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A Neurosurgeon’s Sagittarian’s Journey into the Afterlife is a popular book written by Dr Eben Alexander, describing his near-death experience asserting that science can and will determine that heaven really does exist. The book is sitting in my reading list, but I was put off by claims that the story itself may have been exaggerated and there are some discrepancies in his account. The author has legal issues concerning his career and mistakes have been made taking him off the medical board. The authority of the book is still under question.

In a wide-ranging investigation of Alexander’s story and medical background, Esquire magazine reported (August 2013 issue) that prior to the publication of Proof of Heaven, Alexander had been terminated or suspended from multiple hospital positions, and had been the subject of several malpractice lawsuits, including at least two involving the alteration of medical records to cover up a medical error.

The magazine also found what it claimed were discrepancies with regard to Alexander’s version of events in the book. Among the discrepancies, according to an account of the Esquire article in Forbes, was that “Alexander writes that he slipped into the coma as a result of severe bacterial meningitis and had no higher brain activity, while a doctor who cared for him says the coma was medically induced and the patient was conscious, though hallucinating.”

Alexander issued a statement after the Esquire article’s publication: “I wrote a truthful account of my experiences in PROOF OF HEAVEN and have acknowledged in the book both my professional and personal accomplishments and my setbacks. I stand by every word in this book and have made its message the purpose of my life. Esquire’s cynical article distorts the facts of my 25-year career as a neurosurgeon and is a textbook example of how unsupported assertions and cherry-picked information can be assembled at the expense of the truth.”

Alexander is the author of the 2012 autobiographical book Proof of Heaven: A Neurosurgeon’s Journey into the Afterlife, in which he asserts that his out of body and near death experience (NDE) while in a meningitis-induced coma in 2008 proves that consciousness is independent of the brain, that death is an illusion, and that an eternity of perfect splendor awaits us beyond the grave — complete with angels, clouds, and departed relatives, but also including butterflies and a beautiful girl in peasant dress who Alexander finds out later was his departed sister.

According to him, the current understanding of the mind “now lies broken at our feet ”— for “What happened to me destroyed it, and I intend to spend the rest of my life investigating the true nature of consciousness and making the fact that we are more, much more, than our physical brains as clear as I can, both to my fellow scientists and to people at large.”

Astrology Chart

In his astrology chart we meet up with an extremely Jupiterian character. Eben has Sun, Mercury and Venus in Sagittarius and the Sun forms and opposition to Jupiter. The element of fire stands alongside water on spirituality, but symbolizes the spark of life, spirit and the holy grail. The spiritual quest is probably the best way to look at the fire signs and one of their main gifts is the ability to ‘intuit’.

The fire signs are more concerned with identity and possess a greater sense of mission, self expression and need to broaden the horizons. They also have great passion, joy and desire that we don’t always witness in the water signs because of water’s negative element and fire’s positive meaning (Carter called the water signs – morbid). Though the Doctor has watery features, mainly through the watery planets as found with his natal Sun trine Pluto, Mercury square Pluto, and Mars conjunct Neptune. The external power of fire is to bring heat and light, enthusiasm and tremendous zest.

With Sagittarius, in particular, their ideas have the ability to spread like wildfire, and they rule over publishing, promotion and advertising as a platform for spreading the word. The arrow Sagittarius carries symbolizes the flight of its ideas, expanded experiences and infinite possibilities with its ultimate goal of greater understanding. The sign above all, needs to GROW and often needs a powerful philosophical and ethical foundation.

Sagittarius has spontaneous exhibitionism, and is associated with knowledge and teaching. Astrologer Liz Greene believes Sagittarius is prone to sudden insights and revelations straight from the “transcendent” dimension of the unconscious, and very strong spirituality. The Indo-European root for the mythical figure of Zeus-Jupiter means enlightener the one who brings enlightenment. It refers to all those things lying beyond the limits of ordinary experience.

In religion, transcendence refers to the aspect of God’s nature and power which is wholly independent of the material universe, beyond all physical laws. This is contrasted with immanence, where God is fully present in the physical world and thus accessible to creatures in various ways. In religious experience transcendence is a state of being that has overcome the limitations of physical existence and by some definitions has also become independent of it. This is typically manifested in prayer, séance, meditation, psychedelics and paranormal “visions”. It is affirmed in the concept of the divine in the major religious traditions, and contrasts with the notion of God, or the Absolute, existing exclusively in the physical order (immanentism), or indistinguishable from it (pantheism). Transcendence can be attributed to the divine not only in its being, but also in its knowledge. Thus, God transcends the universe, but also transcends knowledge (is beyond the grasp of the human mind).

Liz Greene also states: Sagittarius can never prove his statements and he just “knows” something to be true- because he has experienced a kind of illumination.

He certainly didn’t get it by doing careful statistical research; he got it from heaven. By Liz Greene, The Development of the Personality

Sagittarius is the teacher or preacher of the zodiac and their knowledge could be scientific, political, religious, or spiritual in nature.

The Sun-Jupiter aspect in the Doctor’s chart means:

The individual with this contact is often interested in Jupiter type pursuits such as traveling, publishing, public relations, religion, spirituality, teaching and basically anything that enhances and expands their worldview. They are always looking for opportunities that will help them grow as a person. Sun-Jupiter is not usually a person to rely on to do a dreary, mundane job, everyday. They like to see what is possible and use their talents to the fullest, eager to learn more. However, sometimes this is perceived as the individual acting like they are above it all.

After reading through some of the reviews of the book it is clear to see there are skeptics and believers and the Doc has been labelled as being narcissistic, bigging up his qualifications and over-emphasizing his medical experience. The fact that he has made mistakes and tried to cover them up is probably due to his Jupiterian way of seeing the larger picture and so often mistakes are made. It is a kind of price Sagittarians pay for all of their breadth of vision and knowledge.

The book has been described as wordy, and of course the concerns with Sagittarius could be the brushing over of the finer details in favour of the big picture. The sign often needs considerable elbow room and doesn’t always work well in confined spaces. Furthermore, exaggeration could also be a problem, fanatic convictions, and lies. However, and positively, it can also represent the educated mind, someone with plenty of inner conviction, and honesty.

It also can’t be denied that sometimes the EXTRAordinary happens to Sagittarius, what’s a foreign experience to others is a way of life for these people. For sagiitarians a life without some kind of purpose, belief or sense of meaning would be a dark and depressing place. Above all, Sagittarians need to believe in what they are doing and usually attract a great following because of their confidence and faith.

Usually the sign is deeply religious and aspires to leave narrow surroundings striving for something more, and they would hate the confinement of ideas needing to explore new thoughts, and a need for plenty of variety. Jupiter rules over the thunderbolt that illuminated heaven and it reflects our longing for a father in heaven – a need to experience something greater.

In Colin Wilson’s book on the Afterlife there are some fascinating ideas throughout, and here is one put forth about the differences in some of the things we see in the spirit world.

“What Steiner is saying here is something that soon dawns on most readers accounts of near death experiences. Some find themselves walking towards a celestial city, some find themselves in flowery meadows, some find themselves drawn towards a heavenly gateway or a whirlpool of light. It looks as if everyone is interpreting the experience in terms of their own familiar concepts. Steiner is suggesting that visionaries like Swedenborg, who have caught a glimpse of the ‘supersensible world’ are bound to interpret it according to their ingrained mental habits, and that this explains why the revelations of spiritualism often seem slightly ludicrous.