My guest this week is Dr. Eben Alexander, a neurosurgeon who had a near-death experience (NDE) about a decade ago. You may be familiar with Eben’s story from his New York Times number one bestselling book, Proof of Heaven.
I found this to be a surprising and thought-provoking discussion about some rather controversial ideas—for example, that memories aren’t actually stored in the brain! We discuss his most recent book, Living in a Mindful Universe, which grew from his NDE. Ideas we explored together included:
- The illness and coma that led up to Eben’s NDE, and the main elements of it
- The shock of having an NDE after believing in a strictly material view of the universe
- The relation between formalized religion and the divine presence Eben experienced in his NDE
- How science undermined Eben’s sense of spirituality
- The connection between scientific materialism and the denial of free will
- The importance of quantum physics for the mind-brain question and the study of consciousness
- The possibility that our brains limit consciousness rather than create it
- The durability of NDE experiences
- Cultivating a deeper relationship with consciousness through meditation
- The shocking proposal that human memories are not stored in the brain
- The relation between reincarnation and theories of human memory storage
- Other forms of nonlocal consciousness
- The proposition that consciousness is fundamental to existence, and inexplicable in purely materialist terms
- How common NDEs are, yet how rarely they’re talked about
- Death as liberation of consciousness, rather than a diminution
- Comparisons among different ways of altering consciousness (meditation, binaural beats, psychedelic drugs)
- The role of personal experience in shaping our views about consciousness and the afterlife
Eben discussed the role of binaural beats in fostering certain wave patterns in the brain and their associated modes of consciousness. Here are links to some of the key people in the history of binaural beats: Heinrich Wilhelm Dove; Robert Monroe. If you’re interested in trying a free binaural beats recording, visit Sacred Acoustics.
The statistician who led the review of remote viewing was Jessica Utts.
Eben suggested that interested listeners check out the University of Virginia School of Medicine’s Division of Perceptual Studies. From the website: “The DOPS is exclusively devoted to the investigation of phenomena that challenge mainstream scientific paradigms regarding the nature of the mind/brain relationship. The researchers at DOPS are particularly interested in studying phenomena related to consciousness clearly functioning beyond the confines of the physical body, as well as phenomena that are directly suggestive of post-mortem survival of consciousness.”
Here are links to Eben’s three books (affiliate links):
- Proof of Heaven (New York Times #1 bestseller)
- The Map of Heaven
- Living in a Mindful Universe (co-written with Karen Newell)
Eben Alexander, MD, completed his medical degree at Duke University, and went on to perform over 4000 neurosurgical operations. He 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 has a passionate interest in physics and cosmology, which you can tell from our discussion.
Eben has been a guest on Dr. Oz, Oprah, and many other media programs. He encourages people to be inspired by the power of unconditional love in their daily lives, in their work, and in their communities.