When a Harvard neurosurgeon says “heaven is real” it makes the cover of Newsweek (October 15, 2012). Dr. Eben Alexander is a physician, neuroscientist, and a faithful (if not practicing) Christian (in belief if not practice), Dr. Alexander was in a deep coma for a week from a fulminating bacterial meningitis. He was completely unresponsive, but in spite of the fact that his higher cortical functions were nonexistent, his unconscious mind was alive and well.

Dr Alexander describes in poetic detail the wonder of scintillating beings (maybe birds or angels) who were singing in joyful chorus and transmitting messages to him. They told him that he had nothing to fear; there was nothing he was supposed to do, and that he was unconditionally loved. His near death experience opened him to the realization that there was a consciousness after death, and that heaven was real.

Dr. Alexander is not the first one who has described such phenomena in near-death experiences, and they all talk about such a light, peace and beauty. Shaman, priests, philosophers, and mystics over the ages, have told us that there is a consciousness beyond the body. But if you are a Harvard neuroscientist and you get a personal glimpse of the Great Spirit/Celestial Angels/God, and talk about it, it gets wide circulation. .Dr. Alexander wants to spend the rest of his life investigating his certainty that we are much more than our physical brains.

The first time Dr. Alexander went back to church after the coma he saw in the stained-glass windows for luminous beauty of the landscape each scene in the world above. He heard the organ music flow through him and in a painting of Jesus breaking bread, it evoked the message that was the heart of his journey…”we are loved and accepted unconditionally by a God to even more grand and unfathomably glorious than the one I’d learned as a child in Sunday school”.

The way I see it, this has nothing to do with God; Atheists can also see and hear the prophetic because our brains are hard wired for mystical experience, it doesn’t matter how you get into that altered state of consciousness (chanting, drumming, drugs, dancing, meditation) those are all the mechanisms through which the spirit speaks to us.

Jesus, Einstein, and aboriginal shaman, all speak the same language; there is something out there that explains the harmony of the universe. It doesn’t matter what you call it, and you don’t have to experience near death to see it. If you exercise your mind to look beyond your ordinary reality you can catch a glimpse of that peace, harmony and universal love. When that happens we all become instruments through which the divine speaks.