Recently I attended a symposium at the Open Center called A Journey to Heaven and Back and had the opportunity to be in the same room and hear the stories of two remarkable people. Dr. Eben Alexander, a neurosurgeon who for 20 years was faithful to what he calls the religion of scientific materialism, tells the story of his weeklong deep coma and his “ride on the wing of a butterfly through sound filled realms of verdant hills, bright colors and lush waters, accompanied by a beautiful girl.” (There is always a beautiful girl!).
Anita Moorjani, an international fashion executive, who’d been suffering from terminal cancer for four years when she fell into a coma and was taken to the hospital. As her organs were shutting down, she found herself floating above her body and experiencing the most beautiful feeling of peace and acceptance she had ever felt her whole life. She met her father and best friend in this other realm, which she says, “is one of interconnectedness, one in which we are loved unconditionally and one in which there is no fear.”
When Dr. Alexander and Anita Moorjani emerged from their comas, they were healed completely and changed in a profound way. In Dr. Alexander’s case, there was no sign of brain damage and in Anita Moorjani’s case the cancer was gone. There is medical proof of this, in case you are wondering.
Both experienced something beyond this material world, beyond anything that can be truly explained in words. Dr. Alexander says that we are all under the illusion of the “reality of reality,” the experience of a human life. We utilize our senses because they are all we have to make sense of the material world, but there is something more. And that more is our consciousness, the part of us that fills in the blanks explaining the illusion of this human existence. He says, “we are all eternal spiritual beings connected with all life.”
Dr. Alexander believes that his experience, and Anita’s as well, did not happen in their brains but rather in their consciousness; the part of us that is left when the brain and body die. This he said is the higher soul or the divine. There is something more, a deeper causality of existence.
This state of consciousness is one in which there is no fear, only joy, unconditional love and acceptance. This state is not reserved for those who have had a near death experience. Dr. Alexander said that this knowledge is accessible though deep states of meditation.
Wow. I just sat there thinking to myself, “I wonder if these people have read the Yoga Sutras?!” I have been studying, practicing and teaching the Sutras for years now and all of the words that Dr. Alexander use to describe our higher selves, higher states of consciousness, the divine, are exactly the same as the ones that the yogis used 2,600 years ago.
The Sutras say that we abide in our true nature when we no longer identify with our thoughts. They say that it is our belief that we are what see in the material world, the illusion of the seen that causes avidya, that we are without knowledge of the spiritual truth. When we know that pure consciousness exists on its own and is the source of all knowledge, we have attained kaivalyam, freedom.
I walked out of the room that day deeply convinced that the yogis, seers, saints, sages, and rishis of yore, all had a near death experience, or to say it differently, an experience of something beyond our worldly existence. One that is beautiful, profound, and perhaps not as mysterious as we think.
We are living in an age in which we are on the verge of a global spiritual awakening. Dr. Alexander and Anita Moorjani experienced this other realm and are today’s teachers. They are here to remind us that we too can let go of whatever binds us in this worldly existence and experience pure love, our pure selves, healing ourselves and ultimately, healing the world.
–Lisa Dawn Angerame
–Lisa Dawn Angerame