A Thought for Today
by Terrell Tebbetts
During his career, Dr. Eben Alexander, a neurosurgeon in his late 50s, came to believe that the material universe is the only reality and that
the spiritual universe is an illusion.
Yes, some patients described contacts with the spiritual universe, but he dismissed them as comforting fantasies. One patient facing surgery, for example, told Dr. Alexander that her long-dead dad, wearing a yellow shirt and a fedora, had visited her in a dream and had told her all would go well.
When she’d told her mother, she discovered that her dad had indeed worn a yellow shirt and fedora when he and her mom were engaged, but her mom had never before told her about that outfit. Yet Dr. Alexander dismissed this event as he dismissed many others, leaving the spiritual life of his family to his wife.
Then Dr. Alexander had a near death experience that changed everything.
He contracted bacterial meningitis, and it didn’t respond to antibiotics. He went into a coma that lasted a week. The disease was so virulent his spinal fluid was green with pus. His hands and feet began to curl up as if he were entering a persistent vegetative state. His doctors lost all hope. They called in his wife to suggest his breathing tube be removed.
And just as they did that, Dr. Alexander’s eyes popped open.
While his cerebral cortex had been completely shut down in the coma, Dr. Alexander had had the most truly real experience he’d ever had, so real that it made all he’d lived through in his material existence seem totally unreal. In short, he visited the spiritual realm, and that’s where his eyes really popped open.
As he describes it, he experienced the spiritual realm as having three parts. The first seemed symbolic of material existence; in it he saw and heard people still living. The second was an ideal world, a beautiful green landscape filled with loving people watched over by angels; in it he was escorted by a beautiful woman he did not recognize but later discovered to be a sister from his birth family who’d died before he could meet her (he was adopted as an infant).
The third part was what he calls the Core, the presence of God, which he could approach but could not enter fully. The essence of the Core, filling all three parts, was LOVE.
Dr. Alexander’s experience changed him completely. He now believes that the brain, which serves us well in the material universe, is an obstacle to perceiving the real universe, the spiritual one. He believes that the soul rather than the brain is the essence of our consciousness.
Like the poet William Wordsworth, this scientist has come to see that we are all “moving about in worlds not realized.”
Dr. Alexander’s book is Proof of Heaven. His TV appearances are on YouTube. Take a look.
Terrell Tebbetts is the Martha Heasley Cox Chair in American Literature at Lyon College. He can be reached at terrell.tebbetts@