What heaven’s really like – by a leading brain surgeon who says he’s been there
Dr Eben’s Alexander’s ‘heaven’ was filled with music, animals, trees, and colours and was extremely vivid
For seven days, as I lay in that unresponsive coma, my consciousness went on a voyage through a series of realms, each one more extraordinary than the last — a journey beyond the physical world and one that, until then, I would certainly have dismissed as impossible.
For thousands of years, ordinary people as well as shamans and mystics have described brief, wonderful glimpses of ethereal realms. I’m not the first person to have discovered that consciousness exists beyond the body.
What is unique in my case is that I am, as far as scientific records show, the only person to have travelled to this heavenly dimension with the cortex in complete shut-down, while under minute observation throughout.
There are medical records for every minute of my coma, and none of them show any indication of brain activity. In other words, as far as neuroscience can say, my journey was not something happening inside my head.
Plenty of scientists have a lot of difficulty with this statement. My experience undermines their whole belief system. But the one place I have found ready acceptance is in church, where my story often tallies with people’s expectations.
Even the deep notes of the church organ and the glorious colours of the stained glass seem to echo faintly the sights and sounds of Heaven.
Here, then, is what I experienced: my map of Heaven.
After the blinding headache, when I had slipped into the coma, I gradually became aware of being in a primitive, primordial state that felt like being buried in earth.
It was, however, not ordinary earth, for all around me I sensed, and sometimes heard and saw, other entities.
It was partly horrific, partly comforting and familiar: I felt like I had always been part of this primal murk.
I am often asked, ‘Was this hell?’ but I don’t think it was — I would expect hell to be at least a little bit interactive, and this was a completely passive experience.
I had forgotten what it was even to be human, but one important part of my personality was still hard at work: I had a sense of curiosity. I would ask, ‘Who? What? Where?’ and there was never a flicker of response.
After an expanse of time had passed, though I can’t begin to guess how long, a light came slowly down from above, throwing off marvellous filaments of living silver and golden effulgence.
It was a circular entity, emitting a beautiful, heavenly music that I called the Spinning Melody. The light opened up like a rip in the fabric of that coarse realm, and I felt myself going through the rip, up into a valley full of lush and fertile greenery, where waterfalls flowed into crystal pools.
There were clouds, like marshmallow puffs of pink and white. Behind them, the sky was a rich blue-black.
This world was not vague. It was deeply, piercingly alive, and as vivid as the aroma of fried chicken, as dazzling as the glint of sunlight off the metalwork of a car, and as startling as the impact of first love.
I know perfectly well how crazy my account sounds, and I sympathise with those who cannot accept it. Like a lot of things in life, it sounds pretty far-fetched till you experience it yourself.”