This is Dr Eben Alexanders third book dealing with the topic of life after death.
His first one is titled: “Proof of Heaven” (2012) and was followed by “The Map of Heaven” (2014).
I had not seen any particularly good reviews on his first two books and did not read them.
As my views on the NDE phenomenon are changing somewhat, and as I am deep digging into this whole topic of consciousness right now, I thought I would give Dr Alexander the benefit of a little open-minded doubt.
I found the first part of the book quite engaging and interesting as Dr A revisited his own near-death experience whilst under a medically induced coma and being treated for bacterial meningitis.
This part of the story was covered at length in his first two books.
There are two ways to be fooled. One is to believe what isn’t true; the other is to refuse to believe what is true.Soren Kierkgaard. Danish Philosopher.
He then goes on to explore some of the latest research into consciousness and the possibility that it might be non-localised, rather than simply a product of neurophysiology within the brain. This is something I find increasingly appealing and will be discussing more in future posts.
Anyway, Dr A looks at the topic of consciousness through various lenses including quantum physics, philosophy, meditation, and psychedelic experience. He also discusses non-local consciousness as providing support for other anomalous phenomena including the power of prayer, remote viewing, and out of body experiences.
So far so good.
But then things started getting commodified.
Dr A begins to look at the use of binaural beats (a specific type of sound/music) to produce altered states of consciousness.
Turns out two friends of his, Karen (the co-author of the book) and Kevin (a musician) set up a company, Sacred Acoustics that produces binaural music tracks using:
“NeuralHelix™, a groundbreaking acoustic entrainment technology that blends both binaural and monaural tones in perfect synchronicity, that I believe far surpasses all other entrainment technologies in both it power and it’s intricate weaving of soundscapes to calm the mind and free the spirit.” — Kevin Kossi
From that point forwards the book smelled (to me at least) like one big infomercial for Sacred Acoustics, with frequent product placement and praise amongst Dr A’s stories of personal transformation.
Maybe, Dr A did indeed experience a Near Death Experience. We can only take him at his word.
He definitely raises some interesting possibilities around the potential for non-local states of consciousness in the early part of his book.
But for me, this was totally obfuscated by the commodification of the whole experience with the Sacred Acoustics spruiking ( And I note that Dr A is now a part of this company, a fact I dont think he mentions and probably should…on the cover).
I struggled to get to keep any semblance of a non-judgemental open mind through the final chapters.
Two stars. If you want to read it I have a spare copy Im using as a coaster for my oil burner.
PS: After completing this book I found out that there is more than a little controversy surrounding Dr A.
You can check out this cutting essay on the legitimacy of Dr A, including a 3 million dollar lawsuit that was filed for malpractice against him here.