Philippine Daily Inquirer

AN INCREDIBLE JOURNEY INTO THE AFTERLIFE

- JAIME LICAUCO

had no memory of who he was. And that proved to be a blessing, because it enabled him to concentrat­e on what was taking place before him. All questions about life and death were answered, not verbally, but by direct mind-to-mind communicat­ion. And he was never the same person again. The spirit became more real to him than the physical world.

When I first saw the book, “Proof of Heaven,” I ignored it, thinking it must have been written by a Christian evangelist or a Catholic priest. And what could a priest say about heaven which I have not heard before, since I grew up in a Catholic school?

But the subtitle caught my attention—“A Neurosurge­on’s Journey into the Afterlife.”

It wasn’t a religious book. I checked the table of contents and got hooked.

The book is about the incredible near-death experience (NDE) of Dr. Eben Alexander, an American neurosurge­on and faculty member of Harvard Medical School.

It happened 10 years ago in November 2008, when he woke up with a severe headache. He was rushed to the hospital where he worked. He had the deadly E. coli bacteria infection in his brain (bacterial meningitis).

By the end of the week, his survival rate was down to 2 percent. With severe damage to his neocortex, he was in a coma for six days. Although his brain was no longer functionin­g, he was not declared brain-dead.

While in a coma, Dr. Alexander went into another world, which he called the Core, where he saw joyful people dancing and praying for him, a place where he felt loved and welcomed. He has no memory at all who he was while there. He did not see any tunnel of light, nor a being of light who greeted him. But he was conscious of the presence of a beautiful girl with blue eyes, brown hair and high cheekbones, a girl he had never met. She never uttered a single word but accompanie­d him throughout his stay at the Core.

Dr. Alexander’s NDE was unlike those investigat­ed and described by Dr. Raymond Moody (who coined the word NDE) in his book “Life After Life.” In the typical NDE, the person is declared dead and sees himself being revived by the doctors. Then he gets attracted to a light at the end of a tunnel. He proceeds toward the light, at the end of which he meets a benevolent being (identified as Jesus Christ, if the person is Christian) or some holy person.

A changed person

This being shows him the life he has led on earth and the people he has encountere­d. He is then told he has to go back, for it is not yet his time. He is reluctant to go, but he finds himself going back through the tunnel and suddenly wakes up in the hospital a changed person, compelled to tell his remarkable story to everybody.

Dr. Alexander experience­d nothing of this sort. He was not even declared brain-dead, but he was. He was in a coma, but he was very much alive in that other world he called the Core.

“I was in a place of clouds. Higher than the clouds, (there were) flocks of transparen­t orbs, shimmering arched across the sky.

“Birds? Angels? But neither of these words do justice to the beings themselves, which were quite simply different from anything I have known on this planet. They were more advanced. Higher.

“Seeing and hearing was not separate in this place where I was. I could hear the visual beauty of the silvery bodies of these scintillat­ing beings above, and I could see the surging, joyful perfection of what they sang. It seemed that you could not look at or listen to any part of it without joining it in some mysterious way. Everything was distinct, yet everything was also a part of everything else.

“‘Where is this place? Who am I? Why am I here?’ Every time I silently posed one of these questions, the answers came instantly in an explosion of light, color, love and beauty that blew through me like a crashing wave. They didn’t simply silence my questions by overwhelmi­ng them. They answered them, but in a way that by-passed language.”

The beautiful girl who accompanie­d him throughout his stay in The Core never said a word. But he got the message she conveyed to him: “You are loved and cherished. You have nothing to fear. There is nothing you can do wrong.”

These reassuring words healed him emotionall­y, psychologi­cally and spirituall­y. On his way back at the edge of the gateway from the Core, the gate closed. That’s when he opened his eyes in the hospital bed after six days in a coma, which doctors said he could never recover from.

While in the Core, he beings

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