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Visions, Trips, and Crowded Rooms – Book Review

Author: David Kessler
Publisher: Hay House, Inc.
Copyright: 2010, ISBN 1401925437
Cover: Nick C. Welch
Reviewed by: Lynard Barnes, June 5, 2017



Summary: Anecdotal stories of people revolving around the death of loved ones. Territory covered before but very well organized with a thoughtful Afterword.

Coming into a state of spiritual awareness can happen as a result of an instantaneous revelation or the slow accumulation of experience. Most arrive at a belief in something higher than themselves through life experiences. Experiences like those described in VISIONS, TRIPS, AND CROWDED ROOMS are part of life experiences that many people undergo.

Only those with little experience and committed to the philosophy of science can conceive of a world without unknowns. In VISIONS, TRIPS, AND CROWDED ROOMS, David Kessler (along with co-authors) presents a few death bed experiences for which there is no scientific explanation. There is nothing particularly new in these episodes. The cumulative effect however is enlightening.

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The Anunnaki of Nibiru –Book Review

The Anunnaki of Nibiru TGBLOGGER REVIEW

The Anunnaki of Nibiru TGBLOGGER REVIEW

Author: Gerald Clark, MSEE PSI

Publisher: Gerald Clark

Copyright: 2013, ISBN: 1491211229

Reviewed by: Lynard Barnes

Summary: According to THE ANUNNAKI OF NIBIRU, Zecharia Sitchin’s Anunnakis are implementing the New Word Order right before our eyes and we do not see it. Did we mention that the aliens who gave birth to human civilization are manipulating world events to create a New World Order. Did we mention this book is about the Anunnaki of planet Nibiru instituting a New World Order with a lot of speculative science tossed in? Please do not ask what took them so long? That would be another book.

In this book, sandwiched between Zecharia Sitchin’s history of the Anunnaki and the threat posed by an approaching New World Order directed by the Aunnaki is some surprisingly informative speculation on human consciousness. It is getting through the first part of this book that is tough. You could definitely skip the last part and not miss anything of informative value.

Having read all his works, even for those of us intrigued by the revisionist history of Zecharia Sitchin the condensation of Sitchin’s material in THE ANUNNAKI OF NIBIRU amounts to a cut-and-paste-at-will job minus the passion of attention to detail. In short, this book adds nothing to Stichin’s original exposition of Sumer history and the Anunnaki.

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Heaven is for Real – Book Comment

HavenisforReaAuthor: Todd Burpo with Lynn Vincent

Publisher: W. Publishing Group, Thomas Nelson

Copyright: 2010, ISBN: [404175426] HIFR Ministries, Inc.

Cover: Thomas Nelson (copyright 2014)

Reviewed by: Lynard Barnes, August 4, 2014

Summary: Christian religious literature. Pastor Todd Burpo finds confirmation of his religious views after his son recovers from an operation.

HEAVEN IS FOR REAL is not about a near death experience. The book is about the miraculous recovery of Todd’s four-year-old son, Colton Burpo. Colton recovered from a ruptured appendix (appendicitis). Shortly after his recovery, Colton tells his parents that he went to heaven during the time he was on the operating table.

While the implications are that young Colton died while on the operating table there is nothing presented in the book that irrevocably supports such an event as fact. More to the point—the same point made in other reviews of near-death-experience (NDE) reports in this journal—Colton’s near-death-experience is most likely real to him, but it does not come close to being what a near-death experience is typically represented to be.

To be fair to the four-year-old Colton, Colton’s experience is reported by his father, Todd. Todd is a Christian pastor. The experiences reported by Colton, as told by his father, confirms the traditional, biblical narrative of Christian theology. Completely.

The only reason a comment is being made here about HEAVEN IS FOR REAL is an incident Todd relates that occurs early in the book. In his house one day, Todd Burpo is talking with his wife Sonja about a funeral service Todd is to conduct. It is the funeral of a man who was not a member of Todd’s congregation. Colton overhears the conversation about the upcoming funeral and interrupts to ask what a funeral is. After Todd explains that a funeral occurs when someone dies, Colton then asks, “Did the man have Jesus in his heart?”

An amazing question from a four year old. A question signifying a greater appreciation of the human experience than one would expect from even most adults. It is a question that logically—and even philosophically—can have only one of three possible answers:

“I don’t know what was in his heart. It is none of my business.”


“I don’t know what was in his heart. It is something between him and (his) God.”


“I don’t know what was in his heart. I know what is in my heart and my heart and faith tells me that I should say a service for this man.”

Todd Burpo reportedly answers his son’s question by saying, “I’ve talked to some of the family members, and they told me he did.”

This little incident reported in HEAVEN IS FOR REAL encapsulates everything many find so discomforting, and self-serving about organized religion. While Todd’s answer validates the idea of a Christian community, it invalidates the relationship between the individual and God.



When Will The Heaven Begin? – Book Review

WhenWillTheHeavenBeginAuthor: Ally Breedlove with Ken Abraham

Publisher: New American Library, Penguin Group (USA) LLC, 375 Hudson Street, NY

Copyright: The Ben Breedlove Trust, 2013, [ISBN:0451239648]

Reviewed by: Lynard Barnes, 13 July 2014

Summary: Story behind the YouTube video of a dying man, Ben Breedlove, posting flashcards of his battle with Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (HCM). He died not soon after in December 2011 and left not only the video but an inspiring legacy about the power of the human spirit. Not the typical Near Death Experience chronicle but an amazing story in the telling.

If you follow reviews on books about near death experiences (NDE) in this journal, you know the approach is basically one of skepticism. Not necessarily of the NDE itself, but of the “spin” swirling around and flowing from the reported NDE. The conclusions Dr. Eben Alexander reached about his NDE in PROOF OF HEAVEN (reviewed December 2012) is one example. Barbara and Lionel C. Basom’s FULL CIRCLE (reviewed June 1994), and Roy Abraham Varghese’s THERE IS LIFE AFTER DEATH (reviewed January 2010), and P. M. H. Atwater’s COMING BACK TO LIFE (reviewed March 1995), and SAVED BY THE LIGHT by Dannion Brinkley (read but not reviewed) are a few others.

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Earth: An Alien Enterprise – Book Review

Author: Timothy Good

Publisher: Pegasus Books, 80 Broad St, 5th Floor, New York, NY

Copyright: 2013, ISBN: [1605984865]

Cover: Michael Fusco, MPluse.Net

Reviewed by: Lynard Barnes, February 21, 2014



Summary: UFOs, lights in the sky and non-human entities. Through his work Timothy Good sets the standard for exploring UFO matters. In this Good establishes, perhaps unwittingly, the firmest foundation presented thus far for analyzing the “extraterrestrials are among us” argument as something more than a fringe element exploring a hypothetical reality. The fringe is there. The hypothetical reality; not so much. Whatever your position on UFOs, this book will definitely solidify your opinion.


As an armchair historian I have always been fascinated by the mysticism that permeated upper class Russian society before the fall of the Russian aristocracy. There are those who would argue that the emergence of communism in 1917 Russia was a direct result of the Gnosticism encircling the early era of Christianity. The essence of this argument is correct: there is an aberrant strain of rationalism (i.e., logic dressed-up in logical proofs) in Western thought that allows for the rise of such rational based paradigms as Soviet communism (as opposed to socialism),  “scientific” Nazism and today’s “religious-nationalistic” terrorism. This aberrant strain is no small matter. It is however occult. This aberrant rationalism comes down to the quintessential question of whether you should accept my reality or whether I should accept yours. Rationally of course, this should not even be a question.

What does Gnosticism have to do with lights in the sky and flying saucers?

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From Light Into Darkness – Book Review

FromLightIntoDarknesAuthor: Stephen S. Mehler

Publisher: Adventures Unlimited Press

Copyright: 2005, ISBN [931882495]

Cover: Robert W. Taylor Design, Inc.

Reviewed by: Lynard Barnes, 22 December 2013

Summary:  Extraordinary, almost intuitive insight into religion and the history of religion framed around the concept of a Khemitian (predecessor of Egyptian) civilization. Khemitian civilization supposedly existed over ten thousand years ago.


If you are into thoughtful analysis, FROM LIGHT INTO DARKNESS is for you. Or, if you are one of the 14% of Americans who are “non-religious” but spiritual, or one of the 16% of the world population who are “non-religious”, you must read this book if for no other reason that it justifies an unorthodox and precarious existence.

This book comes under the category of alternative history. According to author Mehler, FROM LIGHT INTO DARKNESS is his second book on the Khemitian civilization (from 9500 to 4000 BC) and its influence on Egypt and other early civilizations. Never heard of the Khemitian civilization?  As best as this reviewer can make out, Khemit as a civilization is a deductive conclusion based on a few technical abnormalities intruding into the traditional view of ancient history. The Khemitian name however has a more concrete foundation.

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To Heaven and Back – Book Review

ToHeavenandBackAuthor: Mary C. Neal, MD

Publisher: WaterBrook Press, Colorado Springs, CO

Copyright: 2011, ISBN: [307731715]

Cover: Mark D. Ford

Reviewed by: Lynard Barnes, 12/12/2013


Summary: Dr. Neal relates her experience of drowning underwater for eleven minutes and coming back to life: More a religious tract than a report of a near-death experience (NDE). 

It can happen in a breath.

First your talk about God.

Then, you talk to God.

Finally, you talk for God.

This transition from mere mortal to deity-surrogate, miraculously, does not require a second breath. Anyone can do it. Anyone and nearly everyone does.

The last book we reviewed here on the near-death experience was Dr. Eben Alexander’s PROOF OF HEAVEN (December 2012).  The difference between Dr. Alexander’s book and Dr. Neal’s is one of vistas. Dr. Alexander, as a result of his near-death experience, stands in a doorway looking out upon a universe of possibilities. Dr. Neal stands in a doorway peering back at the time-space continuum up her life.


As with most books on near-death experiences, Dr. Neal’s book reinforces one of the three messages Dr. Alexander reports in coming back from his NDE:  you are loved; you have nothing to fear; there is nothing you can do wrong. Dr. Neal does not specifically reinforce the last two of these messages. In fact, TO HEAVEN AND BACK leaves the impression that there is something to fear and that you can do something wrong. This impression arises from the theological emphasis of the book.

We point out two salient caveats in reviewing this book.  First, because the book is more a testament about religious faith than the near-death experience, there can be no question that the author sincerely believes the events chronicled in TO HEAVEN IN BACK. The events happened as she reported them happening. Likewise, the opinions and beliefs she espouses are assumed to be strongly held. Dr. Neal makes a point of seeing her near-death experience as confirmation of her Christian beliefs. In this review, we take a step back from the Christian foundation of her views as they pertain to the near-death experience and look at the reported experience only. In other words, we do not want to “assess” faith.  It is a fruitless endeavor. The NDE however is ripe for exploration.


To understand the near-death experience reported in TO HEAVEN AND BACK, you really have to start reading this book from back to front. In so doing, you run across the most poignant and effective words ever encountered about an un-necessary and preventable traffic accident. It is written about Dr. Neal’s son, Willie.  The chapter, titled “My Beautiful Son”, should be required reading for everyone who has an inclination to talk on a phone while driving or text and drive. But before that chapter, the very last chapter in fact, we read this statement:

“I do not know why God chose to intervene in my life.”

Given everything she wrote before, this is a rather jarring statement. It is not her confessed ignorance or that her God exercises an option to intervene or not intervene in her life or anyone else’s life. Rather, what is jarring is that it is a contradiction of everything she initially said about her near death experience. There is no doubt that the experience was real. There is no doubt that her reported experiences during that episode were real. There is also no doubt that what she reported was a mere superficial description of what actually took place. For anyone who has broken the bonds of physical life and returned to tell, it is impossible to put the experience into words. Dr. Neal makes this point early in her report.  So, is her ignorance about God’s intervention merely an attempt at objective scientific observation; reflections upon an event that was part of her life but which could be removed and put under a measuring glass of rational causes and effects?

Unlike some who report a near-death experience, and certainly unlike Dr. Alexander, Dr. Neal starts with the proposition that her NDE was an audience with God or with God’s representatives.


This presumption that God saved her life, leads directly to the contradiction that God intervened in her life and she is ignorant of the reason after first saying that she had to come back from death to be with her family during upcoming periods of great stress (health issues pertaining to her husband and the death of her son).

Dr. Neal’s reported near death experience resulted from a kayaking accident which occurred in January 1999 in Pucon, Chilie. The NDE was one in which she was met by “a group of fifteen to twenty souls (human spirits sent by God), who greeted me with the most overwhelming joy”. She was escorted toward a hall of brilliant light.  Yet, as she approached, she was continually drawn back to her body as the people who had pulled her from the water tried to revive her. This is another unusual element in reported near-death experiences. The continual intrusion of the people trying to save her life became a source of annoyance for her. When her escorts got to the gates of the brilliantly lighted hall, she reports that the atmosphere changed. She says that “an oppressive feeling of grief and sadness descended upon my spiritual companions and the atmosphere became heavy.” Her escorts explained to her that it was not time for her to enter the hall and she was “given several reasons for my return and told that I would soon be given more information.”


Dr. Neal returned to her Jackson Hole, Wyoming home very quickly after the drowning accident. She was far from recovered however. She spent time in the hospital after developing acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS). It was during this stay in the hospital that she reports having a “’conversation’” with an angel.

The information she learned from the angle (the “message from god” aspect of all NDE reports) was that each of us are “given the opportunity and privilege to come to earth for different reasons.”  We also know a basic outline of our lives before we arrive. She is quick to point out that, though we know this basic outline, we are not entirely in control of what happens in our lives. She said, “it is more like God creates it, then we review it and discuss it with our ‘personal planning’ angel”.  There are “branch points” where major changes can occur.


From reading Dr. Neal’s report of her experience, you get the sense that it is being stuffed, pulled, extracted and punched into the orthodoxy of Christian belief. Dr. Alexander had to struggle with using the word God in describing his NDE experience. Dr. Neal apparently had no such struggle. Everything had to flow from her preconceived ideas of what constituted a Godly universe. And so it does. The problems with stuffing a spiritual experience into a religious package are that not everything fits neatly. To her credit, Dr. Neal does not back away from the vistas of the spiritual and the confines of religion. Unfortunately, the attempted synthesis leads to underlying contradictions. More importantly, it is the religious slant to the episode that divorces it from what we customarily encounter in reports of near death experiences.

On page 103, in a chapter titled, “Conversing with Angels”, she asks the question whether “bad things happen to good people?’  She answers by saying she does not know. She then goes on to discuss the “bad” or “good” of the crucifixion of Jesus.  She says it is difficult to say that the crucifixion was a “bad” thing because it was through the crucifixion that Christians were able to achieve redemption. If you have felt the “light” of a near death experience, the question of bad things happening to good people is a fundamental misunderstanding of the human condition or, logically, an oxymoron.  To paraphrase the three messages of Dr. Alexander, nothing ever happens to us unless we happen to it first. So the real question is whether we are “good” to begin with. The short and simple answer derived from the majority of experiencers of near-death episodes is yes, we are good.  We can do no wrong.  It is an incredibly mind-boggling message to understand and accept. But once you accept the continuum that binds life and death, it becomes pretty clear. All people are good. Bad things happen.  Life happens.  Why?


Dr. Neal’s confesses to at one time having feelings of failure after her NDE; of “anger, and perhaps rage, in the core of my sadness” over the death of her son by a careless young man. And a little earlier she makes a rather unusual statement; after saying that she knows her work on earth is not done, she writes that “recalling the alluring magnificence of God’s world too vividly would make it easy to be consumed by a deep longing to return. I have always guarded my heart by not thinking about it too vividly or for too long”. This is most unusual.


One of the essential elements arising from most near-death experiences is the feeling of oneness with the world. Life and death are a continuum, joined by a spirit most aptly described as Love. There is no “other side” to life. You expand the continuum with Love. Dr. Neal seems to take from her near death experience that there is another side; that pure love and pure joy is on the other side of life. Most describing their attitude after a return from a near death experience express a consuming interest to live life now, to expand by whatever means possible their place in life, and to express that Love found in the light of near death.  So yes, Dr. Neal’s reluctance to focus on the experience on the other side is unusual. It is even more unusual because she implies that the “other side” is an idyllic, desirable alternative to life. This is in contradiction to the view that life and death are a continuum with the only difference being the expression of the universal force of Love.

As a personal testimonial to the Christian faith, TO HEAVEN AND BACK is excellent reading. As an exploration of the near-death experience, it is lacking in questions, the hallmark of exploring the unexplained.

COMMENTS ON THIS REVIEW?  Complete the form below.


The Phoenix Lights – Book Review

PhoenixLightsTh761Author: Lynne D. Kitei, M.D.

Publisher: Hampton Roads Publishing Company, Inc., Charlottesville, VA

Copyright: 2000, 2004, 2010

Cover: Tracy Johnson

Reviewed by:  Lynard Barnes, 19 March 2013


Summary: More lights in the sky but with a difference. Part factual reporting, part speculative examination, the full title of this book is THE PHOENIX LIGHTS: A SKEPTIC’S DISCOVERY THAT WE RE NOT ALONE. Highly recommended reading because it explores two possibilities for “lights in the sky”. (See note at below).

A scant three months ago, we were eagerly anticipating the arrival of December 22, 2012. Reaching that date meant we had successfully moved beyond the end of the Mayan long-count calendar.  Little did we know that having survived that particular potential cataclysm, we were hurling through space filled with meteors and comets, possibly leading to another cataclysm. If that is not enough, we are now experiencing the eleven year cycle of high sunspot activity. These lights in the sky—comets, meteors, auroras—are fairly mundane and, more to the point, explainable. The lights appearing in the sky above Phoenix, Arizona on March 13, 1997 remain unexplained.


If you are one of those people who find the subject of unidentified flying objects and lights in the sky boring and inflated with hyperbole, THE PHOENIX LIGHTS will be something of a surprise. But a little history on the controversy. . . .

The Discovery Channel’s November 1997 program, “UFOs Over Phoenix: An Anatomy of a Sighting”,  left many with the impression that the lights seen by nearly ten percent of the population of Phoenix on March 13, 1997 were military flares mistaken as UFOs.  Dr. Kitei effectively refutes the assessment and, like Raymond E. Fowler (WATCHERS II, reviewed here in October 1995) and Jacques Vallee ( Dimensions: A Casebook of Alien Contact) before her, she presents the mystery of UFOs as just that, a mystery.

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We’ve Never Been Alone – Book Review

WeveNeverBeenAlon751by Paul von Ward

Publisher: Hampton Roads Publishing Company, Inc., Charlottesville, VA (

Copyright: 2004, 2011

Cover: Nita Ybarra


Reviewed by: Lynard Barnes, December 17, 2012

Summary:  Introduces the concept of Advanced Beings (ABs) to explain world religious history and the extraterrestrial phenomena. The book is an ambitious undertaking, executed with unimpeachable logic.


Once you accept the premise stated in von Ward’s WE’VE NEVER BEEN ALONE, you can sit back and enjoy the unfolding synthesis of ideas, conclusions, and logic. It is a masterful exposition of history. However, arriving at a point of accepting the premise entails traveling a road on which there is at least one intriguing and more compelling detour.

The novel and noteworthy take-away from this book is the absence of the most logical and simplest explanation for what it purports to explain.  Other authors have tackled the mystery of human civilization. WE’VE NEVER BEEN ALONE ranks far above these efforts and achieves through its attention to detail a complete non-mainstream explanation. Like other non-mainstream explanations however, the foundation rests upon an even greater mystery than the mystery of the origin of civilization. In fact, you could make a game of filling-in the missing pieces of the history-puzzle Ward inadvertently creates with his a priori contention that Advanced Beings are the driving force behind human civilization.

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Proof of Heaven: A Neurosurgeon’s Journey into the Afterlife

by Eben Alexander, M.D.

Publisher: Simon & Schuster Paperbacks, Simon & Schuster, Inc.

Copyright: 2012

Book design: Renata Di Biase






SUMMARY:  Neuroscientist Dr. Eben Alexander reports on his near-death-experience from a rare brain infection known as E.Coli meningitis. He was in a coma for six days.

Another Voice From the Grave

I don’t carry this around in my head as a factoid, but writers usually have writing projects in the mental-note-taking hopper while doing the writing-composing for another project.  This was my situation in early 2012.  I was working on a mathematics project when I became intrigued by the mushrooming, revolutionary discussion in scientific circles—neuroscience specifically—on the dichotic views between the brain and the mind.  The old view that the brain housed the mind gradually gave way to the reductionist scientific view that the brain (parts making up a whole) was the mind. This reductionist scientific view is being challenged by a plethora of fragmented neurological research adding up to something entirely different. Dr.  Eben Alexander’s PROOF OF HEAVEN is one more salvo against the conventional scientific view that the brain and the mind are the same.

While Dr. Alexander approaches the subject of mind and brain form his personal near-death experience (NDE), my approach in A SHORT HISTORY OF MEMORY steps back from the personal to look purely at the science.  Both PROOF OF HEAVEN and A SHORT HITORY OF MEMORY arrive at the same conclusion regarding the brain and mind. Dr. Eben’s informative and fascinating work carries some baggage which I have tried to avoid.

The first booked reviewed in these pages about the mind and death was Carol Mercado’s A VOICE FROM THE GRAVE (reviewed June 1994).  Though not a description of a NDE, VOICE FORM THE GRAVE describes the case of Chicago therapist Teresta Basa who was murdered in 1977 and her spirit supposedly came back to possess a co-worker who revealed Basa’s killer.  Consciousness surviving death?  The question is a thread running throughout recorded history.  The late Raymond Monroe along with the late Swiss-born psychiatrist Elisabeth Kubler-Ross brought the question out of the realm of spiritualism into the soft science of psychology in which the question gained a firmer, more defined context. There followed such books as Barbara and Lionel C. Basom’s FULL CIRCLE (reviewed June 1994), and Roy Abraham Varghese’s THERE IS LIFE AFTER DEATH, and P. M. H. Atwater’s COMING BACK TO LIFE (reviewed March 1995), and SAVED BY THE LIGHT by Dannion Brinkley (read but not reviewed) —all describing near death experiences. Dr. Alexander’s PROOF OF HEAVEN falls into this category with one major exception. Dr. Alexander approaches the near-death-experience from his training as a neuroscientist.

Life and Love or Love and Life

In the above named books as well as others, all start with the admonishment that we have no words to describe the emotional impact of a near death experience. The experience opens the eyes to a truth beyond mere intellectual truth. The experience uncovers the essence of life. The essence of life is one of love:  unconditional love, love as the engine driving life as an experience, of knowing beginnings and endings powered by a love that simply overwhelms all details of time, place and events. It is an experience where the need to analyze or rationalize is non-existent. To attempt to stand back and intellectually grasp life as a sequence of events is to miss the entire point. Alexander encapsulates the NDE criteria succinctly and with precision on page 41 of his book. He relates coming back from his NDE with the following message:

 ‘”You are loved and cherished, dearly, forever.

    You have nothing to fear.

   There is nothing you can do wrong.’”

This message runs consistently in all reports of NDEs.  It is an amazing message because it is so simple. So simple in fact that it is difficult to accept the proposition that we have to experience a near-death episode to “get the message”.  It is here that books on NDEs attempt to bridge the divide between intellectually “getting the message” and truly understanding the message.  Dr. Alexander follows the elucidating path of examining his physical condition to explain the difference between message concept (intellect) and message meaning (emotion).  Could the various elements of his NDE have been the result of a brain undergoing the contractions and pulsation of death (a primitive brain-stem problem)? Alexander answers this question by pointing out what the attending physicians learned about the condition of his neocortex (needed for visual and auditory perception as well as the synthesis of logic) while he was in a coma.  Though not brain-dead, Dr. Alexander ceased to exist for a brief period.  His brain had effectively severed ties to consensus based reality.

What makes PROOF OF HEAVEN even more interesting than other books on the subject is not only that Dr. Alexander is a neuroscientist, but also the way his story progresses from being a report on a NDE to an exposition on the meaning of life. This is another element of NDE reporting germane to all books on the subject. It is what I call the “message from god” aspect. Though the term may be viewed as derisive, it is not meant to be.

On page 47 of his book, Alexander says that he originally used the pronoun “Om” to indicate the power of inclusiveness he felt around him during the NDE.  Later, he simply replaced “Om” with the word, “God”.  Some NDExperiencers skip this analytical step in explaining the NDE and immediately declare they have been in the presence of God or Jesus.  In A SHORT HISTORY OF MEMORY, this all inclusive power is referred to as the Mind.

Near the end of the book, Alexander makes a statement that is both a distillation of the entire book and a contradiction:  we can talk to God, yet God is present in each of us. Another contradiction he makes is that free will is essential for human development, yet there is “. . . no such thing as a question without an accompanying answer.” These two contradictions are not solely the province of the way Alexander analyses his experience.  Indeed, the externalization of a God-like power and the determinism of “free will” are fogs whiffing out of nearly all NDE reports.

The Near Death Experience and Intellectual Constraints

Everyone who has experienced a near-death event would agree with Alexander’s sentiment that “consciousness, or spirit” is the “great and central mystery of the universe.” In PROOF OF HEAVEN, Alexander throws the proposition on the table with a resounding crack. But even before the proof has settled into a collection of facts, Alexander, like other NDE authors, starts snipping away and re-arranging the details to fit a preconceived notion of what this “consciousness, or spirit” should look like. He starts with renaming “OM” God.

Part of the problem NDE authors face may be the inadequacy of language we have for describing the power of inclusiveness experienced in a NDE episode. To say that one has been in the presence of God carries more heft than saying one has been in the presence of Love. But it is an overwhelming power of inclusive love that drives the experience. To call this God is shorthand—anthropomorphizing an unknowable. But the shorthand reduces the experience to the mundane and throws it into the churning vat of dogma with all its vapors of confusion and equivocations. For instance . . .

 “You are loved and cherished, dearly, forever.”

 Well, what about Adolph Hitler, Joseph Stalin, Pol Pot, and on and on and on . . . are they loved too? And what about the young woman who decides to have an abortion? What about the men and women who conspire to kill a doctor because he performs abortions?  What about the near-do-well who sneaks into a house and murders an entire family, or accosts a man or woman on the street and kills them to secure money for a drug habit, or on, and on and on?  To say that God loves these folks is a lot different from saying I love these folks. Yet, from the NDE experience, I learn that I am God, or so much a part of God that I have a choice of ignoring God to assert my individual consciousness (ego)—which may be anything from God seeking to perpetuating absolute confusion.  Now, re-read the last sentence and replace God with the word Love.

Once God is introduced into any discussion, the discussion becomes objectified into an external and an internal reality. The NDE is one of internalization where the internal of the ego is recognized as merely a tiny, tiny perspective of a whole other reality. That reality is one in which I am Loved unconditionally and may choose to be an expression of that unconditional Love, or choose to be the sum of my ego driven fears. There really is no “reality” outside my head. I am it. But to say that “God said”, or “God commands” offers me a way out of taking responsibility for not only what I am (an expression of Love), but who I am (a confused and discombobulated consciousness seeking Love). Nothing illustrates this dichotomy better than the people who fight vehemently against abortion.

If we are born as individual expressions of Love, can anyone of us be of more value than another? If we are sustained and nurtured by family, community, society—some better than others—does our resulting individual status of being loved and being born of Love confer upon us the ability to adjudicate the value of anyone else? These are the questions most anti-abortionists answer in the affirmative.  It is a paradox that an unborn child (aborted) is unborn because they are not loved. The circularity of logic here is intrinsic to all “words of God” as propagated by organized religions. The vitriol directed against the would-be-mother who would have an abortion, the doctor who would perform the abortion, the society that allows abortions—all are supposedly outside the province of Love, yet somehow, the unborn (aborted) child is to be an expression of Love for whom the abortionist fights. In the midst of the paradox there are a plethora of announcements about what “God said . . .,” but nothing resembling “I love this unborn child–not an abstraction, not a statistic, but there is Love for this unborn child.”   (Has God ever told anyone to shut-up?)

Introducing God into any conversation automatically drops the conversation into an intellectual exercise having nothing to do with God.

As stated previously however, people who experience a NDE are constrained by the inadequacy of language in explaining their experience. So we have “OM” in Alexander’s reported NDE which becomes “God” upon the filtering mechanism of intellect. If you read other reports of NDEs (the aforementioned COMING BACK TO LIFE by P.M.H. Atwater, for instance), you find this same transformation of a simple concept of Love becoming the externalized concept of God.

 The First Butterfly

“The sensitive dependence of initial conditions” is expressed as a butterfly flapping its wings in Brazil and the effects being felt in Oklahoma as a tornado.

Everything is connected and everything is propelled or restrained by connectivity. Free will as a universe of possible actions is finite because the universe of possible actions is always finite. Hence, the possible choice one has at any given time is always finite and is “free” only to the extent that one recognizes possible choices.  This is a nice little intellectual exercise which concludes quite simply that there is no such thing as free will (the capacity to choose between all possible choices).

Dr. Alexander and other NDE authors use free will as the fulcrum upon which deeds of good and evil are balanced. Take away judgmental values of good and evil, deeds are still deeds. Stuff happens. Deeds have consequences.  Consequences result in deeds; a sequence repeating into infinity.  An infinity none of us can discern nor foresee.  According to the free will perspective, we can judge a deed by results. Yet, we never see all the results, only those of the immediate present.  Introducing free-will into any discussion is pretty much like introducing God into a conversation.  It is an escape route for disavowing responsibility.  Reports of near death experiences bring us this idea of a connected world where Love governs and dictates everything.  Whether life happens to me or I happen to life, ultimately I am responsible for expressing or suppressing my innate capacity to be an expression of Love. Love is a sense of self which we may express—or not. Deeds are secondary and are ultimately inconsequential. Regardless of what deeds I do in life, the only pertinent question relating to who and what I am is whether I perform those deeds based on a recognition of Love as the basis of all things.  Simple stuff.  Simplistic, even. At some point in the distant pass, this message was the basis of Christianity.

The value of Alexander’s PROOF OF HEAVEN is the straightforward and factual manner in which he reports his experience.  When he veers off into speculation and opinionated inferences, he tells us.  The reader is left to deal with the basics.  The basics are monumental in determining how we see the divide between science and philosophy, science and religion and the entire area of parapsychology.  There is more to being human than merely having a brain.

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