So you come down with this rare disorder that they have no idea what caused it.
It also happens to be the perfect disorder to have to really prove that this is proof of Heaven, or at least give us compelling evidence that what you had was a real experience because there was no activity going on in the brain. And probability wise, supposed to die or be in a vegetative state, and you live and look at you now.
You take all of those things into account and I have to ask you, do you think that this was all meant to be? Do you think this had some purpose behind it, meaning that somebody knew that you were going to spread this message after it all?
Dr. Eben Alexander: Well, I will tell you that initially I was completely blown away by the experience, just as are millions who have had near death experiences and come back. Because that ultra-reality is so kind of shocking and astonishing and, of course, as I would mention it to people around me, I didn’t even realize then how sick I’d been and how close to death I had come. They would say, “Oh, yes. You were very, very sick. We can’t even believe you’re coming back at all.”
The message to me was don’t talk too much about that incredible experience deep inside because everybody is just assuming you were so sick that anything could happen. So my original intent was to write it up as a neuroscientific report and to somehow explain how that sense of ultra-reality could happen when no part of my brain was still working that could have offered that up.
So that’s what I did for a long time. My older son, as you alluded a minute ago, was very wise. Two days out of the hospital, he came home and saw me and was shocked that I was back at all. He said, “Well, if you want this to be of any value, write down everything that you can remember. Do not read anything about near death experiences or physics or cosmology. Do not talk to anyone who was there when you were waking up.” It was very sage advice indeed.
I spent the next six weeks writing about 20 thousand words of everything I could remember from deep within coma, and then started reading the near death literature and was astonished at all the similarities to my experience. That, in fact, my experience seemed to support those others and they supported mine very strongly. Yet mine also very strongly suggested that this a real experience in a very real place, more real than this earthly realm and that it really happened and did not happen in my brain nor in the physical universe.
That’s when I started to really appreciate the power of what my story was telling me. I resisted the thought, “Oh, this happened for some purpose.” I was a physician, scientist, looking at this and trying to be as objective as I could and with that mindset, to think that there was something special about me didn’t cut it. Of course, now what I realize is that this is something that we are all familiar with, and that’s why I look at this as a reminding of souls, of something that souls know deep inside.
Even if they’re heavily valeed with this kind of pseudo skepticism of our modern era, they feel the reality of this when they hear my story and that’s why I think the book is taking off. And it’s not really a special thing about me, but it’s special about the message itself and that it resonates with people and they understand. Of course, there is so much more to our existence than this little materialistic view that it’s all birth to death and nothing more and people know that.
Bob Olson, Afterlife TV: Well, I agree in all that, and also your credentials behind it. People love, they appreciate, and give more credibility to someone with your background than someone maybe from my background who doesn’t come from a scientific background, can’t evaluate everything as a scientist would. People do appreciate that. They are always trying to find reasons to believe in these sorts of things, the afterlife and evidence of the afterlife, and you give a lot more people who, maybe would never even think about it, a reason to pay attention to your story. That makes you special.
Dr. Eben Alexander: Well, I will tell you that I’ve read a lot of NDE reports and I have learned a tremendous amount from some absolutely beautiful, rich descriptions. Many of them were not from M.D.’s or Ph.D.’s or any of that. The real wealth of this literature is just in the heartfelt love that people give in returning from that realm.
Sad that an M.D. degree kind of helps to get it out there, but the reality is I had to go through this journey as someone who had a deep understanding of the brain. Even though when I came back, when I was starting to wake up, I didn’t remember any of that. I didn’t even remember my family members much less my neurosurgical knowledge, but I did remember that amazing and beautiful odyssey deep inside coma.
It helped me a lot, after I’d written all that down, to then start going into the near death experience literature and read some beautiful, incredible stories from many, many people that helped me to confirm my own experience. Like I said, they were not M.D.’s or Ph.D.’s, but they had been there.
Bob Olson, Afterlife TV: I agree. I think maybe what’s important about your message and coming from you, is just that it will reach an audience that might not necessarily be open to it before and now they will be. And there are a lot of people, obviously everybody who’s been watching Afterlife TV here; a good portion of them are just happy to listen to the near death experiences of people who are not scientists. So it’s true, but you reach a whole new segment of society.
The other thing I’ve got to say is I watched you on TV a couple of times, you also have a great way of not letting the skeptics get under your skin. First of all, you speak very articulately but you also, when they come at you with the skepticism, I couldn’t tell the difference when they were coming at you with remarks about believing your experience. So you’re very even keel in that way; that’s helpful.
Dr. Eben Alexander: Well it is helpful and I think we’re all here trying to get closer to truth. You know, we’re all in this together. It’s not a battle. I embrace those that come with an open mind, very questioning, with a healthy skepticism. That’s a good thing because that’s the only way that we’re all going to get closer to knowing the truth of our existence.
Occasionally, I get the kind of closed-minded pseudo skeptical type that may be kind of going after my credentials or whatever. I will tell you I had to learn a tremendous amount about consciousness, far beyond what I ever needed to know as a neurosurgeon. As neurosurgeons, we need to know a little bit about consciousness, but given the fact that we don’t even understand how general anesthesia works and we use that every day, we’ve done it for 150 years. We don’t have a clue how it takes away consciousness. That should give you an idea of how little we really know about consciousness in our conventional neuroscientific world.
I had to learn a whole lot more and it involved something called the “hard problem of consciousness,” which is probably the deepest kind of scientific, philosophical question known to all of mankind, and probably the one that is the furthest from ever being solved. I also had to learn a tremendous amount about the enigma of the interpretation of chronomechanics, and what that told me, and tells all of us, about the true nature of consciousness and what a profound mystery it is.
Bob Olson, Afterlife TV: It’s amazing. So you sort of became a student again in order to be able to spread this message.
Dr. Eben Alexander: Well, I had to study hard for three and a half years. I probably read more than 300 books to try and get to an answer. When I wrote my manuscript, it’s actually about four times as long as the current book because it had to explain to me how all this made sense. A lot of that has do with the nature of free will, predeterminations, space, time, mass, energy. I mean, I had to go very, very deep into so much of what is known about reality to come up with a consistent message.
But the book was being written for the general public, so a tremendous amount of what I had to explain to myself was just too much to burden the general reader with. Although working on this book will consolidate a lot of those kind of higher points, but that’s not going to be for the faint of heart. It’s all about the real fundamentals of existence.
Bob Olson, Afterlife TV: Yeah, that’s right. I will also say it’s a page turner. It’s one of those books, you know, I kept saying to myself, “I’ll read one more chapter,” and then I’d be like, “Oh no, one more chapter.” It really is. There are no yawn moments at all. It’s like “Oh no.”
Dr. Eben Alexander: It does kind of grab you and take off. That was another part of it was I wanted something that would be kind of lean and mean and get the core message across to the general reader without being some painful kind of lap across the wilderness, but really kind of take them to the next level very efficiently.
Bob Olson, Afterlife TV: Yeah you did and you did a great job because it tells a story, really, and people love stories. It’s the stories that keep us interested. All right, let’s talk a little bit about it. I know, as our audience knows from watching all of these interviews, you can’t put things in chronological order with any degree of accuracy, but because we’re human you have to, right?
So I’m going to ask you to put some chronological order in, as you did in the book, because you knew that. If you could pick a starting point, where did it start? You talked about the realm of the earthworm’s eye view in the book.
Dr. Eben Alexander: Again, an important thing to note is that my first awareness deep in coma, I had no memory of my personal life of humans and the earth, this universe. That stuff was all deleted at the beginning, and then I was in a very monotonous kind of foamy, completely unresponsive realm that I call “The earthworm’s eye view.”
I was there for a very long time. I might have a question in my mind about what, who, where, and never anything of an answer at all; just this boiling mud, occasional faces of animals, kind of grotesque, bubbling out of the mud and then going back in. Some chant or roar, a pounding mechanical sound deep below.
After what seemed like an eternity in that monotonous realm, there was a spinning, filamentous white light that was coming towards me. It was beautiful with this melody, this lovely, perfect melody. Totally different from that monotonous pounding mechanical sound I had been hearing for eons.
As this light spun slowly towards me, and emphasizing here I had no body awareness at all. I was just a piece of awareness. As this light came towards me, it opened up and it was ripped in that ugly fabric around me, and it was a portal into this lovely valley. Very verdant, bright, ascending up in the valley and moving because I was a speck on a butterfly wing; on this lovely butterfly with colors beyond description that was doing a lazy fly through down into the greenery with millions of other butterflies in this colorful river of life. We would swoop by and flowers blossoming, tree buds that would open up as we flew by.
A sense that below us on the ground, were these – what I called in my early writings peasants, but I think they were souls dancing. Lots of joy and merriment; children playing, dogs jumping, and these beautiful waterfalls and pools. Up above, these arcs of luminescent beings swooping with lovely anthems, chants, hymns coming down crescendo after crescendo. I ended up calling them “angels” in my writing. Just a beautiful world, although it had earthly trappings. It had these plants and flowers and butterflies and the peasants dancing in their vividly colored outfits, but earthly trappings.
I called that “The Gateway,” not to be confused with the true Heaven, which was in the core. Because on this butterfly wing beside me was a lovely, lovely girl dressed in the same kind of peasant clothing as the people below us and she had the most beautiful smile. She looked at me with her sparkling blue eyes.
I didn’t have any language or words at the time but her thoughts went straight into my mind. “You are loved. You are cherished deeply forever. There is nothing you can do wrong.” – In that realm; not in the earthly realm – “Nothing you can do wrong, and that you have nothing to fear.” It was the most comforting thing I can – I mean, the words do not do justice to feeling that unconditional, powerful eternal love that she was projecting.
Then there was this warm breeze, like a perfect summer breeze, that blew through and that was my first awareness of the Divine. Of the all-powerful, all knowing, and infinitely line in an unconditional fashion, and the Creator that was behind every bit of it. From that awareness all of that collapsed, everything collapsed. The universe collapsed. Higher dimensional space and time, everything collapsed down and I entered that third realm which I call the “Core.”
That was infinite in size, infinite blackness, no boundaries. I mean, imagine all of higher dimensional space, time, all of eternity there before me and yet sensing the boundaries of infinity. There were no boundaries. The sound of the Om, which is what I called that defined being, that all powerful creator when I was writing this up, because any of our words at all, earthly words like God, things like that, were so limiting and kind of diminished the power and awe of that presence.
My reference to that deity, which I think most people would say “Yes, that sounds like God.” My reference to that in those first writings, for the first few months, I used the word Om, because Om was actually the sound I heard. In essence, it was the resonance of that divine, all loving being throughout higher dimensional space and all of eternity.
Of course, when I say “Resonance,” people with any kind of physics background are thinking well, this implies that there are some boundaries and there is kind of a bouncing of waves and energy. But in all of eternity, that was exactly what that sounded like when it was kind of the integration of all of everything over all of time. That was that being, that Om. No gender to that Om at all. And like I said, any descriptive words in our earthly realm fall woefully short of describing the power and awe of that being.
And, of course, that realization also showed me why our science, our current level of science, and even the potential for any of our scientific understanding in the material physicalist world, will never ever be able to weigh in pro or con to the existence of that deity, because that deity is so far beyond our wildest imagination and dreams as human beings stuck in human brain and body.
What I found was when I entered that Core, I was with this brilliant orb of light brighter than a million suns in that infinite darkness. But the infinite blackness contained every bit of that overpowering love, unconditional love and it was totally outside of this universe.
When I say “Me,” believe me this was consciousness of all eternity and of all consciousness throughout the multiverse. This is not Eben Alexander’s little conscious mind wandering on this journey, but it was all of us. This is something that I think resonates with people, with souls, because our souls do remember this; they know this deeply. I’m just reminding souls of something they already know, trying to uncover that knowing that’s within each and every one of us by being conscious.
That’s another blessing from my journey is you don’t have to almost die to get this. In fact, just by being conscious, using centering prayer, deep meditation; these are ways that each and every one of us can get in touch with that absolute connection of that divine within each one us that is there. To give us that knowing of love and of our connectedness to each other and to all that exists by quieting that little voice of kind of fear and anxiety in our head and going deep into our own consciousness and we can all get in touch with exactly what I encountered in the Core.
Bob Olson, Afterlife TV: Wow. That’s amazing. So many things that you talked about there. I’ll back up a little bit.
Let’s just go to the butterfly, because I saw you on TV a couple times, you talked about floating on the butterfly wing. I thought, “Oh, the skeptics are going to love that,” because it sounds very woo-woo. What I’m wondering though, because I recognized that when people have near death experiences or my understanding is that when we go to the spirit world, we’re able to have whatever experience we want up there. Okay. Whatever we can imagine we can have.
I’m wondering, was this idea of floating on the butterfly wing something that maybe – again, I know there was no sense of you as Eben Alexander, but do you think it was more related, like it’s just your experience? Or are people to take it very literally, that there are butterflies floating around there and the way we travel around is on the wing of them?
Dr. Eben Alexander: That’s an excellent question. I would point out here that I now see near death experiences and afterlife reports going back 2500 years to the Egyptian Book of the Dead to Plato. I see the similarities far more than I focus on the differences, because I see an underlying reality of an afterlife realm that’s very real. It’s more real and more fundamental than this earth like reality that we live in.
I think that’s very important. It’s also important to realize I now see consciousness. I know from my experience, it proved to me that our spirit, our soul, is eternal. That we are conscious in spite of our brain and that’s a very important concept. The brain is more of a reducing valve, a filter or a vale, and it’s there for a purpose. That we are not always privy to the spiritual realm.
Part of the problem, of course, is we would be inundated because our higher soul, not limited down here on this side of the vale in the brain and body and in our little, kind of earth like existence. That higher soul is not stuck in space or time at all and is actually aware of a much richer reality that extends through all eternity.
We really need to dumb that down to a trickle, to have the stuff that’s necessary for surviving in the here and now as a mammal kind of going along with Darwinian Selection on this earth. I mean we can’t know all of that when we’re down here in the down and dirty physical realm, but there are ways that we can get back to it, to get in touch with it, to peer behind that vale.
Again, that has to do with deep mediation and with centering prayer. I would say, also, what I call “The gift of desperation,” which is often the way I saw this happen in my patients with terminal illnesses or family members. It’s at that moment when your sense of loss is so great that you don’t feel you could possibly handle any more, that often people would describe feeling that infinite love of God for them and to know that they were loved and cherished and would be protected and that it was all okay after all.
It’s getting in touch with that, and again, through deep meditation. I have to do that first and foremost, by getting rid of that little voice in my head. That little voice, that self-ego that’s not the decision maker. I am. I actually witnessed it. That’s how I know that the real I, which is the real us, which is all connected to the one at the Core, needs to put that little voice in time out because that voice of fear and anxiety, the self-ego, that is not the real me at all. It needs to be turned off for me to get in touch with the much deeper aspects of our connectedness and oneness and that divine link to God.
Bob Olson, Afterlife TV: Yeah. So I’ll just back up a little bit on that. Would you say we’re talking it’s more of a metaphor, the butterfly experience or literal?
Dr. Eben Alexander: As I say, just the facts, man. I just wrote the story as I remembered it. I wasn’t editing it. I wasn’t trying to write it for anybody, to please anybody. I wasn’t thinking about, you know, literary metaphors. This is what I remembered. Of course, you’re right. There are the skeptics out there, “Oh, this is ridiculous! Butterfly wing? Beautiful girl…” Well, guess what? It’s what I remember.
I didn’t add things. It was actually a richer story than I portray in the book, because we did edit some of that original core story out; parts of it that are very illuminating about overall journey. Those are pieces that I often discuss in my presentations. You can often hear that presentation, and of course a lot of that will also be featured in my second book, kind of a real fleshing out of the lessons that I learned in the Core and what it all means. I mean, I go into, in the book, the whole notion of love; that whole unconditional and infinite love of the Creator for each and every one of us.
That is the actual fabric, the makeup, of the higher dimensional aspects of this realm. That evil is here as a trace impurity. It’s all about our manifesting the love of that Creator; showing compassion and love for our fellow souls even when we’re down here in this kind of dumbed down, earthly realm. That is the reason for our existence is to manifest that love even in this imperfect world, so none of this is metaphorical.
I will say I was reassured when I started reading some of Elizabeth Kubler-Ross’ works and found that when she had toured some of the concentration camps right after the end of World War II, she was absolutely stricken with the fact that often children who were being led into gas chambers were carving butterflies in the wood. She puzzled over this for decades and then finally came to see how butterflies were very often seen in that afterlife realm. I also heard stories of … and how children reported butterfly angels that saved them. So amazing stories. But it’s not about a metaphor. This is what I remembered and I’m just reporting it.
Bob Olson, Afterlife TV: I love that because I’m sure you foresaw what some people would think of that and you could have opted to not tell that part of the story, but we can see how important it was that you did.
Dr. Eben Alexander: To me, it was not my place to be editing strongly because I thought something would be unpopular. Likewise, I wasn’t going to add things in that weren’t there. I think a lot of people, say in the fundamentalist Christian realm, would prefer that I had seen Jesus.
Well, I’m sorry. I didn’t see Jesus so I didn’t put Him in there, but I did see a loving God that was every bit the one that Jesus knew and talked about. And that infinitely loving God is exactly who I saw and came to know very deeply. I also came to realize that we all know that God very deeply and we can get in touch with that deep in our own consciousness.
Interviewer: You talked a little bit about the evil. One of the things that I thought was important, that you mentioned in the book, was that evil made free will possible. I mean, you touched upon that just a moment ago, but I loved the idea that the evil on our planet, for instance, and in our physical existence, is what makes our human free will possible. Anything to expand on that?
Interviewee: Really just that, I must say that when I came back from this and realized and had felt the power of that Omnipotent and all loving God, it was hard to reconcile that with some of the evil and injustice that is allowed in our world. Especially I wrestled with the suffering of innocent in our world; of children, of animals.
I really had to struggle and learn a lot, knowing what I knew from my near death experience and going into meditation a lot to keep uncovering some of the beautiful lessons there, to come to some kind of reconciliation about that. But it had to do very much with knowing that the love, that unconditional love, is so far beyond our imagination. I mean, that God loves each and every one of us far more than we love ourselves.
It explains so much about why belief was so encouraged by Jesus and by other teachers because belief is what sets us free. To open ourselves to believe the possibility of it, then we can just go into our own consciousness and start to feel the power of that belief and to know that it actually manifests as reality in our lives and that that is because it is very real; it’s fundamentally real.
We are supposed to live in a realm on this side of the vale where we don’t know. It’s not as clear as, say, the moon rising in the sky every night. If the spiritual realm and the reality of God in Heaven were as real as the moon rising every night, we would not be able to treat this existence appropriately for our progress in the higher realm. We would not have the proper respect for this and so there has to be that element of faith. That’s why science will never prove, pro or con, the existence of that realm. Also, that God is so far beyond our wildest dreams, imaginations, as human beings, that to even think that we could come close to proving yes or no is humorous of the highest order.
Bob Olson, Afterlife TV: Well, I know a lot of our audience right now is probably wondering, when we’re talking about these things, any sense that there was such a thing as Hell, and you might follow it up. You talked about the light and the darkness. I realize it’s a different subject, but when you talk about the light and the darkness, what I’ve heard other people say about near death experiences is that there was light within the darkness; that the darkness was a very friendly, velvety, multi-dimensional, multi-sensory experience.
But I know that a lot of people are wondering. We’re talking about the evil here in the physical world. Any sense that there was any sense of Hell, and is that related at all to what you said about there being darkness.
Dr. Eben Alexander: Well, in fact, in terms of the evil, in terms of the badness, for those who hand out mayhem and pain and agony to others, they end up reaping what they sow. Because in the life review, when they leave this body and go through their life review, they end up living that pain and agony that they dished out in every single instance as the recipient, and it’s much worse in that pure spiritual realm to feel the agony of that pain that they’ve caused others.
So in that sense, you could say there is a Hell. There is not, in my view. There is not the eternal damnation that is pictured in kind of classic Christianity. The reason for that is this God is so perfect and so loving and so all powerful, that there is no way that part of that creation will be in eternal damnation. This is all about our spirits, our souls ascending in that outer realm and getting closer and closer to that all loving Godhood and it has to do with our learning lessons in this life.
That’s why I look at hardship, difficulty, challenges, and as a healer I look at disease and illness as the opportunities for growth. Our souls are here to learn lessons and we learn them through the difficulties in this life. By embracing those difficulties and seeing them as learning opportunities, realizing that by manifesting that love and compassion in this imperfect realm, that that is how we progress in that higher spiritual realm.
Given that the whole direction of that and the fabric of that higher realm is made of that love, and that evil is but an impurity that allows us to manifest our free will. Given that the ascendants in that higher realm has everything to do with moving towards that unconditional love from the Creator to the creation, anyone who is handing out mayhem and pain in this world is going to have to make up for that wrong or direction either in this life or in other lives. To me, that all is kind of the way I have to put it together and that does involve reincarnation as a very necessary part of it.
Bob Olson, Afterlife TV: Yeah. That’s true. The way it’s written up in the book, there is sort of an end to this experience where you leave the Core, you move away from the Core, and go back to that sort of muddy existence. But it’s different than the first time you experienced it. Tell us about that.
Dr. Eben Alexander: It was kind of shocking when I remembered all this and I was trying to make sense of it because I would be in the Core where I was told “We will teach you many things, but you will be going back.” This was taught by this divine dazzling darkness of love, of that God beyond our wildest imagination and this brilliant orb of light. They were teaching many things, but I didn’t know “back.” ‘Back where?’
I would then end up without any kind of pathway or foreshadowing. I just would be back in the earthworm eye view. It was very shocking the first time. I couldn’t understand any of this. I still had no language and I was trying to put this together. But by remembering, and the first time it took a very long time, but by remembering that melody, the notes of the melody, they were crucial at bringing back that spinning white light. The beautiful filamentous light that came spinning up out of the muck and opened as a portal into this gorgeous gateway, on the butterfly wing with this beautiful girl beside me.
Every time I went back in there, and several times this happened, where I would fall into the earthworm eye view and then I had to remember the notes to the melody, spin that up, and I’d be back on the butterfly wing in the gateway with the beautiful girl. Always that same lovely face, comforting thoughts of pure unconditional love that I would be taken care of and cherished, and then outside of this universe, outside of this eternity, to be taught more lessons by the orb of light and by that beautiful, loving presence.
It did happen several times. They were always saying, “You will be going back. You’re not here to stay.” And one day that was true where trying to remember the notes, didn’t bring that spinning melody. In fact, I was heading back down to the earthly realm. I didn’t know or remember it at the time. It was then that I became aware of the power of prayer because I sensed these arcs of beings; everyone kneeling, many cloaked holding candles, and there was this murmuring coming up from them and there were thousands of them going off into the darkness; some with candles. That murmuring and that energy was billowing these beautiful, brilliant clouds that were kind of bubbling me up and bringing me back up to this realm.
When I was writing it all up a few weeks later, the word I used is that they were praying for me, because that’s exactly what they were doing. That word was not in my mind at the time. In a sense, it was very comforting because when I had found that the melody no longer worked to take me into that beautiful realm I was very sad. I mean, sad beyond description that the gates of Heaven were closed and that is when I had this beautiful vision of those praying for me, and how they were on earth. This was not from any earthly scene, but that was the origin of that scene of thousands of people kneeling and murmuring and the energy coming from it.
And that is what I often tell healthcare workers and families of very sick patients, in talking about this is, “Never, ever think that the soul of that loved one is not present and that the prayers get in.” I don’t try and tell people that I came back because of prayer. I mean, there was a lot of prayer in my case, but I’ve known many similar cases as a neurosurgeon where wonderful families of patients with terminal diseases, lots of prayer and yet that patient did not come back to us physically.
And it wasn’t for any lack of prayer or belief. But the important thing is the prayers do get in. I don’t care if the patient has already been pronounced dead in our medical terms; know that that soul is present and aware and how you treat that and how you think about that is very important. So prayer does have tremendous power and it’s very comforting to that soul that is being prayed for.
Bob Olson, Afterlife TV: That’s really important to hear. A great reminder. Is there a wrong way to pray? Is there a right way to pray?
Dr. Eben Alexander: I think just by believing and by knowing that there is a divine plan. “Thy will not mine be done.”
I mean for those eight years before my coma, I had given up on God, given up on prayer. I was praying for the wrong things and I was trying to pray for things that my ego and self might want and those prayers went unanswered. Just know there is a divine plan and just have faith that that love will carry us through whatever we face in this realm.
Bob Olson, Afterlife TV: I also like the idea, when you were going back to the earthworm view after leaving the Core, and then you thought about the spinning melody again, and it brought you back up. I thought what a wonderful metaphor. I understand that that’s a real experience, but it was a wonderful metaphor for our physical life here when we’re feeling down, when things are down, when things are bad, to think of light, to have faith; those types of things. I wonder if it works the same way. Do you get the sense that it does? It lifts us up.
Dr. Eben Alexander: Very much. My youngest sister, Phyllis, often tells me that when I was waking up on that seventh morning and the doctors were shocked, you know, “He can’t be coming back.” They ended up pulling the breathing tube out; I had been on a ventilator all week. She came up, within minutes of my coming out of all this, and she said I looked like a little Buddha sitting there on the bed. I would look around at each one of the people; you know, the nurses, doctors, family, totally shocked that I was back. I would look at each one them, kind of acknowledging the divine miracle that we’re here and each breath is a miracle. I would say, “All is well.”
Bob Olson, Afterlife TV: Wow. That’s amazing.
Dr. Eben Alexander: All is well. We are loved, cherished, and cared for and by believing it and then feeling it deep in our own consciousness, feeling that divine connection, quieting that voice of fear and anxiety, the little voice in our head, that it’s just a spectator and getting in touch with that connection that we all share. That’s why it’s all about loving each other because by loving each other we’re loving ourselves and acknowledging that divine link that we all share at the deepest level.
Bob Olson, Afterlife TV: That’s beautiful. That’s beautiful.
Let’s talk a little bit. So the girl that you met on the butterfly wing, more of like an angel or guide to you, the first being that you saw. I think again, very compelling evidence that your experience was real and not imagined is her identity. Do you mind sharing that with us?
Dr. Eben Alexander: I want to put out a spoiler alert because my preference is people read my book and feel what I felt. That’s what I try to present in the book, the way it’s all laid out. So for those of you who really want to get the power of it and haven’t read the book, spoiler alert right now.
It turns out that I was adopted. I was put up for adoption when I was two weeks old and adopted at age four months. For a lot of my life I had looked for my birth mother through the North Carolina Children’s Home. North Carolina had pretty strict laws. I never found that there was any interest on her part in finding me. I adjusted to that. That’s fine. She was going on with her life and they left me to go on with my life and I was okay with that.
Then my son was doing a research project in school in sixth grade, in the year 2000, when he had wanted to find out more about our family heritage. He wouldn’t let it go when I told him about my adoptive family heritage. He wanted to know about our biological family so I thought I’d humor him. I wrote a letter to the North Carolina Children’s Home. I actually got a response back.
“Well, yes, we did find something out,” and I detail all that in my book. It was a shocking two minutes in my life back in February 2000. Finding out that in fact my birth parents got married, which was a big shock based on all the information that I had. That they had three children. That my youngest sister had passed over in 1998, and that they were still grieving and it was not a good time to come back in their lives.
That sent me in a tailspin. That was in fact why I lost all faith in a loving personal God. I lost all faith in prayer in 2000, and that was lost for eight years until my coma. Now, of course, that’s all been healed forever. I will never, ever doubt the eternity of our souls and that all loving God.
But it turns out that as I was trying to understand that depth of my experience, and it was clearly a very powerful transcendental experience, and yet as I read more and more about near death experiences, I was mystified. Why wasn’t my father there? My adoptive father had passed over four years before my coma. If I had scripted this, he would have been there front and center, but he was nowhere to be seen.
Who was this mysterious girl? I could remember her face so perfectly. I knew I had never met her in my whole life so why was she there, and how come my dad wasn’t there? This was a deal breaker. I knew I had had a profound spiritual experience when my brain should have supported no experience at all, so how come. Why such a deep mystery to it? It was four months out from coma when I was able to put it all together.
My birth sister, Kathy, had promised to send me a picture of Betsy, the sister who had passed on in 1998. She did send that picture and that was a very powerful, emotional experience. She just looked so, so familiar and it was the next morning when I was reading a story by Elizabeth Kubler-Ross about a girl who had had a profound near death experience, was in coma and encountered her brother.
He gave her such beautiful, unconditional love of that realm and they had the most adoring time together. She was so blessed with it, but then he helped her make a decision to go back to earth. She did and when she came back, she was mystified and talking with her father. ‘I don’t understand. I don’t have a brother.” Her father said ‘You did. He died three months before you were born and we never told you about him.’
I looked up at that picture that my birth sister had just sent me of my departed birth sister, Betsy, and I knew exactly who had been on the butterfly wing. It was the most powerful experience I have ever had in this life. I was absolutely certain of the identity and yet, since I didn’t really know her personality so well, I was just shocked at the power of this. But I said, “It can’t be. That’s too amazing.” So then I started calling my birth family. Every week or so I would call and ask them questions, trying to get to know Betsy better.
As they told me more and more about how she had been this all loving soul who would bring in stray cats and dogs; give them a home and feed them. She worked in a rape crisis center and just took care of people that needed caring. She was such a loving soul, often described as an angel. It just became absolutely clear to me, “Of course. That’s who it was.” And the visual memory was perfect and it’s because that’s who it was.
Bob Olson, Afterlife TV: Okay. There’s chills right there. And the reason I brought it up, I know it’s a spoiler alert, but I know that a lot of the news stations have asked you in their five minute interviews that are all edited up. I had two people come to me and say, “Could you ask him…” Because they hadn’t read the book yet. “Can you ask him because I’m so confused by that?”
Anyway, this is nice because you had the time to be able to really explain it in depth. What a beautiful story. What a beautiful ending to the book and really a beautiful ending to this interview that we have here. All I can say is I hope people go out and buy the book. I know they will. Everybody else in the country, if not the world, is doing it.
Even with knowing that, I mean I kind of suspected all the way through, anyways. But even without knowing that, it’s a page turner. You never know what’s going to happen. It’s amazing all the way through.
As we end, as we close down here, and I wish it didn’t have to happen because I wish I could talk to you for another few hours; you touched upon our reasons for existence here. I know that’s probably a book in itself. Can we just end with maybe you just giving us a little sense of what we’re doing here?
Dr. Eben Alexander: It’s such a beautiful message and in many ways it’s so simple. What my experience very plainly demonstrates is that our consciousness, our spirit, our soul is eternal. We are spiritual beings. It is not dependent on the brain. We are so much more than our physical bodies. And our true reason for being here is our spirit and soul extends far beyond the simple materialistic view that it just goes birth to death and that’s all there is. We are so much more than that and our relationships with our fellow souls are far richer than that as is the meaning and the purpose for our being here at all.
Bob Olson, Afterlife TV: Powerful! Absorb that a minute. Let me just show the title while everybody is absorbing that, show the cover of the book again. You’ll know it. You’ll know the back, there. Proof of Heaven: A Neurosurgeon’s Journey into the Afterlife. There will be a link below this video where people can order it on Amazon.
You have been a delight. You’re a delight in so many ways. What a great guest. You can feel your warmth and the love that you have in telling this story. I’m really grateful for you joining us today, Eben. I thank you.
Dr. Eben Alexander: Thank you. I also wanted to ask people to visit Eternea; E-T-E-R-N-E-A.org, which is a site that we’ve started to educate people about all manner of spiritually transforming experiences, and not just near death experiences. People can report their own experiences there. Plus it’s educational to help people understand consciousness, physics of consciousness, and how our spiritual existence is primary and science and spirituality can come together. That’s a huge part of my message and my mission.
Bob Olson, Afterlife TV: What is that website again?
Dr. Eben Alexander: Eternea.org. E-T-E-R-N-E-A.org.
Bob Olson, Afterlife TV: And your personal website is what?
Dr. Eben Alexander: It is LifeBeyondDeath.net.
Bob Olson, Afterlife TV: All right. Those links will be below the video, as well. I’m sure everybody is going to want to visit those and learn more. Anyway, maybe we’ll get to talk to you again in the future. I know you’re going to have another book coming out or maybe you just want to tell us more of this story. Either way, thanks a lot.
Dr. Eben Alexander: Thank you, Bob. I appreciate it.
Bob Olson, Afterlife TV: Bye now.
Dr. Eben Alexander: Bye.
So that’s another episode of afterlife TV. Thank you for joining us. Please like us on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, or sign up for our newsletter at afterlifetv.com so you don’t miss our next episode. See you next time.