A Christian Science perspective: In light of Dr. Eben Alexander's bestselling book, "Proof of Heaven," this writer explains why you don't need a near-death experience to find heaven.
Many have read the uplifting book “Proof of Heaven” by Dr. Eben Alexander. A recent interview with him appeared in the February issue of The Christian Science Journal. Dr. Alexander’s discovery of the clear proof that consciousness is not of the body or brain came through his near-death experience. While medical personnel and his family believed him to be near death as he lay in a coma, he was actually experiencing a reality of life he had never been aware of.
People have taken particular notice of his story because he is a neurosurgeon who was not an especially religious individual before that experience.
Alexander’s vivid account caused me to think deeply about my own thought of heaven. Christ Jesus’ words, “The kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matthew 4:17), and Jesus’ assurance that “the kingdom of God is within you” (Luke 17:21), conveyed to me that all the joy and perfection of heaven, the love and complete forgiveness that Alexander speaks of in “Proof of Heaven” is right here for us to experience every day. We don’t have to go anywhere to experience it.
Alexander went through a severe physical struggle that was expected by many to end in his death. But proof of heaven does not require a near-death experience. We can gain this proof now, not by having a near-death experience, but by having present-life experience.
Jesus, to me, is an expert on where heaven is and how it is experienced. There’s a section from the New Testament book of Matthew in which Jesus describes what the kingdom of heaven is like (see chapter 13). Some may think that heaven appears as beautiful mountains, sparkling blue water, perfect villages full of happy people, green fields and trees, gorgeous meadows of flowers. But Jesus saw it differently. He said heaven is like “good seed,” a “grain of mustard seed,” a little bit of “leaven” hidden in meal, a “treasure” hidden in a field, a “pearl of great price” and a “net” that gathers fish of all kinds.
What I see in these images of heaven are small things – things that might be hidden, things we might overlook at first, things that might not be noticed by the fast-paced world. They are clearly not necessarily things of grandiose proportions and unbelievable physical beauty.
As I think about heaven, my only premise is that heaven is right here with us now, right in the people we know and in the life we are leading. This is not to say that all of what we experience in our lives today is heaven. But finding that small “pearl of great price” is enough to open the door to a much larger sense of heaven on earth, heaven here and now.
Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, wrote this about heaven: “Let us learn of the real and eternal, and prepare for the reign of Spirit, the kingdom of heaven, – the reign and rule of universal harmony, which cannot be lost nor remain forever unseen” (“Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” p. 208). She also described the kingdom of heaven as spiritual qualities reigning within us. She wrote, “Let unselfishness, goodness, mercy, justice, health, holiness, love – the kingdom of heaven – reign within us, and sin, disease, and death will diminish until they finally disappear” (p. 248).
One of the most precious lessons I’ve learned from studying Christian Science is that we need not wait for any of the good that characterizes God’s government of His sons and daughters. It may appear in a very different form or way than we expected. But it is here now, and we can experience it.