London: A sceptical American surgeon, who had dismissed patients' tales of journeys to heavenly realms as wishful thinking, has revealed his own encounter with the afterlife during a near-death experience, the Daily Mail reported Tuesday.
Eben Alexander spent 15 years as an academic neurosurgeon at Harvard but he was struck with a nearly fatal bout of bacterial meningitis in 2008.
He had no brain activity when he lay comatose for seven days at a Virginia hospital.
Though he was unconscious during that period, he is now describing a "hyper-vivid and completely coherent odyssey" to a place beyond, filled with butterflies and resounding music that has shaken his scientific viewpoint on human consciousness.
He says he entered a place filled with clouds and the sound of chanting, and was met by a beautiful blue-eyed woman, according to the Mail.
Alexander, 58, describes his paradigm shift from focusing solely on the scientific make up of the brain to considering the spiritual realm of the mind, in a deeply reflective essay in Newsweek in advance of the release of his book "Proof of Heaven".
Though he considered himself a nominal Christian, he said he lacked the faith to believe in eternal life.
When his patients would tell tales of going to heaven during near death experiences, he relied on "current medical understanding of the brain and mind" and disregarded them as wishful thinking.