In this Episode
- [02:00]How did Dr. Eben learn about science and consciousness?
- [08:21]Dr. Eben shares the idea of the higher perspective of our life.
- [13:16]How common are shared death experiences?
- [20:32]Dr. Eben explains how many lifetimes he has gotten a view into and the methods he used.
- [23:19]Dr. Eben and Stephan discuss the difference between physical and spiritual reality.
- [35:38]In what ways our subconscious and unconscious awareness takes place?
- [42:57]Dr. Eben shares his experience with altered reality.
- [50:12]Dr. Eben talks more about near-death experiences and healing.
- [56:53]Dr. Eben recommends a resource that could change our lives.
Eben, it’s so great to have you on the show.
Stephan, it’s great to be here with you. Thanks so much for having me on.
Let’s start off by letting our listeners understand where you started from before you had the near-death experience. You were pretty pragmatic, right? What was your worldview prior to that near-death experience?
My upbringing largely shaped it. My father was very scientific. He had been a combat surgeon in the Second World War in the Pacific Theater, and then he came back to head up a neurosurgical training program in the United States in the 60s, 70s, and 80s. He was very scientific and fully versed in cosmology, physics, et cetera, but he also strongly believed in a loving personal God and the power of prayer. He used that a lot in his healing.
Like many of us who grew up in the 60s and 70s, I always knew science was the pathway to truth. My mistake before my coma was believing that conventional materialist kind of Newtonian deterministic science, which is the version most people are exposed to in our modern world, was correct. That’s strictly a form of materialism or physicalism, the notion that only the physical exists.
To fully explain everything about my experience and millions of similar experiences, you need to expand your worldview. That’s what I found myself doing in the 14 years since my coma to make sense of it. But the good news is, there are hundreds of other scientists around the world—and I work with many of them—who are very far along this pathway of understanding which leads our conventional materialist thinking way back in the rearview mirror because it’s incorrect.
The notion that the brain creates consciousness is false.
The notion that the brain creates consciousness is false. You can look at it that it serves more as a filter of consciousness, but consciousness is something much more primordial in the universe. That’s what the scientific world is finally coming to discover. That’s what my coma, due to a severe gram-negative bacterial meningoencephalitis that involved all lobes of my brain, proved to me because I experienced a much more robust, detailed, memorable, and meaningful world deep in a coma when the evidence was there, that it was heavily inactivated.
The gift was this discovery from my own experience. It simply helps to explain the millions of other experiences by showing consciousness is more primordial in the universe. It’s good news for all of us because it concerns free will and our ability to determine the course of our lives.
One analogy that comes to mind that I think is quite apt is that our brains are like the dumb terminal, and we’re connected to the supercomputer. Without the supercomputer, you can’t get any answers from that dumb terminal. If you’re connected to this computer, you can get all the answers in the universe.
The most beautiful aspect of it is that one mind, that core source of our conscious awareness, is that infinitely loving force that so many near-death experiencers have discovered. No matter their belief system, upbringing, or the mechanism of their illness, it is common to encounter a benevolent, loving force at the universe’s core: the unification of us all in that mental space. This is where I think it becomes much more powerful and understanding.
This is not some religious belief based on 2000-year-old scripture, but it’s based on the modern neuroscience of human experience. So for people who take those cases seriously and study them deeply, what we’re finding is yes, they point to a common realm. They point to a reality that we share. It’s much grander than just this small little material universe in which we think we reside. But the most beautiful aspect is how we’re all truly in this together.
When you look at near-death experiences, take them seriously.
That’s one of the deepest lessons coming from moral systems and religions going back thousands of years is this golden rule—treat others as you would like to be treated. We find that rule is written into the very fabric of the universe.
When you look at near-death experiences, take them seriously. Understand that the life review, which is probably described in at least half in the east, depending on the series and the investigator, is a beautiful example of when we go through a life review, we don’t experience it from our perspective as much as the emotional perspective of those who are affected by our actions and even our thoughts.
The life review, in many ways, shows you the fictional nature of this notion of self and separation of self. But, especially in the modern science of consciousness, you must resort to this primordial unified consciousness.
Near-death experiences agree that it is a force of love. It is a force that is with us and here to support us in our growth. The more we can live a life of love, compassion, kindness, mercy, and acceptance for ourselves and for others, the more we align with that source.
This notion of love and togetherness doesn’t have to rely just on scriptural teachings but, in fact, is deeply part of the human experience in the modern world, especially as studied by the scientific and philosophical community.
Speaking of the life review, my understanding of how that works is you’re in the person’s body, feeling their feelings, experiencing what they’re experiencing when you say that hurtful or vicious comment. If you’re in their body and in their experience, you can also see the bigger picture of their entire life. It all connects.
It’s like, “Oh, you just deeply wounded me because that also triggered something in me from my childhood.” So you’re feeling it as if it’s your childhood at that moment. Is that a correct understanding of how that works?
That’s very much aligned with how I believe it works. In other words, what we do in that life review is get this higher perspective of our life. We get it from the point of a God’s eye point of view where we see our relationships with others and, in many ways, can understand their goals and how they’re trying to move forward. And then, with that bigger view, we start to realize how we’re truly all in this together.
What we see are apparent hardships and difficulties. What we see is a conflict with others, in many ways, are the kind of hardships that, with this higher perspective, we’re able to grow, learn, and teach from. This is what enables the evolution of all of consciousness itself, this process of a deeper understanding of our relation to the oneness of the group at large. Of course, most of us are just looking at this world through the eyes of our ego.
The ego serves a purpose in a predator-prey world, where it protects the interests of a given biological entity. But to the extent that humans have evolved far beyond the predator-prey dance, I would say that this deeper understanding of how we’re here to learn and teach each other is very important.
We’re here to help each other, including not just your neighbor but your alleged enemy.
In many ways, it reminds me of what Confucius, the great Chinese philosopher, said thousands of years ago. “When you find something objectionable in another, look inside yourself,” because in many ways, I came to realize after my own NDE that someone whom I had seen before my coma was my nemesis, my enemy, someone who might be trying to prevent me from getting things in life that I thought I wanted and needed, in many ways, was the near and dear soulmate.
We seem to butt heads because we’re trying to teach each other very deep soul lessons that were difficult to appreciate from an egoic perspective. But from this larger, higher soul perspective, they fall into place, and then you start seeing how we’re evolving together.
We’re here to help each other, including not just your neighbor but your alleged enemy. The more we can rise above those petty conflicts with the ego, the more we can get rid of that toxicity of the ego. The toxicity of the ego frequently manifests in addictions, like alcoholism, drug addiction, and other addictions—addiction to work and addiction to exercise. Some people are addicted to love or sex.
The addictions drive our life, and that’s where the ego is trying to have its demands met. But never forget that the ego would rather see the host dead than see itself come to an end. That’s why addictions can be so deadly. That’s why this ability to rise above our egoic concerns certainly involves all the concerns that are revealed in addictions. We can start to truly grow into the souls we came here to be. That’s where I think this knowledge is so valuable because it helps us to gain that much higher perspective.
For somebody who hasn’t had a near-death experience, but let’s say they’ve had a plant medicine journey, which I haven’t, by the way, I’ve never done that, but I’ve done breath work and gotten “high” on just doing the Pranayama type breathing or whatever, where this is lion’s breath or whatever, and you can have an experience.
I’ve also had an experience just getting a blessing from a monk. That was how I got awakened. I was agnostic up until that point in my life. I’m 42, and I got what was called a Diksha.
When he touched my head, I had a psychedelic experience. Everything was in technicolor. I felt this deep sense of peace and connection to the Creator and to all that is. I went outside immediately, and everything was just the most brilliant, bright green. All the grass and everything was like a cartoon. It was incredible.
For somebody who hasn’t had a near-death experience, how do you relate the insights and the transformation that comes from an NDE or some revelatory experience? How do you convey that to somebody who hasn’t had that yet and doesn’t really believe they’re checked out, they’re on autopilot, or in sleepwalking mode?
The best thing to do in sharing this with interested parties is to share the literature and share the stories that are out there. Of course, I loved sharing mine and the beauty of sharing my story when I went public with a book, Proof of Heaven, back in 2012. I’d already talked about my story publicly for over two years. I’d already realized that one of the greatest benefits of that is that other people share their stories. These stories are out there in tremendous numbers, and they have tremendous similarities.
In fact, my second book, The Map of Heaven, was written to express how common these are. Instead of people thinking, ‘oh, some Harvard neurosurgeon has an exotic, unusual experience.’ No. Mine is one of the millions of similar stories that are out there.
That’s the beginning of it because many people don’t realize how common they are. Probably at least somewhere between five and 10% of the North American and European populations have experienced strong elements of a near-death experience when they’ve come close to death. That’s a huge number of people.
There’s a whole different category that even strengthens the argument. They are called ‘shared death experiences.’ If you want a resource for that, I will steer you to the work of William Peters out in Santa Barbara. You can just Google the Shared Crossing Project and get a tremendous amount of information there.
The shared death experience, I heard many of these early on when I gave my talks. I wasn’t sure what they were because these people were not near death, but they had a loved one often who was near death. It might be a thousand miles away. What would happen is when their loved one left the physical plane, their soul came along and grabbed this bystander’s soul, took it along even to the point of witnessing a full-blown life review for the departing soul before the bystander’s soul came back to the world. That’s called a shared death experience.Near-death experiences have the ability to present a panoramic view of an extraordinary spiritual realm. This is why people come back from NDEs transformed, and with no fear of death. Click To Tweet
They’re quite common. Just go to the Shared Crossing Project to learn a lot more. In fact, William Peters is teaching people how to increase the chances that they’ll have a shared crossing with their own loved ones. That’s how advanced some of these techniques are.
But the reality here is that you don’t have to have a near-death experience to come into all this knowledge. It does help to be aware of the literature and to have read some of these cases. You can go to scientific sites like the University of Virginia Division of Perceptual Studies to learn a lot more from the scientific perspective.
Excellent. Jim Tucker has done all the beautiful work at UVA on past life memories in children indicative of reincarnation. Good thing your listeners are aware of the tremendous literature that’s grown up over the last six or seven decades. Of course, UVA is not the only group. Other investigators around the world have looked into past life memories in children that basically come away, proving reincarnation happens.
I don’t know how often it happens, if it’s universal or only sporadic. But the reality is that you cannot read that literature and not know that reincarnation only occurs for humans. So it’s probably a lot more common than we surmise because there’s also this process of programmed forgetting, as I call it.
As Jim Tucker will tell you, you need to harvest those memories in most cases before age five or six because they’re naturally covered over. That’s why most of us as adults don’t have these memories of our past lives, but they can be recovered through an NDE, meditation, or through hypnotic regression. So there are many ways to get into the past life.
I prefer using meditation myself. For that, I use Sacred Acoustics. People can learn more from sacredacoustics.com. It’s basically a form of binaural brainwave entrainment, which to me as a neuroscientist, simply means you’re using sound to influence the lower brainstem, a circuit that arose more than 300 million years ago.
That’s where the real power of heavenly acoustics and other differential frequency brainwave entrainment occurs because of that very ancient circuit. That circuit has much to do with our modern notion of how consciousness can work in the brain. Even when you realize it’s not created in the brain, there are abilities of the brain to line up and serve as this transceiver that allows you to access memories and conscious awareness through this connection to that primordial mind.
For me, meditation—I know in our workshops that Karen and I give, and by the way, disclosure, Sacred Acoustics was co-founded by my life partner Karen Newell, who also was the co-author of Living in a Mindful Universe with me—is just a very powerful technique. I’ve been using it daily for an hour or two more than the last 11 years, all in an effort to return to my NDE and develop a much richer relationship with the various entities, with force, with those beautiful guides like my guardian angel.
In fact, in Living in a Mindful Universe, I discuss very specifically how using that binaural beat brainwave entrainment within about 2½ years of my coma was very effective. It connected me with my father’s soul. If I had scripted the whole thing, he would have been there. He passed over four years before my coma. He was nowhere to be seen during the coma experience itself, but I did have this beautiful guardian angel who was so obvious to me.
Those who have read Proof of Heaven will realize that four months after my coma is when I identification of that beautiful guardian angel as being related to me in a very deep fashion due to my adoption history that I was put up for adoption when I was 11 days old, that all came together to prove the reality of the journey to me.
Binaural beat brainwave entrainment within about 2½ years of my coma was very effective.
Just an extraordinary gift, but much of it can be gained through meditation, as Karen and I have shown in our meditation workshops. People often get the same benefits of an NDE as outlined, for example, in the NDE grading scale, which has 16 elements. We can often find how people can cultivate those kinds of elements in their own meditative journey. I think that’s where the real power is for people to explore deeply in their own juncture with this primordial mind, to recover these memories that can help them to more deeply define their role as a soul in this lifetime.
How many lifetimes have you gotten a view into through your meditations, past life regressions, and whatever else that you’ve tried?
As a scientist, I’m very deeply focused on the ones I can prove objectively, which is a tougher thing to do. I’ve had experiences. Many of them involve World War II as a pilot. Many involved lifetimes back, probably in the 1800s, traveling out west in wagon trains. And then I have some going back that consists in living in caves. I’m not sure how in the world to validate. You really want to know that something is more than just your imagination.
I can tell you in my meditative experience the reason for these kinds of things, and there’s another very strong series that keeps reappearing where I’m working on tall ships. I’m assuming back in the 1600s-1700s. My very distinct impression is it has to do with Western European ports, probably Portugal or Spain. But the reality is it takes a lot of work to go from these visions, even though they may be extraordinary, detailed, and realistic. How do I prove that as something I actually lived through? The important thing (I think) is to journal it, keep records of these things, and more and more gets revealed over time.
The interesting thing about meditation is that it’s not revealed in this nice linear narrative.
The interesting thing about meditation is that it’s not revealed in this nice linear narrative. That’s what we’re used to. We’re used to stories that follow a narrative form. That’s different from how the information comes in. It’s more like a patchwork quilt in multiple meditations, where I may witness some of these visions and then wonder, ‘is this part of my sole existence in prior lifetimes?’ or ‘is this my imagination, my glimpsing someone else’s soul line?’, or what have you.
That will only come with more investigation. I keep working on it and seeing where the pieces fit with my life. I would say my work along those lines is still very primitive. I don’t feel like I’ve gotten to the point where I can write it all up and proudly tell the world about my achievements of finding past life memories because, to me, they still demand a lot of research to assimilate and integrate into a meaningful fashion.
What do you think was the purpose of your being shown these past lives? Was there some epiphany, insight, or lesson that you could glean, something that you could even apply to this life, seeing those visions or getting those downloads of what happened in past lives?
It is all very important in all these details together. It’s important to point out one important thing: I did not have a life review or go through past lives that I can acknowledge as past lives in my near-death experience. Part of that has to do with one very atypical feature. In retrospect, this atypical feature was essential for me not to reject the entire thing, but that had to do with being amnesic. I had no memories of Eben Alexander’s life, and I had no language, no knowledge of this earth or humanity. It really was an empty slate.
It takes a lot of work to go from these visions, even though they may be extraordinary, detailed, and realistic.
Of course, when I first woke up from the coma, none of my neuroscientific knowledge was back. That took about two months to come back to me. My first assumption, especially after trying to share it with my doctors, who just said, “The dying brain plays all kinds of tricks,” was I just assumed it had to be a vast hallucination because it was way too real to be real, as I told my oldest son who was majoring in neuroscience when he came home from school, two days after I got out of the hospital, a day before Thanksgiving in 2008.
That was my assumption because my doctors told me none of that could have happened because you are far too gone. In fact, we have no idea how your brain created any kind of anything because your brain was too damaged. That’s the real value of my case.
A medical case report came out in September 2018 in the Journal of Nervous and Mental Diseases that went even further than I did in making the two important claims of Proof of Heaven.
One was the claim that my brain was far too damaged to have any dream or hallucination, much less the most extraordinary set of memorable detailed visions I’ve ever had, which is what happened.
The other thing is that these three physicians who wrote the case report were not involved in my care but were fascinated by my recovery.
The other point they made was that my recovery could be considered a medical miracle in many ways, that it defied the medical literature to have E. coli bacterial meningoencephalitis involving all lobes of your brain that drives you into a coma for seven days. That is not something that people recover from, especially having a full recovery, which I’ve benefited from over two months.
I think that’s a really important thing. What I came to realize is, as I said, my father was nowhere in this NDE, and he would have been if I had scripted it, and that’s a very important point. I think, in retrospect, even though this is one in a 10 million diagnosis to have E. coli meningoencephalitis in an adult and also a one in a billion recovery, in spite of those rarities, if the guardian angel had been my adoptive father, the one who was so influential in my life, I would have been slightly more tempted to reject it as that material scientist who just thinks, ‘well, you see what you want to see on the way out.’
That’s why having this very mysterious presence of this woman who appeared to me multiple times, every time I pass through that level of the spiritual realms going from the earth form eye view, this primitive ports underground where it all began, up through this brilliant portal of light into the gateway valley, which is where I experienced so much ultra-reality. And this beautiful guardian angel, sparkling blue eyes, high forehead, soft brown hair frame, and lovely face. Every time I passed through that gateway valley, her message to me was the same. “You are deeply loved and cherished forever, you have nothing to fear, and you are deeply cared for.”
I cannot tell you how reassuring and affirming that message was as it happened. There were these multiple passes up. Again, those were passes to a much deeper level. So much happens in that gateway valley. That’s where all the earth-like features are, where we reunite with souls of departed loved ones and higher souls go through life reviews, and yet there’s much more. I ascended through the portals of angelic choirs up until what I call the core realm, which was a complete oneness with that infinitely loving God for us.
In that entire journey, I came back knowing that beautiful woman on the butterfly way so clearly because she never said a word. She never had to, but her message to me was telepathically delivered and involved a tremendous amount of emotional engagement and overlap. That’s where I knew her so well. And yet, returning from my journey, I woke up in that ICU room. Initially, I didn’t even recognize my mother, my sisters, and my sons at the bedside. But over hours and days, my words, language, and memories came back.
Finally, after I’d written 20,000 words about my experience because my older son advised me to do that, I wrote it all down before I read anyone else’s near-death experience. Then, once I’d done that, I started reading the NDE literature. That’s when I was shocked at the similarities and found that that beautiful guardian angel should be someone important to you in life, and yet I did not know who she was.The notion that the brain creates consciousness is false. Instead, the brain serves as a filter of consciousness: Consciousness has existed since the dawn of time. Click To Tweet
That, of course, is the story I portray in the book Proof of Heaven, where I talk about the aftermath, waking up from a coma the next four months, and then finally getting that picture in the mail of my birth sister and going, “oh, my God, when I recognized that was that beautiful guardian angel on the butterfly way.”
That was by far the most extraordinary moment of my life, that realization that all this seemed too real to be real because it occurred. It did not happen in physical reality, but there’s a much more real and deeper reality than this one. That’s what we encounter in meditation, in psychedelic experiences. We can touch it, but an NDE is giving you a full penthouse panoramic view of that extraordinary spiritual realm. That’s why people come back from NDEs absolutely transformed with no fear of death.
You said in physical reality, and there’s this aspect of what you’re describing that’s more real than the physical reality. I’ve probably seen lots of online discussions about how this physical reality is an illusion, known as Maya or Samsara. It’s a simulation, in a sense, and the only thing that’s actually real here is love.
That, I would say, is a beautiful way of putting it. We have to remember this, which Karen and I discussed in detail in our third book, Living in a Mindful Universe, and that’s what we call “the supreme illusion.”
The supreme illusion refers to exactly what you’re talking about, and that is acknowledgment. It’s not even whether you want to believe it or not. It’s simply the scientific acknowledgment that what you’re experiencing is a heavily codified information field that seems to have some relationship to the physical world around us. Yet, when you dive deep into psychology, parapsychology, and physics, what you find is that it is not true. We don’t ever seem to be glimpsing that underlying reality.
I’d say that’s one of the deepest messages of quantum physics. Just as the founders of that field all clarified and declared, we cannot get behind consciousness as Wolfgang Pauli, Werner Heisenberg, Max Planck, Eugene Wigner, Pascual Jordan, and others. They all claimed that consciousness is fundamental and that you cannot get behind it.
These experiments and the very nature of the physical reality surrounding us prove this: in other words, there’s no perceived reality that is independent of the observing mind. That’s where we really need to grow up and recognize that deep mystery.
In other words, everything that I look at around me, this beautiful world, the clouds in the sky, the sunsets, and every bit of what I perceive around me, is actually being constructed in a mental space as a representative model. That model is Donald Hoffman out at UC Irvine is so careful to point out. That model is only there to help preserve life in a biological system. It’s not necessarily there at all to confuse you with the richer elements of all of reality that surround us.
I think that’s a very important thing to recognize. In the modern era of scientific investigation of consciousness, there’s a lot of evidence for what’s called “objective idealism.” You can also call that metaphysical idealism. You can call it analytic idealism, but it basically is this notion that there really is one consciousness, and it is something that we all share.
There’s no perceived reality that is independent of the observing mind.
The brain has a way of parceling this out and making it look like it’s just your consciousness. But in parapsychology, things like telepathy can be very readily demonstrated. If you read Guy Lyon Playfair‘s book on Twin Telepathy as an example, where he makes the case that 35% of identical twins have a very strong telepathic connection.
Of course, it’s not just identical twins who have these things. For example, in my birth family, I met my birth mother and father a year before my coma. I’d never met them before. That was an extraordinary meeting. Got to know them and got together several times over the next few months, but then we didn’t see each other for many months.
Then November 10th, 2008, when I went into a coma, I had not talked to the birth family for many months. In fact, my birth mother was getting back from a meeting, and she knew something was wrong. She just felt it. She knew it.
That connection to me was so strong, so she called up and found out I had been in the hospital since that morning, deep in a coma in an ICU bed, and might not survive the whole thing because I had a severe case of meningoencephalitis. Her knowledge of that just came out of the ether, and it was due to our connection with each other.
We need to realize that our understanding of reality is very much shaped by some of our perceptual limitations.
We need to realize that our understanding of reality is very much shaped by some of our perceptual limitations. But when you get right down into the depths of quantum physics and parapsychology, not just telepathy but things like remote viewing and psychic spy programs, which had been proven scientifically beyond any reasonable doubt, in spite of what Wikipedia would try and tell you, but of course, Wikipedia is a worthless source for this kind of information, they have no idea what they’re talking about, but the reality is that looking at these kinds of cases, taking that bigger view, we start to realize how they can be very real and can influence people’s lives and transforms lives in an extraordinarily positive fashion.
Speaking of remote viewing, I took a class on that and things like psychometry and so forth. I’ve been working really hard on my psychic abilities ever since I had my second awakening last year in January. The stuff is real.
What I’ve come to realize, and I’ve heard this before, but I really get it now. We’re all psychic. When you hear that little voice in your head say something really derisive, self-defeating, or whatever, that’s not you. You’re just receiving it like an FM receiver.
It’s important to point out, though, that there are elements of consciousness that we generally label as the subconscious and the unconscious. These can participate in many ways. Some of that can involve some of the egoic issues, say, from early childhood.
In other words, this connection to that mind has many different levels. The purest way to get to it is through meditation by acknowledging that little ego voice. The ego voice is the part that also does this dance with some of the elements of the subconscious, things that may not be in our conscious awareness at the moment but are available to us in some fashion and therefore contribute to consciousness on this side of the veil. But much of what I’m talking about here is leaving all of that behind in the meditative experience.
I often very consciously let my egoic Eben Alexander voice of stating a request or asking a question, but then it goes into a timeout. In deep meditation where I’ve learned to ride the sacred acoustics tones, where I can very readily get rid of the here and now, and I do that by revisiting early childhood memories, also going through the power of 10 meditation, where I can witness the physical world getting smaller and smaller by powers of 10 every few seconds until the entire observable universe easily fits into my mind’s eye view. These are ways of putting that little ego voice into a timeout and allowing access across the veil to that much grander aspect of consciousness that is the origin of all of our consciousness.
I would say that in the most extraordinary depths of exploration, for example, in a deep and profound near-death experience, you find that the source of that consciousness is God’s force. In fact, we come directly into oneness with that God’s force of pure love. That’s important for people to understand because I think so many people in the modern era are confused if they have spiritual awareness. They wonder if a battle between good and evil is at the universe’s core.
What you find based on the evidence from near-death experiencers across all belief systems and cultures, across all continents going back thousands of years, is that the closer you get to that source of conscious awareness, to that ultimate conscious awareness and its very origin, you find that it’s all unified. There is no friction, conflict, polarization, and all the stuff we see here in our material world, especially in our modern political system when we’re going through a paradigm shift.
Whenever humanity goes through a major paradigm shift, there’s tremendous recoil from the fundamentalists who feel threatened. That’s exactly what you see going on in the world today. This incredible recoil because these systems realize, at some deep, subconscious level, that their existence is ending because humanity is waking to a greater understanding of itself. This happens through an awakening of individuals that ultimately coalesces into this tremendous paradigm shift for humanity at large.
The next major shift will involve this acknowledgment of the primacy of mind, of that binding force of love at the very core of our conscious awareness at the source of the universe, which is a very good reason for optimism, and because of what it tells us about the deeper nature of the source of our very existence, and the more we can learn from the lessons of near-death experiencers.
As Ken Ring has written for many years—he was one of the co-founders of the International Association of Near-Death Studies (iands.org), and I highly recommend people visit that site also for information about this—about how just knowing about this NDE literature can serve as a catalyst to take the whole world to a higher level. You don’t have to have an NDE yourself. Simply reviewing the literature.
One modern development along that line is a contest that happened last year. Robert Bigelow, an Aerospace Engineering in Las Vegas, put up a few million dollars in prize money. His question was, “What is the best available evidence for the Survival of Human Consciousness after Permanent Bodily Death?”
He received more than 1000 applications to participate in the contest that demanded that you show at least five years of experience as a researcher in the field of afterlife studies. Then they had 204 papers, I believe.
Originally, they were going to give out three winning essay awards. They gave out 29, and that’s because the quality of the essays was so extraordinary. The overall package was so complete coming at it from all these different directions.
The good news is that all of your audience can read all those winning essays right now for free. Go to bigelowinstitute.org. Start with Jeffrey Mishlove’s first-place essay. You will never doubt the reality of the afterlife again. If you insist on a purely conventional scientific essay, read Bernardo Kastrup’s excellent submission.
All 29 of these essays are powerhouses. But they show you that we move beyond the point where you have a scientific discussion of whether or not the afterlife is true because these essays make it crystal clear. But, of course, it’s real. Now we move on to the next question of understanding how it all works. And then, as individuals, how do we take this knowledge and put it to work for us in living these lives?
Fully utilize your ability to live your soul’s journey in this lifetime.
I cannot imagine anything worse than getting to the end of my physical life as a hardcore materialist and having these visions where I’m certain of my loved ones coming to visit me and realize I wasted my whole life with a totally false belief system. So why not wake up now, people? Learn how this works and fully utilize your ability to live your soul’s journey in this lifetime.
I’m curious to hear your experiences in ultra-reality and whether you can bring that about by request, on command, or if it just seemed to be out of the blue. Ultra-reality would be more surreal. It’s beyond real, but is it a vision? Is it in a dream? Is it a still image, or is there a movie going on? I’m curious to hear the details.
Amazingly, you completely lift up outside of linear time from an earth perspective. To explain all this, you have to invoke what I call deeptime or meta time. This is just a temporal organization, for example, that allows you to witness all the events of your life simultaneously. That’s the temporal reorganization I’m talking about.
Bernard Carr is a physicist in England who’s done beautiful work on hyperdimensional interpretations of consciousness in the modern era. He has multiple time-like dimensions that can be embedded within each other. That’s where physics is rising to the occasion here.
But really, it has to do with this knowledge that we have access to a reality where we can take a helicopter view of our lives and humanity. We can assume that a much grander view that sees things across expanses of earth time, but it also acknowledges that we have abilities to discern information at higher levels and, therefore, can assimilate and integrate various connections that go far beyond what we would think of if we’re limited to thinking of the time and the causal relationships in our sense of earth time.
The first part of the package is realizing that you’re no longer slave to this linear narrative in time that we’re so used to hearing, and that’s one of the reasons why these things are so difficult to explain to people. You often hear that they are ineffable, which means you cannot put it into words because our language is very good for describing a trip to Disney World, but it certainly is not adequate for describing these kinds of journeys.
I felt okay with the words that finally hit the page on Proof of Heaven. I had to rewrite much of that many, many times to try and get it as close to what I felt was real as possible because words were not active when I was living through it. I had to apply all the words later when writing them down.
I’d say your question brings up another interesting point, which has to do with parallels between psychedelic substances and plant medicines. I know. For example, Sam Harris accused me of just having an obvious DMT experience (Dimethyltryptamine). That’s the active principle in Ayahuasca. So he thought, because the language was similar, that, of course, they’d be similar events.
I’ve actually taken 5-methoxy DMT in an effort to compare the two. What I can tell you is that the plant medicine or the psychedelic substance, and that’s one of the most powerful known, basically can give you a tiny little glimpse through a keyhole that doesn’t even really seem to be related to one’s personal journey, at least from my experience of it. But yes, it gives a glimpse into that spiritual realm. The important thing to recognize is that I think those plant medicines create too much of a splash, and therefore I highly recommend meditation.
Meditation is far more efficient and, in the long-term, effective way, and also has fewer side effects than trying to use those plant medicines. We must be doing scientific research in plant medicines. For example, several papers over the last ten years of looking at LSD, psilocybin, magic mushrooms, DMT (Dimethyltryptamine) that’s part of Ayahuasca, et cetera, those papers have shown that fuse functional MRI and magnetoencephalography to look at the brain, you find the brain under the influence of those substances goes dark.The more we can rise above our petty conflicts with the ego, the more we can get rid of the toxicity in our minds. Click To Tweet
The default mode network and other major networks that correlate us with a sense of presence and being dissipated disappear. In fact, no neural network in the brain at all increases activity with those substances around. It all goes dark.
When I read the first of those papers back in 2012, it fascinated me because it explained for the first time how meningitis taking out my entire neocortex could enable such a robust enhancement of my experience of conscious awareness in such a profound, memorable, detailed, and meaningful form as what I witnessed. In other words, those substances are not creating that environment. Instead, they’re liberating the brain for that to happen.
I would argue that by using something like binaural beats, you can go to a much deeper level of consciousness in the nervous system and get at it in the lower brainstem. That’s where the real power of something like sacred acoustics comes from.
I would say I get far more from meditation using sacred acoustics than I got from any of that experience with 5-methoxy DMT. I do not recommend people use those substances lightly for this kind of investigation. I strongly encourage meditation and feel that’s a much better way to get there.
In fact, Christopher Bache, in his book, Dark Night, Early Dawn, makes a head-to-head comparison in chapter five between his use of high-dose LSD for spiritual work versus Robert Monroe’s work with brainwave entrainment to explore psychic realms. In his book, he gives a very favorable grade to Robert Monroe’s work using sound alone, not psychedelics.
The meditation aspect is critically important. There’s one thing that I just recently learned from an interview with another guest. It’s really profound. I don’t know if you’ve heard this before, but it was in an interview with Sam The Illusionist. Actually, no, I got this from the video of him channeling before I interviewed him. I was watching some of his channeling videos. He is popular on YouTube.
This is awesome. The beings that channeled through him explained that the present moment is not actually when you’re receiving information from your five senses. That is in the past. A word that was given to me because I received information from above, too, and the word was “echo.” This supposedly present moment that we’re experiencing right now with seeing you on the screen. I’m listening to your words, but that’s not the present moment. That happened in the past.
All of this is in the past. The way to get into the present moment is to meditate. You close your eyes, shut off all of the five senses as much as possible, and go inward. That’s where the present moment is available to you. I just thought that was so powerful and profound, and I just loved that. I don’t know if you’ve heard that before.
I haven’t, but it makes a tremendous amount of sense. I agree that meditation gives you that access to the present moment. But in very deep meditation, people can even gain access to future moments. It starts to defy our general notions of causality.
Of course, at that point in the discussion, some people will get very confused and say, ‘wait a minute, does that mean it’s all predetermined?’ I would say, no, it’s not predetermined at all. I do believe that, in many ways, our soul groups and higher soul do plan out certain mileposts for this incarnation. I would say that often those mileposts are hardships and difficulties. They’re challenges because that’s the stuff that helps us grow, evolve, and become much more than we were before.
I would say in deep meditation, you have access. Precognition, that is, knowing things at least seconds in the future, has been demonstrated scientifically in powerful ways. Just look at the work of Dean Radin at the Institute of Noetic Sciences to learn more about precognition, presentiment, where your autonomic nervous system actually predicts something’s going to happen a few seconds in the future.
Much of that has been determined through experiments using a random number generator and a computer that selects images. The images can be horrific, neutral, or very soothing, but as Dean Radin and Daryl Bem showed in psychology, you can know the future at least seconds before it happens.
Of course, I’ve heard other stories where people actually had a precog of a vision that didn’t come to fruition for months or years. I think the jury is out on how much this kind of precognition works, how much is predetermined versus how much is due to free will.
Free will is an essential and crucial part of the puzzle. Looking back on human history and human destiny, I believe there’s no way to assume that every bit of that was just due to the random motions of electrons, protons, quarks, atoms, molecules, cells in the brain, et cetera, leading to this emergent reality. That’s what a lot of materialists scientists would try and claim. They’ll try to tell you there’s no free will. It’s all just chemical reactions and electron fluxes in the brain. Pay it no mind, they would tell you.
That is the opposite of what I would say as the deep truth emerging from the world of NDE studies, parapsychology, writ large with all the evidence of non-local consciousness and all this tremendous evidence of soul journeys that we find in near-death and shared death experiences. Not just that, but for example, the recent work of Christopher Kerr. He’s involved in Hospice Buffalo, who wrote a beautiful book called Death is But a Dream.
His material was only people dying, that in hospice. He cared not a whit about near-death experiences. But what you find is what people go through as they approach death in a hospice setting is identical to what they go through near-death and shared death experiences. So there’s tremendous overlap because they all show us a deeper part of reality.
In Kerr’s work, of all the patients he reports in that book, 86% of his hospice patients had such an experience connecting with the souls of departed loved ones, this extraordinary vision of the soul living beyond the death of the brain and body. And of that 86%, 99% said it was absolutely real, more real than real. Those studies have been done in NDEs.
I know Bruce Greyson did a lot of work in that, also a group in Italy, where they looked at the quality of NDE memories and made it very clear that NDE memories are far more resilient and stable than just about all the memories from life, including memories from traumatic events like a car crash or a plane crash.
It’s extraordinary how these NDE memories are so solid and resilient over time and also transform people’s lives. The sooner we can get over this silly little myth that they’re just a hallucination because materialist science which cannot even begin to explain consciousness, certainly has no clue how to explain these extraordinary events.When we deeply explore our ancient minds, we can experience a powerful recovery of memories to define the role of our soul’s in the journey of life. Click To Tweet
The sooner we get over that myth of bogus thinking of the bleak and paltry fiction of materialist thought, the sooner this world can start to grow up and mature into a much more sophisticated form of understanding of this primacy of mind, of our connection through the binding force of love, and the power that we have to heal ourselves and others.
Modern medicine has used the placebo effect for over six decades as a gold standard for looking at any new treatment modality. The placebo effect is nothing more than an admission by medical science that your beliefs, thoughts, and attitudes can play a tremendous role in any healing that you might experience.
Now, especially with the Institute of Noetic Sciences’ work on spontaneous remissions and then, of course, with extraordinary miraculous healing as you find near-death experiences like in my case, Anita Moorjani’s lymphoma that she healed through an NDE or Mary C. Neil, who had an over 30-minute warm water drowning while kayaking in Chile in the late 1990s, but she recovered completely because she had an NDE.
In fact, when the peer reviewers challenged those three doctors who wrote the medical case report on my medical records, they said, “How do you explain this? These kinds of patients don’t recover fully. How do you explain it?” They said, “Well, it’s because of the near-death experience.” That was enough for the peer reviewers to say, “Okay, now we have an explanation and move on.”
All of us need to study these spiritual elements because that’s where the healing comes from.
That’s why all of us need to study these spiritual elements because that’s where the healing comes from, a deeper sense of connection, of love, of belonging, knowing that that force of love can help care for us and bring our lives into fuller completeness. That’s all that healing is, is becoming more whole. That’s where I think this knowledge and discussion can be a true gift to all of us.
Beautiful. If there’s one resource that you would like to leave our listener or viewer with that you haven’t already mentioned, something that could change the course of their lives, what would it be?
I mentioned most of the ones that I love, but certainly noetic.org. The Institute of Noetic Sciences website is a very important site. Dean Radin’s work is there. It’s absolutely fascinating. Of course, remember uvadops.org, the University of Virginia Division of Perceptual Studies. These scientific resources will lead this world forward.
Living in Mindful Universe, our third book consolidates a lot of this information and has a very extensive bibliography. Of course, people can always go to ebenalexander.com to learn more on my FAQ page, the blog page, and the reading resources page, which has hot links to many scientific papers on these topics. Of course, sacredacoustics.com is for those who want to get into meditation.
I think with those sites, you’re well on your way. Never forget bigelowinstitute.org to learn the reality of NDEs in the modern scientific setting. I think with that, and your listeners have plenty of resources to jumpstart their lives and really come into a higher notion of self, soul, and soul journey.
Amazing. Thank you so much, Eben. And thank you, listener. Go out there and reveal some light in the world. We’ll catch you in the next episode. I’m your host, Stephan Spencer, signing off.
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Dark Night, Early Dawn
Death is But a Dream
Living in a Mindful Universe
Journal of Nervous and Mental Diseases
Proof of Heaven
The Map of Heaven
Jim Tucker– previous episode
Sam The Illusionist– previous episode
Dr. Kenneth Ring
Mary C. Neil
Guy Lyon Playfair
Sam The Illusionist
International Association of Near-Death Studies
Institute of Noetic Sciences
NDE grading scale
Shared Crossing Project
University of Virginia Division of Perceptual Studies
Beyond the Brain
Sam The Illusionist – Youtube
What is the best available evidence for the Survival of Human
Consciousness after Permanent Bodily Death?
Checklist of Actionable Takeaways
Seek answers to discover how the world works. The more aware I become, the more I understand my connection with others — we all share similar life experiences. This understanding is excellent for developing empathy.
Discern which thoughts are empowering or debilitating my mind and spirit. My thoughts reflect who I am, how I view the world, and how my body reacts. “It’s all in the mind.”
Aim to live a life full of love, compassion, kindness, mercy, and acceptance of self and others. Life is short. Instead of collecting worldly possessions, collect memories and worthwhile friendships.
Regularly evaluate my life. It’s refreshing and humbling to reflect on my growth. So much can happen in a year when I determine what I should stop or keep doing.
Protect my peace and don’t insert myself into petty conflicts. Rise above the toxicity of the ego. Remember, the ego would rather see its host dead than see it thrive.
Don’t hesitate to share my truth. Sharing my experiences is an excellent way to connect with my tribe. Sometimes these stories may be a guiding light or blessing for those in need.
Meditate and spend more time in solitude. Eben recommends Sacred Acoustics, a form of binaural brainwave entrainment, which uses sound to influence the lower brainstem — a circuit that arose more than 300 million years ago.
Journal every day. A written record of my memories may seem like nothing during the process, but future me or my future kin may greatly appreciate my writings.
Check out the Bigelow Institute for Consciousness Studies’ website and the International Association of Near-Death Studies’ website for more information about NDEs, consciousness, and more. Also, don’t miss Jeffrey Mishlove’s winning essay, Beyond the Brain: The Survival of Human Consciousness After Permanent Bodily Death.
Learn more about Eben Alexander’s craft by going to his website. Also, grab a copy of Eben’s books, Living In A Mindful Universe, The Map Of Heaven, Seeking Heaven, and Proof Of Heaven.
About Guest Dr. Eben Alexander
Eben Alexander, MD, was an academic neurosurgeon for over 25 years, including 15 years at the Brigham & Women’s Hospital, Children’s Hospital, and Harvard Medical School in Boston. He experienced a transcendental Near-Death Experience (NDE) during a week-long coma from an inexplicable brain infection that completely transformed his worldview. A pioneering scientist and modern thought leader in the emerging science that acknowledges the primacy of consciousness in the universe, he is the author of the New York Times #1 bestseller Proof of Heaven, The Map of Heaven and Living in a Mindful Universe.
Disclaimer: The medical, fitness, psychological, mindset, lifestyle, and nutritional information provided on this website and through any materials, downloads, videos, webinars, podcasts, or emails is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical/fitness/nutritional advice, diagnoses, or treatment. Always seek the help of your physician, psychologist, psychiatrist, therapist, certified trainer, or dietitian with any questions regarding starting any new programs or treatments, or stopping any current programs or treatments. This website is for information purposes only, and the creators and editors, including Stephan Spencer, accept no liability for any injury or illness arising out of the use of the material contained herein, and make no warranty, express or implied, with respect to the contents of this website and affiliated materials.
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