Explorations In Consciousness:
Review by Bob Peterson
I just read the book Explorations In Consciousness by Frederick Aardema. To be honest, I enjoyed this book more than many I've read in recent years. It was thoroughly enjoyable. One of the reasons I liked it so much is just because of the author's approach. It really makes you think. Hard.
You can tell from his writing that he's been out "far". I dare say "farther" than most OBE authors. The author's experiences not only take you to the far reaches of the OBE, it also paints a fairly accurate picture of how things work "out there".
The author spends a fair amount of time talking about experiments he did trying to gain veridical evidence that the experience is "objective" and not merely a subjective experience. Like my own experiences, his level of success was far from ideal, but that ends up being a springboard for far-reaching theories of perception and why these types of experiments often fail.
He talks about the "personal field" where perceptions are entirely subjective, and "collective fields" where perceptions are objective: the idea of concensus realities that may be shared between people (whether alive or dead). In a previous blog article I wrote, I talked about the difference between Lucid Dreaming and OBE being primarily whether the subject is hallucinating (personal field) or not (collective field). But really, that's a matter of perception.
That leads us to question how perception works in the physical world. When you think about it, what is "real"? It REALLY messes with your mind. After all, all you have to base your opinions about "reality" are sense perceptions from your physical body, right? These sense perceptions are just electrical impulses fed from your eyes, ears, nose, tongue, and touch receptors. The electrical impulses are then interpreted by your mind into a cohesive whole. That whole is your "world" and it's entirely created inside your mind.
For example, you may see a lamp sitting on a table, but really "lamp" and "table" are just convenient categories inside your mind based on senses that can easily be fooled or tricked.
The senses are not all that accurate either. It's "survival knowledge". You perceive pleasure and pain, hot and cold, threats and non-threats. Your mind categorizes them all neatly into convenient boxes: a lamp goes into the "light fixture" box, and thus obtain certain attributes (helpful, not a threat, often yields light, etc.) But in fact, the perceived object is just a collection of atoms, and atoms are just energy balls: huge amounts of empty space. There are very miniscule protons and neutrons orbited by electrons, but it's mostly just space. That "space" information isn't important to your survival in the physical world, so it's completely ignored, overlooked.
So while you're awake, your mind interprets data coming in from your physical body's senses to create an impression--a summary within your mind--of what you call "the real world". In an out-of-body experience, you take away those physical senses, and your mind is forced to create another cohesive whole, a framework for your existence. Since the data coming in is not physical, the framework sometimes doesn't make sense.
Now consider this: In reality, there is no astral body, but only a body-image created by your own mind, and it's there because you're so used to that type of physical framework. Your mind creates it out of force of habit.
Since there's no "real" astral body, there are no astral eyes or astral photon receptors. In other words, you're not really "seeing" but your mind interprets your experience that way out of habit. Your mind creates your astral world--merely an interpretation of your mind--as much as it creates your physical world.
That leads to a discussion of "the contextual nature of perception". If your world is literally created by your mind's interpretation of all this sense data (whether from physical senses or non-physical senses), then the act of directing your attention--changing your focus--literally changes your world.
Now add this to the mix: I think it was parapsychologist Susan Blackmore who made the famous observation "Who said you're in the body anyway?" You're not really in the body at all. It's just that the focus of your attention is primarily on your body's senses.
In reality, your conscious awareness extends far beyond the body. Famous studies in remote viewing (e.g. Joe McMoneagle, Russell Targ, etc.) have shown that if you direct the focus of your attention "enough" away from your physical body to a remote location, you can gather data from those remote locations. And it's all done while "in" the body. It's just a matter of how much you can learn to redirect your attention and train your mind to interpret the nonphysical data.
Toward the end of the book, Aardema also gives a step-by-step breakdown of how to induce an OBE. I didn't find it that much different from how I induce my own OBEs; it's just that he goes into meticulous detail of what happens (and what needs to happen) at each step. This approach can be very helpful to someone with an analytical mind like me. Some, however, may not find it very practical because it reads more like a text book. It's like an instruction manual for putting together a piece of furniture: way down into the nuts and bolts, which is great for some, but it definitely might lose some people. It may very well go over a lot of people's heads. Still, this level of detail is great and shows the depth and quality of the author's experiences, and how much time he's spent analyzing what's really going on.
This is one of the best OBE books I've read in many years and I highly recommend it.
04 January 2013