Wednesday, March 25, 2015

The Heart-Shaped Leaf

The Heart-Shaped Leaf

by Bob Peterson

Taken from my journal, 24 March 2015:

Today after work, I decided to mail some bills. As I was leaving the apartment, my inner voice said, “Lock the door. You should take a walk.” I locked the door and went to the mailbox to mail the bills. Afterward, I started heading toward Brushy Creek park.

I thought, Well, I suppose I could use the exercise. I asked my inner voice, “Where am I going?” It responded, “Your assistance is needed.”

When I got to the path, I asked, “Which way? Right or left?” It said, “Right. Then over the bridge, past the skate park, down the right-hand path. Then circle around the park counterclockwise. Not down by the creek; stay on the sidewalk.”

So I walked. Twenty minutes or so later, I turned the corner and saw a small leaf on the sidewalk. It was heart-shaped. My inner voice said, “Love is everywhere. People just don't see it. You don't see it often enough.” I stopped and looked at the leaf. It was unusual; not like one of the nearby trees, but from a lily from the nearby creek. What was it doing here?

I kept walking. A couple hundred feet later, I saw an old man (in his eighties?) with a bright pink kid's bicycle, overturned. As I got close, I saw that the chain had come off the bike. Another man was trying to help him, but was unable to feed the chain back on the bike because a plastic chain guard was in the way.

I pulled out the handy leatherman tool from my pocket and unscrewed the plastic guard and removed it. The younger man held the bike while I fed the bicycle chain back on. Then I tightened the wheel so the chain wouldn't come off again. Next, I put the plastic chain guard back on and screwed it down tight.

The old man was very grateful and thanked me. He said, “I stopped carrying tools many years ago. Thank you so much.” He called his granddaughter from the nearby playground and soon they were on their way.

As I walked away, I asked my inner voice, “This was all a setup, wasn't it? The walk, the heart-shaped leaf, and everything.” It sent me an inner smile and said, “Service where service is needed.” I've heard that many times from it in similar “errands.”

I scolded myself. “I should have taken a photo of that leaf.” My inner voice said, “Want another? I'll give you a better one.”

Ten minutes later, as I walked back toward the apartment, I saw another, bigger heart-shaped leaf on the sidewalk. This time I took a photo of it and smiled.

24 March 2015

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Review: Astral Projection by Janet Bord

Review: Astral Projection

by Janet Bord

Today I'm reviewing Janet Bord's 1973 book "Astral Projection." This was probably one of the first books I ever read on astral projection because when I started my quest in 1979, there wasn't much else available. Muldoon, Monroe, Crookall, and a few others.

The first thing to note is that it's a small book, about 7 by 4 inches. It's also short: just 62 pages. Still, it's got a small font, so there's a fair amount of information inside.

The author is not an experiencer; she's just an author who researched the subject and wrote a book about it. She collected OBE accounts and did her own informal surveys. In that respect, it's very basic and doesn't treat the subject in any great depth.

This book basically just tries to answer some basic questions, in five chapters:
  1. What is Astral Projection?
  2. A Case History
  3. When Does It Happen?
  4. What Does It Feel Like?
  5. Can It Be Induced At Will?
The first chapter describes OBEs and what they're like. It talks about the astral body, the silver cord, and so forth. It cites several OBE accounts to describe these things. It mentions that OBEs mostly happen once in a lifetime to many people, and very few have more than one. Despite that, Bord got the help of OBE adepts to go into a bit more depth. In other words, she wasn't just skimming the surface.

Chapter two is about obe of those adepts, Mrs. C.A. of London, who has had many OBEs. It has several of her OBE narratives. (I love OBE narratives).

Chapter three talks about the different things that can trigger OBEs, and in that respect, it reminded me of Robert Crookall's OBE books, but it wasn't as detailed: it was pretty basic information.

Chapter four talks about the vibrations, exit sensations, exit noises, hypnagogic imagery, and so forth. It was good, solid information.

The last chapter contains instructions from repeat OBErs on exactly how they self-induce their OBEs. There are only two methods described, but both are interesting to read. The first involves using mirrors to memorize yourself from another perspective, then using your imagination to transfer your consciousness to the astral body. The second method involves relaxing and drawing all your awareness into your head, trying to center the seat of your consciousness at your pineal gland.

This book is small, but well organized and well written. The information is very basic, but solid. It's perfect for someone who knows nothing, but is curious about OBEs. It doesn't go into any great depth, so it won't satisfy people who are familiar with the subject. If you're looking for depth, read Frederick Aardema's, Robert Monroe's, or William Buhlman's book.

Bob Peterson
17 March 2015

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Are OBEs the same as Lucid Dreams?

Are OBEs the same as Lucid Dreams?

By Bob Peterson

Are out-of-body experiences the same as Lucid Dreams? Some people insist they're the same phenomenon, but I believe they're different.

I'm not alone in this belief. In their 1985 book With the Eyes of the Mind, professional psychiatrists Glenn Gabbard and Stuart Twemlow compared OBEs to several different phenomena in psychology, such as lucid dreaming, autoscopy, schizophrenia, depersonalization and other body boundary disturbances. They concluded OBEs are different. As respected professionals, they did not speculate on what exactly OBEs are; they just said that OBEs don't fit into any of these categories; they belong in their own category.

I presented some of their findings in tabular format in my second book, Lessons Out of the Body (Hampton Roads Publishing, 2001), supplementing the information with my own findings.

In his 2008 book Lucid Dreaming: Gateway to the Inner Self, author Robert Waggoner also agreed that they're different, and gave some of his own findings.

In March 2014, I tabulated this information and gave a talk at INACS (Institute for Neuroscience and Consciousness Studies) in Austin, Texas. Some day, the talk will hopefully be made available online, but in the meantime, I'm presenting some of the information here.

Here are some of the differences noted by Gabbard and Twemlow: 
OBE vs. LD: Gabbard and Twemlow (1985)
OBE vs. LD: Gabbard and Twemlow (1985)

Here are some of the differences noted by Robert Waggoner:
OBE vs. LD: Robert Waggoner (2008)
Here are some of my own observations:
OBE vs. LD: Peterson (2001)
OBE vs. LD: Peterson (2001)
OBE vs. LD: Peterson (2001)
I realize that many of the things in the lists are subjective. For example, saying the "OBEer perceives himself or herself as separate" is largely a matter of interpretation: it depends on what the experiencer thinks happened, and in that regard, it doesn't hold much weight.

I would be remiss if I didn't mention some of the many similarities: both are fully conscious experiences with similar features, including floating, flying, meeting dead relatives, walking through walls; even seeing tunnels.

Was it a lucid dream or an OBE?

Unless you've experienced both OBEs and lucid dreams side by side, it's hard to tell the difference. So what can you do if you're having an experience and can't tell if it's an OBE or a lucid dream? Here are some things you can check:
  • How "stable" is the environment?
    If you wipe your visual field with your hand (Frederick Aardema's technique) or say aloud, "All thought forms must now disappear." (Robert Waggoner's technique) does your environment change? OBEs tend to have a more stable environment, whereas lucid dreams are dynamic.
  • Can you control the environment?
    Can you make a door appear by an act of will? If so, this is likely a lucid dream. Acts of will often won't affect your environment in an OBE. This isn't always a good indicator, because lucid dreams sometimes seem to be uncontrollable.
  • Do your expectations affect your experience?
    If you see a door and "expect" a beautiful woman to be on the other side, when you open the door, is she there? If so, this is probably a lucid dream. In an OBE, your experiences are often not influenced by your expectations, and often your expectations aren't met.
  • Is your eyesight normal?
    If your eyesight seems mostly "normal," this is likely a lucid dream. In an OBE, vision tends to be otherworldly. You can often see in all directions at once. Sometimes you can't see anything at all, but you can "feel" everything around you with your mind. Sometimes eyesight is cloudy, hazy, or distorted.
  • Is your body image exactly like the physical?
    In a lucid dream, your dream body is usually an exact copy of the physical body. You have a fully integrated body image. In an OBE, your body image will often be "on demand". I like to call it "Schrodinger's Body": same principle as Schrodinger's cat: your body image is in an indeterminate state until you think about it. If you don't think about your arm, it will likely not exist. As soon as you think about it, you can see it and feel it.
  • Can you be bored?
    In an OBE, you can be bored and do absolutely nothing. In a lucid dream, events often unfold in front of you. Often, you need motion or movement to keep your environment stable. Sometimes lucid dreamers will purposely spin to keep their environment stable. I've never heard of anyone bored in a lucid dream.
  • Did you see your physical body?
    If you saw your physical body, chances are this was an OBE. People don't tend to see their body in a lucid dream.
  • Did you have a sexual encounter?
    Sexual encounters are common in lucid dreams, and the sex feels convincingly real / physical. In an OBE, sexual content is rare, and when it does happen, it's often not like physical sex. It's more like a euphoric or spacey whole-body energy transfer, an electrical or static discharge, or an explosion of consciousness.
You can transition from a lucid dream into the out-of-body state. I wrote another article on that here: Turning Lucid Dreams into OBE.

Another one of my articles focused on my theory of the four out-of-body states as shown in the diagram at the top. You can find that article here: The Four Out-of-Body States

Bob Peterson
03 March 2015

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Review: Astral Projection Made Easy

Review: Astral Projection Made Easy

by E.J. Gold

This time I'm reviewing "Astral Projection Made Easy" by E.J. Gold.

Who can resist a book with that name? You can, and should.

The book is 195 pages, which seems big compared to some of the recent books I've reviewed, but it's still a quick read. Every page really only has a paragraph or three, and the rest of it is taken by a photo from the author's workshops. The photos have strange captions, like "Etheric Body workout with E.J." which shows a classroom full of people, apparently giving their physical body a workout. Or people gathered around slot machines gambling in Reno, Nevada. There's literally a photo like this on every page, none of which seem relevant to out-of-body experiences except to tout the author's workshops.

First Gold sounds serious, talking about how there are seven bodies, and how we need to learn to leave one before the next. The first body is the "organic (physical) body," followed by the "Etheric body," followed by the "Astral body." This is not unlike some occult traditions, like Theosophy, but Gold insists we need to learn to inhabit the Etheric body, and gain mastery of that first, before learning to travel in the astral body.

Next, he openly admits that he didn't invent his technique; he learned it from other people.

Then he goes off on a wild tangent about having created a special "Astral Projection headband" you can buy in several pricing levels, the most expensive being $225.00, which he calls the "High-Quality Astral Projection Headband with five Highest Quality Beta-Blocker devices". The cheapest model, "Profound Poverty Model," is only $35.00. They have no moving parts or electronics, but he says, "The Headband works First Time Every Time without fail." I wasn't sure if he was joking or serious. He was serious.

After that, he describes a classic and popular OBE technique, "The Target Technique," in decent detail. This is actually a pretty good, thorough description of this technique. Unfortunately, that's the only technique described in the book, and the book's only redeeming value.

Of course, you can make it easier by buying his headband. And you can buy his specially made target cards that are supposedly easier to find in the out-of-body state.

He talks about why we're stuck in an organic body to begin with. According to him, it's because we've encountered something scary, and this physical world is the only place to hide from the fear. We're here to resolve fears. Yeah. Right. (Darn. I always thought it was to learn love.)

Next, he goes back to talking about his headbands and how they're made personally by him, and how difficult they are to make, and that's why they're expensive. There are supposedly electronic components, but no power source. There are essential oils and fumigation, but they're covered up by laminate, so you'll never smell them. He "charges them up," although he doesn't say how, or with what.

Next, he talks about how he's available for personal coaching--for a price. You can buy his personalized training for the price of a weekend workshop, only $275-$350.

Then he addresses the problem of when you aren't sure if you've actually moved your etheric body.
"That you didn't happen to notice whether or not you were out-of-body doesn't mean you weren't out-of-body." (pg. 151)
Oh really? I can be out-of-body and not even notice it? After you do the target technique walk-through, physically:
"And then you do the same thing with your Etheric Body, but perhaps you don't know that you actually did it. You're unsure of your experience. What's going on there?" (pg. 156)

I'm sorry, but in my experience, if you're in your etheric body, you'll know it. Your physical body will be just another inanimate object in the room. OBEs are a LOT more than flights of imagination; I guarantee that, but Gold seems to think that you might not even realize you're having one!

Now granted, a nonphysical component can be coaxed away from your body while you're conscious awareness is still inside your body. Author Robert Bruce talks about that. But if your consciousness is still in the physical, that's not an OBE.

Much of the book is spent describing Gold's various workshops he conducts every year. In page after page he describes the different events, often going into casinos and gambling. And walking. And talking. And eating. And partying. And...and...where are the actual OBE techniques? Do they do that?

He conducts a lot of workshops every year, for a price. Pages 164 through 172 are entirely dedicated to describing his art class called "Draw what you saw." Dressed in a thin disguise of wanting to draw your astral adventures, he'll show you how to draw portraits, landscapes, flowers, trees, houses, and anything else you see on the astral plane. Of course, you can also buy his books about sketching.

He's also got other courses for sale: location by coordinates, precognitive functions, shapeshifter training, fear workshop, decisions workshop, enrobement and symbology, wearable targeting, and last but not least, afterlife adventures. But wait! There's more! Now for a limited time:
"You can take the Trainer's Course at the same time and then when you're a certified trainer, you can teach Astral Projection in your home-town, or go on the road with a training tour." (pg. 163).
What was that? Now he's promising--for a price--to make you a master and certified trainer of astral projection. You've got to be kidding me.

Aside from the Target Technique, he never does tell you how to astral project. He gives some theories about Etheric projection (which I already said I largely disagree with), but aside from that, there's nothing. Just nothing.

This book does nothing but sell, sell, sell, sell, sell you things: headbands, bracelets, books, workshops, personal training, or whatever. There's really no practical information about out-of-body experiences or astral projection. You're suckered in with promises of "Astral Projection Made Easy" when the author seems to just try for "Money Made Easy."

I'm sorry for being so negative and cynical. For me, it's never been about the money. This guy is just over-the-top flimflam like I've never seen before in the genre. There's nothing to see here...move along. Thumbs way down.

Bob Peterson
24 February 2015

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

My "Otherwhere" Story

My "Otherwhere" Story

By Bob Peterson

Way back in fall of 1996, months before my first book had been published, Kathy and I had planned a mini-vacation to the East coast. We were sitting in the Minneapolis International airport, waiting to board a flight to Boston, when a man approached me. He looked at the T-shirt I was wearing and said, "That logo on your shirt: It's from the Monroe Institute, isn't it?"

"Yes it is," I remarked. I was surprised; the Monroe Institute didn't have that much name recognition in 1996, and the shirt didn't have any writing; just the TMI logo. I asked, "Are you familiar with them?"

He said, "Yes. They do out-of-body experiences, right?"

So like age-old friends who had just met, we started talking about OBEs, life and spirituality. I introduced myself and told him I had written a book about my OBEs and I was waiting for it to be published. It had been more than a year and I was getting very impatient.

He introduced himself as Kurt Leland, and he said he had had many OBEs himself. I asked him to tell me about some of his OBEs, which he proceeded to do. They were fascinating and I was enthralled. I said, "Those are really awesome OBEs, man. You should write a book about them."

He asked, "Really? You think so? They're not too boring?" He seemed really hesitant about the idea of writing a book about his OBEs, even though he was already an author and had written a book called Menus for Impulsive Living.

I said, "Absolutely. When I get back home, I'll send you the contact info for my publisher, Hampton Roads Publishing. They're slow as molasses, but they're really good."

Leland thanked me, then invited us to visit his apartment in Jamaica Plain, a suburb of Boston. He told me he channeled an entity named "Charles" for a small group of friends, and asked if we wanted to come.

That night, we followed Kurt's instructions and took the train system out to his apartment. It was a long ride. I seem to recall we had to ride the train to the last stop, then walk two or three blocks further to his cozy apartment on Spaulding Street. The evening with Charles was wonderful; Kathy had never seen a live channeler in person before.

At the end of the evening, I told Kurt again that he needed to write a book about his OBEs, and that I'd send him my publisher's contact info. The following February, 1997, I sent him all the info, along with another encouraging letter.

A year or so later, Kurt mailed me an early proof of his book, Otherwhere with a letter of thanks. It was published by Hampton Roads. I feltvery proud and had a wide smile on my face. It was finally published in 2001.

Many years later, a woman came up to me at some event and asked, "Have you ever heard of an OBE author named Kurt Leland? His book Otherwhere is just awesome. It's my favorite OBE book. You really need to read it."

I laughed and told her the story. "I'm the one who told Kurt to write it! If it wasn't for me and my encouragement, that book might not have been written. I still have an original proof of the book."

Two other times, I've had people come up and tell me the same thing; this happened again just a few weeks ago, in January, 2015.

It's been many years since I read Otherwhere, but I still have fond memories of it. I may need to re-read it again to give it a proper book review.

10 February 2015

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Review: Astral Projection by Richard Craze

Review: Astral Projection

by Richard Craze

Today I'm reviewing Astral Projection: A Beginner's Guide by Richard Craze.

Don't be fooled by this book's size. It's only 92 pages long, but it's got small margins and a very small font, so it makes very good use of that space. There's a lot of information packed into this small package. The information is good, too. It's a nice mixture of (a) practical OBE information, (b) OBE narratives (although not his own), and (c) techniques.

The practical information is a good solid introduction to the subject, which is just what the subtitle promised: A beginner's guide.

The narratives are pretty typical for OBEs, but some are quite amusing. I especially loved the narrative from "Beth" who found herself standing next to her husband, who was peacefully sleeping in bed. Then she saw another woman lying next to him. In a fit of jealousy, she:
"...didn't stop to think about who she was or what she was doing there. It never occurred to me that I'd been in bed with him and that there couldn't be anyone else there with him. I flew round the bed in a dreadful rage and I mean 'flew'. It still didn't dawn on me that something bizarre was going on."
"I got to the woman's side of the bed and tried to attack her. It's obvious now that it was no use. I couldn't hit her or pull her out of bed. Somehow my hands didn't work. They didn't go through her or anything like you see in films. They just didn't work properly. It was then that I realized that I was trying to attack myself. It was such a shock that I screamed. Then I woke up and I was myself again." (pg. 32)
Craze gives a full 22 different OBE techniques, which is quite a lot for the genre. Kudos for that. Some of them are borrowed from other books and sources, but some seem unique, and he does a good job of describing them concisely. Some of them have different variants. In other words, they're really more than 22 techniques. For example, he gives five different OBE meditations, all under one "technique."

Looking on Amazon, it seems that Craze is the author of many books, but unlike some authors, he's done his homework. He's not writing from experience, but he's done enough research to know what he's talking about. I don't agree 100% with everything he says (I rarely do). For example on page 43, he says that:
"...there seem to be no reports of anyone seeing anything frightening or 'hellish' or nasty." (pg. 43)
Although reports of hellish environments are very rare in the genre, they do exist. The book was written in 1996, so it's a bit outdated by more recent information. Still, the basics haven't changed much.

Another thing I liked is that there's no ego, no snotty "I'm the master" attitude you find in some books. It's just good solid information.

The book is laid out in bite-sized sections with headings so you can pick it up and put it down at your convenience. It flows nicely. It's well organized. There aren't any spelling of grammatical errors, although the author is British, so you will find an occasional British colloquialism.

I'm giving this book a thumbs up. It's listed as $0.01 on, plus $3.99 shipping. It's a very good deal for four dollars.

Bob Peterson
03 Feb 2015

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Review: Out-of-Body Exploration

Review: Out-of-Body Exploration

by Jerry Mulvin

I've had this book in my collection for so long that I had forgotten I'd already read it. I've been pretty busy lately, so I decided to reread it just because it's small (78 pages). My review will be small, too, because there's not much to say about it.

Please do NOT buy this book. Let me explain.

At first the author, Jerry Mulvin, sounds just like Eckankar. Starting on page 1, the book talks about surrendering to "The Master" (in other words, Mulvin):
"You must approach the Spiritual techniques with a child-like innocence, the anticipation of taking a journey with the Master."
He writes about how "Soul Travel" is supposedly superior to astral projection or projections to other planes of existence. He talks about how:
"Astral traveling is just another very clever trap perpetrated by the NEGATIVE FORCE to keep Soul identified with the Astral world. Do all your inner traveling in the Soul body with the Master. That is the safe and natural way to travel outside one's physical body." (pages 16-17)
He doesn't mention Eckankar (or any of their supposed nonphysical masters), but just like them, he talks about how his "Divine Science of Light and Sound" is an ancient science and the only true path to God (Eckankar makes similar claims).

Like any good cult leader, Mulvin claims to be the soul representative of God on Earth:
"The Master is the vehicle as designated by SAT-NAM for the GOD FORCE . . . that which flows downward from the Supreme Being to SAT-NAM. The Master acts as a transformer for the GOD FORCE throughout the lower worlds for his students." (pg. 27).

I didn't want to bias my reading too much by the Internet, so I didn't google Mulvin until after I'd finished reading the book. A simple search produced several articles of unknown repute, claiming Mulvin was:
  • At one point a high-up official of Eckankar being groomed to replace Paul Twitchell.
  • Broke away from Eckankar, claiming he was given the role of "Master" by the non-physical masters themselves. This supposedly created quite a controversy in the ranks of Eckankar.
  • Appears in the Encyclopedia of Cults, Sects and New Religions.
  • A registered sex offender in the state of Arizona. You can even find Mugshots. I don't know if this is true or not.

This book is a confusing mixture of half-truths (such as discussing kundalini and the chakras) geared toward reverence to "The Master" (Mulvin), if necessary, breaking ties with friends and family.

Make no mistake: This is a cult book written by a cult leader. Stay far far away from it.

Bob Peterson
22 January 2015