Journeys Out of the Body by Robert A Monroe
Book review by Bob Peterson
It has been 34 years since I read Journeys Out of the Body by Robert A. Monroe. This was the book that started me on my spiritual journey. It made a major impact on my life and changed me forever. I'll never be the same. Back then I knew absolutely nothing about OBEs. Now, after reading pretty much every OBE book I could get my hands on, hundreds of my own OBEs and writing two of my own OBE books, and I decided to re-read it and see how it stacked up.
Monroe opens with the story of how he started having OBEs. He didn't read a book like I did; it was purely by accident. At first he thought there was something wrong physically: he saw a doctor. Then he saw psychiatrists and other professionals, but nobody could give him any answers. In the end, he decided to just explore the state on his own.
He wrote about some of the physical evidence that led him to believe this was more than just a realistic dream: he was able to witness places and events while out-of-body that he could later verify.
Monroe talked about discovering three "locales". Locale 1 is "Here-Now" which is the OBE equivalent of our physical world. This is typical for beginners: seeing your bedroom and your house, etc.
Locale 2 is what most people might call "The Astral Plane". It's a completely non-physical environment. Many experienced explorers find themselves here.
Locale 3 is more intriguing. Monroe describes it as a parallel physical world with a different level of technology. On many occurrences, he entered the body of another man and lived his life in that world, often getting him into trouble. Sometimes this seemed to last for years (in that other person's timeline). Locale 3 is hard to fathom because it's never talked about in any of the other OBE books. I've never had a Locale 3 experience in any of my OBEs, but in my first book, I wrote about a childhood experience that might be the same thing. I wrote: "It was like waking from a dream; this world was a dream and I awoke to a reality more real and vivid than this world was." And at the time, it seemed like I spent many (think hundreds of) years in that place. In recent years, however, I have come across a few more people on the Internet who claim this has happened to them as well. Modern physicists postulate alternative realities, so maybe it's something like that. Whatever it is, it's worth exploring further. I might add that, as best as I can recall, Monroe didn't talk about this in his book Far Journeys nor Ultimate Journey. However, my memory of those books is equally old, so I need to go back and re-read them as well.
In this book, Monroe describes some pretty graphic and unusual OBEs. For example, he describes an OBE in which he slammed into a wall and was stuck for what seemed like an hour, trying to get around it. It's not unheard of in the literature: In Jurgen Ziewe's book Multidimensional Man he talks about taking great effort to penetrate boundaries that lead to other planes of existence.
At another point in the book, Monroe talks about touching his own physical body. He talked about probing his physical feet and face with his astral hands, from an OBE. This is something that's not mentioned in other OBE books as far as I recall: most books state that if you touch your physical body, or even think about it too much, you'll be drawn back inside. That's always been my experience as well, so I'm not sure what to make of this claim.
He also describes experiences in which he is being pestered by small, childlike beings that would attach themselves to his body in the OBE state. That's definitely never happened to me.
One of the more interesting experiments was when Monroe apparently induced an OBE while inside a Faraday cage; an electrically charged metal cage. He couldn't get out of it. I question whether he was confined by his own expectations rather than any laws of physics.
In chapter 15, Monroe talks about uncontrollable, almost irresistible sexual urges during an OBE. When he returned to his physical body, the urges went away. That also seems unusual; I've never had sexual urges in an OBE. When I'm out-of-body, sex is the last thing on my mind: I'm filled with the joy and excitement of discovery and exploration. Often I have to fight the urge to go soaring up into the sky like a rocket, hands in the air, screaming like a little kid on a roller coaster that fills the sky. The thought of sex just isn't there. Still, I did have one sexual encounter in an OBE, and Monroe's description was pretty accurate: it was just a simple, intimate, explosion / exchange of energy that involves your whole astral body. At one point, Monroe talks about encountering a society in which astral sex is as common and unattached as shaking hands. My encounter wasn't that casual.
In chapter 17, Monroe talks about the separation process. I found one thing very peculiar. He wrote:
"...it is most important for your own objective continuity that you remain in complete control. The only possible way to do this seems to be by staying close to the physical in the early stages."
That's peculiar, because it's the exact opposite of my experience. I side with OBE veteran Sylvan Muldoon, who described a "[silver] cord activity range" approximately 15 feet (5 meters) away from your physical body. If you're within that range, you're more susceptible to perception problems, eyesight distortions, lack of control, and being sucked back inside your body. Once outside that range, you're clear to roam, free as a bird. So I have no idea how Monroe was able to retain such control near his physical body--even touching it--while within such close proximity.
Monroe talks about the vibrations. He talked about how they can first appear like a blue ring of electrical energy. I had long forgotten that, but I wrote about the same thing in my first book. He also talked about how the vibrations start out rough, course and electrical, and as time went on, they became more refined and smooth; just a hum. That also matches my experience as well.
Another thing that struck me as odd is how easily Monroe describes leaving his body. He makes it sound as easy as opening a door and walking through. For me, it's never been that easy; I have to hold my mind still and focus for a very long time before I can actually exit.
I'd say Journeys Out of the Body is required reading for anyone interested in out-of-body experiences. It's objective, impersonal, and definitely very engaging. It's definitely not the end of the story; some of the most important books came out after this one. Still, this book did change my life, so it has a special place in my heart.
2013 Sep 13