Today, Thursday November 16, 2017, marks the ninth anniversary of my return to the world after a seven-day coma due to bacterial meningitis – an illness that my doctors agreed most likely should have killed me. Their evidence that the human part of my brain, the neocortex, was too badly incapacitated for anything but the most primitive conscious awareness proved to be incompatible with the extraordinary experience I witnessed deep in coma, with features consistent with similar human experiences reported over millennia.
Of course, I have come to see my miraculous recovery and the extraordinary experience I witnessed deep in coma as a beautiful gift to be shared with the world. As my medical colleagues agreed, such a journey could not be simply dismissed as a hallucination, drug effect or dream because of the documented damage to my neocortex. My first book, Proof of Heaven (Simon & Schuster, 2012), marked the initial step in that reporting, but it represents a question mark in my journey, more than any kind of actual answer. Millions of people realized it represented a confirmation of an infinitely loving force at the creative source of our lives, but the deeper nature of that love remained elusive. But, as a scientist, I now had a far grander vision of the cosmos from my personal experience, one that demanded explanation. Such understanding did not result from the experience itself, but has necessitated a lifetime path of integrating my understanding of all such evidence from within the framework of science. Thus, I bask in my ongoing journey, which parallels the revelations coming to the scientific world in our ongoing voyage of discovery around the very nature of consciousness itself.
I have learned so much in the nine years since first awakening, in a journey of discovery, documented in my latest book, Living in a Mindful Universe: A Neurosurgeon’s Journey into the Heart of Consciousness (Rodale Books, 2017), that has involved thousands of other people around this planet, including many of the brilliant and courageous scientists who are addressing the deep mystery of consciousness – of the relationship between mind and brain. This voyage of discovery is of crucial value to us all, because many of our conclusions about the nature of reality hinge on the direction in which the mind-body debate flows.
The answer emerging from the scientific study of the nature of consciousness is one that is contrary to the prevailing views of conventional materialist neuroscience (and thus of our culture at large), and in ways that are most exciting and bring cause for great hope and optimism for the human race. They suggest that we are all truly bound together experiencing life within the One Mind, a source of unbounded love, comfort and purpose. The greatest commonality between the world’s religious systems, that we should “do unto others as we would wish done unto ourselves,” seems to be written into the very fabric of this loving force that binds the universe together through consciousness itself. Our free will choices are crucial in defining the larger course of our lives, and especially in contributing to the universal evolution of consciousness itself. We will reap what we sow, and thus should adhere as best as possible to the golden rule stated above.
However, science and spirituality remain stuck in their current impasses, unless they are to be wed together, which is their true destiny. We live in an age when that marriage becomes a very real possibility. My effort to catalyze that hopeful vision comes in the form of my just-released book, Living in a Mindful Universe, co-authored with my life partner, Karen Newell. We are very optimistic that it represents “proof of heaven” for the rest of us – for open-minded skeptics, and for those who might not have read a book with the word “heaven” in the title. Of course, it also deeply confirms the beliefs that many have in an afterlife, of the connectedness of our souls that outlasts the death of the physical body, and especially in an infinitely loving God. But now, the support comes mainly from science (especially quantum physics, which essentially demands this spiritual truth) and from the analysis of extraordinary human experience and examination of the very fundament of consciousness itself. As Werner Heisenberg (1901 – 1976), winner of the Nobel Prize in Physics 1932, so famously said: “The first gulp from the glass of natural sciences will turn you into an atheist, but at the bottom of the glass God is waiting for you.”
The companion online workbook to our new book is a completely free 33-day email course that includes a major topic of the book sent out each day, with an accompanying practice, and on many days additional resources (such as links to other books and articles, and also four Sacred Acoustics audio recordings to help people achieve deep states of transcendental conscious awareness, connecting with that primordial mind). The best part of the 33-day course is that individuals from all over the world (given the translate function available on the page to offer it to speakers of many languages) share comments and experiences on each page – a beautiful growing community of like-minded seekers from around the globe.
So, in reflecting on my return to this beautiful and loving world nine years ago today, I am comforted to be sharing the growing comprehension of my journey with the world, as humanity finally rises up to the beauty of our shared destiny – one that offers hope and promise of a better world just beginning to dawn, one of peace, harmony, and fellowship to every being in existence.
Peace and blessings to you all!