Can ‘Proof’ and ‘Heaven’ Be Used in the Same Context?

Proof of Heaven: A Neurosurgeon’s Journey in the Afterlife” – this is the title of the book that doctor Eben Alexander wrote to describe the Near Death Experience (NDE) that he had during the seven days of coma caused by bacterial meningitis.

Before reading the book, I read an online article which shortly related the breaking news: Heaven is real and doctor Eben Alexander has visited it during NDE. The article reminded me of a book I started reading two years ago. This other book is called “Soili’s Journey, A Journal of a Consciousness – Channelled by Terttu Tolvanen”. Finally, someone who died found a way to inform about the life that there is after death. In case you wonder about the relationship between Terttu and Soili, they had been colleagues and friends for over 30 years.

Yes, I know, most people would not even open the book. Two years ago, I saw it as an opportunity to test what my instinct would say about the contents of the book. Now, I read again some bits to make sure I remember the details. Soili contacted Terttu through automatic writing very shortly after she had passed away in order to wish happy birthday to Terttu. After few weeks of this type of communication, Soili informed Terttu that she would like to write a book to inform everyone about her journey into the spirit world. “My message is that life goes on. It only changes form. Nothing is constant, neither does anything disappear. All is energy,  movement, evolution, so don’t stop.”

“Hell- is there one?” – this is one of the topics she tackles. Her reply is that hell is the internal state of a person during a lifetime and it is not a permanent state.

Soili informs about different levels of evolution and vibration. For example, she talks about a visit to the fifth higher level, “I am on a visit to the fifth level, to see what life is like here. On this level of vibration there are a great number of beings from other planets. They are on a mission to observe the situation on Earth and do research”. This sounded more like a script of a science fiction movie.

What did my instinct tell about Soili’s Journey? The thought that it is a mere fantasy clouded too much the instinct both the first time and the second time when I read the book. My instinct could not give a straight answer whether it is a fantasy or not, as I would have expected. Instead, I felt too overwhelmed with all the information and I stopped reading.

As for doctor Alexander’s book, in addition to the title, his profession as a neurosurgeon intrigued me as much as it probably intrigued other persons. Unlike other people, I bought the book. I wanted to read what a neurosurgeon has to say about life after death.

“Proof of Heaven” reads like a story for grownups. Doctor Alexander’s life story intertwines with details on how the meningitis affected his brain and with the experience of his inner self in the higher levels of existence. The emotional story of his fight between life and death kept me reading breathless during hours of night until I finished it.

From the medical point of view, it is a miracle that doctor Alexander is still alive and his brains recovered. He is a lucky man to have survived a disease which kills people.

From the spiritual point of view, he returns with a message of love and a reminder of connectedness. On the wings of a butterfly and in the company of the guardian angel, he travels between three dimensions of Heaven: The Realm of the Earthworm’sEye View, the Gateway, and the Core. While having no memory of his earthly identity, he experiences divine joy and acceptance. Towards the end of the book, the guardian angel turns out to be his dead sister whom he had never met in the earthy life

The ultimate message of the book is that the material based focus of science has shifted the focus of the humankind from the central mystery of the universe – the human consciousness. “The ascendence of the scientific method based solely in the physical realm over the past four hundred years presents a major problem: we have lost touch with the deep mystery at the center of existence – our consciousness.” Before sharing the lessons that he learned during the time he visited Heaven, doctor Alexander writes pages of proof of the reality of his NDE based on the main argument that the cortex was not functioning during coma. Yet, as the counter arguments showed, his proof is faulty.

How can he be sure that the NDE took place when his cortex was not functioning? What if everything that he calls NDE experience is but the rambling of the mind in the transition stage from the inactive cortex to the almost normal consciousness? This transition stage could last for hours or days, according to Steven Novella. (http://theness.com/neurologicablog/index.php/proof-of-heaven/)

In The Guardian, Peter Stanford writes that ” … his account contains just about heavenly cliche known to humankind … this book sounds like pretty run-of-the-mill near-death experience literature”. (http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/oct/11/dr-eben-alexander-proves-need-heaven)

I understand doctor Eben Alexander’s decision to write a book based on the most transforming life experience – the experience of wining the fight against death. In order to make sense of what has happened, anyone in his shoes would have wanted to talk about it, write it down and share it with the rest of the world.

But I did have difficulty to accept the reality of the NDE for two reasons. The first one, just like Peter Stanford, I could not help thinking that doctor Eben Alexander’s description of the spiritual beings he encountered and the world they live in are the result of the Biblical and New Age beliefs. The second reason for not believing in the reality of the NDE is my instinct. The description did not sound authentic in the depth of my being.

Then again, I didn’t have any doubt regarding the feelings of joy and love that he felt during coma. There is this belief coming from my inner self, according to which this is how we feel when the Divine embraces us. So, I believe doctor Eben Alexander was helped by angels and other spiritual guides for milliseconds.

In conclusion, doctor Alexander’s spiritual experience doesn’t need to be proved. It only needs to be believed based on what the instinct tells to each person who reads his book.

Doctor Alexander’s spiritual experience can’t be proved. Proof belongs to science and materialism. In my view, doctor Alexander did not provide any proof, but an extensive explanation of why he believes in the reality of his NDE. People who have not lived any spiritual experiences won’t be convinced by any explanations, unless someone invents a formula to put spiritual experiences into numbers and show that 1+1=2. And even then, someone else will find a way to show that 1+1=3.

Spirituality is discovered by the soul, by each of us whenever we are allowed to have access a higher level of understanding of life, death and the universe. Doctor Alexander’s documentation of his unique experience is valuable from a spiritual and medical point of view. But it has nothing to do with science! The truth of spirituality is beyond the realms of science.

PS 1. Do I believe in NDEs? I don’t know. I guess I am one of the persons that belongs to the middle camp that doctor Alexander was talking about. The camp of people who are open to hear about NDEs.

PS 2. We will all find out the Truth the day when we leave this world. When we do, maybe we will have time to laugh at our attempts to find the Truth in this lifetime when moving on to higher levels of existence. Or we won’t have the time and we will step into nothingness like the ones before and after us.

Your Life, With or Without Soul Mate

Some of us have a romantic nature. One day you happen to read a book on soul mates that touches you deeply and vibrates in your being. You loved before. Yet, you know that there is a part of your heart which hasn’t been touched yet. You start daydreaming about your soul mate. You want to meet him today and to recognise him from the first glimpse.

The Wikipedia definition of a soul mate is a person with whom one has a feeling of deep or natural affinity, similarity, love, sex, intimacy, sexuality, spirituality or compatibility. I’ll adhere to this definition, which I consider broad enough for everybody’s understanding of a soul mate.

In search of understanding, I became overwhelmed with diverging opinions and the amount of pages that were written on this topic. Searching for “soul mate” in Amazon resulted in 13285 paperback books, 1309 hardcover, 380 Kindle edition and 7 Audio Audible edition. The earliest texts on soul mate are by Greek philosophers, poets, and writers. I prefer these earliest texts to the more recent ones, which offer guidelines on how to meet your soul mate.

Some individuals believe that a soul mate is a person of opposite sex with whom one is meant to have a lifelong romantic relationship. “The whole of man’s life on the face of Earth can be summed up by that search of his Soul Mate. He may pretend to be running after wisdom, money, or power, but none of that matter. Whatever he achieves will be incomplete, if he fails to find his Soul Mate. ” writes Paulo Coelho, in his novel Brida.

Others believe that soul mates are two persons who want their marriage to be a fulfilled one. (http://marriage.about.com/cs/soulmates/a/soulmates.htm)

“But to live with a soul mate forever?”, Elizabeth Gilbert writes in her novel Eat, Pray, Love. “Nah. Too painful. Soul mates come into your life just to reveal another layer of yourself to you, and then leave.”

And there are others who believe that a soul mate is a person of the same or opposite sex with whom one has shared other lifetimes.  In the current life, the soul mate can be your sibling, your parent, your child, or, even your business partner! (http://marriage.about.com/cs/soulmates/a/soulmates.htm)

I concluded that most likely, each person who believes in soul mates has her own understanding on what a soul mate is. I started wondering though, “What benefits does this belief bring to your life?”

“Silly me!”, I thought to myself in the next second. Sometimes loneliness may be too harsh to handle. Dreaming about the soul mate brings colour to your inner world and gives the strength to go through loneliness. If you happen to be in a relationship, in which you are not too happy, there is the disadvantage to dream too much and not be willing to make any effort to improve the relationship. But everyone is free to live the way they want or the way they can. And if you want to live with the fantasy of your soul mate, then that’s what you’ll do.

There is a different kettle of fish if the belief in soul mates comes from your true self, and it is not yet another belief that you think it’s nice to have. If you truly feel that there is a soul out there that you are meant to meet, then rest assured that it will happen. And it won’t happen sooner if you are too anxious about it.

“A true soul mate is probably the most important person you’ll ever meet”. Elisabeth Gilbert writes in Eat, Pray, Love. “A soul mate’s purpose is to shake you up, tear apart your ego a little bit, show you your obstacles and your addictions, break your heart open so new light can get in, make you so desperate and out of control that you have to transform your life …”

In my view, the search for soul mate is a part of the spiritual journey that some of us are meant to take. It is fuelled by the need to find authenticity in yourself. You feel it in your guts that there is one person in whose company you’ll feel authentic, and that person is your soul mate.

Meeting your soul mate is a milestone in your life. You may start looking upon your own life as before and after meeting him. When the new light gets into your heart, as Elizabeth Gilbert describes, a new world is revealed to you, a world of pure joy, kindness and peacefulness. You’ll feel that an angel has touched you, except that it’s not an angel but the positive energy of your soul mate.

If it is meant to say good bye, you’ll experience sufferance in the very essential part of your being – in the part that your soul mate helped you discover. Nothing makes sense any longer. Living with the pain and longing after your soul mate, you don’t even realise when you’ve moved to another stage of your spiritual journey.

Then again, maybe it is meant that you’ll wake up next to him for the rest of your life. Still, don’t fool yourself that your life will be an eternal bliss. You’ll have your share of disillusionments. Not even your soul mate will be able to fulfil ALL your needs. For example, there may be times when he’ll surprise you with selfishness or lack of support. Time changes the relationship between soul mates, and there will be moments when you’ll fight with yourself to keep the love pure.

I believe that there can be spiritual journeys that don’t include the phase, “I met my soul mate”. There are other paths that take you to enlightenment and to a life thriving in love and authenticity, as it is suggested in the article “Four Signs That Healthy Love Is On Its Way“.

Whether your soul mate is a fantasy, the most precious memory in your heart or your companion in life, the most important is to embrace life as it unfolds in front of you. Do the best with the life circumstances that you are meant to live. Bathe your soul in kindness, compassion and joy. Be truthful to yourself and the people who surround you! And reassess your beliefs as you grow older and wiser. :)

Why does falling in love not always have a happy ending?

“Because two people fell in love”. This is how it started the invitation to a friend’s wedding. My friend had been in love in previous relationships. Still, it was only once when falling in love took her all the way to the altar.

In the Western societies, we have the freedom to look for partners in love, the way we think it suits us the best. Some of us look for Mr Perfect, others look for someone to love, just the way he/she is. Irrespective of whom we are looking for, falling in love is the easy part. Without being aware, we, women are influenced by the romantic comedies we watch and the romance novels we read. I’d like to know if there is any woman who hasn’t read “Pride and Prejudice“, at least once in her life. Our minds get full of false expectations, which push us even further from understanding what real love is.

Another false expectation is for things to be easy when we feel real love. “There is no such thing as two people meant for each other.” says Michelle Givertz when she talks about successful relationships (http://www.psychologytoday.com/articles/201112/are-you-the-right-mate?page=5). She argues that one needs to adapt and to know oneself in order to get one’s needs fulfilled in a relationship. I totally agree on that. Relationships require deep understanding of ourselves and open communication with our partners.

The part which I disagree on is the one about two people not being meant for each other. I believe there is the hand of fate that orchestrates circumstances to enable the two people who fell in love to get united in the holy matrimony. By the time when the game of destiny is over, we say wholeheartedly, “I do!” in front of the priest, the family and friends. See for example, the story behind Elizabeth Gilbert ‘s marriage (Committed A Love Story). I keep on giving her as an example in my posts because I find her stories to be very inspiring (and I love her funny writing style). Another example is another friend whose first attempt to wed failed. She moved to another country where she met her present husband. In my case, the leaking ceiling in the flat triggered the chain of events, which led to our marriage decision. Today, it feels that the decision didn’t even belong to us and it was taken before we even met.

It took me some time after getting married to realise what an act of bravery my husband and I had committed. And everyone who gets married commits this act of bravery when you welcome in your bed, soul and mind, the person who is going to affect the most your well being. Do we really know the person we marry? Do we really know how we ourselves are going to change? We only have the hope and willingness to keep up with each other throughout life.

In the long-run, there is no guarantee that we won’t suffer. In some relationships, the harder we try, the more things don’t work out. We may transform ourselves into better persons. We may read loads of books, which offer tips about successful relationships, such as Christine Meinecke’s “Everybody Marries the Wrong Person” (don’t get fooled by the title, it is a book full of wisdom about relationships). The best thing we can do is to learn from sufferance and reinvent ourselves.

Sufferance is a part of good marriages also. But if after sufferance, we feel the sweet taste of harmony, then we are in a good marriage. Arguing is a part of good marriages too. But if after each argument, we feel that we’ve grown to understand ourselves better, then maybe we are meant to stay married for a longer period of time.

Two people are meant to fall in love. The hand of destiny decided if they’ll walk hand in hand in marriage or if they’ll remain the sweet-bitter memory of a lifetime.

Carpe Diem? Yes, please, but how?

The Latin poet, Horace must have known since he was the one who created this aphorism ‘Carpe Diem’, which in English is translated as ‘Seize the day’. I was 16 when I studied Latin and read for the first time about it. “I wanna do that too!” I thought.  The idea became a part of me: life is short, enjoy this minute without worry about the future. Still, years passed and to my disappointment, I realised how hard it’s been for me to ‘Carpe Diem’.

Before getting pregnant, I was meditating daily. Each meditation was a struggle to keep thoughts out of my mind! I used to sit there in my meditation position for half an hour in order to reach that state of ‘no thought, but peacefulness’ for few minutes only. Once in a while when my mind was too restless to meditate, I comforted myself with the thought that Elisabeth Gilbert had similar struggles, as she confesses in her novel, “Eat, Pray, Love“.

Now when I am a mother, I want to Carpe Diem with my baby. He is a very energetic and curious baby who sleeps for 2 hours maximum per day. Out of these 2 hours, he sleeps about 1,5 hours when I walk him around in his pram. One hour and half of walking provides the opportunity to have some time on my own. One day, I paid attention to my thoughts during this one hour and half. I passed by a playground where a mother was playing basketball with her kid. It was a joy to watch them. “I can’t wait for my little one to grow up.”, I thought.

I passed by a restaurant, where some people, smartly dressed were gathered in a circle and drinking wine from trendy design glasses. “Hm, the times when I used to be a social butterfly!” I was sinking into memories when I remembered how I used to think back then. When I used to see a mother and her baby, I used to think, “Lucky her! She must have the time of her life!”.

You must understand now the disappointment with myself. The life is here and now but my mind is all over, in the past and the future. The baby woke up at the sound of a machine drilling on the side walk. He started crying. “Huh! If he only slept ten more minutes to arrive home.” Faced with his louder and louder crying, all I could think was, “OK, what do I do now? Do I let him cry till we get home?”

His crying was breaking my heart. I took him in the arms. He calmed down and started pointing in the direction of the small park that we were just passing by. My mind started protesting, “You have to get home. Housekeeping tasks are waiting for you!” I was restless. In front of my eyes, the little one was shining with the joy of stepping on the green grass. He stopped at a tree trunk on which some mushrooms had grown (quite ugly, in my opinion). He looked at it carefully. I yielded to his desire. I followed him in his discovery of the vegetation in the park.

After this walk, I happened to find an article in Psychology Today, which talks about “Hiking with a Child“. The author of the article is Deborah L. Davis, a developmental psychologist who advises to consider two aspects when hiking with your child: 1. the temperament, interests and developmental stage of the child. 2. your goals as a parent. As a mother of a baby who is soon one year old, I found the article useful to put our short-term life into perspective.

What I found even more useful about the article was related to the goals of the parent, what is most important for the parent. My goal is to ‘Carpe Diem’ with my baby. The question is how to achieve that when having loads of practical issues that need to be done?