What do Boggle™ and spiritual beliefs have in common?


Some of you may know that as part of my involvement in the Vinings Natural Health team, I help run a Holistic Book Club. The club explores a wide range of alternative non-fiction from personal beliefs to spiritual beliefs and everything in between.

With all the reading and studying I do personally, it can sometimes be a bit of a chore to read something prescribed by a book club, and when the chosen title this time was ‘Proof of Heaven: a Neurosurgeon’s Guide to the Afterlife’ by Eben Alexander, I’m afraid I baulked.

I hung up my religious hat several years ago (although I had always realised I might have to put it back on again at some point). So a book about a Near Death Experience (NDE) did not fill me with enthusiasm. I’m the chair of the group though, so I buckled down – less than a week before the meeting – and read the book.

I’m so glad I did. This book, written by a highly respected Neurosurgeon who was previously entirely skeptical about spiritual beliefs, the afterlife and religion, has moved me forward dramatically along my journey of ‘enlightenment’.

I’ve been sitting on the fence about God/religion/the afterlife for quite some time. As a child I was a believer. I lost that later, probably after the death of my mother, and since then I have tried to keep myself open to it, and allow whatever comes up.

Getting to grips with understanding the universe is a bit like playing one of those word jumble games, like Boggle™ or Bananagrams™ You spread all the letters out in front of you with no real expectations, and unexpected words start to clump together out of nowhere.

In a similar way, I found that my experience of Christianity, my reading of the bible gave me one part of the jigsaw – the importance of faith and love, in the grand design, and the importance of prayer. Then my understanding of the Law of Attraction as taught by Esther and Jerry Hicks helped me to explore those characteristics outside of traditional religion. Prayer, became ‘asking’ and love and faith were the means by which we are most likely to receive what we ask for.

At the same time my long-term attempts to understand the more accessible aspects of Quantum Physics in books such as John Gribbin’s ‘In search of Schödinger’s cat‘ opened up the idea that even what we see as science far exceeds our traditional logical view of the universe, and that perhaps science and spirit are closer to eachother than we think. (See also ‘A Quantum Ramble’ )

The scientific fact that a subatomic particle can be within our own body at one moment and the other side of the universe at another, is a testament to how mystical science has become. It feels like evidence of the connectedness of everything.

‘Proof of Heaven’ hasn’t necessarily completed the picture,but I now begin to believe again that there is something there. That we are a part of a greater whole. While in a coma and apparently virtually without a functioning brain, Eben Alexander describes his travels to various levels of a spirit world. He talks of a benevolent creature that greets him and of receiving answers to all of his questions from a higher power. His tale is similar in many ways to thousands of other near death experiences that have been recorded, but his background and the experiences he recounts, make this particular story most compelling.

To me this book is another word from the jumble of letters. It brings me closer to spirit without having to give that spirit a name. It explains prayer. It reassures us about the death of our loved ones and our own deaths. It give us hope beyond our current existence.

I won’t be rushing back to church, or attending any other religious gatherings. Nothing in his story suggests the need to worship or to adopt a dogma. What it does is to increase my connection to others, my awareness of my soul and my own emerging spiritual beliefs, and the importance of love over everything.

Hat’s off to the book club too. Being involved in the club meant that I found myself having to to read outside my comfort zone. We can only learn so much doing what we want to do. We need to step outside our familiar surroundings if we really want to grow.

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Robert Sanders is a therapist and life coach, supporting people in their present and helping them create their future.