Proof of Heaven: A neurosurgeon's journey into the afterlife by Eben Alexander, Simon & Schuster, New York; Piatkus, London, 2012, 208 ff.
Most of the books on near-death experiences (NDEs) are written by authors who relate accounts given to them by other people. The books by Raymond Moody, Pim van Lommel and Michael Sabom are typical examples. This book, like that of Nanci Danison, is a first-hand account written by someone who has himself experienced an NDE.
Dr Eben Alexander is a neurosurgeon. He had his first near-death experience as a parachute jumper when he nearly collided with another jumper. But it was the coma produced by an attack of bacterial meningitis in 2008 that provoked something of the kinds of mental images that are usually associated with NDEs. However, many of the incidents common to many NDE experiencers were missing. This event has however still led him to conclude that `our life does not end with the death of the body or the brain'.
The first couple of chapters of the book describe some of the symptoms of Alexander's condition when he was ill - not for the squeamish, perhaps. But his recollections of the first period of his coma in another spiritual realm are equally vividly described - and fascinating. The whole description is given more weight by the fact that Alexander is a scientist who started this experience with the usual reservations if not scepticism about the existence of the psychic realm. I found the details that Alexander recounts more convincing of continuing discarnate existence than several I have read. The personal details of his life that the author includes get the reader more involved in the story - it's not some dispassionate scientific account of an experiment but a real-life experience of a living being. This account includes the personal events surrounding his emergence from coma.
Eben Alexander wrote this book with the conviction that the importance of unconditional love and that science supports rather than contradicts the existence of the spiritual realm is such that it is imperative that it is understood by a majority of people on the planet before our obsessive materialism drives humankind to extinction. He knew also that he was forever part of the divine spiritual energy that he calls Om. He knows that the events and impressions he relates in this book are real - and he can distinguish them from the hallucinatory images he rambled about as he was recovering from his coma. During the coma, the attending physicians will attest to the fact that his conscious mind was dead.
There is a good Index and a further Reading List at the end of the book together with an interesting consideration of nine neurological hypotheses that might explain Dr Alexander's experiences: none of which satisfies him or his colleagues - which leaves us with interpretation as a vision of `heaven'.Consciousness Beyond Life: The Science of the Near-Death ExperienceLife After LifeGlimpses of Eternity: An investigation into shared death experiences