Proof of Heaven
A Neurosurgeon’s Journey into the Afterlife
Near-death experiences, or NDEs, are controversial. Thousands of people have had them, but many in the scientific community have argued that they are impossible. Dr. Eben Alexander was one of those people.
A highly trained neurosurgeon who had operated on thousands of brains in the course of his career, Alexander knew that what people of faith call the “soul” is really a product of brain chemistry. NDEs, he would have been the first to explain, might feel real to the people having them, but in truth they are simply fantasies produced by brains under extreme stress.
Then came the day when Dr. Alexander’s own brain was attacked by an extremely rare illness. The part of the brain that controls thought and emotion—and in essence makes us human—shut down completely. For seven days Alexander lay in a hospital bed in a deep coma. Then, as his doctors weighed the possibility of stopping treatment, Alexander’s eyes popped open. He had come back.
Alexander’s recovery is by all accounts a medical miracle. But the real miracle of his story lies elsewhere. While his body lay in coma, Alexander journeyed beyond this world and encountered an angelic being who guided him into the deepest realms of super-physical existence. There he met the Divine source of the universe itself.
This story sounds like the wild and wonderful imaginings of a skilled fantasy writer. But it is not fantasy. Before Alexander underwent his journey, he could not reconcile his knowledge of neuroscience with any belief in heaven, God, or the soul. That difficulty with belief created an empty space that no professional triumph could erase. Today he is a doctor who believes that true health can be achieved only when we realize that God and the soul are real and that death is not the end of personal existence but only a transition.
This story would be remarkable no matter who it happened to. That it happened to Dr. Alexander makes it revolutionary. No scientist or person of faith will be able to ignore it. Reading it will change your life.
Proof of Heaven was initially published October 23, 2012, and over those last three months of 2012 rose to become the #7 New York Times bestselling non-fiction book for the year 2012. It rose to #2 non-fiction bestseller on the NYT list for the year 2013, and has been published in over 40 languages around the world.
DELUXE EDITION with DVD
The Deluxe Anniversary Edition of Proof of Heaven includes the 30 page New Afterword clarifying many of the issues introduced or hinted at in the original Proof of Heaven: the deep mystery of consciousness (especially the emerging scientific notion that consciousness is not created by the brain, but filtered through it) and the thunderbolt revelations of that view, the nature of the Oneness of all that is (including all souls as Divine Spirit), that science and spirituality strengthen each other (deeper truth lies at the origin of both), that reincarnation (especially the scientific evidence for past life memories in children) is an established fact that demands a far richer view of consciousness and of our existence. Evolution and consciousness are intimately related; consciousness is crucially involved in unfolding reality (as the results of experiments in quantum mechanics have been trying to tell us for more than a century), and… it is all about Love, which has infinite power to heal in the grandest sense. We have nothing to fear, and are indeed living in a new world!
The Deluxe Anniversary Edition also comes with a DVD containing video excerpts of Dr. Raymond Moody’s interview of Dr. Alexander.
Eben Alexander, MD, was an academic neurosurgeon for over 25 years, including 15 years at the Brigham & Women’s Hospital, Children’s Hospital, and Harvard Medical School in Boston, with a passionate interest in physics and cosmology. He is the author of the #1 New York Times bestseller Proof of Heaven and The Map of Heaven.
What People Are Saying
“Dr Eben Alexander’s near-death experience is the most astounding I have heard in more than four decades of studying this phenomenon. In my opinion, Dr. Alexander is living proof of an afterlife. The extraordinary circumstances of his illness and his impeccable credentials make it very hard to formulate a mundane explanation for his case. For me, it is difficult to shake the feeling that his experience was somehow divinely ordained. Dr. Alexander’s book Proof of Heaven deserves to be a major international bestseller, and I believe it will be.
I am confident that Dr. Alexander’s story will capture worldwide interest. It will inspire many to accept that there really is life after death. I suspect his book will be a global game-changer. It has seismic implications and may help humanity arrive at a more accurate understanding of life’s true meaning and purpose in the larger sense.
Dr. Eben Alexander’s near-death experience stands as perhaps one of the crown jewels of all near-death experiences. The knowledge of what he experienced raises the bar for serious investigators and pundits. It marks the beginning of a new era of rational investigation of humankind’s deepest mystery, life after death.”
Raymond Moody, MD, PhD, author of Life Beyond Life
“Proof of Heaven is more than just an awe-inspiring account of a profound encounter with spiritual reality. Dr. Alexander’s neuro-science career taught him that near-death experiences are brain-based illusions, and yet his personal experience left him dumbstruck. His honest struggle to make sense of this unforgettable journey is a gripping story, unique in the literature of spiritual experiences, that may well change how we understand our role in the universe.”
Bruce Greyson, MD, Carlson Professor of Psychiatry & Neurobehavioral Sciences, University of Virginia School of Medicine; co-editor, The Handbook of Near-Death Experiences: Thirty Years of Investigation
“If ‘Central Casting’ was given an assignment to locate the most highly qualified person, who has had a near-death experience (NDE), to have him write one or more books about it, lecture about it, and appear in the media to promote it around the world, no one could find a more perfect candidate than neurosurgeon Eben Alexander III, M.D. He has all the necessary academic credentials for this assignment, is warm emotionally, very articulate, has undergone a profound spiritual transformation, and is highly motivated to unify science with spirituality…
I firmly believe Proof of Heaven will be one of the three top selling books of all time on the subject of near-death experiences – and that it will authenticate and validate NDEs more than any other book that has been written on this topic, with the exception of Dr. Moody’s first book. In my opinion, Proof of Heaven will sell millions of copies that will create much wider acceptance of near-death experiences and the many spiritual lessons they contain.”
Bill Guggenheim, coauthor of Hello From Heaven!
“An NDE is both an existential crisis and an intense learning experience. In the last thirty years a lot has been written about NDE and its aftereffects: a new life insight, a loss of the fear of death, and a new idea about the relationship between consciousness and brain-function. But it becomes far more convincing when a well-respected neurosurgeon writes about his own NDE and about his own new insight about the mind-brain relationship. Because, as he states in his book, as a practicing academic neurosurgeon with a penchant for research, he respected the scientific method as the gatekeeper for accepted views of reality. His neuro-scientific worldview consisted of a practical “reductive materialism” – that a complete understanding of cognitive neuroscience, and specifically, consciousness, could be obtained by understanding the vast interrelationships of the brain’s material reduced to its most basic elements (neuronal networks, individual molecular and atomic properties and interactions of nerve cells). Anything defined as “mind,” “spirit” or “soul” would ultimately depend upon the functional integrity of those physical brain constituents. The overwhelming NDE that is described by Eben Alexander in this intriguing book was a special state of consciousness that according to current medical science should not occur during an actual period of deep coma.
In his wonderful and fascinating book, Proof of Heaven, he asks himself: how and why did my NDE occur? How did the content of my NDE come about? Why did my life change so radically after my NDE? Many of these, and additional questions, will be answered by Eben Alexander in this book, that touched my heart by his honesty and by his obvious acceptance of the many consequences for his personal and professional life. In his book, he describes in detail what happened in his consciousness, he writes about his search to understand what happened to him as a human being, and also to explain what happened to him as an academic neurosurgeon. He concludes that enhanced consciousness was experienced beyond the body and the brain, and that the brain inevitably and convincingly cannot be the producer of consciousness. I can highly recommend this important book that has the potential to break many scientific taboos. But we should also realize that the acceptance of new scientific ideas in general and ideas about the experience of enhanced consciousness independent of a normal functioning brain in particular requires us to have an open mind and to abandon dogma.”
Pim van Lommel, MD, cardiologist, author of Consciousness Beyond Life: The Science of the Near-Death Experience
“Eben Alexander brings a unique perspective to the sacred world combining a glorious, personal vision of spiritual consciousness with patient, insightful scientific inquiry. This is a compelling story of what may lie ahead for all of us in the life beyond this one. We have nothing to fear.”
Allan J. Hamilton, MD, FACS, professor of neurosurgery, University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona, USA – Author of The Scalpel and the Soul, and Zen Horse, Zen Mind
“What distinguishes Dr. Alexander’s case… is the dramatic proof of verifiable details by third parties that could not have been imagined or “created” by any state of mind, and events that occurred that cannot be tossed aside by skeptics of any ilk. Plus, he is a neurosurgeon, an established scientist, who lived through a bona fide miracle – one that challenges everything he ever knew, personally or professionally. His awareness of mission fits his profile, a scientist ready to challenge science. There have been others like him, but not with proof that can be independently verified to the degree that his can be. He recognizes the threshold where he now stands, and has chosen higher consciousness research to help fulfill his goals. A sense of destiny pervades his thinking, that somehow all of this was ‘planned.’”
PMH Atwater, author of Near-Death Experiences, The Rest of the Story: What They Teach Us About Living and Dying and Our True Purpose, 2011
“Proof of Heaven is a masterful interplay of personal, medical, scientific and spiritual perspectives; seen through the eyes of a gifted observer and intellect. It provides fertile ground for fundamentally developing both a personal theology and new psychology of consciousness.”
Bruce W. Shackleton, EdD psychologist, McLean Hospital, Harvard Medical School
“What a read! This is a very important book. Dr. Alexander’s experiences resonate remarkably with views of Heaven, the Afterlife and the potential of consciousness in the Jewish mystical tradition. This book is a thunderbolt!”
Dr. Rabbi Meir Sendor
“I stood at Eben’s bedside ready to read Last Rites. The neighbor I had known as vivacious, even gregarious, was lifeless and passing away. Since Monday of that fateful week, infection had claimed every cell of his body, and the doctors’ attempts at life had failed. We thought there was no hope, that we would lose our friend and loved one, and as his priest, I believed Eben’s funeral was the next step on the journey.
But Eben’s mind, body and soul had something else planned for us. In this amazing book, Eben recalls how he walked the valley of the shadow of death yet survived. With vivid detail and description, he invites you to walk with him to that place none of us has experienced yet in our humanity we know we shall one day certainly travel. Having survived a near death experience and brought his neurological expertise and background to it, we gain both the insight of the mystics in his poetic words and the reality of the physical world in his scientific explorations.
More importantly, Eben transcends the particularity in which most of us live to arrive at a comprehensiveness we seek. From the uniqueness of his own experience, this present day mystic has sought illumination, and in finding a degree of it, a glimpse of the beyond, he calls all of us to a place of greater integrity and authenticity.
Eben’s masterpiece is a story for scientists, skeptics, believers, and seekers. Read it for a foretaste of something beyond the veil, beyond our dreams, and beyond our wildest imaginations. Read it as Last Rites for your past understanding of a limited world and discover bridges to the eternal in our very midst.”
The Rev. Michael R. Sullivan, rector, Holy Innocent’s Episcopal Church, Atlanta, GA
“Dr. Eben Alexander’s story of his near death experience is astonishing. It changed his life and outlook on the universe, and the book probably will do likewise for his readers. His brushes with the Sublime are exhilarating to read, from the first whoosh of a near-miss parachuting crisis at sunset, to his staggering medical miracle, to his revelation of what exactly transpired during his seven-day coma.
The 20th century documents a continuing war between the conflicting worldviews of science and religious faith. The great task of the 21st century could be, for the brave, the investigation of where these two grand human endeavors dovetail, intersect, and nourish one another. One nuance of Alexander’s mesmerizing book is an attack against scientism by one of its formerly great adherents. Rather than allowing science to diminish our perspectives to that which is immediately observable or quantifiable, he allows scientific method to reveal horizons of reality that are ultimately more luminous and multidimensional than we previously intuited.
I must say that part of me rebels against his goal of pointing towards a unity of all religions. Perhaps that is because I am a part of a faith-tradition that encompasses so much more than that which is typically shoehorned into the narrow niche of “religion.” Still, his insights about the nature of consciousness, the soul, the power of prayer, the immortal nature of the human spirit, and transcendence from this narrow spectrum of human sensory experience point to an understanding of reality that religious mystics everywhere have tried to articulate for millennia. From a Jewish perspective, his experiences are ones that the prophet Ezekiel, Shimon bar Yochai, Abraham Abulafia, Isaac Luria, and the Baal Shem Tov would have understood with sympathy and excitement.
Dr. Alexander, by surviving, was given a tremendous gift. He in turn has given a gift—an enduring one—to anyone who has ever suspected (and doesn’t this include all of us, at some point?) that his or her life, consciousness, and spirit are more magical, mystical, and wondrous than we generally appreciate. Read his book with radical gratitude.”
Rabbi Neal Gold, Temple Shir Tikva, Wayland, MA