Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The New Introduction, Blanke, Persinger and Skeptics
by Bob Peterson

I got a call from my publisher a week ago. They're gearing up for the second edition of my first book, Out of Body Experiences: How to Have Them and What to Expect and they wanted me to write a new introduction. I was given two restrictions: First, I was only given one week to write it, and second, it needed to be around 500 words (but if need be, as many as 1000).

I didn't realize it would be so difficult. Where should I begin, I wondered? There's so much I wanted to say, and so few words. Should I make it (a) an introduction to the new edition and what's new in my life? (b) a description of what is new in the field of OBEs in general? Or (c) an introduction to OBEs and the book itself?

The subject of OBEs is so vast and there was so much I wanted to add to that book that I could write a whole second book on the subject. Wait, I already did that. It was called "Lessons Out of the Body." So how do I begin to narrow down my focus to 500 words? I certainly couldn't rehash that.

So I took a step back from the situation and asked myself, "What do people want to know? What's the first thing people ask me?" The answer was simple. It's been fifteen years since the book was first published and people always ask me what I've been up to lately. What new, exciting things have I learned in my OBEs? Where has it taken me?

So I set about writing my introduction and what I've been doing since the book was first published. Then I thought to myself: No, I can't do that. The book has a chronological order. To talk about the latest fifteen years first is just wrong. Plus, it's not supposed to be about me, it's supposed to be about OBEs. So I scraped that version and went back to the drawing board.

I decided I should write about what's happened in the field of OBEs in the past fifteen years. And what's happened? Well, for one thing, researchers Olaf Blanke and Michael Persinger conducted experiments where they electronically stimulated an area of the brain called the right temporal-parietal junction. They found they could artificially cause hallucinations, disorientation, floating sensations and affect a subject's perception of their body position. Parapsychologist and OBE author Susan Blackmore tried Persinger's "God Helmet" and came away convinced OBEs are all in the mind. Pretty soon the mass media was pointing to this research as clear proof that OBEs are merely hallucinations. But as Graham Nicholls aptly points out in his book Navigating the Out-of-Body Experience: they are “...relying upon the logical fallacy that producing a hallucination or illusion disproves something about the object of the hallucination or illusion.” You can't prove, for example, that UFOs are fake no matter how many faked Photoshop images you produce of them.

But I couldn't bring up the subject of skeptics discounting the OBE without talking about some of the other parapsychology work that's been done lately. Skeptics came out with an argument that nothing needs to ever leave the body to explain OBEs: it could be a combination of (1) completely turning off the normal senses, (2) having complete absorption in extraordinarily vivid visual, tactile and auditory hallucinations, (3) a phenomenal combination of psi talents. Two things struck me when I read that paper: First, it admits that psi is a fact (which seems at odds with the very principles of this kind of skepticism). Second, it ignores Occam's razor, a principle that states that among competing hypotheses, the one that makes the fewest assumptions should be favored. Seeing is believing, folks.

Likewise, I couldn't talk about these two forms of skepticism without addressing the most common argument: that OBEs are just lucid dreams. So I added something about that too. Then I hacked it back to 700 words.

I proudly gave a copy of the rewrite to Kathy to critique. She said that it was too negative. She was right; it was. It was too focused on the detractors and why I think they're wrong. An introduction should draw the reader in, talk about the positive, and where OBEs can take us. This is not about the skeptics and naysayers. This is about OBEs and what to expect. And so I scraped that version too.

So last night I finished my third complete rewrite of the introduction, and this one is much better than any of its predecessors. I shipped it off to my publisher this morning before work. It's a good thing I have Kathy to give me perspective! Like Deep Purple's "Woman from Tokyo" she makes me see.

2012 November 28

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

A Second In Eternity by Gary L. Wimmer

Bob Peterson,

Today's blog entry is about Gary Wimmer's book "A Second In Eternity" which I finished reading last week. The subtitle is "The true story about a voyage beyond time and space and into the Infinite."

The whole book is about a particular set of events that happened back in 1977. It starts with Gary staying with a group of friends. His main problem is that he can't sleep. Then he notices that his psychic awareness is increasing: he's taking the words out of people's mouths. He knows who is on the telephone when it rings. He has many deja vu experiences. Soon things get wild: Over the course of several days, his psychic abilities increase beyond reason. He can tell what people are going to say, what they're wearing before he sees them. He becomes more and more aware of the interconnectedness of the entire universe.

Soon this psychic tsunami sweeps him into an ocean of awareness to the point where he can't function properly. He becomes aware of a group of spirit guides that visit him. He calls them "The Monitors". He knows when they're near, but he can't actually see them. In due course, he starts to trust their guidance.

To any sane person, it would seem like Gary had completely lost his mind: he's behaving strangely, doing crazy things, saying crazy things, even SEEing crazy things. At one point, to prove a point, he picks up a pan of boiling hot water and pours it over his own head, with absolute knowledge that he won't be harmed: he is protected by the forces that led him up to this point. And he's right: He isn't burned by the boiling water. But he his buddies are even more distressed about his sanity.

His level of awareness keeps increasing throughout the book. One day, while he's taking a walk, he is able to actually see "The Monitors". They ask him if he trusts them completely, and he says yes. Then they tell him to jump into the street in front of a oncoming car. He does! When the car hits him, he is propelled into his "Second in eternity." He has an amazing out-of-body journey where he experiences complete Union/Oneness with the Universal Mind: God. Instantly he sees and understands the complete mechanics of the Universe and everything in it. He perceives everything: all the people in the world, all the worlds in the solar system, all the solar systems in the galaxy, all the galaxies in the universe, all the universes and all the layers of reality within the eternal mind of God. He is one with it all.

Gary's experience reminded me of an OBE account I received by an acquaintence, Chris Hazlitt, many years ago. Chris's experience had moved me so much that I included it, in its entirety, in my second book, "Lessons Out of the Body", in chapter 16: "Chasing God". At the time, Chris had said he had a terrible problem after he returned to normal in-the-body consciousness: For a long time he had a hard time distinguishing himself from others. His sense of "Self" was blown so far out of the water that he referred to everyone as "I": He'd be in a meeting at work and say "I did X" when, in fact, someone else had done it. It took him weeks before he could think in terms of "me" and "you" again.

Getting back to Gary Wimmer's book: Eventually he comes back from his God-experience and is squeezed back into his tiny body, which strangely seems unharmed (except for a few scrapes and bruises) by the collision with the car. The driver's car has a lot of damage, however. Gary goes through a big ordeal that includes jail time and being committed to a psych hospital. But it was all worth that one second of total awareness.

What I liked most about this book is Gary's descriptions of his psychic awareness. He made a long series of crazy events sound perfectly logical and normal from his point of view. The book is very well written: You can see and understand both his line of thinking and at the same time understand why people would think he had gone mad.

I was particularly struck by a portion of the book where he wrote about being able to influence the minds of other people: putting thoughts into their heads, experimentally manipulating them. To the average reader, this might seem way over the top. I've said this many times, but I'll say it again: I wouldn't have believed his claim except for the fact that it actually happened to me. There was a point in my life, too, where it seemed like my psychic abilities went out of control. Like the author, I wondered just how important my thoughts were and whether I was really influencing people or just intimately knowing what would happen next. Or maybe my will was becoming in tune with the divine will of the Creator; I honestly didn't know.

This sounds so totally insane that I didn't even dare put it in any of my books, except for small snippets: Like Gary Wimmer, I found I could influence people psychically. It started out slowly: I began doing little things, like psychically telling slow drivers to speed up or take the exit ramp on the freeway.

I even demonstrated the ability to friends. I remember one day I was sitting in a restaurant with my friend Scott and a few others, and I was trying to explain how I had learned to manipulate people by planting ideas inside their heads. I could see in Scott's mischievous grin he wanted me to prove it. I looked around and saw a group of beautiful girls chatting outside the restaurant preparing to come inside. I said, "I want a better look at them. Watch this." I reached into their minds and planted the idea that they should sit at a particular table near us. They walked into the restaurant and sat down exactly where I wanted. I smiled at Scott. He said, "You did that, didn't you! You made them sit there!" And like Gary, I started to seriously question my sanity.

This became pervasive in my life. Then one day it even entered my dreams: I found myself manipulating a dream character in the same way. When I woke up, I knew it had gone too far and it had to stop. What kind of arrogant son-of-a-bitch was I, anyway, messing with people's minds? It was wrong.

I just couldn't handle it anymore. This was just too much along side the pressures of college and I found myself praying several nights for God to take this ability away. I also vowed to stop manipulating people psychically. My prayers were answered and it went away.

Many years have passed and now I question whether that was the right decision. Maybe if I had let it go on, maybe I would have had an experience like Gary or Chris. Maybe I would have jumped out in front of a car and been killed. Or maybe I would have lost my mind altogether; there's no telling.

Having seen through the veil myself, I believe Gary is telling the truth. His descriptions are just too realistic not to be. I enjoyed his book very much and I think you will too. Thumbs up!

2012 Nov 21

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

The Projection of the Astral Body

The Projection of the Astral Body

by Sylvan Muldoon

Bob Peterson, 2012 Nov 14

A few days ago, I finished re-reading one of the great classics of out-of-body experience literature: "The Projection of the Astral Body" by Sylvan Muldoon and Hereward Carrington. It's been about 30 years since I first read it, so I thought it was time to revisit the book, and I hope you do too.

The book was first published in 1929. At that time, information about OBEs (or astral projection as it was known) was scarce. The phenomenon was known in both psychology and occult circles, but very few had really studied it before. It was usually treated lightly, and that's because nobody knew much about it.

Back in the early twentieth century, one of the big fads to hit England and the United States was the religion of Spiritualism and its sister Spiritism. (They're basically the same, except that Spiritists believe in reincarnation and Spiritualists do not). Soon people all over the United States were holding seances in their living rooms, trying to contact dead relatives. As the two religions spread, there was in increase in demand for teachers. Many of the mediums said they left their bodies when the spirits took control, so naturally there was a small boon in the subject of out-of-body experience as well.

It wasn't just the spiritualists and spiritists who started teaching and making claims about OBEs at that time. There was also a wave of occultists who took their beliefs from much older teachings, morphed them and called them their own. The prime example of this was the Theosophists like A.E. Powell and C.W. Leadbeater. 

Along side all these believers came the skeptics to dispute their claims. And to try to settle the disputes were waves of parapsychologists to study the claims.

As a result of all this chaos, there was scant information circulated about out-of-body experience, but it was mostly unreliable. For example, some people claimed OBEs were more likely when you were healthy while others said they were more likely when you were sick. And because the subject was non-physical by its very nature, it was nearly impossible to separate facts from rumor, superstition or outright fiction.

Most of the information was lore passed down from ages past. "It must be true because my teacher told me so, and his teacher told him, and on and on." Amidst all this rampant conjecture came a voice of reason: Sylvan Muldoon. 

Muldoon was a boy of twelve when he had his first OBE. You might say he was born with a natural ability, which gave him the opportunity to study it his whole life.

Like a scientist, he wasn't content to take somebody's word on it. He induced hundreds of OBEs and learned about them from his own first-hand experience.

He also studied what others wrote about the topic. One day he read an article about OBEs by prominent parapsychologist and author Hereward Carrington. The article talked about an OBE author, a Frenchman named M. Lancelin and his experiences. Bordering on outrage, Muldoon wrote a letter to Carrington telling him he (Muldoon) "...can write a book on the things that Lancelin does not know!...I have been wondering whether M. Lancelin is in fact a conscious projector. From what you have given, I have concluded either that Lancelin does not project at all, or that his subjects are not in the clear conscious state while exteriorized". Translation: "This guy (Lancelin) doesn't know what the hell he's talking about."

Intrigued, Carrington called Muldoon's bluff and tasked him with writing a book on the subject. Armed with his vast experience, Muldoon laid it all on the line: what worked, what didn't and what he actually found during his OBEs. And with Carrington's help, the book was born.

In my opinion, some of Muldoon's most important observations were as follows: (1) That the most important key to leaving the body is motivating your subconscious mind to do so, (2) the subject of "cord activity range": If you're too near the physical body, you will have no end of problems; getting stuck, getting sucked back in, being encumbered. The lesson: Once you're in the out-of-body state, the most important thing to do is immediately get at least 15 feet (5 meters) away from the body. Only then will you have true freedom to think and act independently, without encountering lots of problems.

I didn't realize how much of an impact Muldoon had on my own development. My first book, "Out of Body Experiences: How to have them and what to expect" is philosophically very similar to Muldoon's. Like Muldoon, I felt the need to dispel some of the misinformation and tell people what I had learned through personal experience. And like Muldoon, I've spent my whole life trying to study the OBE and pass that on to others. I owe him (as well as Robert Monroe) a debt of gratitude that can never be repaid.

If I had had a daughter, I would probably have named her Sylvia. If I had had a son, maybe Sylvan, but that would be harder to get past Kathy. We never had kids, so I guess it's a moot point.
Robert Peterson, 14 Nov 2012

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

The Epica Concert

The Epica Concert

by Bob Peterson

This morning before work I spent about a half hour writing a blog about the presidential election and my feelings about it. Then I filed it away but didn't publish it; I decided I needed more time to let the reality of it sink in before I blog about it. Maybe I'll publish it another day. In the meantime, I'm going to write about the concert I went to Monday night.

Let me first explain that I've been to a LOT of rock concerts in my life, starting with Blackfoot and Journey when I was still in high-school. I've been to so many that I can't even count them. To list a few in no particular order: Yes (several times), Boston (several times), Kansas (several times), Styx (several times), Heart (several times), Dream Theater, Savatage, Dio, Loverboy, Rush, Nightwish, Joe Perry Project, Alan Parsons Project, AC/DC, Yngwie Malmsteen, Cheap Trick, America, and The Moody Blues. I'm no stranger to the rock concert scene.

Last Monday was one of those rare metal concerts I went to. The concert featured four bands. I'd never heard of the first two, but the the second two were bands I really enjoy: Alestorm and Epica.

Alestorm is best described as Scottish Pirate Metal: all of their songs are about pirates looting, plundering getting drunk and meeting their ends. This is all very tongue-in-cheek and I find it hilarious. My favorite Alestorm song is Keelhauled. "Make that bastard walk the plank, with a bottle of rum and a yo ho ho!"

Epica is completely different: they're an odd combination of Opera (complete with a woman mezzo-soprano singer for lead vocalist, the beautiful Simone Simons), Baroque (complete with symphony orchestra) and Death metal. Yes, death metal (complete with cookie-monster growling). Most of their songs have elements of all three. Their lyrics are always deep and philosophical. You can't pin me down on a favorite Epica song, there are so many I love, but I tend to favor their soft ballads: Solitary Ground, Tides of Time, Trois Vierges, Twin Flames, Chasing the Dragon, Safeguard to Paradise, Run For A Fall (Acoustic version), Quietus. Their harder stuff is usually about duality: the struggle within between good and evil: the death metal growling portrays symbolic inner demons who argue for negativity and self-destruction while Simone's opera singing argues against the negativity.

As much as I love some heavy metal music, I've usually avoided many metal concerts for two reasons: First, they hurt my ears, and second, because I'm somewhat empathic and pick up too many negative feelings. I gave some serious thought to not going to this one too. I gave myself all kinds of justification for not going: they'd probably focus on the music from latest two CDs (which I don't like). It would be crowded. It would be loud. I'd be wasting too much gasoline. I'm too old for that crowd.

And then there was the driving issue: I knew it was a two and a half hour drive to St. Paul, and another two and a half back home: five hours of driving. I knew I wouldn't get home until late. Plus I hate driving at night up north with deer waiting to pounce in front of my car.

Any other day I'd just get a hotel room after the concert and work out of the Minneapolis branch office in the morning, but this was not just any day: it was election eve. I knew if I didn't drive home Monday night, I likely wouldn't get home on Tuesday in time to vote, and I couldn't accept that. Voting is that important to me.

By 2:00pm I had convinced myself I should just skip it, but my inner voice stepped in and suggested that my presence there was needed to help raise the vibrations of the place. Plus there was an added bonus: I could buy a T-shirt for each band!

So Kathy and I got into our Prius and headed for the Twin Cities. We ate dinner at my favorite restaurant: India Palace in Roseville. Yummy!

We had a great time at the show. Alestorm was just plain fun. Epica was epic. What I love Epica is that they show great depth of character, great depth of thought and philosophy (with their lyrics) and emotion (e.g. screaming), and creativity and complexity of music (sometimes performing with a full symphony orchestra) even if it may sometimes be grating.

It's kind of like life: There are hidden messages and meanings everywhere. There are conflicts, and we must learn from them. There are struggles within, and difficult choices. But that's how we learn.

I'll end this blog with excerpts from the Epica song "Consign to Oblivion" which was how they ended their show:

Too much thinking goes at the cost of all our intuition
Our thoughts create reality
But we neglect to be!
So we're already slaves of our artificial world
We shouldn't try to control life
But listen to the laws of nature
Selfishly we're venomous
But you know the time tells us
There is more to life than our
Higher positions, race for perfection
Better, faster
We must return to the laws of the nature
Free ourselves from madness
2012 Nov 07

Sunday, November 4, 2012

The OBE Outlook on Life

The OBE Outlook on Life

by Robert Peterson

This is my very first blog! I've often thought about doing a blog, but never taken the time. As a writer, I feel compelled to share my thoughts with whomever might want to read them, and I think I have a unique perspective, which I'll explain below.

In 1979, I started studying out-of-body experiences, or OBEs. As quickly as time and money would permit, I amassed a collection of more than a hundred books on OBEs, and eagerly read them all. That was just OBE books. I also collected books on similar topics: Near-Death Experiences (NDEs), Shamanism, Remote Viewing, Life After Death, Mediumship, Channelling, Psychics and on and on.

It took lots of hard work and dedication, but I eventually learned how to induce them myself. What I discovered was a lot of misinformation, and buried deep within, grains of truth. I felt compelled to right this wrong and write my own book on the subject.

In 1997, my first book, "Out of Body Experiences: How to Have Them and What to Expect" was published by Hampton Roads Publishing.  It's done quite well. It's even been translated into German, Japanese, Russian and Czech.

I also put the entire book on my web site for free, just to prove I'm not "in it for the money." The money is not important to me; it was much more important to share my information with the world. Not just Americans, but anyone in the world, rich or poor, who wanted the information.

In the first book, I treated the OBE very scientifically, explaining what I had learned about them from personal experience. But shortly after the book came out, I felt a lot of regret: the fact of the matter was, my out-of-body experiences had changed my whole life. I had been transformed from a shallow Catholic who only paid lip-service to God, into a person with a unique spiritual perspective. There's something about looking at your own inanimate body lying on the bed that makes you think about your own mortality and what lies beyond the grave. And those thoughts naturally lead you to think about God, Angels, Mediumship, Religion, Life-after-death and lots of other things. What had really changed was my perspective on life, on death and everything between. There was a spiritual side of the OBE that I had completely neglected in the first book.

To right that wrong, I wrote a second book, which I called "Lessons Out of the Body". It was about the spiritual side of OBEs and what I had learned from them. It was published by Hampton Roads Publishing in 2001.

In that book, chapter 17 was called "The OBE Outlook on Life", which is what I decided to call my blog. The chapter was divided into sections. The sections--which pretty much summed up my outlook on life--were:

Life is a school
Self-Identity: You are not your body
A greater reality
We're never alone
Privacy is an illusion
Don't judge others
Physical objects lose their glitter
Death is an illusion
Death is a friend
What if people misunderstand me?

I firmly believe that we're born in this world in order to learn certain lessons, which we decide upon before we're even born. To that end, our subconscious, out "higher self" and even non-physical guides (what most people call angels) conspire to bring us those spiritual lessons. Sometimes (but not always) the lessons are painful and the ride is bumpy. More so if we try to resist the lessons we came here to learn.

This blog will cover a lot more than out-of-body experiences. It will be about life, spirituality, life-lessons, my favorite music, computers, philosophy and whatever. I hope you enjoy it.

Bob Peterson
Sunday, 2012 November 4