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18056A Teachable Moment: Esquire Versus Dr. Eben Alexander

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  • NHNE News
    Jul 12 1:07 AM
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      EDITOR'S COMMENT:

      All of you already know that Esquire published a hard hitting expose'
      about NDEr and New York Times best-selling author, Dr. Eben Alexander. I
      posted major portions of this important article on NHNE Pulse, and all
      of it on NHNE's NDE main NDE network. Within a couple days of posting
      this information, a lawyer representing Esquire contacted me and asked
      me to remove the content from both websites, which I did. You can read
      the letter I received here:

      http://nhne-pulse.org/esquire-challenges-dr-eben-alexanders-credibility-story/

      In order to keep this information in the public domain, I have since
      summarized it. In Sedona's Tuesday night NDE class, I presented this
      summary, along with additional background information, videos, reader
      comments, and preliminary take-aways. To see, read, and watch
      everything, go here:

      http://nhne-nde.org/070913-nde-class-notes/

      An email version follows which, unfortunately, does not contain all the
      links and formatting. You'll need to visit the link above to access
      everything.

      While the summary portion of this post contains information not found in
      Esquire's original article, the information that you will probably be
      most interested in follows thereafter...

      -- David Sunfellow

      P.S. NHNE's Summer Fundraiser is almost over. If you find posts like
      this one valuable, please consider sending in a few bucks to keep NHNE's
      engines running...

      ...................

      A TEACHABLE MOMENT: ESQUIRE VERSUS DR. EBEN ALEXANDER

      http://nhne-nde.org/070913-nde-class-notes/

      Speaking of the dark side, a rare and wonderful opportunity to learn
      more about this subject erupted this past week around Dr. Eben Alexander
      and his best-selling book, Proof of Heaven. Here's a report from NBC
      that we watched in class:

      http://nhne-nde.org/070913-nde-class-notes/

      What, exactly, is going on here? Who's telling the truth? Who's lying,
      dodging, fudging, and generally playing fast and loose with the facts?

      The current controversy erupted with Esquire publishing a lengthy
      article by Luke Dittrich. Here's a summary.


      THE DARK SIDE OF ESQUIRE & LUKE DITTRICH

      • In order to read Dittrich's article, you had to pay 1.99. Some people
      felt that Esquire published this article, and locked it behind a
      mircopayment door, to ride the coat tails of Alexander's book, which has
      reportedly sold over two million copies. More charitable views suggested
      that Esquire, like many other print publications, was simply
      experimenting with new ways to generate income from its online and
      digital resources.

      • It appears that Dittrich intended to write, and Esquire intended to
      publish, an expose' on Alexander from the get go. Unfortunately for
      Alexander, he apparently didn't realize this until it was too late.

      • The finished article doesn't beat around the bush. It immediately
      calls Alexander's credibility into question. And then, step by step,
      makes its case, uses damning facts that are drilled home by clever
      writing techniques.

      So what, exactly, did the Esquire article say? The summary I shared in
      class is included below. To read the complete article, go here:

      http://www.esquire.com/features/the-prophet


      THE PROPHET
      By Luke Dittrich
      July 2, 2013
      Esquire

      "Before Proof of Heaven made Dr. Eben Alexander rich and famous as a
      'man of science' who'd experienced the afterlife, he was something else:
      a neurosurgeon with a troubled history and a man in need of reinvention."


      OVERVIEW

      • Dittrich personally interviewed Alexander several times, including at
      his home in Lynchburg, Virginia.

      • Dittrich provides a quick outline of Alexander's history: He was
      adopted, athletic, loved science fiction, became an enthusiastic
      skydiver, dreamt of flying on the space shuttle, of helping to build the
      International Space Station, went to medical school instead and grew up
      in the shadow of his famous neurosurgeon father.

      • He became an expert in stereotactic radiosurgery, a type of treatment
      that burned away the problems inside a patient's brain, cauterizing
      aneurysms, cooking tumors, without the skull even needing to be opened.

      • Many people associated with Alexander were interviewed for the story.
      The residents that went to medical school with Alexander described him
      as charming, larger than life, a charismatic barrel of energy, and
      “brilliant”. He also liked to wear bow ties.


      UNFOCUSED, WITH A TENDENCY TO "DOCTOR" MEDICAL RECORDS

      After Dittrich provides basic background information about Alexander, he
      begins to paint a very unflattering picture of Alexander. While other
      attending surgeons could completely lose themselves in an operation,
      Dittrich says that Alexander wasn't like that:

      "He'd come rushing into the OR, talking to the nurses and the residents
      and anyone else who'd listen, rambling about near-earth asteroids or
      dark matter or whatever other topic in astrophysics he'd been reading
      about in his spare time. It would take him a while to get down to
      business, to focus on the matter at hand."

      This comment helps set the stage for the first malpractice suit that
      Dittrich mentions. This law suit was filed by a woman who suffered
      partial facial paralysis as the result of an operation that Alexander
      performed. She claimed that Alexander had not adequately informed her of
      the risks. The woman's lawyer, according to Dittrich, also suggested
      that Alexander had doctored her records:

      "When Alexander found things that didn't fit the story he wanted to
      tell, he changed them, or made them disappear."

      Alexander settled.

      Later on in the article, Dittrich discusses another malpractice suit in
      which Alexander operated on the wrong part of a patient's spine. Worse,
      Alexander not only didn't tell the patient about it, but he altered the
      patient's medical records to make it look like he had operated on the
      correct part. Writes Dittrich:

      "On August 6, 2008, the patient filed a $3 million lawsuit against
      Alexander, accusing him of negligence, battery, spoliation, and fraud.
      The purported cover-up, the changes Alexander had made to the surgical
      report, was a major aspect of the suit. Once again, a lawyer was
      accusing Alexander of altering the historical record when the historical
      record didn't fit the story he wanted to tell."

      And once again, Alexander settled.

      Dittrich reports that Alexander settled on another case that took place
      two weeks after the first botched job in which Alexander operated on the
      wrong vertebra of another patient. He also settled with a woman who sued
      him for leaving a small piece of plastic in her neck.

      While malpractice suits are apparently not unusual in high risk surgery,
      Dittrich wanted to make three basic points:

      1. Alexander was involved in more malpractice suits than usual:

      “By the time all his pending cases are resolved, Alexander will have
      settled five malpractice cases in the last ten years. Only one other
      Virginia-licensed neurosurgeon has settled as many cases in that time
      period, and none have settled more.”

      2. Alexander had a habit of doctoring medical records.

      3. Is it ethical to write a book in which you present yourself as a
      famous and well-respected neurosurgeon without mentioning you've also
      been involved in several malpractice suits, been fined by The Virginia
      Board of Medicine, and ordered to take continuing education classes in
      ethics and professionalism?

      Towards the end of the article, Dittrich actually asks Alexander about
      this directly. We'll get there in a moment. What's important to add now
      is that Alexander does, in fact, allude to these problems in his book.
      After mentioning that he struggled with -- and overcame -- a drinking
      problem in medical school, he talks about how an emotionally brutal
      experience in his life pushed him over the edge again. The incident
      involved learning that after he had been put up for adoption as a child,
      his birth parents got married and had three more children, all three of
      whom they kept and raised. According to Alexander, this information
      completely derailed him, both emotionally and professionally.

      "So I struggled. And I watched in disbelief as my roles as doctor,
      father, and husband became ever more difficult to fulfill. Seeing that I
      was not my best self, Holley [Alexander's wife] set us up for a course
      of couples counseling. Though she only partially understood what was
      causing it, she forgave me for falling into this ditch of despair and
      did whatever she could to pull me up out of it. My depression had
      ramifications in my work. My parents were, of course, aware of this
      change, and though I knew they too forgave it, it killed me that my
      career in academic neurosurgery was slumping -- and all they could do
      was watch from the sidelines."

      -- Page 57, Proof of Heaven

      Dittrich apparently didn't feel that this general admission went far
      enough. Besides malpractice suits and the repeating pattern of doctoring
      medical records, which you can learn more about by clicking here, there
      were also other issues.


      TURBULENT RELATIONSHIPS WITH BOSSES & EMPLOYERS

      Dittrich reports that there were conflicts with bosses and institutions
      where Alexander had worked -- some that were dramatic enough to end up
      in the pages of a best-selling novel that Alexander contributed to.


      WHAT'S UP WITH CHUCK?

      Chuck shows up in the opening pages of Alexander's book. He is
      identified as a fellow skydiver. What makes Chuck significant is that
      Alexander makes Chuck the central figure in an elaborate
      near-skydiving-crash that convinced him that there was a part of us that
      was deeper, and could react more quickly, than our brains.

      But did Chuck actually exist? And did the incident that Chuck played a
      central role in actually happen?

      Dittrich was able to track down a man named Chuck who was in the
      University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Sport Parachute Club the
      same time Alexander was. But he wouldn't return Dittrich's calls.
      Chuck's sister-in-law did. According to Dittrich, the sister-in-law read
      Proof of Heaven and immediately thought to herself that the Chuck in the
      book must have been her brother-in-law. Via email, she contacted Chuck
      and Chuck told her that he remembered Alexander. He didn't, however,
      remember anything like the incident Alexander describes in his book.

      What does Alexander have to say about this? Dittrich writes:

      "It's not Chuck," Alexander says today. "I probably should have put a
      disclaimer in the front of the book saying that Chuck is not Chuck. It
      is actually somebody not named Chuck. Because I cannot give the name of
      the person it was. Because the attorneys at Simon & Schuster would be
      mad at me. Because potentially they did something wrong. Potentially
      they were liable for causing trouble, etc., etc. So I am under very
      strict advice from the Simon & Schuster attorneys not to divulge who
      that was."

      So he had changed the character's name to Chuck, which happened to be
      the real name of someone he did skydive with?

      "It's not Chuck," he repeats. "It's not Chuck."

      Is he still in touch with Chuck?

      "No."

      And fake Chuck?

      "No, I don't know what happened to fake Chuck."


      WEATHER REPORTS & MISSING RAINBOWS

      There are also problems with the weather. In Chapter 21 of Alexander's
      book -- a chapter called "The Rainbow" -- Alexander reports that his
      sister, Phyllis pulls into the hospital parking lot where he is staying.
      After reading a text message from a member of a prayer group that said
      "expect a miracle" she notices a perfect rainbow. Later that day,
      Alexander miraculously came out of his seven-day-long coma.

      After noting that "every part of [Alexander's] story seems to be
      connected to every other part in mysterious ways," Dittrich says that he
      contacted Dave Wert, meteorologist in charge at the National Oceanic and
      Atmospheric Administration office that encompasses Lynchburg and asked
      him to review the weather records for the week of November 10 through
      16. Could there have been a rainbow on the morning of the sixteenth?
      "No," Wert says.


      COMAS & CALLING OUT FOR HELP

      There are also problems with Alexander's coma. Was it caused by a rare
      case of E. coli bacteria meningitis? Or was it caused by one of
      Alexander's attending physicians, Dr. Laura Potter? According to
      Dittrich, the answer is Dr. Laura Potter and her fellow doctors. They
      induced a coma so they could treat Alexander and keep him safe.

      Was he in a coma for all seven days he was in the hospital? Apparently
      not, as Dr. Potter reports that when they tried to wake him to see what
      he would do, he awakened in the same agitated state that he arrived at
      the hospital.

      In his book, Alexander writes that in the final moments before leaving
      the emergency room, after two straight hours of guttural animal wails
      and groaning, he became quiet. Then he shouted three words that were
      heard by all the doctors and nurses present. The three words?

      "God, help me!"

      Dr. Potter, according to Dittrich, has no recollection of this. After
      intubating Alexander more than an hour before he left the emergency
      room, which included putting a plastic tube down his throat, through his
      vocal cords, and into his trachea, she told Dittrich that she couldn't
      imagine him speaking at all.

      Significantly, while Alexander told Dittrich that he would allow three
      doctors who treated him to speak about his case, his medical records are
      confidential and he does not plan to make them public.


      PUBLISHERS CREATE CATCHY TITLE & ALTER CONTENT

      According to Dittrich, the title of Alexander's book, Proof of Heaven,
      was generated during a meeting the Alexander didn't attend -- a meeting
      between executives at Simon & Schuster and executives at various ABC
      television programs, including Good Morning America, 20/20, and Nightline.

      Dittrich remind's Alexander of what he said about his book's title and
      asks whether there were any parts of the book's contents he would
      concede "are similarly hyperbolic." He says no, there are not. But
      P.M.H. Atwater disagrees. In her November 13, 2012 newsletter, she writes:

      “There is one factual error in the book on page 78, where he states that
      he was allowed to die harder, and travel deeper, than almost all other
      NDE subjects. Almost all? Well, not exactly true, but sort-of. Come to
      find out his editor insisted that this line be in the book, even though
      Eben did not agree and felt it was a stretch. Seems to be the way of
      publishing these days -- when in doubt, exaggerate. There are several
      who evidenced medical conditions similar to Eben’s…”

      After detailing all the information I have summarized above, Dittrich
      now enters the home stretch. Here's how he describes his last interview
      with Alexander, which took place via Skype:

      We talk about rainstorms and intubations and chemically induced comas,
      and I can see it in his face, the moment he knows for sure that the
      story I've been working on is not the one he wanted me to tell.

      "What I'm worried about," he says, "is that you're going to be so busy
      trying to smash out these little tiny fires that you're going to miss
      the big point of the book."

      I ask whether an account of his professional struggles should have been
      included in a book that rests its authority on his professional credentials.

      He says no, because medical boards in various states investigated the
      malpractice allegations and concluded he could retain his license. And
      besides, that's all in the past. "The fact of the matter," he says of
      the suits, "is they don't matter at all to me.... You cannot imagine how
      minuscule they appear in comparison to what I saw, where I went, and the
      message that I bring back."

      His survival is a miracle, he says. His doctors told him that he is
      alive when he should be dead, and he believes intensely that he is alive
      for a reason, to spread the word about the love awaiting us all in
      heaven. To heal.

      By focusing on the inconsistencies in his story, on recollections that
      don't seem to add up, on a court-documented history of revising facts,
      on the distinctions between natural and medically induced comas, he
      says, is to miss the forest for the trees. That's all misleading stuff,
      irrelevant to his journey and story.

      Toward the end, there's a note of pleading in his voice.

      "I just think that you're doing a grave disservice to your readers to
      lead them down a pathway of thinking that any of that is, is relevant.
      And I just, I really ask, as a friend, don't..."


      THE DALAI LAMA: EXTRAORDINARY CLAIMS REQUIRE RELIABLE WITNESSES

      Finally, Dittrich brings the Dalai Lama into the fray. He describes the
      "Life and After Life" symposium which took place at Maitripa College in
      Portland, Oregon on May 10, 2013. Along with other scientists and
      scholars, the Dalai Lama and Dr. Eben Alexander both attended this
      conference. Dr. Alexander spoke first. Then the Dalai Lama. As Dittrich
      describes the event, you are given the impression that the Dalai Lama
      thought Alexander might be playing fast and loose with his facts. Here's
      how Dittrich describes the encounter:

      The Dalai Lama is not a native English speaker, and when it's his turn
      to speak, he does so much less smoothly than Alexander, sometimes
      stopping and snapping his fingers when a word escapes him, or turning to
      his interpreter for help when he's really stuck. He is not using notes,
      and the impression he gives is that of a man speaking off the cuff. He
      opens with a brief discourse about the parallels between the Buddhist
      and Shinto conceptions of the afterlife, and then, after glancing over
      at Alexander, changes the subject. He explains that Buddhists categorize
      phenomena in three ways. The first category are "evident phenomena,"
      which can be observed and measured empirically and directly. The second
      category are "hidden phenomena," such as gravity, phenomena that can't
      be seen or touched but can be inferred to exist on the basis of the
      first category of phenomena. The third category, he says, are "extremely
      hidden phenomena," which cannot be measured at all, directly or
      indirectly. The only access we can ever have to that third category of
      phenomena is through our own first-person experience, or through the
      first-person testimony of others.

      "Now, for example," the Dalai Lama says, "his sort of experience."

      He points at Alexander.

      "For him, it's something reality. Real. But those people who never sort
      of experienced that, still, his mind is a little bit sort of..." He taps
      his fingers against the side of his head. "Different!" he says, and
      laughs a belly laugh, his robes shaking. The audience laughs with him.
      Alexander smiles a tight smile.

      "For that also, we must investigate," the Dalai Lama says. "Through
      investigation we must get sure that person is truly reliable." He wags a
      finger in Alexander's direction. When a man makes extraordinary claims,
      a "thorough investigation" is required, to ensure "that person reliable,
      never telling lie," and has "no reason to lie."

      Did Dittrich fairly and accurately describe this encounter? You can
      decide for yourself. Here's a videotape of the event. The portion that
      Dittrich is referring to begins at 0:46:05.

      [youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-inGigVypl4[/youtube]


      BIG FINISH

      Dittrich continues and ends his article with this:

      Alexander listens quietly, occasionally fidgeting with the program in
      his hands. He's a long way from home, and even further from the man he
      once was. It's been a dizzying journey, but his path forward seems set.
      He's told people that God granted him so much knowledge, so much wisdom,
      so many secrets, that he will have to spend his entire life unpacking it
      all, doling it out bit by bit. He's already working on the follow-up to
      Proof of Heaven. In the meantime, anyone can pay sixty dollars to access
      his webinar guided-meditation series, "Discover Your Own Proof of
      Heaven," and he's been consulting with a pair of experts in
      "archaeoacoustics" to re-create some of the music that he heard while on
      his journey. You can even pay to join him on a "healing journey" through
      Greece.

      In his past life, Alexander went through some hard times, but those hard
      times are far behind him now.

      He is in a better place.

      ...................

      EBEN ALEXANDER’S STATEMENT

      What was Alexander's response to Dittrich's article? Here's the response
      that was posted on July 6th on his Facebook Page:

      For those concerned by issues raised in a recent article, Dr Alexander
      offers the following:

      "I stand by every word in my book Proof of Heaven 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."

      A complete response is forthcoming. Remember - Love has infinite power
      to heal.

      ...................

      THE NET ERUPTS

      As you might imagine, as soon as Esquire's article appeared online,
      droves of people read it and started commenting on it. In the NDE world,
      these three networks were buzzing:

      NHNE’s NDE Network
      http://nhneneardeath.ning.com/forum/topics/esquire-challenges-dr-eben-alexander-s-credibility-story

      The Near-Death Experience Research Foundation (NDERF) Network
      http://www.near-death-forums.com/viewtopic.php?f=8&t=11058

      Skeptiko
      http://forum.mind-energy.net/skeptiko-podcast/5360-esquire-misrepresents-dalai-lama-attacks-dr-eben-alexanders-nde.html

      You can also find pertinent comments on:

      Eben Alexander’s Facebook Page
      https://www.facebook.com/ReconciliationLife/posts/546745472054458

      NHNE’s NDE Facebook Page
      https://www.facebook.com/nhnende

      Most people were quick to take sides, including many who hadn't even
      bothered to read the article! They either believed Alexander had told
      the truth and was being unjustly crucified by Esquire, or they felt
      Esquire had revealed, in technicolor, that Alexander was a charlatan who
      was making a fortune selling tales of an afterlife to the gullible masses.

      Here are a few comments from Alexander's Facebook Page:

      "Don't let the bastards grind you down Doctor!!"

      "Very interesting! Esquire?!? I thought they are a progressive bunch of
      people and NOT backward thinking lying lunatics?"

      "Keep carrying the torch Dr. A. You have far more supporters than
      detractors."

      "Pseudo skeptics (media whores) trying sell their scientism masquerading
      as science and in reality hidden materialist agendas are often at work
      in these situations."

      "What you wrote was the Gospel truth Eben...Don't let the naysayers,
      scoffers and cynics get you down."

      "I was computing some numbers in my head. If Eben sold about 2 million
      books and let's say that there were 2 million book buyers who bought one
      book each; then, if Esquire were able to sell it's 'research' to, let's
      say, at most half of the book buyers, at $1.99 a pop, that's almost $2
      million revenue for Esquire. So, I guess from a marketer's perspective,
      whether the so-called critics' claim was true or not, it is still quite
      profitable. If I am a purely money-grabbing business person, I say
      'stirring the pot' is a very profitable venture. Don't you think?
      Business is business, right?"

      Of the 60 comments that I read, only one reader dared to offer a more
      thoughtful response:

      "The allegations are big and I think more evidence Is needed to support
      Eben's credibility."

      While the comments on other NDE-friendly networks were more mixed, they
      also tended to side with Alexander. Most felt Esquire's article was a
      hatchet job; they believed skeptics, materialists, atheists, Christian
      fundamentalists, and money-grubbing corporate interests were behind the
      story. Many believed Alexander’s past mistakes were not relevant because
      he has now been changed by his near-death experience and is trying to
      live more lovingly and consciously. Some NDErs also took the whole
      episode very personally; they felt that they had been misrepresented and
      abused by the mainstream media and that the same thing was now happening
      to Alexander.

      Other comments included these three gems, the last of which was written
      by me...

      ...................

      THE POT CALLING THE KETTLE BLACK
      Don O'Conner

      https://www.facebook.com/nhnende/posts/10153018325835595

      Eben Alexander says: "Esquire's cynical article... is a textbook example
      of how unsupported assertions and cherry-picked information can be
      assembled at the expense of the truth." But isn't that a two edged
      sword? Has Eben produced unsupported assertions and has he cherry-picked
      things from his experience to make things look a certain way? I'm not
      passing judgment, just stating an opinion on his statement.

      I remember the discussions on this forum when his book first came out
      and there were rumors that he had changed things in the book because
      that is what the publisher wanted. I do not know the truth of it. But I
      do know this, when I've spoken of my experiences, I spoke my truth and
      then walked away, I didn't really care whether others believed it or
      not. I was not going to argue with them, as he seems to be doing with
      the esquire story. But then again I wasn't trying to sell a book and
      make people think one way or the other.

      ...................

      EVERYTHING COULD BE FABRICATED
      Chet Day

      http://nhneneardeath.ning.com/forum/topics/esquire-challenges-dr-eben-alexander-s-credibility-story

      I agree about the necessity of serious NDE research.

      I also think people need to open their minds to the possibility that
      everything Alexander wrote about his NDE in his book was fabricated. As
      a professional writer, for example, I know it would be an interesting
      and relatively easy task to write a narrative about a personal NDE that
      the community would salivate over. That isn't something I would do, but
      such a writing project would be a relatively simple matter for anyone
      who liked to write and who had knowledge of NDEs and who knew the
      buttons to push to excite the NDE community.

      I've seen conscious deception of this magnitude (for financial and/or
      ego reasons) from best-selling authors and personalities several times
      in the natural health, enlightenment, and vegan communities, and I see
      no reason why the same thing couldn't happen in the NDE community.

      To start wrapping this up, most everyone who's taking part in this
      discussion appears to be a lot less cynical than I am, thank God, but
      the goal of the discussion is to seek truth, right?

      And, in this world, sad to say, there are many individuals fully capable
      of convincingly lying about anything for financial and/or ego reasons,
      including an NDE.

      We know from the article that Alexander is a careless surgeon who fused
      the wrong vertebrae in two different patients in a matter of weeks and
      that he doctored records in one of these two instances to cover up his
      egregious errors. Medically speaking, Eben Alexander is not just an MD
      who has been savaged by greedy lawyers to make money. Anyone who would
      doctor records to cover up serious mistakes, in my book at least, could
      also realize that a ruined medical career could be replaced by using
      neurosurgeon and MD credentials to provide scientific legitimacy to an
      NDE -- a "proof of heaven."

      America has a long history of Barnum’s who don't mind fooling the
      public... especially when BIG money is involved.

      Finally, I know that suggesting Alexander may be a fraud who fabricated
      much (if not everything substantive) in his book may not be a popular
      point of view in this discussion, but it is a point of view that
      deserves intelligent consideration.

      …………..

      AS WITHIN, SO WITHOUT
      David Sunfellow

      http://nhneneardeath.ning.com/forum/topics/esquire-challenges-dr-eben-alexander-s-credibility-story

      Wholesale fraud in Eben's case seems very unlikely to me. I [do,
      however,] agree that we must exercise conscious, careful, caring
      discernment.

      I’ll go a step further, however, and say that we all -- every single one
      of us -- have areas in our lives where shadow issues are running amuck.
      The way we view and react to people and situations on the outside, is
      usually an accurate gauge for how we are treating ourselves on the
      inside. As within, so without. Are we really, deeply looking at our own
      issues -- the places within ourselves where we lie, cut corners,
      exaggerate, refuse to see the truth, avoid admitting mistakes? Do we
      also bristle, boil, and attack others for daring to notice the undone
      areas in ourselves? Or are we able to remain calm and even-handed? Do we
      make healing, and an honest search for the truth, more important than
      saving face and getting our feathers ruffled?

      Treating myself -- and others -- with deep love and respect, while at
      the same time, holding both accountable, is an extremely tall order in
      this world. We prefer -- deeply prefer -- to swing one way or another:
      ignore all the developmental/dark side business, or jump in shoot
      everything up.

      Which reminds me of one of the most important insights I think NDEs have
      to offer us. They offer us a breathtaking example of how to live
      healthy, balanced lives. On the one hand, they use life reviews to call
      every single transgression to mind. None of us gets away with anything.
      And on the other hand, we are absolutely, wholeheartedly and
      unconditionally loved. We are not condemned for our shortcomings, but
      encouraged to become ever more full blown, crystal clear embodiments of
      the divine. That, I think, is the proper attitude.

      Again, this is a profoundly difficult posture to maintain in this world:
      to treat ourselves and one another with the same kind of discerning eye
      and loving heart that we are treated with on the other side. But that, I
      think, is what we need to strive for.

      Back to Eben. The question I’m asking myself right now is this: Am I
      treating Eben, Luke Dittrich, Esquire, and everyone else involved in
      this situation like we are treated on the other side -- in a loving,
      clear seeing, constructive way? Or am I swinging to extremes? As within,
      so without…

      ...................

      Which Way Will The Wind Blow?

      Alexander mentioned that he intends to provide a "complete response" to
      the Esquire expose'. If his response tackles the issues raised in the
      Esquire article head on, clarifying misunderstandings and admitting
      where he may have been less than honest, I will be cheering him on. If
      there is one thing this world needs, it is people who are big enough to
      admit mistakes, without resorting to blanket denials or lawyerly-worded,
      face-saving evasions.

      If, on the other had, Alexander sticks with the first statement he made
      -- that he stands by every word in his book -- then we are probably
      looking at a situation that will continue to escalate until the truth,
      whatever it is, finally emerges for all to see.

      ...................

      Take-Aways & Suggestions

      So what can you and I learn from this situation? Here are a few concrete
      suggestions:

      • Tell the truth. Tell the truth. Tell the truth. Don't embellish,
      fudge, doctor, spin, or alter facts so they read better and/or sell more
      books (or articles). And this applies as much to authors as it does to
      journalists, politicians, scientists, doctors, teachers, theologians,
      mystics, gurus, plumbers, carpenters, what have you. Tell the truth.
      Tell the truth. Tell the truth.

      • Remember that spiritual experiences do not magically make us perfect.
      If we were wounded and undeveloped beings before a spiritual experience,
      we will still need to work on the imperfect sides of our human nature
      when we return to this world.

      • Pay attention to the dark side, in both ourselves and others.

      • Rather than automatically taking sides, make a sincere effort to see
      both sides of every situation -- and extend love, compassion, and
      forgiveness to all parties, including those who have engaged in
      behaviors that are less then loving, compassionate, and forgiving
      themselves.

      As we discussed these ideas, one class member wondered aloud about
      hooking people up to some kind of lie-detector machine. That prompted me
      to mention that the days of lying are rapidly coming to an end. Along
      with the internet, which allows human beings to quickly compare notes
      with other people all over the world, we are also developing
      increasingly sophisticated methods to find out what really happened. In
      the end, it seems clear that this world is step-by-step moving closer to
      how it is on the other side of the veil. Eventually, we'll no longer be
      able to lie to ourselves or others in this world any more than we are
      able to lie to ourselves and others on the other side. We might as well
      start learning how to tell the truth, all the time, now!

      ...................

      David Sunfellow
      Founder & President
      NewHeavenNewEarth (NHNE)
      nhne@...
      Phone: (928) 239-4133
      Fax: (815) 642-0117

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