“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