Eben Alexander http://ebenalexander.com Tue, 21 Jul 2020 18:29:19 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://ebenalexander.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2017/07/favicon-36x36.png Eben Alexander http://ebenalexander.com 32 32 Commencement Address 2020 http://ebenalexander.com/commencement-address-2020/ http://ebenalexander.com/commencement-address-2020/#comments Thu, 14 May 2020 19:57:56 +0000 http://ebenalexander.com/?p=5948 To the class of 2020, congratulations on graduating during the worst healthcare challenge our world has faced in over a century, one that has fully disrupted our lives and ordered the whole world to “stay home” for months on end. “Congratulations?” You might ask. No doubt the Covid-19 pandemic and associated economic shutdown have thrown […]

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To the class of 2020, congratulations on graduating during the worst healthcare challenge our world has faced in over a century, one that has fully disrupted our lives and ordered the whole world to “stay home” for months on end.

“Congratulations?” You might ask.

No doubt the Covid-19 pandemic and associated economic shutdown have thrown a wrench into your expectations for how your years of hard work in school would come to a worthy conclusion.

Well, I agree that the challenge of graduating during the Covid-19 pandemic is a hardship, but, like all such hurdles, it might just prove to be a blessing in disguise. Graduation speeches are generally known as “commencement,” reflecting that they happen at the beginning of the rest of your life, not the ending of your education. Life can be challenging for any of us. The ability to find a silver lining as you commence the rest of your life under this apparent hardship of the viral lockdown is a worthy quest. In many ways, this Covid-19 pandemic might provide the most valuable experience of your entire education – a resilience to hardships, and an optimism that can counter whatever the world throws at you in the future.

By way of example, I would like to share the stories of four people who faced adversity and the unknown in their lives and consequently grew into much grander versions of themselves through the challenge. The adversity and uncertainty created the opportunity for each of them to magnificently fulfill their potential and make remarkable, lasting contributions.

In the 16th Century, humans looking up at the night sky knew that all of those sparkling points of light were in a fixed sphere high above the earth. A young Italian scientist, Giordano Bruno, who was a forward-thinking visionary, proposed that those points of light in the night sky might really be distant suns, possibly orbited by planets, even possibly inhabited by other intelligent beings. The church was intolerant of many philosophical and theological statements during the Inquisition, and Bruno was tortured and killed in 1600 by the forces that drove many to their imprisonment or death. He defended this cosmological vision to the end and refused to recant it. His demise did not destroy his vision. Only over the last three decades has science begun to fully catch up with his proposal, as the most powerful telescopic efforts to date, using mainly radial velocity measurements and transit monitoring, have identified over 4,200 planets orbiting distant stars, some even offering tantalizing spectroscopic clues that those planets might be favorable to life. Despite his ruthless execution, the courageous visionary legacy of Giordano Bruno lives on 420 years after his death!

In June, 1661, Isaac Newton began his studies at Trinity College, Cambridge, England working his way through by serving as a valet, until his studies were interrupted by a plague that swept through England. He had qualified for a scholarship that would cover not only his Bachelor of Arts degree, but also his post-graduate Master of Arts degree. In 1665, while still an undergraduate, he discovered the generalized binomial theorem, while pursuing the study of “mechanical philosophy.” Immediately after receiving his Bachelor of Arts degree in August, 1665, the university was forced to close as the Great Plague, the last wave of the bubonic (or Black) Plague, killed 100,000 people (fully one quarter of London’s population) over 18 months. Due to that pandemic, he had to study at home over the next two years waiting for the university to reopen. From his small home in Woolsthorpe, lacking the resources of a university library, he started developing his notions of optics, a universal law of gravitation, and he invented a whole new and vastly useful field of mathematics: the calculus! Not bad for a previously undistinguished college student. After two years of isolation due to the Plague, Newton returned to university and completed his Masters degree. Remarkably, Isaac Newton truly blossomed as a creative thinker during the isolation period, emerging as one of the greatest scientific minds in history after weathering the hardship of the academic shutdown.

Albert Einstein graduated from the Swiss Federal Polytechnic School in Zurich in 1900, but he was unable to secure a teaching position for two years. A family friend finally helped him get a job as a patent clerk, 3rd class, in the patent office in Bern, Switzerland. Luckily, his mundane work in that office left plenty of spare time for him to pursue his profound interest in physics. In 1905, as a 26-year old patent clerk, he wrote four monumental scientific papers, in a year that has since come to be called his “annus mirabilis,” or “miracle year.” Those four papers, published in the Annalen der Physik, went on to revolutionize the scientific world, creating a seismic shift in understanding that continues to expand today. The first paper addressed the photoelectric effect, ultimately a cornerstone of the newly-born field of quantum physics, specifically addressing how light beams eject electrons from a metallic surface. The second paper addressed Brownian motion, or the first direct proof of the existence of atoms, after over two millennia of their proposed existence. The third paper concerned special relativity, Einstein’s effort to reconcile problems of Newtonian mechanics with James Clerk Maxwell’s notions of electromagnetic fields, which led to the surprising linkage of space and time. The fourth paper of that truly miraculous year dealt with nothing less than mass-energy equivalence, his famous equation E=mc2, which ultimately led to the end of World War II through the development of atomic weapons in the Manhattan Project, a welcome result for all of humanity in its rapid ending of that deadly conflict that ultimately saved millions of lives. It was his paper on the photoelectric effect that led to his receipt of the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1921, although that by no means makes it the most scientifically important of the four papers. It was simply less controversial than his work on special relativity or mass-energy equivalence.

The world has never been as enthralled by a brilliant scientist as its was by Einstein. As early as 1919, when his predictions of the sun’s displacement of the apparent positions of stars near the sun during a total solar eclipse validated his concept of General Relativity, the global public was mesmerized and became caught up in his scientific successes, though few truly understood his work. Our very common use of global positioning systems, or GPS, is one very practical result of Einstein’s discoveries that has changed our lives from the drudgery of reading and interpreting maps to instant electronic positioning and routing in our travels. None of that would exist without Einstein’s theory of general relativity. As recently as 2017, the world was involved yet again in Einstein’s prescient brilliance: his prediction of gravitational waves in the theory of general relativity was beautifully confirmed by one of the most astonishing pieces of technology ever constructed by humans – the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory, or LIGO. Comprised of two huge laser interferometers (each with two orthogonal arms 4 km long), LIGO consists of one unit in Hanford, Washington, and the other 3,000 km away in Livingston, Louisiana. The astonishing ability of this set of observatories to distinguish signal from noise in analysis of gravitational waves would be equivalent to being able to measure the distance to the nearest star, Proxima Centauri, 25 trillion miles away, down to the accuracy of the width of a human hair!

Not bad for a patent clerk, 3rd class, with some extra time on his hands! Working in the Bern patent office in 1905, he did not have ready access to a scientific library (much less a resource like the internet!), but he had a wonderful colleague, Michele Besso, with whom to discuss his ideas. He first met Besso at the Polytechnic Institute and his family had helped Einstein obtain the position in the Bern patent office. Einstein gave specific credit to Besso in his paper on special relativity: he said he “could not have found a better sounding board for his ideas in all of Europe” than Michele Besso. Fortunately, today’s technology allows for Facetime and Zoom chats, and so that opportunity to chat with your friends should not be underestimated, pandemic or not!

Einstein remained lifelong friends with Besso, until he died in Geneva just over a month before Einstein’s own death on April 18, 1955. In a letter of condolence to Michele’s family, Einstein had written: “Now he has departed from this strange world a little ahead of me. That means nothing. People like us, who believe in physics, know that the distinction between past, present, and future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion.” Einstein’s grand understanding of the deep mystery of time itself as an illusion gave him comfort, and implied that death did not ultimately separate him from his lifetime friend at all, which leads us to the fourth and final revolutionary thinker.

Raymond Moody became fascinated by the idea of an afterlife after he read Plato’s account of an Armenian soldier, Er, that concludes his book, The Republic, written almost 2,400 years ago. Er was killed in battle, but his body did not decompose over ten days on the battlefield. Two days after collecting his body, he was placed on a funeral pyre, where, just before the planned ignition, he unexpectedly regained consciousness and regaled his astonished fellow soldiers with stories of travel through astral planes. This story stuck with Moody as he went on to obtain a PhD in Greek Philosophy from the University of Virginia in 1969, teaching briefly at East Carolina University before deciding he would prefer going to medical school and becoming a physician, like his father. In the mid 1960s, Moody met Dr. George Ritchie, a Virginia psychiatrist who had had his own profound experience returning from near-death as a 19-year old Army recruit in Fort Barkley, Texas, in December 1943.

Having read the story of Er, Moody’s mind remained open to the possibility of this life not being the entirety of conscious existence and accepted Ritchie’s story. Later, as a medical student at the Medical College of Georgia, his patients began telling tales of unexpected experiences occurring in the setting of severe injury or illness, that many would have been tempted to dismiss as hallucinations. Raymond, however, became intrigued by their consistencies and similarities, despite the wide variety of medical situations that induced them. The story recounted by Plato’s soldier Er would have fit right into this modern collection of patients! He documented over a hundred such cases, and assembled them into a landmark book, Life after Life, first published in 1975. He popularized the term “near-death experiences,” and is globally considered the father of the field. Despite his medical training, Moody’s open mind and his inquisitive curiosity allowed him to make connections where others had not.

Academic study of similar cases by scientists around the world now supports a far richer and more profound interpretation of their meaning, and of the implications for the nature of consciousness, indeed in many ways proof of the existence of the human soul. The modern study of consciousness includes the tremendous evidence for the reality of non-local consciousness, such as telepathy (sensing others thoughts and emotions), precognition (knowing the future), remote viewing or extra-sensory perception, psychokinesis (the manipulation of physical matter by the mind), and even past-life memories in children indicative of reincarnation. But the tip of the spear in demonstrating mind and consciousness independent of the physical brain remains firmly in the realm of near-death experiences and related studies.

Moody realized there was too much there to simply dismiss the claims of his patients as hallucinations, and his intuitions of the importance of these stories has proven most valuable. In the midst of the Covid pandemic, when our way of interacting in the world has been so affected, I encourage you to develop an open mind. Pay attention to the anomalies in life — just as Raymond Moody did. The history of science is filled with tremendous progress when people embraced the anomalies and outliers — the cases that just didn’t fit the standard model. Those jagged edges in our explanations offer seeds to a much deeper understanding of reality, as long as we are not tempted down the simple path of blind acceptance. Don’t just accept the beliefs of others – find out for yourself!

Prior to November 2008, I had heard plenty of fantastical stories from my neurosurgical patients whom I often patted on the back and reassured that it was just a drug effect or hallucination. I had followed a fairly conventional path of scientific education in pursuing my medical training so my mind was not as open as Raymond Moody’s — that is, until I found out for myself when I came down with an absolutely should-have-killed-me case of gram-negative bacterial meningo-encephalitis. I spent a week in coma due to a disease that medical documentation later revealed had decimated my neocortex, that’s the part of the brain most directly related to human consciousness. While my brain was unable to produce a hallucination, I witnessed an extraordinary spiritual journey that was much more real than anything I’d ever experienced in my life. When I finally struggled my way back to this world, I had such complete amnesia for my life that I did not even recognize loved ones at the bedside, like my sisters, sons and even my mother. Although my physicians had predicted the dire destruction of my illness, they were unprepared for my rapid recovery of function and memories over hours and days, not to mention my complete return to normal over two months or so.

After reviewing my medical records, it was clear to me that our notions of the brain’s role in creating consciousness were false. In fact, it’s the other way around: consciousness is a fundamental property of the universe, and the brain merely serves as a filter for consciousness, our very awareness. Since this realization, I have discovered over a hundred scientists around the world pursuing research that fully supports this scientific concept. When this maturation of understanding becomes more prevalent in our mainstream world, the potential for unprecedented progress is inevitable. A horrific health challenge, so devastating to my family as they lived through it, has become one of the greatest blessings of my life! Talk about a silver lining!

Of course, mine is but one of many stories that validate a much grander model of understanding our reality, because we are each on a journey of personal growth and discovery, contributing to the evolution of consciousness itself.

Each of you will have your own story. Your education has always been about learning how to learn, and your final exam in this course of study involves the challenges of the pandemic and the economic distress that comes with it. Yes, the abrupt end of the school year left much of your course work completed online as opposed to physically present, making it seem less complete. Many aspiring athletes had their senior dreams of competition smashed by the pandemic and its forced social distancing.

However, the potential is there for you to grow stronger through direct experience – to become more resilient. If your “learning how to learn” was on track by the time the pandemic ended the normalcy of the school year, then the challenge taught you lessons about adapting to change, learning to navigate a new normal, and seeing yourself as a more mature and capable soul. Hardship naturally breeds resilience. As 19th century German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche so wisely observed, “That which doesn’t kill us makes us stronger.” Clearly true in the case of near-death experiences, this maxim applies to life for all of us.

Our greatest rewards come from contributing to the common good. As we grow and learn, we come to appreciate the simple gratification of being of service to others. The Covid-19 pandemic provides an opportunity to help others, especially those at the lower end of the socioeconomic spectrum who were marginal before the pandemic, but now are dangerously exposed as our thin safety net for the have-nots is challenged by the extremes of the pandemic.

The great gift of this unexpected ending to your academic studies is your learning that when the world gives you sour lemons, make lemonade!

Remember that many of the assumptions and beliefs hosted by our world are falsely limiting. You are more than just your thoughts, more than just your ego, much more than just your physical body and brain. The only limits are those propped up by those beliefs, but you have the power to prove them wrong. As Einstein so wisely observed, imagination is far more important than knowledge. Consider the possibilities limitless, especially when it comes to helping others and contributing to the higher good and your contributions will be everlasting.

Congratulations, indeed, on your hard work, your disciplined study, your attention to cultivating friendships and your personal network, and especially on coming to see yourself as a contributing citizen of the world – the steel of your soul tempered in the cauldron of the covid pandemic. Finding strength in the dark cloud of this lockdown will truly provide a gift that will last a lifetime.

Thank you.

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Let’s Grow Stronger Together http://ebenalexander.com/lets-grow-stronger-together/ http://ebenalexander.com/lets-grow-stronger-together/#comments Sat, 21 Mar 2020 13:37:36 +0000 http://ebenalexander.com/?p=5888 In this age of the COVID-19 pandemic, all our systems of daily life are being violently uprooted, leaving many with an existential dread about where the future might lie. We would like to help dispel this malaise through the sharing of knowledge and techniques to help everyone gain a greater sense of control over their […]

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In this age of the COVID-19 pandemic, all our systems of daily life are being violently uprooted, leaving many with an existential dread about where the future might lie. We would like to help dispel this malaise through the sharing of knowledge and techniques to help everyone gain a greater sense of control over their own fate, as well as the broader fate of the world-at-large. Such major challenges to our health and well-being offer unique opportunities to truly grow into the more mature and capable souls we came to this world to be.

Specifically, Karen Newell and I will host a series of completely free live webinars, United in Hope and Healing, beginning on March 26th (or March 27th depending on your time zone) and all 2nd and 4th Thursdays of each month thereafter through the duration of this crisis. These webinars will build a community united in collaboration and mutual support. Social distancing may trigger loneliness, when in truth, we’re all in this together and we are blessed to engage technology to gather.

At a pivotal time of disruption in daily life around the world, a revolution in healing therapies for emotional health challenges has emerged. The Spirituality & Mental Health practitioner training course is designed to enable health and wellness practitioners, and those invested in the science of healing, to integrate familiar conventional therapies with new methods. Accessing a deeper, transformational consciousness can result in a dramatic reduction in anxiety, stress, depression, addiction, insomnia, suicidal ideation and other mental health problems while elevating creativity, focus, mood stabilization, sound sleep, general emotional and mental wellness and overall fulfillment.

It is crucial to recognize that one of the grandest lessons of the emerging neuroscience of consciousness is that consciousness, or mind, is a primordial force in the universe, not something generated by the physical matter of the brain. From a practical viewpoint, this acknowledgement of the reality of “mind-over-matter” in the universe has been broadly supported by medical science for over seven decades through the placebo effect, the gold standard for comparison in the assessment of any new proposed medicine or treatment. The common use of the placebo-controlled trial is an admission by medical scientists that a patient’s beliefs are crucial in achieving any true health or healing. The more one reviews a deep analysis of the placebo effect, the more one wonders if there is any major component of healing that does NOT involve the free will and conscious mind of the subject.

To that end, for the duration of this crisis period, Sacred Acoustics is offering their Whole Mind Bundle (in MP3 format) at a discounted price of $19 (a $66 value) or, for those with economic uncertainty, at no cost whatsoever, no questions asked. This set of recordings and listening protocols reduced anxiety by 26% in a Manhattan psychiatric practice after two weeks of listening, as published in a pilot study in the Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease in February 2020. These recordings can also assist with sleep, relaxation and focus.

For those who wish to go deeper in their personal practice, Inner Sanctum Center offers a membership platform with further opportunities for guidance and interconnection.

As we move forward, perfect your mode of social distancing, wash and disinfect hands frequently, and remember to support those around you, especially those less fortunate, in any way possible. We are all in this together, and the most powerful way to energize your soul journey is to serve as a conduit for the loving, healing energy at the very core of our awareness. We can gain the information and energy in meditation and centering prayer, but, ultimately, we progress along our projected pathway through action – reaching out to take care of the least, the last, and the lost. The challenge of COVID-19 will ultimately make us much stronger – together!

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The Pursuit of Happiness http://ebenalexander.com/the-pursuit-of-happiness/ http://ebenalexander.com/the-pursuit-of-happiness/#comments Wed, 30 Oct 2019 20:30:17 +0000 http://ebenalexander.com/?p=5686 It should be no surprise to learn that happy people are healthier and live longer. Happiness brings more success to relationships and makes us more resilient during stressful times. Happy people perform better in their jobs and earn higher incomes. The happiest among us naturally feel a sense of inner peace. The United Nations recognizes […]

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It should be no surprise to learn that happy people are healthier and live longer. Happiness brings more success to relationships and makes us more resilient during stressful times. Happy people perform better in their jobs and earn higher incomes. The happiest among us naturally feel a sense of inner peace. The United Nations recognizes happiness as a significant measure of outcome in our world and since 2012 has sponsored an annual happiness report of all countries. The latest results from the 2019 report are revealing.

The United States in the 2016-2018 epoch ranked 19th in the world, below top place finishes by Scandinavian countries, several central and western European countries, Australia-New Zealand, Canada, and Costa Rica. Out of 132 countries, the U.S. is among the top 15% of the happiest in the world. Notably, if material wealth were the source of happiness, the U.S. would be much higher on the list. Despite its relatively smaller size compared to other countries, it represents fully one quarter of the world’s economy. It seems clear that significant resultant happiness due to the acquisition of material wealth is fleeting, at best.

Of greatest concern is the fact that the U.S. has lost considerable ground in the happiness measure since 2005, which marks the starting point of the UN data collection. The U.S. ranked 112th of 132 countries (Venezuela came in last) when looking at the change in levels of happiness from 2005 through 2018. In the Declaration of Independence, one of the three unalienable rights declared by our founding forefathers was the pursuit of happiness, ranked equally with liberty and life itself. Yet, over 13 years, our happiness level has decreased more than 111 other countries. Where has the U.S. gone so wrong in pursuing one of the simplest measures of success available – our very happiness?

The 2019 report addresses the role of digital media in diminishing our sense of happiness. Among U.S. adolescents, happiness increased from 1991-2011, but has been in steady decline since 2012. Of note, smartphone availability and usage began a dramatic increase in 2012. This decline has also been associated with a serious increase in depression, suicidal ideation and self-harm, especially among girls and young women. Overall, suicide increased by 26% in the U.S. between 1999 and 2015, with especially alarming bubbles in young females and middle-aged white males.

In spite of the long-term rise in GDP per person over the measured interval, several simultaneous trends have contributed to our country’s malaise: worsening health conditions, declining social trust, and declining confidence in government. Many of the comments concerning the U.S. apply widely to other countries, especially in the Americas and Europe. Overall, the report elucidates how elusive happiness becomes when we are self-absorbed in our own little worlds, abandoning the social fabric of relationships with family and friends, and falling victim to satisfying the demands of our ego as it promotes our material-oriented drives.

The general impact of burgeoning addictions has contributed to the spread of unhappiness in the U.S. Addictions are widely defined to include not just narcotics and alcohol, but addiction to work, exercise, screen time, food, sex and love, among others. Any activity that consumes a person’s time, energy and interest at the expense of the rest of their life is considered an addiction. One of the major consequences is the damage and destruction of relationships with others. In contrast, the report findings support the notion that helping others can be a very rich source of happiness, a fact that may have been lost on many of the me-focused screen-addicted people in our modern world. Small acts of kindness and compassion represent a significant effect on happiness, for both the giver and the recipient.

The good news is, we can correct this course direction. We must realize we are not victims of circumstance – the outer world is a reflection of our inner world.

We tend to see ourselves as existing separately from the world around us, but, in fact, our entire mental model of self and world is ours alone. Language is all about objects, relationships and actions, and thus obscures the seamless oneness of our conscious perceptions in which all of the universe is an aspect of our mental “self.” Placebo effect is just one of the most common examples showing that our beliefs and mental will can affect the physical world in ways that defy simplistic materialistic notions of cause and effect.

Combine this realization with the emerging scientific concept that we are all sharing one mind. In fact, consciousness is unified throughout the universe and is only filtered into our awareness through our brains, luring us into believing that personal consciousness is isolated when that is not the case at all. Our very existence as sentient beings offers us significant influence in how that mental world evolves. This highlights the value of exploring the mental realms as a means of interacting with the universe at large.

In essence, the main thrust of modern scientific studies of consciousness is revealing that we are spiritual beings living in a spiritual universe. The more separatist, competitive materialistic thinking has pervaded our modern world, the further we have migrated from our basic spiritual nature, resulting in unhealthy dissonance and toxicity. This spiritual vacuum in our world is at the root of much of societal malaise, whether it be the storm of addiction that is killing us in unprecedented numbers, or the shocking epidemic of suicidal behavior afflicting huge swaths of our modern society – those who have lost any sense of meaning or purpose, not to mention happiness, in their lives.

To contribute to these efforts, Karen Newell and I have created Inner Sanctum Center, an online community designed to help open minds to these truths through exchange of ideas and generating firsthand experience. As part of its launch, we invited participants in our 33 Day Journey free program to a recent Live Q&A Session on October 22, 2019. We invite you to view a replay of this 93-minute session where we answer questions on a variety of topics.

No soul left behind – all can achieve inner peace and happiness, and the more each of us achieves this worthy goal, the more harmonious our world will become.

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One Giant Leap for Mankind http://ebenalexander.com/one-giant-leap-for-mankind/ http://ebenalexander.com/one-giant-leap-for-mankind/#comments Sat, 20 Jul 2019 15:02:29 +0000 http://ebenalexander.com/?p=5553 Cherish the world’s reliving of the Apollo 11 moon landing a half century ago, and reflect on how such ventures tend to unify us, to fire our imaginations, and to engender the best future we can envision.

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Throughout my formative years, I avidly followed the space program starting in my first grade year in May 1961 when I watched Alan Shepard’s 15-minute suborbital Mercury flight. I became a huge fan of the space program and followed all of the Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo missions as if I were just another member of the crew, all the way through Apollo 17 when I was a senior in high school. Apollo 8 was a fantastic gift in 1968, when Jim Lovell, Frank Borman and Bill Anders orbited the moon on Christmas Eve and broadcast over their primitive black-and-white television camera a message of peace for all of humanity. But the holy grail clearly involved walking on the moon – and Apollo 11 owned that absolute distinction.

Fifty years ago, during the wee morning hours of the midsummer days of 1969, I read Arthur C. Clarke’s fantastic science fiction novel 2001: A Space Odyssey, usually reading in those early morning hours before going out around 4:30 am to deliver newspapers in the dawn twilight. Looking up at the starry heavens, my mind only half on the job of delivering newspapers, I mused over all of the advanced civilizations I imagined to be up in that velvety sky. My mind was completely captured by the implications of how going to the moon would change our collective human destiny.

In the days leading up to that historic moon landing, families would cluster around that first generation of television sets, watching intently as Walter Cronkite described the momentous occasion we were privileged to witness firsthand. The images were uncolored and fuzzy and the audio was filled with static, but the magic of bringing the moon’s surface to life intoxicated everyone. At 4:17pm EDT on Sunday July 20, 1969, the first humans expertly and precisely landed on the moon, announced by Armstrong: “Houston, Tranquility base here. The Eagle has landed.” The last-minute dodging of the boulder field can only be attributed to the human skill of proper piloting by Neil Armstrong with only 20 seconds of fuel to spare. Armstrong’s first steps on the moon occurred at 10:56pm that evening as 500 million people followed from planet Earth, hearing him proclaim for the ages, “One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” What an understatement!

This moment is arguably the greatest historical achievement of humanity to date – mankind’s first exploration of another heavenly body. Copernicus bravely defied the accepted viewpoint of his time and challenged the idea that we were the center of the universe by demonstrating that planets revolve around the sun. It’s easy now to look back and see that event as the initiation of the Scientific Revolution that led to our current amazing technological achievements. I believe that historians of say, 5,000 years in the future, will come to regard our first tentative spacefaring voyages off of planet earth to be of singular importance.In fact, some have suggested that the only name from our current epoch that will merit inclusion in the history books of the future will be that of Neil Armstrong – the first human being to step on a celestial body other than earth.

Many in my generation grew up believing our entire lives would be spent actively pursuing the spacefaring activities of a modern civilization. Those alive at the time will remember that the United States and the Russians were locked in a “Cold War,” and President Kennedy had set the agenda back in 1961, when he dedicated the United States to a program of flying men to the moon, and returning them safely to earth, before the end of the decade. Even today, we probably would have trouble scaling up the technical abilities in rockets and equipment at such a quick pace.

The early program was decidedly competitive, even military, in its nature. For both the Mercury and Gemini programs, men would ride capsules atop ballistic missiles designed mainly for hurling nuclear warheads around the world (the Redstone, Atlas and Titan rockets). Only when we graduated to the actual moon-focused Apollo missions did the astronauts ride atop rockets designed for this more peaceful purpose – the Saturn V. A most effective rocket it was, 363 feet tall, weighing 6.5 million pounds, its first stage burning 15 tons of liquid oxygen and refined kerosene every second, hurling the 310,000 pound third stage/command-service module/Lunar Excursion Module into earth orbit from which they then accelerated into a trans-lunar trajectory. If so tasked, the Saturn V was mighty enough to boost a many-ton payload off to one of the nearest stars, but the journey would take hundreds of thousands of years.

Mission planners knew the importance of the operation, especially its symbolic power: they chose Neil Armstrong, a civilian test pilot, and formerly a naval aviator during the Korean conflict to lead the mission. He had proved his mettle by flying the X15 rocket plane almost 4,000 mph at a peak altitude of 207,000 feet, and was selected over his fellow military astronauts to lead the Apollo 11 mission. By the time of the actual Apollo landings, a more peaceful goal than the military race with the Russians, one shared with all of humanity, was reflected in the language of the commemorative plaque they would leave at Tranquility Base – “We came in peace for all mankind.”

Armstrong had already witnessed harrowing escapes from death during his career as an astronaut. During the Gemini 8 mission in 1966, after successfully docking in orbit with the target Agena vehicle, their spacecraft went into an uncontrolled roll that became so fast that Armstrong and fellow astronaut David Scott came within seconds of blacking out before Armstrong was able to correct it. In May, 1968, while test piloting the Lunar Landing Research Vehicle, he ejected with less than a second to spare before the experimental craft slammed to the ground, exploding into a fireball, as Armstrong drifted gently to earth under his parachute a few feet away.

When the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey came out in 1968 and depicted a spaceship landing at a city on the moon, we all assumed that that was a reasonable version of our future – that we would be the ones inhabiting those lunar cities by the early 21st century. Alas, the fickle nature of the American public, as predicted by the mastermind behind the Saturn V, Werner von Braun, judged the brief adventures of the Apollo program to be sufficient for their desires, and dropped the ball on further manned exploration of space. Thankfully, we now appear to be getting back on track, not only for a return to the moon, but, more importantly, towards the goal of building a sustainable colony on the planet Mars.

I’ve had the distinct honor and privilege of meeting and talking with four of the highly skilled Apollo astronauts, including Neil Armstrong himself, as well as Frank Borman and Jim Lovell, both of whom flew to the moon on the moon-orbital mission of Apollo 8. Lovell also commanded the Apollo 13 mission, a harrowing journey in which the astronauts demonstrated the utmost skill in returning safely home after an explosion crippled their craft en route to the moon.  I also met Edgar Mitchell, who served as the Lunar Excursion Module pilot accompanying Alan Shepard down to the Fra Mauro Highlands they hiked during the Apollo 14 mission in February, 1971.

One of the great joys of my life was having Edgar share his reflections on that monumental journey while I was a guest in his home in 2012 (more fully shared in my book Living in a Mindful Universe, co-written with Karen Newell, 2017). Edgar was so deeply affected by his experience during the Apollo 14 moon-landing mission, especially by a profound epiphany that occurred during the ride back to earth: He clearly saw the fundamental presence of consciousness throughout the universe while gazing out the window of Apollo 11’s command module returning from the moon. He came back to found the Institute of Noetic Sciences, which to this day carries out his bold mission to more fully explore the profound mystery of consciousness itself – a frontier beyond outer space.

Edgar realized how closely his life journey of elucidating the consciousness underlying the universe paralleled my own observations of the primacy of consciousness resulting from my near-death experience (NDE) due to severe bacterial meningitis in November 2008. Edgar shared my vision that the coming awakening of humanity to the true nature of consciousness would rival in importance the 16th century Copernican revolution that had moved man’s notion of the center of the universe from the earth to the sun. We are on the verge of another monumental scientific revolution – one that validates the notion that we are all in this together.

I recall how all of the astronauts shared similar observations about the fragility and undivided beauty of our earthly home. Their firsthand experiences make them kindred spirits with the NDE community I have come to know so well over the last decade — we all share the sense of oneness and connectedness with each other. Those Apollo astronauts all professed how seeing our lovely planet from space only heightened the sense that there are no boundaries of countries visible, that the entire beautiful planet is one we all share together. They also remarked on how fragile our atmosphere is, just the tiniest blue sliver, tenuously embraced by the lands and seas of our extraordinarily precious home planet.

One major impetus for pursuing space exploration is to serve as insurance against our own extinction. During the half century since the first moon landing, we have come to discover in increasingly alarming fashion that our addiction to burning fossil fuels might well render our planet uninhabitable in the next century or so due to the greenhouse gas effects of all of that carbon dioxide our modern civilization belches into the atmosphere. We must colonize other planets, if for no other reason than to survive if we are foolish enough to wreck our own home.

A grander overall vision for the importance of these spacefaring efforts is one of joining that much bigger club of sentient life throughout the cosmos, a vision that was quite clear to me during my coma journey. This grander vision of humanity as part of the interstellar community is one more consistent with the maturity of humanity suggested by the NDE community, where we bear responsibility for our choices and acknowledge at every step the importance of our choices for the higher good of all involved.

So, cherish the world’s reliving of the Apollo 11 moon landing a half century ago, and reflect on how such ventures tend to unify us, to fire our imaginations to engender the best future we can envision. We are truly all in this together, sharing this star-faring journey on the good earth, and we have the capacity as human beings to most fully enjoy this voyage through expressions of kindness, mercy and love towards our fellow travelers.

Those who want an in-depth, personal experience in reminiscing the Apollo 11 mission should go to https://apolloinrealtime.org/11/ to relive every second of the adventure.

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Effective Treatment for Mental Health http://ebenalexander.com/effective-treatment-for-mental-health/ http://ebenalexander.com/effective-treatment-for-mental-health/#comments Tue, 28 May 2019 12:28:55 +0000 http://ebenalexander.com/?p=5520 As many of my fellow physicians are discovering, any true physical, mental and emotional health depends fundamentally on spiritual health. Spiritual, in this sense, is not necessarily religious, but simply an admission of the connectedness we all share (with other sentient life as well as with the universe at large), as well as a sense of meaning and purpose of our existence.

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May is Mental Health Month, and a timely topic it is. For the first time in a century, our life expectancy in the US is now declining over the last three years, as opposed to continuing what many saw as an inexorable rise. The culprit is not the usual suspects of heart disease, cancer, and stroke, but instead this alarming dip in longevity is due to the opioid crisis (which killed 72,000 Americans in 2017) and a sharp rise in suicides across broad categories of age and gender (increasing overall 26% in the US between 1999 and 2015).

This tsunami of misery is related to the relative spiritual vacuum in our culture – a secular society that maintains only the material world exists and any other phenomena are illusions to be ignored. Our predominantly physical approach to mental health (in the form of pharmaceuticals) has failed to reverse this alarming trend, but striking alternatives exist. I will be co-presenting a course in Fall 2019 to health practitioners on one such modality. The solutions lie in developing a facile relationship with our more capable “higher souls” through a practice of going within. Only then can we address the emptiness inside that leads people towards depression, anxiety, addiction and suicide. Quieting the mind is challenging for most in our modern world, especially for those struggling with mental health issues.

As many of my fellow physicians are discovering, any true physical, mental and emotional health depends fundamentally on spiritual health. Spiritual, in this sense, is not necessarily religious, but simply an admission of the connectedness we all share (with other sentient life as well as with the universe at large), as well as a sense of meaning and purpose of our existence. Personally, I have maintained an ongoing sense of connection since my coma journey from listening to Sacred Acoustics audio recordings on a regular basis. Such a process helps me to connect with the neutral observer within in order to gain a broader perspective over life’s challenges and to find inner peace.

The sense of hearing represents one of our most primordial connections with the world around us. Various manipulations of sound have been used for tens of thousands of years to help engender transcendental states of conscious awareness, in the form of chants, anthems and hymns. The very resonant acoustical properties of ancient burial chambers, as well as of soaring cathedrals, all indicate how experiences and memories of sound, or especially of “music,” play an integral role in our  connecting with the various phases of human existence, especially those beyond the material world.

Most of these sound modalities involve neural processing in the recently-evolved acoustic neocortex of the temporal lobes. I believe that one of the primary reasons that the binaural beat brainwave entrainment of Sacred Acoustics is so powerful in allowing transcendental levels of consciousness is that its presumptive effect in a far more primitive region of the brain, the superior olivary nucleus (SON) complex in the lower brainstem, greatly amplifies its impact on levels of consciousness.

In evolutionary biology, one can examine the origins of a function such as consciousness by assessing the role of more primitive anatomic structures descending through the tree of evolution. Thus most sounds humans process mainly in the recently evolved neocortex (evolved ~ few millions of years ago) are not as intimately involved with the origins of consciousness-allowing structures in the lower brainstem (the SON and related reticular activating system evolved over 300 million years ago, before mammals, at a time when reptiles and amphibians were just crawling out of the muck).

To date, most of our observations about the utility of Sacred Acoustics tones have been anecdotal, but recent clinical pilot studies are leading towards a more objective scientific assessment of the relevant tools and techniques. The pilot study for this work, in which 26% of study patients had a significant reduction in anxiety as measured by the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory, vs only 7% of controls, certainly suggests a major role for Sacred Acoustics tones in treating anxiety. The study has been accepted by the prestigious Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, for publication soon. (Anna Yusim, MD, Justinas Grigaitis. Efficacy of binaural beat meditation technology for treating anxiety symptoms: a pilot study. J Nervous Mental Dis, 2019)

Based on this clinical study (and the myriad associated clinical observations), my life partner and co-founder of Sacred Acoustics, Karen Newell, and psychiatrist Anna Yusim, will join me in teaching a series of healing practitioner workshops this fall aimed at educating health care workers of all stripes (physicians, psychologists, nurses, social workers, addiction specialists, reiki workers, massage therapists, etc.) in the potential for applying such Sacred Acoustics tones towards healing in cases of anxiety, depression, insomnia, and lack of focus.

During this course, we will discuss various theories and non-conventional relationships of brain and consciousness and demonstrate the scientific evidence for filter theory and mind over matter as it relates to health. We will review the various causes of mental health disorders and gain a broader perspective on mental health treatment modalities. You will participate in direct practice using audio brainwave entrainment technology, breath techniques, heart awareness and additional practices. Ultimately, you will realize the importance of personal experience in meditation for daily life and how to apply the use of sound meditation in the process of becoming more whole.

Other pilot projects in the works include the use of Sacred Acoustics tones in a hospice and palliative care setting, especially assessing their use in alleviating agitation, engendering terminal lucidity and potentially even shared-crossing experiences (similar in quality to near-death experiences, shared crossings generally occur in health workers or family at the bedside of a dying patient).

As the focus for the treatment of such conditions falls away from pharmaceuticals and more towards powerful modalities like Sacred Acoustics tones, we are uncovering more of our innate abilities to heal ourselves through expanding power of “placebo effect,” a decades-long admission from the medical community that our beliefs do indeed provide much of our true ability to heal — we truly live in a universe where mind has tremendous power over matter, and nowhere is that more apparent than in the use of sound to heal our mental selves.

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Tenth Anniversary of Awakening http://ebenalexander.com/tenth-anniversary-of-awakening/ http://ebenalexander.com/tenth-anniversary-of-awakening/#comments Fri, 16 Nov 2018 17:18:41 +0000 http://ebenalexander.com/?p=5272 “The day science begins to study non-physical phenomena, it will make more progress in one decade than in all the previous centuries of its existence. To understand the true nature of the universe, one must think it terms of energy, frequency and vibration.” —    Nikola Tesla (1856 – 1943) Today, November 16, 2018, marks the […]

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“The day science begins to study non-physical phenomena, it will make more progress in one decade than in all the previous centuries of its existence. To understand the true nature of the universe, one must think it terms of energy, frequency and vibration.”

—    Nikola Tesla (1856 – 1943)

Today, November 16, 2018, marks the tenth anniversary of my return from a deep week-long coma due to an aggressive and should-have-killed-me case of E.coli gram-negative bacterial meningo-encephalitis. And what a decade of discovery it has been! As Tesla noted above, ten years with a freshly opened mind of my own has truly led to boundless new understandings. One fascinating aspect of my personal journey, as a neurosurgeon who experienced a profound near-death experience, are the tremendous parallels in my personal revelations with those of the scientific community at large – all related to fascinating developments in the science of consciousness.

Karen and I recently returned from the Beyond the Brain conference in London, where the Galileo Commission Report was publicly revealed. The report summarizes the opinions of over a hundred scientists who study consciousness and demolishes the long-ago disproven notions of deterministic Newtonian thinking. Similar to previous such consensus statements from the scientific community (such as those from Mario Beauregard and Etzel Cardeña), this newest elaboration announces to the world-at-large that consciousness includes remarkable properties that, studied from a scientific perspective, support the reality of a spiritual universe.

The commission’s name comes from similarities between Galileo’s time, and ours. Galileo simply asked a church bishop to look through the telescope and see with his own eyes the moons of Jupiter, but the bishop refused to even look. Even today, so many conventional materialist scientists refuse to even look at the evidence concerning the broader implications of consciousness research. The report, like our book Living in a Mindful Universe, is a powerful rebuttal of the simplistic and false assumptions of materialist scientists, who attempt to debunk and deny the evidence not only for the afterlife, but for reincarnation. Those wanting to learn more about the study of reincarnation should also visit the University of Virginia’s Division of Perceptual Studies.

For most of humanity’s last few thousand years, questions concerning the continuity of consciousness after death of the physical body, or of the afterlife, hinged on the personal experiences of very few people. Usually this involved the occasional saint, prophet, or mystic who reported personal experience in realms beyond the material world. I believe that all of our modern religious systems emerged from such courageous reports of the realm of the unseen, often engendered during physiological stress or “near-death” situations. For the vast majority of us, it boiled down to a question of faith – whether or not we chose to believe those experiences of the relatively rare “others.”

All of that changed half a century ago, when physicians developed techniques to resuscitate, or return to life, tens of millions of people whose hearts had stopped, who had been “clinically dead.” This has populated our world with many souls who have been to “the other side,” and returned to tell the tale that death of the physical body is not the end of conscious awareness, but merely a transition to a different realm, very similar to physical birth.

My most recent blog addressed the remarkable conclusions of a recent medical record review of my coma, most notably the supposition that my miraculous recovery might have been related to my profound near-death experience, itself a refutation of the physicalist/materialist assumption that the brain produces consciousness. Of course, many skeptics claim that, given the fact that near-death experiencers don’t actually die, that none of those stories are truly telling us what happens when we do actually die. Yet the very existence of so many similar stories, irrespective of one’s prior beliefs in an afterlife or religious predispositions in general, is quite shocking and unexpected, that is, if the materialist model of brain-creates-consciousness, were actually true. Why these elaborate journeys, even in those who have been declared dead for days, which often occur when the physical brain is very demonstrably shut down?

The paltry and inadequate explanations from materialist scientists trying to attribute such journeys to pathophysiological challenges such as diminished oxygen levels or increased carbon dioxide fail completely in explaining shared-death experiences. These are identical in content to NDEs and yet occur in physiologically normal bystanders. Loved ones at the bedside of a dying patient (although they could also be hundreds of miles away) witness the soul of the departing loved one, sometimes even to the point of joining them for a full-blown life review, before returning to this realm completely mystified by their inexplicable journey.

Recent books supporting the scientific verification of the reality of such experiences (such as John C. Hagan III’s peer-reviewed book The Science of Near-Death Experiences, or Titus Rivas’s The Self Does Not Die) endorse the world-changing vision shared in our newest book, Living in a Mindful Universe. Thus, the question of an afterlife no longer need be answered merely by faith in other people’s accounts. The preponderance of scientific understanding about the nature of the mind-brain relationship, indeed of the fundamental nature of consciousness itself and the survival of awareness beyond death, already exists!

The Galileo Commission Report refers to many facets of non-local consciousness such as the reality of telepathy, precognition, out-of-body experiences, remote viewing, near-death and shared-death experiences, after-death communications, some psychic medium communications with the deceased, past-life memories in children indicative of reincarnation, etc. This opens the door widely to a scientifically-based statement about how best to see our consciousness and our very existence as human beings that extends far beyond physical bodily existence limited to the birth-to-death interval. Important to note is that one of the most important revelations from the NDE community is that we are responsible for our choices, and will reap what we sow in the life review. The fact that the golden rule is thus written into the fabric of the universe should help us all treat others with more kindness and compassion.

The most valuable lesson of the last decade has concerned the growing realization that every soul is crucial in this process, and we are bound together in this mission through the infinitely healing force of unconditional love. This is not a truth that requires unanimous endorsement by the scientific community at large – this is the deep and empowering truth available to all souls open enough to manifest it. The evidence supporting this much grander world view, where placebo effect and extraordinary examples of healing are just the beginning of our capabilities as manifesters of the world of our loftiest dreams, is available to all who care to look. We must simply choose to make it so.

This, combined with personal exploration of consciousness through centering prayer, or meditation, provides a pathway towards gnosis. Personally, I listen daily to the differential-sound enhanced brainwave entrainment produced by Sacred Acoustics to enter expanded states of awareness, but the important step is to have some means of going within, and of developing a richer relationship with that “higher soul” and primordial mind. As Tesla said in the quote opening this article, energy, frequency and vibration are the keys to understanding the universe, and exploration of consciousness using sound is an excellent starting point for a much broader understanding of our true free will in manifesting the world of our dreams.

We are currently planning a 5-day course in fall of 2019 for therapeutic practitioners who wish to incorporate Sacred Acoustics recordings into their practice. We’d love your help by filling out this survey for practitioners.

 

 

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Independent Medical Review Validates Facts http://ebenalexander.com/independent-medical-review-validates-facts/ http://ebenalexander.com/independent-medical-review-validates-facts/#comments Thu, 27 Sep 2018 15:05:57 +0000 http://ebenalexander.com/?p=5193 In the decade since my near-death experience (NDE) during a week-long coma in November 2008, I have been through many ups and downs in sharing my experience with the world. The low point involved a published account of false and misleading statements. The details of my medical condition were called into question as perhaps not […]

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In the decade since my near-death experience (NDE) during a week-long coma in November 2008, I have been through many ups and downs in sharing my experience with the world. The low point involved a published account of false and misleading statements. The details of my medical condition were called into question as perhaps not as severe as I’d maintained in my first book, Proof of Heaven. I was challenged personally with implications that I lied about such specifics for financial gain.

Counteracting such claims, this month represents a resounding “up” in that journey: Dr. Bruce Greyson, one of the top globally-acknowledged scientific researchers in the field of consciousness studies, has teamed up with physician colleagues Surbhi Khanna and Lauren E. Moore to provide a detailed and comprehensive review of my medical records. This independent physician case report has been published this month in the widely respected peer-reviewed Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease:

The publication of this case report marks tremendous progress in elucidating the unprecedented effect of my NDE (and numerous similar journeys) on our human understanding of the nature of reality. Many in the medical community were astounded I recovered at all due to the severity of my illness – “an extremely severe bacterial meningitis with little likelihood of a complete medical recovery,” as summarized in the case report (S. Khanna et alia, p. 744). They shared my disbelief that the events I described in Proof of Heaven could have happened at all, since there was overwhelming evidence of destruction to my brain, and yet they DID happen:

“Based on details of events that he accurately described having observed during his coma, his near-death experience can be placed between hospital days 1 and 5. On those 5 days, his GCS [Glasgow Coma Scale] scores, charted twice a day, ranged between 6 and 7, indicating severe brain impairment.” (S. Khanna et alia, p. 744)

A GCS score of 9 or less indicates deep coma, with 3 being the lowest possible score (a corpse), and 15 the GCS in a normal awake patient.

Based on these scores, I should have had no experience at all, other than the most rudimentary forms of conscious awareness. My neurologic examinations, the CT and MRI scans showing all eight lobes of my brain to have been involved, and lab values all indicated a very severe infection.

Both neurologists involved in my case were similarly surprised by the outcome, given the severity of my illness. One of my main infectious disease specialists, Dr. Scott Wade, in a private communication with my family written six weeks after I awakened, stated that my “recovery from a serious meningitis [was] the most incredible and gratifying experience” of his medical career, which had spanned more than two decades after fellowship training.

“Most reported cases [of Gram-negative bacterial meningitis] have residual neurological deficits; however, this patient attained full neurological recovery within 2 months, which is remarkable and rare.” (S. Khanna et alia, p. 745)

The current case report goes much deeper than the details provided in Proof of Heaven in exploring the extraordinary nature of my illness, and the equally surprising facets of my complete recovery over two months. The fact that I could have experienced anything while my brain was so besieged with infection, particularly targeting the neocortex, remains a profound challenge to our conventional materialistic worldview, and especially the assumption that the physical brain creates consciousness.

“It is noteworthy that the patient’s near-death experience can be placed between hospital days 1 and 5, when his GCS scores were lowest. This association of a mystical state of consciousness with diminished brain function is consistent with recent neuroimaging studies of psychedelic drug-induced states showing that brain connectivity in the default mode network is inhibited rather than excited by psilocybin (Carhart-Harris et al., 2012), ayahuasca (Palhano-Fontes et al., 2015), and LSD (Carhart-Harris et al., 2016).” (S. Khanna et alia, p. 746)

The implication, that consciousness can exist independently of the brain, so absolutely defies the principles of conventional (pre-quantum) science and its assumption that only the physical world exists, that some seem to be thrown into an existential crisis by my case and the profound implications it engenders. The discussion of the reality or meaning of NDEs in our society is one that greatly stirs people’s feelings about their most fundamental beliefs, and thus ignites extreme passions in their responses.

The case report actually goes beyond simply remarking on the astonishing nature of my course since coma, to suggest that the spiritual content of my NDE might have contributed to my inexplicable recovery.

“Of interest, other near-death experiences occurring under well-documented medical supervision have been associated with unexpected recovery from conditions thought to be irreversible (Alexander, 2017; Dossey, 2011), suggesting possible benefits from research into possible mechanisms by which near-death experiences might facilitate healing.” (S. Khanna et alia, pp. 745-746)

Dr. Larry Dossey and I have both written about miraculous healing associated with NDEs in the medical literature. All of us might gain useful lessons about the role of mind-over-matter in healing. This is the ultimate treasure trove resulting from the deeper understanding of NDEs and other spiritually-transformative experiences.

This case report destroys the false conclusion perpetrated by those who tried to discredit my story, my integrity and trustworthiness with false statements about my career as a neurosurgeon. My recent FAQ entitled “Have you been found guilty of malpractice?” summarizes how twisted facts completely obscured my true actions in that case.

I am proud of a neurosurgical career in which I operated on over 4,000 patients, and contributed to advancement of the field, especially in specific technologies such as stereotactic radiosurgery, intraoperative MRI, and focused ultrasound surgery (publications). I have nothing to hide about my medical career, which is one of the reasons I proceeded to share my story in Proof of Heaven. Malpractice data is freely available to the public. I never suspected that anyone would take the original allegations from a malpractice case, which can be wildly inaccurate, and present them as final facts in the matter. The offending article totally ignored the full investigations by state medical boards and the American Board of Neurological Surgeons and their conclusions that allowed me to return to medical practice with my licenses and board certification fully intact.

Living in a Mindful Universe, the book I co-authored with Karen Newell, argues further that the reductive materialism of conventional science is a dead end. The stunning reality of ontological idealism (the mental universe now coming into focus for quantum physicists), is presented most forcefully. Ultimately, we are all part of the greater consciousness, the primordial mind, that determines the emerging events of our lives.

In coming months, Karen and I will be appearing at several conferences and presentation venues in North America and Europe, including meditation playshops to help true seekers get deeply involved in exploring consciousness and manifesting the free will of their higher souls. We hope to see you at one of these events!

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Suicide Epidemic Relates to Spiritual Vacuum http://ebenalexander.com/suicide-epidemic-relates-to-spiritual-vacuum/ http://ebenalexander.com/suicide-epidemic-relates-to-spiritual-vacuum/#comments Wed, 08 Aug 2018 15:37:22 +0000 http://ebenalexander.com/?p=5124 Earlier this summer, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published an article about the alarming 28% rise in suicide deaths in the United States between 1999 and 2016. The issue was recently punctuated with the celebrity suicides of Kate Spade (June 5) and Anthony Bourdain (June 8), leaving many to wonder how such […]

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Earlier this summer, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published an article about the alarming 28% rise in suicide deaths in the United States between 1999 and 2016. The issue was recently punctuated with the celebrity suicides of Kate Spade (June 5) and Anthony Bourdain (June 8), leaving many to wonder how such visibly successful and seemingly fulfilled people can take their own lives. Such assumptions fail to acknowledge that suicide is often a more fundamental existential disorder of disconnection and purposelessness.

From my perspective, suicide deaths are largely the result of the spiritual vacuum in our secular culture. Spirituality, in this discussion, is an acknowledgment of meaning and purpose in our lives, as well as a sense of deep interconnection with others and with the universe at large. Some gain spiritual growth through religion, although conflicting orthodoxies tend to diminish our knowing of the reality of such a guiding force at the core of our lives, at least for some. Unfortunately, the predominant scientific materialism of our era supports a notion of separation and meaninglessness that only contributes to the spiraling desperation reflected in this sad explosion of suicidal behavior.

Suicide rates have been rising in nearly every state, especially those in the Midwest and New England, according to the latest Vital Signs report by the CDC: “In 2016, nearly 45,000 Americans age 10 or older died by suicide. Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death and is one of just three leading causes that are on the rise.”

An editorial in the British Medical Journal reported that the recent decline in overall life expectancy in the US is mainly attributable to the rise in suicide and substance abuse.

In fact, many people who die by suicide are not known to have a diagnosed mental health condition at the time of death. Life challenges often contribute to suicide, such as those involving interpersonal relationships (42%), problematic substance abuse (28%), physical health problems (22%), job/money concerns (16%), criminal legal problems (9%), or loss of housing (4%). The largest group is thus associated with a perceived lack of love in their lives, in the form of relationships gone wrong (or that never form in the first place).

Firearms are the most common means used by people who successfully commit suicide. In 41% of these cases, the person had a known mental health condition, and in 55%, the person had no known mental illness. Pulling a trigger is far too easy an action, and allows tragic ease to accomplish the goal, whether it is ending one’s own life, or taking another.

One of the most important steps to take if one is concerned about a possible suicide is thus to separate such easy means (i.e., guns or potentially lethal drugs) from the potential victim, though accomplishing this task is not always as simple as it should be.

Anne Schuchat, principal deputy director of the CDC, reports that rising rates of depression, loneliness and anxiety, as well as the opioid crisis and economic turmoil (such as that following the 2008 economic meltdown), are likely linked to the rising rates of suicide in America. Those primarily due to depression, loneliness and anxiety might well be prevented through an improved safety net of connection and purpose, manifested through healthier social relationships and a deeper sense of purpose in our existence. Especially in our very “me-focused” culture, the great value of serving others as a purpose often allows a solution to what otherwise might lead one towards suicide.

We continue to rely almost entirely on people themselves to tell us if they are suicidal, “yet nearly 80 percent of people who die by suicide explicitly deny suicidal thoughts or intentions in their last communications,” according to Matthew Nock, a professor of psychology at Harvard University.

Alarmingly, in May 2018, an article in the medical journal Pediatrics reported that twice as many children were hospitalized for contemplating or attempting suicide in 2015 compared with 2008. There has been a 70% increase in the rate of suicide among girls (ages 10-19) from 2010 to 2016, which also hit a 40-year high in 2015. Where has our society gone so wrong as to fail our children in this way?

Any given suicide might involve more than a single factor, but the overall problem will become more manageable through a deeper cultivation of connectedness and caring for each other. Rates of depression are rising globally, and instead of sweeping the stigma of mental illness under the rug, we would benefit from more open and candid sharing of our feelings and concerns with one another. Acts of kindness and caring, learning how to listen to others’ sharing of their feelings and problems, raising an alarm when we are concerned about others, and keeping those identified as possibly at risk safer by removing easy access to lethal means, such as guns and potentially deadly medications and drugs – all of these can contribute to an alleviation of this depressing epidemic of suicide.

Suicide is invariably a complex issue, with any one case presenting significant challenges. In my role sharing my NDE and its implications for humanity, I frequently address questions about suicide, and we may find a natural remedy from within the NDE community.  Our good friend and colleague, Dr. Raymond Moody, has reported that one of the few categorically true observations to be made about suicide is that, if one attempts suicide and experiences any of the features of an NDE (encountering brilliant light and an overwhelming sense of a divine force of love in the universe, meeting souls of departed loved ones, etc.), then he or she will never attempt suicide again.

The commonly encountered pattern is that those who fail in suicide attempts are generally doomed to repeat their attempts. So this powerful effect of NDE elements preventing future suicide attempts is remarkable, indeed. NDE reports from observation across the veil also suggest that, during the life review, those who succeed at suicide likely witness a profound sense of love that others and the universe at large have for them, and gain comfort from that revelation, but they also realize the deep pain that many felt in their loss.

In short, suicide is never the right answer. The more we can nurture a sense of connectedness and purpose in our lives (of “spirituality”), the less likely people will be tempted to “end it all.” The other fact of this discussion is that suicide will never work as an escape from worldly problems, especially as one comes to realize that modern consciousness studies imply the reality not only of the afterlife, but of reincarnation. That particular dodge (of suicide) doesn’t solve the soul’s challenges and necessity of facing the issues at hand – if ignored or avoided, they will only be repackaged in a different form for one’s next incarnation. The world of transpersonal psychology is filled with such stories of soul challenges arranged over multiple lifetimes – all with the purpose of growth and learning. NDE experiences clearly show that the guiding compass of our soul journeys is one that acknowledges the binding force of love that connects us all.

There is no way out, but through. It is better to deal with the big challenges in this lifetime, never resorting to suicide as an exit plan. Together with medical or mental health treatment, as appropriate, meditation and centering prayer often yield access to our higher soul, and to guidance in helping us see this grander vision of our challenges, and of their solutions.

If you know someone who is struggling with thoughts of suicide right now, please get help. I have posted some resources and information on the FAQ page here: What about Suicide?

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Is There Proof of a Spiritual Universe? http://ebenalexander.com/is-there-proof-of-a-spiritual-universe/ http://ebenalexander.com/is-there-proof-of-a-spiritual-universe/#comments Tue, 29 May 2018 12:17:48 +0000 http://ebenalexander.com/?p=4987 The first book about my NDE, Proof of Heaven: A Neurosurgeon’s Journey into the Afterlife (2012), hit a resounding chord with readers around the world, and yet I felt that the title prevented some in the scientific community from reading the book. Those who have read it realize that it is a commentary on the […]

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The first book about my NDE, Proof of Heaven: A Neurosurgeon’s Journey into the Afterlife (2012), hit a resounding chord with readers around the world, and yet I felt that the title prevented some in the scientific community from reading the book. Those who have read it realize that it is a commentary on the nature of the mind-brain relationship, and especially of the fundamental nature of consciousness itself. While my story certainly supports the reality of an afterlife, the book is far from being just a discourse on “heaven.”

The revelations of my message address the very fundamental nature of reality and human experience, and cover territory well beyond the question of whether or not some aspect of consciousness survives the death of the brain and body. Such knowledge is directly relevant to how we approach life in myriad ways. It is a mistake to assume that Proof of Heaven is simply a clear-cut confirmation of the teachings of modern-day Christianity (an accusation from close-minded skeptics who I’m convinced have not read the book, but rather are simply recoiling at the title). Of course, my overall message greatly supports the original teachings of Christ, which places love as the central guiding force and stresses the connectedness we share through love, but it is not limited to Christians alone.

Gwyneth Paltrow, Eben Alexander III, Karen Newell

Many times each month, I am asked to give interviews and presentations.  In a recent interview conducted by Elise Loehnen in New York, while Karen Newell and I were guest presenters at Gwyneth Paltrow’s in Goop Health event, we were able to crystallize the main points of our message succinctly. The appropriately titled podcast (one that makes our message accessible to all), “Is there Proof of a Spiritual Universe?” was posted on May 24, 2018, and we felt it would be of particular value to our friends and followers to hear it. Also just posted is a Goop Q&A with Karen where she discusses her own path of spiritual awakening.

The spiritual realm is not exclusive to any one group of people – it is accessible to us all and this fact greatly affects how we live our lives here and now. My books and talks have resulted in a deluge of communications from practitioners of some of the deep mystical traditions of many faiths (Kabbalah, Christianity, Islam, Sufism, Buddhism, Hinduism, Bahá’í Faith, among others), confirming the resonance of my journey and message with their own understandings. I can’t stress enough that our message is for all humans. But, at its core, my mission and process are scientific, based on personal experience and on a modern rational approach to understanding how best to interpret such experiences in drawing conclusions about the nature of reality.

My second book, The Map of Heaven: How Science, Religion, and Ordinary People are Proving the Afterlife (2014), demonstrated the ubiquity of such spiritually-transformative experiences across all cultures, religions, belief systems, and millennia. From a scientific point of view, Proof of Heaven was a question-mark that challenged the status quo. But my newest book, Living in a Mindful Universe: A Neurosurgeon’s Journey into the Heart of Consciousness is much more about the modern scientific study of the brain and mind, and certainly goes much further in trying to get to some answers about how to understand it all. Some of these deep scientific concepts, and their importance to us as spiritual beings living in a spiritual universe, are crucial in trying to heal our somewhat broken world.

This process of awakening will ultimately involve the synthesis of both our scientific and our spiritual nature as human beings. Some physicists are already comfortable with the notion of our universe being fundamentally mental, not physical, based on a maturing view of the metaphysics underlying the experimental results in quantum physics. The deepest lessons and refined experiments in quantum physics nudge us gently toward this realization.

And the wealth of human encounters that include near-death experiences and similar spiritually-transformative experiences richly opens our understanding of ourselves and our universe so that the most reasonable conclusion involves the fact that all of our existence is spiritual, in the sense that our lives matter. We are here for a reason, and we have great responsibility for our choices in how we deal with our fellow beings. Acknowledgement of the scientific underpinnings of our spiritual nature will help in this grand awakening of humanity. Replacing our erroneous materialist (or physicalist) world view with one based in our connectedness and purpose, i.e., our spiritual nature, will provide the most beneficial revolution in the history of human thought.

 

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Rethinking Reality http://ebenalexander.com/rethinking-reality/ http://ebenalexander.com/rethinking-reality/#comments Thu, 26 Apr 2018 17:21:38 +0000 http://ebenalexander.com/?p=4874 “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.” — Werner Heisenberg (1901 – 1976), Nobel Prize in Physics 1932 In the ongoing discussion concerning the nature and meaning of near-death experiences, one quickly comes to realize […]

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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.

— Werner Heisenberg (1901 – 1976), Nobel Prize in Physics 1932

In the ongoing discussion concerning the nature and meaning of near-death experiences, one quickly comes to realize this is not simply a debate between those with various religious beliefs and those with a more scientifically-minded approach in understanding the universe. The discussion is actually one at the leading edges of modern science, concerning the very relationship between the mind and the brain – the fundamental nature of reality itself, once one realizes the all-pervasive influence of consciousness on one’s perceptions of the world. The conventional scientific world-view of materialism (or physicalism) has never even gotten out of the starting blocks in addressing the nature of consciousness (witness “the hard problem of consciousness”, as it was defined by Australian philosopher of mind David Chalmers in The Conscious Mind in 1996).

A recent Scientific American blog entry (4/19/18) by computer scientist Bernardo Kastrup helps to sharply define the framework of this debate, referring to Thomas Kuhn’s The Structure of Scientific Revolutions and recent results in quantum physics experiments to elaborate an inevitable revolution in our thinking that fully opens the door to such concepts as an afterlife and even of reincarnation. Bernardo does not make those same leaps in his Scientific American article, but he clearly opens the door to such thinking, especially for those who mistakenly believe that current science eliminates the possibility for such human experiences to be more than hallucinations and delusions.

Our book, Living in a Mindful Universe, connects the dots in this discussion, one in which we see science and spirituality as actually strengthening each other – but this is best accomplished through a broad opening of our minds to accommodate all of human experience, and not just that which fits the currently accepted (yet obviously broken) paradigm.

The issue was succinctly delineated by early quantum physicists, such as Werner Heisenberg, quoted above. A cursory knowledge of modern science (deeply steeped in the assumptions of physicalism, i.e. that only physical stuff exists) does indeed lead one toward atheism, and away from any possibility of humans actually having free will (especially given conventional science’s notion that all of consciousness is no more than the epiphenomenon of chemical reactions and electron fluxes in the substance of the brain). But the revelations from increasingly refined experiments in quantum physics (specifically taking Einstein’s 1935 argument for the incompleteness of quantum physics, and physicist John Bell’s brilliant 1964 theorem hinting at experimental approaches to addressing Einstein’s concerns) demonstrate with increasing power the need to relinquish our broken fiction of materialist thinking – a whole new paradigm is in order.

This is Kastrup’s conclusion in Scientific American, and in our book, Living in a Mindful Universe, and its companion free email course “Your 33 Day Journey into the Heart of Consciousness.” In the book and companion course, Karen Newell and I explore not only the implications of this paradigm shift for individual humans trying to make sense of their own lives here on earth, but also the absolute necessity for humanity to awaken to this new paradigm. We must stop the errant and misguided forces of scientific materialism (and its false notion of separation and competition, as opposed to oneness and collaboration) from leading us further along a pathway of self-destruction.

The phenomenon of consciousness consists of the very relationship between the mind and the brain, especially as exemplified through all manner of human experience (including the huge swath of paranormal and other anomalous human experiences of non-local consciousness). These rather common experiences and rigorous empirical data from the realm of quantum physics are forcing humanity to resolve some of the deepest issues raised over the last five millennia of human experience. It’s high time we woke up to these troubling contradictions to the pervading paradigm of materialism and shifted our collective worldview appropriately.

We live in a mental universe, projected out of consciousness, just as Heisenberg (and Max Planck, Wolfgang Pauli, Erwin Schrödinger, and other brilliant founders of the field of quantum physics) realized based on their experiments. More modern physicists (e.g. Henry Stapp, Brian Josephson, Roger Penrose, Bernard Carr, Fred Rosenblum, Menas Kafatos, Amit Goswami, among others) would agree that recent experimental results force the primacy of consciousness even more than those early results that befuddled the likes of Albert Einstein and Neils Bohr. We can make far better sense of our world by acknowledging our spiritual nature, and the spiritual nature of the universe itself. Heisenberg’s God is alive and well, buried behind the false dichotomies of conflicting religious dogma, in plain sight as the very origin of our conscious awareness.

 

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