Frequently Asked Questions
More coming soon.
What happens when we die?
The answer depends entirely on our understanding of the relationship between the mind and the brain. My experience, along with thousands of other near-death and similar spiritually transformative experiences (which were just explained away as hallucinations by conventional scientists) suggest that our conscious awareness expands greatly when awareness is freed from the shackles of the brain and body.
In other words, death is an occurrence of the physical body and brain, but not of the mind and eternal spiritual being that we are.
Before my coma, I believed the conventional neuroscientific notion that the physical brain created consciousness out of purely physical matter, and thus that death of the brain and body meant the end of conscious awareness. My NDE changed my thinking completely, because the degree of damage to my entire neocortex should have disabled all but the most basic rudiments of consciousness, and yet the exact opposite is what occurred – a profound odyssey through multiple realms far more real than this one.
I was forced to admit that consciousness is not created by the brain at all, but is allowed in by the filtering of the brain. Consciousness is fundamental, and all of reality emergent from that Collective Mind. Thus, death of the body and brain is a liberation of consciousness to a much higher level, the exact opposite of what conventional scientific thinking would suggest.
Fortunately, the entire scientific community is following a very similar path in this novel understanding of the mind-brain relationship, all through deeper investigation of the nature of consciousness (and especially towards addressing the “hard problem” of consciousness, as well as the profound measurement paradox in quantum physics, both of which suggest that consciousness is fundamental in creating the universe). The tremendous body of scientific evidence supporting the reality of non-local consciousness, such as telepathy, precognition, déjà vu, out of body experiences, remote viewing, and past life memories in children indicative of reincarnation contribute to the fascinating notion that our consciousness survives the death of the physical body.
My spiritual journey, similar to so many others reported over the ages, supports that there is nothing to fear about death. It is not the end of existence, but a transition very similar to birth itself. Not only that, but also that our connections with loved ones are maintained, as demonstrated by death bed visions of the souls of departed loved ones, and evidence from the scientific literature on reincarnation suggesting that soul journeys over multiple lifetimes involve continued evolution of relationships.
Who or what is God?
I see God as the Creator and prime mover of all that is, at the core of each and every one of us. I see consciousness as fundamental in the universe – all of the observable physical universe emerges from the Collective Mind, the consciousness that originates in God. In deepest truth, there are no actual boundaries between God and us and the entire universe — apparent boundaries are part of the Supreme Illusion that the world “out there” is actually “out there.”
One should not underestimate the power and ability of that universal force, and the knowledge that it rules through infinite, limitless love without any conditions.
As part of God, we are all thus co-creators in the evolution of consciousness, in the evolution of all that is. Viewing God as external or separate from us is a grave source of confusion, in my view. All of the human (and other) imperfections, the apparent darkness and evil, actually serve as gradients to energize this evolution. They are just the absence of the light and love, not a countering force.
My view is that the absolute God exists as the source of all of conscious awareness, and that all of reality (including the small subset of the observable physical universe) emerges from the mind of that absolute God (limitless, impersonal). The supporting philosophical system is that of metaphysical (or ontological) idealism, wherein all that exists emerges from consciousness itself (the absolute God). The physical universe (and similar modes of more nonstandard common realities we share) is a simple projection from the oneness/source/absolute God.
The personal (relative God) is the smaller subset of the absolute God with which we can develop a “relationship.” Our language forces a certain separation between the absolute and relative Gods which does not in fact exist, although it is a useful separator in terms of grasping some understanding of the duality originating from the pure Oneness. A good way to experience this is through meditation, where I have resonated with the pure oneness in the form of an identity with it, yet right at the event horizon between the ultimate source oneness and the emergent parcellation apparent in our dualistic existence.
Any residual confusion around this might resolve a bit by realizing that our perceived “boundaries of self” are only there to support the low bandwidth version of our perceptual awareness, including the apparent limitation of our existence in an apparent “here-and-now” that is built in on this side of the veil, i.e. that time flow is an illusion projected as part of our conscious awareness of our surroundings (not only in the physical, but in spiritual realms, as well).
Notions of “ego” and “personal God” are seen as very limited presentations of the fundamental absolute God, which is the essential source of our conscious awareness, although the reality of that source is infinite and eternal (which we can only appreciate when fully liberated from the shackles of our physical brain and body, say during deep meditation or after death of the physical body).
Meditation and prayer help us move beyond our human dimension. However, I cannot overstate the fact that our earthly language cannot begin to describe the vastness and intimacy, the power and mercy, the all-knowing and all-loving character of God and Consciousness.
What is Consciousness?
Consciousness is the thing that exists. The material realm is illusory (vibrating strings of energy in higher dimensional space-time). Modern physics suggests that our very notions of space and time, and causality, are illusory constructs of our consciousness.
Consciousness is awareness of existence. The deep mystery at the heart of the “hard problem of consciousness” (the challenge of defining any pathway by which the physical constituents of the brain might give rise to phenomenal experience) and the measurement paradox in quantum physics is the observer. We are not our thoughts, but we observe those thoughts via our fundamental consciousness, that is allowed in from universal consciousness (the Collective Mind) by the physical brain.
I’ve come to realize that the essence of awareness, of experience, and of memories, is completely outside of the physical brain and this physical universe, and projects all of apparent physical reality. My current understanding is that the brain does not create consciousness, but actually “dumbs it down” from a much higher level of awareness – one that we glimpse during Spiritually Transformative Experiences (such as NDEs), or encounter when our physical body dies. The brain is a reducing valve, or filter, that limits overall consciousness down to a trickle – the apparent “here and now” necessary for one’s survival in this earthly realm. Such a filter theory goes back to the end of the 19th and early 20th centuries, when brilliant thinkers who studied the human psyche (William James, Frederic Meyer, Henri Bergson, FCS Schiller, and later Aldous Huxley, among others) saw evidence of the existence of the soul beyond the physical brain and body, and suggestions of its survival after bodily death.
I postulate that the neocortex is the dominant influence on how much and what specific conscious awareness is allowed in from Collective Mind. Filter theory takes us much further in explaining a wide variety of exotic human experiences, such as near-death and shared-death experiences, precognition, after-death communications, out-of-body experiences, remote viewing, etc. This hypothesis explains my own personal ultra-real NDE in coma, when my neocortex was so thoroughly dismantled. Without a properly functioning filter, I experienced a much broader contact with universal consciousness, as have millions of others who have witnessed the ultra-reality of such transcendent experiences in consciousness.
What are your thoughts on Jesus?
I did not encounter Jesus during my NDE, although that does not indicate that he or other religious figures were not there. Others who have experienced NDEs have sometimes reported seeing or meeting religious figures on the other side. In my case, I had complete amnesia for my life before coma, quite atypical in the NDE literature. This lack of memory for my earthly life allowed a very rich journey to unfold. However, as a result, it was not influenced by any prior religious beliefs or life experience. The “empty slate” provided profound lessons that I only appreciated in the months and years afterward, that would have been impossible without amnesia for Eben Alexander’s life before coma during the experience itself.
What I did experience and learn during my NDE encompasses a broader sense of spirit and “God” than any religion I’ve studied. The oneness and inter-connectedness of all souls, and the profound sense that unconditional love is not only an infinitely healing force, but also the fundamental creative force in the universe, were crucial lessons from my journey. Some have suggested the brilliant orb of light I encountered in the Core Realm, which impressed me as an interpreter or translator, might be the Christ Energy, there to facilitate my understanding of the messages from the infinitely healing power of the all-loving source, or God, but I did not identify it as such during the experience.
My current views are that Jesus came here to reveal that we are all divinely connected to all fellow sentient beings, and to God which is consistent with my experience and also supported by scripture. As such, we are all eternal spiritual beings, no matter our beliefs. The unconditional love of that God force has infinite power to heal. The greatest value of authentic Christianity, from my perspective, is an absolute inclusiveness that acknowledges all beings as children of God. Thus ANY exclusivity suggested by dogmatic interpretations is against the original teachings of Loving Oneness taught so well by Jesus during his life. God loves Christians, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Zoroastrians, those of the Bahá’í faith, atheists, skeptics, etc. — in short, God loves ALL (God IS Unconditional infinitely healing Love). I interpret “The only way to heaven is through me,” attributed to Jesus (at a time when very few people on earth even knew of Jesus) as meaning “The only way to heaven is through believing in (and knowing) the infinitely loving God.” Many who have touched this source of ultimate love and oneness agree, we can all realize this connection personally by going within.
The important thing is to walk the walk — that is, to live the life that Christ exemplified, because he resonated identically with the deep universal truth of pure love and oneness. “The kingdom lies within us all” and “These things and even greater you shall do” were Christ’s expressions that we all are Christ-like children of God. Jesus modeled the example of this knowing and wanted each of us to follow that example.
The scripture suggesting that the only way to heaven is through believing in Jesus Christ has rendered tremendous confusion by falsely leading people to believe they are not responsible for their choices, thoughts and actions, that they get a “get out of jail free” card simply by claiming to believe in Christ (and likewise that they are sinners, and that Christ died for their sins, thus they have no responsibility for their actions). I believe this illogical interpretation of scripture was enacted to bolster the ranks of the church, and the mayhem it has caused over centuries is regrettable. Ironically, this viewpoint is consistent with the materialist science assumption that our actions and behavior (including consciousness, or spirit, itself) are the result of random neuronal and hormonal reactions, not a result of our soul’s willful choices and actions.
Both positions leave us able to claim we are not personally responsible for our actions, which my journey (along with major other lines of evidence) completely contradicts. Much of the current hardship in our world has been supported by such a false sense of separation, and of irresponsibility to each other. I believe the entire universe exists to support the journey of discovery for sentient beings, utterly dependent on our free will choices and accepting responsibility for their consequences. The love so beautifully exemplified by Christ provides the moral compass of that spiritual realm, that such loving oneness allows healing at all levels.
It is false to believe that one can act in a very un-Christian fashion throughout their lives, yet by claiming to believe in Christ they may escape the destiny of having to face consequences for their actions. The universe is just, and in this process of teaching and learning with our fellow souls, we learn the lessons of love in our life review — where we feel any love, or pain and hatred, that we have given out to others over our lifetime. The life review reveals the false boundaries of self, because we must feel the emotional power of our choices as they affected those around us. Examples might include the life review of a serial killer, who must experience not only the pain and suffering his actions dealt to his victims, but also feel every bit of that pain experienced by all souls who ever knew of his actions; whereas the life review of someone like Mother Theresa would be one of feeling the bliss and comfort she handed out to so many souls during her lifetime, as they experienced it. I believe our notions of heaven and hell might directly originate in the spectrum of such life reviews, all nudging us towards a more loving expression during our lifetimes in the material world.
My amnesia for my pre-coma life memories during the experience prevented a personal life review for Eben Alexander, but the grander scale of eternity of consciousness expressed in that all-loving God-presence, and the rich tapestry of multiple incarnations for all sentient beings as the learning/teaching process of the very evolution of consciousness itself, allowed for the very robust experience of the essence of life reviews during my coma. More than half of NDErs have reported experiencing a life review in the fashion described above, no matter what their prior belief system, going back at least 2,400 years (to the writings of Plato about the Armenian soldier, Er, who awoke after days dead on the battlefield to report such an experience that struck him with the profound importance of love expressed during our earthly lives).
Again, consistent with the original teachings of Christ, as well as other major religious systems that have evolved over millennia, is the powerful lesson to “do unto others as you would have done unto yourself,” which is consistent with the awakening I see coming to humanity today. We must take full responsibility for our choices and actions, ensuring that our underlying intentions are based in love and oneness, and not fear.
What about suicide?
Many people may think about suicide as they struggle with questions about the purpose of life, or with depression or illness. If you are one of these people, or if a family member is talking about suicide, please get help right now. Your life on this earth is precious and vital, and resources are available to help you find better answers for your specific challenges.
This website does not offer specific medical advice, diagnosis, or referrals. However, we can direct you to public information resources such as the ones listed below. If you are experiencing a crisis, get immediate help through the resources listed. CALL 988 to speak with someone. CALL 911 if your situation is life-threatening. We also encourage you to find a personal physician or mental health therapist who can help you create a persona plan for your recovery and wellness.
Information, online chats, and telephone Help-Lines are free and available across the USA and in other countries. These are some of the resources available to everyone. Talk with someone now.
TO REPORT A LIFE-THREATENING CONDITION OR EMERGENCY: Dial 911
CALL A COUNSELOR at 988 nationwide in the U.S.A.
If you are a Veteran, call 1-800-273-8255 and press 1
If you are LGBTQ, call 1-888-843-4564
If you are deaf, contact: 1-800-799-4TTY (4889)
Find Hotlines in your State: www.suicidehotlines.com
Find Hotlines and Crisis Centers Worldwide: www.iasp.info/resources/Crisis_Centres/
En Español: suicidepreventionlifeline.org/help-yourself/en-espanol/
CHAT WITH A COUNSELOR ONLINE
www.imalive.org (click on ‘Chat Now’)
FIND RESOURCES that Make a Difference in Your Life
- Suicide Prevention Lifeline
- The National Suicide Prevention Resource Center
- American Foundation for Suicide Prevention
- LGBT Resources
GENERAL INFORMATION ABOUT SUICIDE
National Institute of Mental Health Article June 11, 2018
CDC Article and Recent Statistics
CDC Suicide Factsheet (June 2018)
National Institutes of Health Suicide Prevention Info
National Institutes of Health Suicide Statistics Info
PERSPECTIVES FROM A NEAR-DEATH EXPERIENCE
People sometimes ask: if the Afterlife is so wonderful, why can’t we die sooner rather than later? What’s the point of continuing in this physical lifetime? Most people who have had an NDE have been granted a glimpse of the bigger picture and realize that they have a purpose in being here – to learn life lessons for soul growth. These lessons are rarely easy, but can be learned most deeply during this physical incarnation.
We have also heard from people who tried to commit suicide, and had an NDE in the process. They report that they were grateful to return to life on earth. During their NDEs, they could see how much they would be missed by others in their lives here, even if they did not realize it when they were depressed and suicidal. They could see that they had more to contribute, learn and do before they died.
We are all eternal souls, living for a time in this physical body. We are here to learn and grow, sometimes fail and usually recover. We are all loved unconditionally by God/Source, even if we do not always feel the love during certain times in our earthly life. However, we can connect with Source without having to die, or almost die. There are ways, through prayer and meditation, that can offer the same level of evidence and insight as a profound NDE. These are not a substitute for medical and mental health care, if you are in crisis. But they are valuable methods for daily renewal, peace and inspiration. To learn more, download a free meditation here.
It is sad for all of us when someone dies from suicide. Family members sometimes ask what happens to their soul? All souls are accepted into the realm of love, although they may need some time to adjust after their life review and after realizing they died before finishing their lessons during their time on earth. Depending on circumstances, the individual soul may need rest and spiritual counseling on the other side before moving on to join other souls. A soul may return through the process of reincarnation to address some of the same lessons not completed in this lifetime.
HOW TO HELP SOMEONE ELSE (Source: NIH Website)
If you know someone who is contemplating suicide, you can offer help.
These are the most common signs that someone is in emotional distress. If you are concerned, take the Action Steps listed below.
- Talking or posting about wanting to die
- Showing increased anger or rage or extreme mood swings
- Feeling like a burden or expressing hopelessness
- Being isolated
- Feeling increased anxiety
- Feeling trapped or in unbearable pain
- Increased substance use
- Looking for a way to access lethal means (e.g., a firearm or pills)
- Sleeping too little or too much
Action Steps for Helping Someone in Emotional Pain
- Ask: “Are you thinking about killing yourself?” It’s not an easy question but studies show that asking at-risk individuals if they are suicidal does not increase suicides or suicidal thoughts. More Information
- Keep them safe: Reducing a suicidal person’s access to highly lethal items or places is an important part of suicide prevention. While this is not always easy, asking if the person has a plan and removing or disabling the lethal means can make a difference. More Information
- Be there: Listen carefully and learn what the individual is thinking and feeling. Findings suggest that acknowledging and talking about suicide may in fact reduce rather than increase suicidal thoughts.
- Help them Connect: Call 988 if you have questions or are feeling suicidal. Save the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline’s number in your phone so it’s there if you need it: 1-800-273-TALK (8255). You can also help make a connection with a trusted individual like a family member, friend, spiritual advisor, or mental health professional.
- Stay Connected: Staying in touch after a crisis or after being discharged from care can make a difference. Studies show that the number of suicide deaths goes down when someone follows up with the at-risk person.
Additional Stress Factors that can Increase the Fixation on Suicide
- Relationship problems
- A crisis that occurred in the past two weeks or that is expected in the next two weeks
- Substance use problems
- Physical health problems
- Job or financial problems
- Criminal or legal problems
- Loss of housing
Please seek help for yourself or a family member. You are worth it and you are loved!
Have you been found guilty of malpractice?
I have never been found guilty of malpractice but I have settled several cases brought against me. Settlements are made to avoid the steep costs of litigation, not as any admission of guilt. The debacle of the malpractice environment in this country was made quite apparent in a 2011 article from the New England Journal of Medicine that reported neurosurgeons to be the specialty most at-risk for facing malpractice suits *.
This is not because more neurosurgeons are bad doctors than are found in other specialties, but has to do with the treacherous and often life-destroying situations we are called to help our patients and their families face (head and spinal cord injury, brain tumors, ruptured aneurysms, stroke, etc.). That study painted a stark reality for neurosurgeons in the United States: on average, expect a lawsuit every five years. In a lifetime career, don’t be surprised to encounter several lawsuits, especially if you deal with more difficult cases. My father, a global leader in neurosurgery and one of the kindest and most respected people I ever knew, faced three lawsuits (like me, he was never found guilty).
One article in particular tried to attack my integrity through a distorted and incomplete presentation of one such lawsuit. (See ** below for rebuttal of Esquire article). The author’s (Luke Dittrich) most damning assertion of my career as a neurosurgeon concerned a specific malpractice case in which I was involved. By his account, I operated on a patient’s cervical spine at the wrong level, then altered the operative note to reflect the actual operation in an effort to cover up the surgical error. The author noted that I “finally confessed” the error to the patient on his third post-operative visit, only to face a $3 million lawsuit from the patient a year later.
The facts behind the case reveal a more complete picture, quite opposite to that presented by Dittrich. The patient had presented with radiographic evidence of three adjacent levels of abnormality (C45, C56, C67), but my assessment based on his symptoms indicated that the middle of the three levels (C56) was the actual culprit. One principle of spine surgery is to address the patient’s symptoms and neurological signs in deciding what level might need surgical correction, with the radiographic abnormalities helping to guide that effort (though not the primary evidence dictating the surgery). Thus, my surgical goal was to decompress and stabilize the C56 level only, expecting that would alleviate his symptoms.
After the operation, the patient reported excellent relief of his symptoms. Most such operations are successful in fixing the problem, so that came as no surprise. I routinely performed an X-ray at that follow up visit just to check the integrity of the stabilizing bone graft. Checking this X-ray after the patient had left my office, I found that I had operated at C45, one level above the intended C56 level. I was shocked that such an operation had relieved his symptoms so perfectly, because it called into question my surgical reasoning that had led me to target C56 in the first place.
I knew that patients could have a strong “placebo effect” from surgery alone, so my plan was to reassess him in follow-up to determine whether his relief of symptoms was due to placebo effect as opposed to a bona fide surgical benefit. After follow-up confirmed a true surgical benefit, I discussed the situation with my neurosurgical partners and hospital attorneys to lay out the best way to proceed with informing the patient. I reasoned that even if he had benefitted at this point, that he might well come to need decompression of that C56 level at some time in the future. The hospital agreed with me that the patient should not have to pay for such a procedure if he redeveloped symptoms, so my plan was to inform him of the wrong level surgery and offer to cover all expenses if he ever needed that C56 level decompressed.
With plan in hand, I had my office schedule the appointment for this discussion with the patient. He was doing so well, back at work farming, that he skipped the appointment, necessitating yet another follow-up call to bring him in for full disclosure.
“Doc, I’m doing fine,” he insisted after I had explained the entire issue of having operated at an unintended, but apparently effective, level. “I don’t need any more surgery. You’ve done fine.” I believe my extensive explanation of our financially covering any additional surgery, even if he chose to have it done elsewhere, led him to pursue a malpractice suit.
Of course, one problem that the malpractice attorney originally faced was that the patient had done so well after my operation. Even knowing of the surgical error, it was hard to argue with success. Hence the attorney created a negative spin of my correcting the surgical note (which was just my effort to reflect the actual facts of the case as they became known to me) to imply an intentional cover-up, allowing a charge of “fraud.” Dittrich had found this concocted accusation in the plaintiff’s court records, and used it as the basis of his distorted version of events. But interpreting it as a cover-up was illogical and egregious, given that I was the one who revealed the surgical error to all parties – it was not discovered by anyone else. That fact has never been disputed, and is crucial to understanding my overall integrity in the case. Some of my colleagues questioned whether I shouldn’t have kept quiet and said nothing.
This case, like all such questionable cases, resulted in detailed investigations by numerous agencies, including all state boards where I held an active medical license (those of Virginia, Massachusetts and North Carolina) and the American Board of Neurological Surgeons. I was exonerated by all investigating groups after paying a fine concerning medical record-keeping, and attending a weekend CME course that addressed such issues. Proper protocol indicates that I should have dictated an addendum to my original surgical note, as opposed to correcting the facts about the actual level of surgical decompression in the original surgical report. I also should have informed the patient immediately, instead of monitoring his progress to verify true surgical benefit as opposed to placebo effect.
The lawsuit settled for ~20% of the original ask, certainly not a payout acknowledging “malpractice.” As stated previously, settlements are made to avoid the steep costs of litigation, not as any admission of guilt. I continued with my state medical licenses and board certification fully intact. That was not a truth Dittrich wanted to reveal, thus he painted a false picture of my being a failed neurosurgeon to enhance his accusation that I made up the entire story presented in Proof of Heaven for financial gain. The odd thing is that he knew many of these facts about me, based on our interviews, but never included any of it in his story.
* NEJM article  on malpractice rates by specialty:
** Robert Mays’ rebuttal to Luke Dittrich’s Esquire article: