In his book Proof of Heaven, a Neurosurgeon's Journey into the Afterlife, Eben Alexander, M.D. described his journey to Heaven during a seven-day coma he suffered when a rare illness attacked his brain. What makes Dr. Alexander's near-death experience (NDE) unusual are: 1) before his out-of-body experience, the academic neurosurgeon, who spent 15 years at the Brigham & Women's and the Children's Hospitals and Harvard Medical School, did not believe in God or the afterlife; and 2) The part of his brain that controls human consciousness was completely shut down during the coma, which means that his experience could not have been fabricated by the activity of his brain.
However, what I found most interesting, but not surprising, is that his description of Heaven is a near parallel to the teachings of the great prophet Joseph Smith regarding the cosmos and a nearly perfect match of Mormon metaphysics as taught in the Book of Mormon. For this reason, I encourage you to read Dr. Eben Alexander's book (Simon Schuster, 2012).
Eben wrote that during his coma, he was accompanied by a beautiful and loving guide who led him multiple times into three states in the afterlife, first a dark cloudy existence [spirit prison?], then a beautiful paradise he called the Gateway, and finally a heavenly Core with many levels of glory where God existed.
Alexander: "My only memory was of where I had just been: the rough, ugly Realm of the Earthworm's Eye View the idyllic Gateway, and the awesome heavenly Core. My mind-my real self-was squeezing its way back into the all-too-tight and limiting suit of physical existence, with its spatio-temporal bounds, its linear thoughts, and its limitation to verbal communications." (p. 117)
Through his guide, Eben heard the voice of God - a very human being:
Alexander: "The voice of this Being was warm and-odd as I know this may sound--personal. It understood humans, and it possessed the qualities we possess, only in infinitely greater measure. It knew me deeply and overflowed with qualities that all my life I've always associated with human beings, and human beings alone: warmth, compassion, pathos...even irony and humor." (p. 48) "But-again, paradoxically-Om [God] is "human" as well-even more human than you and I are. "
The doctor realized that God understands our situation here on Earth, and that we all live on earth with a veil of forgetfulness of what we once knew:
Alexander: "Om understands and sympathizes with our human situation more profoundly and personally than we can even image because Om knows what we have forgotten, and understands the terrible burden it is to live with amnesia of the Divine for even a moment. (p. 86, italics added)
The doctor discovered that all things are physical and spiritual - [and also alludes perhaps to what we call the intelligence.] He learned that part of the spiritual afterlife is right here on Earth:
Alexander: "This other, vastly grander universe isn't "far away" at all. In fact, it's right here-right here where I am, typing this sentence, and right there where you are, reading it. It's not far away physically, but simply exists on a different frequency. It's right here, right now, but we're unaware of it because we are for the most part closed to those frequencies on which it manifests. We live in the dimensions of familiar space and time, hemmed in by the peculiar limitations of our sensory organs and by our perceptual scaling within the spectrum from subatomic quantum up through the entire universe." (p. 156.)
He was able to see the infinite and endless creations of God, which were made for His Glory (purpose of God to bring beings into existence and to share with them His Glory).
Alexander: "The universe has no beginning and end, and God is entirely present within every particle of it. Much-in fact, most-of what people have to say about God and the higher spiritual worlds has involved bringing them down to our level rather than elevating our perceptions up to theirs. We taint, with our insufficient descriptions, their truly awesome nature." "But though it never began and will never end, the universe does have punctuation marks, the purpose of which is to bring beings into existence and allow them to participate in the glory of God... Here, to see was to know. There was no distinction between experiencing something and my understanding." (p.156-157)"
Eben learned during his NDE that there was not one universe, but many more than he could comprehend, and that evil exists in the universe so humans could have free will, and that without free will humans could not progress into what God desires for us.
Alexander: "Om [God] told me that there is not one universe buy many-in fact, more than I could conceive-but that love lay at the center of them all. Evil was present in all the other universes as well, but only in the tiniest trace amounts. Evil was necessary because without it free will was impossible, and without free will there could be no growth-no forward movement, no chance for us to become what God longed for us to be." (p. 48)
As the Book of Mormon clearly explains, he understood the necessity for the existence of evil on earth:
Alexander: "I saw the earth as a pale blue dot in the immense blackness of physical space. I could see that earth was a place where good and evil mixed, and that this constituted one of its unique features. Even on earth there is much more good than evil, but earth is a place where evil is allowed to gain influence in a way that would be entirely impossible at high levels of existence. That evil could occasionally have the upper hand was known and allowed by the Creator as a necessary consequence of giving the gift of free will to beings like us." (p. 83)
The doctor saw that free will required a fall from the presence of God.
Alexander: "The very fabric of the alternative dimension is love and acceptance.... But free will comes at the cost of a loss or falling away from this love and acceptance." (p. 83)
He understood that there was a need for free-will to allow eternal progression.
Alexander: "We are free; but we are free beings hemmed all around by an environment conspiring to make us feel that we are not free. Free will is of central importance for our function in the earthly realm: a function that, we will all one day discover, serves the much higher role of allowing our ascendance in the timeless alternative dimension. Our life down here may seem insignificant, for it is minute in relation to the other lives and other worlds that also crowd the invisible and visible universes. But it is also hugely important, for our role here is to grow toward the Divine.... " (84).
Eben saw countless universes, some whose "intelligence" had advanced far beyond ours, and like Joseph Smith, he realized that these advanced worlds are incomprehensible by people who have not experienced them.
"I saw the abundance of life through the countless universes, including some whose intelligence was advanced far beyond that of humanity. I saw that there are countless higher dimensions, but that the only way to know these dimensions is to enter and experience them directly. They cannot be known, or understood, for lower dimensions of space." (p. 48)
Perhaps the most important message Dr. Alexander brought back from his NDE to share with us is that God is a God of Love.
Alexander: "Each and every one of us is deeply known and cared for by a Creator who cherishes us beyond any ability we have to comprehend. That knowledge must no longer remain a secret." (p. 96)
Among other things, he learned that deep sadness comes from not being allowed to dwell in Heaven with God.
"On the day that the doors of Heaven were closed to me, I felt a sense of sadness unlike any I'd ever known." (p. 102)
I hope you found these quotes by Dr. Eben Alexander interesting, and I that you will read his entire book.