Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Meeting Jesus Christ Face To Face

Meeting Jesus Christ Face To Face

by Bob Peterson

Let me just start out by saying that I do not consider myself a Christian, nor do I subscribe to any religion or religious organization. I consider myself "Spiritual" rather than religious. In my opinion, "religion" is the belief in someone else's experiences, and "spirituality" is the belief in one's own direct experience. Experience trumps faith.

One of my facebook friends recently read an earlier blog article ("Are OBEs Against Christianity?") in which I wrote:
"The bottom line is: If you're a Christian, with OBEs, you don't need to merely pray to, or worship Jesus Christ, you can actually meet the man face to face. Is there precedence for that? Absolutely. Some people, myself included, have gone out-of-body and stood in the presence of Jesus Christ."
So he asked me: "I'm interested to know where in the astral it was? And what he said to you." 

I wrote about some of my more religious OBEs in my second book, Lessons Out of the Body in a chapter titled "Chasing God". So far, only one of my religious experiences involved Jesus Christ. It was in May, 1996. Here's what I wrote about it in the book:
"When I went to bed, I was wide awake and couldn't sleep at first.  At home, I was lying on my right side on the waterbed. For no particular reason, I started thinking about Jesus Christ and God, and wondering about Christ's relationship to God. It was probably because I had started reading a book that deals with this topic. As I was lying there immobile, I started focusing my mind in OBE fashion, but instead of visualizing an ordinary image, I held the image of Christ in my mind, plus an icon that I used to represent God. The image of Christ was on the left side of my visual field, and the icon of God was on the right side. As my mind focused into the OBE state, I had the passing thought, “No, Jesus should be at the right hand of the Father.” Then I realized that “right” and “left” are relative to “forward” and “backward,” and since I believed that God was everywhere, comprising all that is, God didn't have a forward or backward. I decided it didn't matter if Christ was to the left or right of my icon of God."
"As I pulled myself down into the OBE state, my image of Christ seemed to become very real, and so did the icon or idea of God. It seemed as if I actually felt the presence of Jesus Christ, and through Jesus, a connection with God. Now, I'm not a very religious man outwardly, so this is very much out of the ordinary for me.  It seemed as if Christ was helping me, sending me his love."
"I started to swing my consciousness forward and backward in my usual fashion, and tried to maintain that crucial state of single-minded focus, but as I rocked, I could feel the presence of Christ, and that distracted my mind.  I tried to swing away from my body in a forceful motion, but I didn't have enough momentum built up yet; therefore I swung back and hit the body, which made me go back to the normal in-the-body state." (Lessons Out of the Body, pp. 96-97)
So there you have it. It wasn't in any particular part of the astral plane, and he didn't really say anything to me. In fact, the OBE lasted just a few seconds. Jesus's presence was just too distracting to maintain my focus.

Although it's very rare in the OBE literature, other people have had much "better" encounters with Jesus, where they've seen him preaching to a crowd of people, etc.

My encounter was just enough to affirm to me that OBEs are not against Christianity and that people who seek to know Jesus can do so through OBEs. 
 For the record: I think Jesus Christ is one of the most misunderstood and enigmatic figures in human history. I wish more people would use OBEs to learn more about him and other historical religious figures. Maybe the more we can learn about all our religions, the less we (as a society) will fight and kill in their names.

Bob Peterson
08 December 2015

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Review: The Out-of-Body Experience: An Experiential Anthology

Review: The Out-of-Body Experience: An Experiential Anthology

Edited by Rodrigo Montenegro

One my facebook friends, Mr. Nélson Abreu of the IAC (International Academy of Consciousness) was kind enough to send me a review copy of this relatively new book, The Out-of-Body Experience: An Experiential Anthology, edited by Rodrigo Montenegro.

For people who don't know about the IAC, it's a non-profit, multicultural, and universalistic (i.e. not religious) organization dedicated to the research and education in "conscientiology" (the study of consciousness) and its subdisciplines, one of which is out-of-body experiences. They give classes all over the world, and their work is mainly based on the teachings of the late Waldo Viera (author of the hefty tome Projectiology) of Iguazu Falls, Brazil. One of the main things they teach is out-of-body experiences.

If you've been following my blog, you know how much I love OBE narratives, and this book is mainly just that: a collection of OBE narratives from a plethora of people from all walks of life.

Many of the OBE narratives come from people who have taken the IAC's OBE classes. Consequently, they often use IAC terminology. For that reason, many pages have (by necessity) footnotes from the editor, explaining various words, ideas or concepts from IAC. The IAC-speak is the only drawback to this book. I've written about this in book reviews from other IAC authors (Luis Minero and Sandee Gustus come to mind.) In fact, there are so many terms tossed around, the book's glossary of terms is 37 pages long! But don't worry: not all those terms are used in the book. The terminology is actually not heavy, nor confusing. It's tastefully done, and explained well by the editor's footnotes.

I've said it before: I never get bored reading OBE narratives because they bring back the excitement of discovery, plus I use them to train my subconscious (as explained in my previous blog post).

I especially enjoyed the narratives where there was verifiable evidence to suggest the OBE was "real" (i.e. more than just a hallucination). My favorite one involved a guy named Ron Smedts from the Netherlands. In his OBE, he floated out the window of his second-story apartment. Looking for proof that he was seeing the physical world from a non-physical perspective, he drifted down to the parking lot and tried to find his car. He couldn't find his car, then became disillusioned when he noticed that every car in the parking lot was white; a very unlikely scenario. But after he returned to his body:
"As I passed a window I glanced out and stopped in my tracks: I was shocked. Every car in the lot was entirely covered with a fresh and uninterrupted layer of pure white snow." (pg. 65)

I also really enjoyed a narrative from Jean-Pierre Bastiou, an 84-year-old man of Brazil in which the author met with his dead mother, who appeared young and radiant.

Now comes the surprise. The OBE narratives end on page 227. On page 228 is an article about Near-Death Experiences (contributed by Nelson Abreu, guy who sent me the book). After that is another article that explains the IAC's "projectarium" which is a special facility they set up for the purpose of inducing OBEs. I've always wondered what the IAC facilities were like; now I know. (I've never taken their classes.) These are special small spherical buildings, each of which is like the Monroe Institute's CHEC Units, but perhaps given more forethought.

I really enjoyed this book. As OBE books go, this one meshes well with my belief system. It didn't say anything I strongly disagreed with. For example, their whole concept of an "existential program," in other words, life-lessons and life-plans matches my beliefs rather well.

The margins are small and the font is small, which means there's a lot of content, but it's a quick read; not heavy at all. The book is a good size--336 pages--but a lot of that can be skipped, like the glossary, the index, descriptions of the IAC's programs, and so forth. There are a few grammar problems (especially "OBE's" vs. "OBEs") but all-in-all it was very well done and professional.

You won't find any "secret" teachings, stern warnings, superstitions, or esoteric nonsense. In fact, there weren't any OBE instructions or techniques. Nonetheless, it was an entertaining collection of OBE narratives that demonstrates the wide diversity of the out-of-body experience.

I give it a thumbs up.

Since this book is not available in amazon.com (at the time of this writing), I'll just mention that you can buy a copy directly from the IAC at the U.K. IAC's book store or by sending email to: california@iacworld.org. Hopefully in the future, it will be available for sale at: store.iacworld.org.

Bob Peterson
24 November 2015

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Using OBE Narratives To Induce OBEs

Using OBE Narratives To Induce OBEs

by Bob Peterson

The last OBE book I reviewed was Boundless: One Woman's Journal of Her Out-of-Body Experiences by Anita Gamba, which was basically a collection of OBE narratives from the author and what she learned from her OBEs.

I never get tired of reading OBE narratives, even though I've read thousands with the same basic features. Why? I've said a few times in my blog that I read OBE books and use OBE narratives to program my subconscious. You can also leverage OBE narratives to increase your own OBEs.

Your subconscious is a powerful thing. It has much more control and intelligence than most people realize. It's not a mindless zombie waiting to be programmed. It is another part of you, a real living, breathing "you" who sits back behind the scenes and watches what you do.

But don't think of it so much as a process running in the back of your mind, even though it is. Think of it like a full grown dog who is holding your leash. It's very intelligent and has a will of its own. Even though it's still technically "you," it can think and act independently. It has its own motivations and desires.

The first important thing to realize is that your subconscious can pull you outside your body any time it sees fit. While the "conscious" you may need to spend hours carefully quieting the mind, relaxing the body and tricking your awareness away from the body, it's child's play to the subconscious. It can pull you out almost instantaneously. The problem is: it's not motivated to do so. That's where the programming comes in.

So how do you program your subconscious for OBEs? In many respects, it's like training a dog. There are several methods. One way (not applicable to dogs) is hypnosis. Another way is rewriting your self-talk / internal dialog; you know, the little things you say to yourself throughout the day, like "Man, I'm tired," or "I'm really bad at this." A third way is direct communication, and that's what I want you to start doing. It's not too different from the self-talk; it's blatant reminders to the subconscious. And since you are really one person, its will is your will. As long as your goals and its goals are compatible, it won't have a problem helping you out.

So here's what you do. Read a book or website that has a lot of OBE narratives. It doesn't matter which one; almost every OBE book has them. Gamba's book is a good example. Author Robert Crookall studied OBEs and wrote several books about it, and a lot of his books contain hundreds of OBE narratives, such as The Study and Practice of Astral Projection or Case-Book of Astral Projection, 454-746.

Just read OBE narratives one by one and as you do, perform these steps for each:
  • Read the OBE narrative.
  • As you read, imagine yourself doing the same things. So if the narrative talks about feeling the vibrations, imagine yourself feeling vibrations. If the person puts their arm through a wall, imagine you do the same. If the person walks through a wooden door and floats down a hallway, imagine yourself doing that too. If they did some flying, imagine yourself flying too. Imagine every little detail and aspect of the OBE, including exit and reentry.
  • Next, silently tell yourself, "Yes! That's what I want to do!" Be exuberant.
  • If you read a narrative that's scary or uncomfortable, think to yourself, "That really doesn't apply to me" then imagine yourself having a fun OBE instead, flying around, exploring the astral world.
  • When you get to the end of the narrative, think to yourself, "Yeah, I'd like to have an OBE like that too."
  • It helps to ask yourself, "Do I really want to do that?" Then answer, "Yes! That's exactly what I want to do. I'd like to have an OBE tonight, and I'll be fully conscious and remember everything!"
That's basically it. The important thing is that you imagine yourself out of your body, performing OBE actions, and stay focused on it for a while. Don't just brush it off with a "Yeah, that'd be cool." Use your imagination as much as possible, and use as much detail as possible because, like a dog, the subconscious doesn't think with words as much as it thinks in terms of your imagination. (Although the subconscious can understand words, much like a dog can understand words.)

Performing these steps can increase your OBEs dramatically.

One last thing: I recommend you also give yourself one last affirmation (or five!) before you go to sleep. Tell yourself, "I really should really have a conscious OBE tonight."

See you out there.

Robert Peterson
10 Nov 2015

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Review: Boundless by Anita Gamba


by Anita Gamba

Today I'm reviewing the book Boundless: One Woman's Journal of Her Out-of-Body Experiences by Anita Gamba.

This book is simple. It is almost entirely OBE narrations. There's also some theory and basics, plus a few notes about her primary OBE technique (which is more about relaxation and setting intentions than anything), but mostly it's just narrations. That's okay because I've always loved OBE narrations; they always take me back to that magical thrill of discovery. It also helps program your subconscious mind to induce OBEs.

Gamba's OBEs started when she gave birth to her son. Since then she's recorded "over one hundred and fifty out-of-body experiences." At first, she tried to figure them out in terms of quantum physics (as did William Buhlman in Adventures Beyond the Body), which led her to more research than the average person. She became quite knowledgeable in the stuff, which is not an easy task. In the end, she gives a curious mixture of science and philosophy.

She is honest, genuine and up-front about her OBEs. She openly admits her shortcomings and when she doesn't understand something. Her OBEs are pretty basic and typical. She experiments with floating and flying. She finds out she can breathe underwater. She looks in the mirror. She encounters other people and animals. On the one hand, they're not quite thrilling to someone who's been studying and practicing OBEs for 35 years. They're certainly not tedious though. On the other hand, there's nothing startling, controversial or surprising in there either, so I know she's not making this stuff up: she's really been there.

What I liked most about the book is that she always tries to find lessons in her OBEs, even the ones that are mundane. Maybe it's my vanity/ego because it reminded me of my second book, Lessons Out of the Body, although she doesn't get too "heavy" or preachy with her lessons. They are often quite simple, like "Social Masks: Be Real." Sometimes there are many lessons to be learned from a simple OBE. For example, she writes:
"This OBE journey has reminded me that:
  •  When I am patient and stay focused I am successful at anything I choose.
  • I know how to hold my focus whilst the world is trying to pull me back to its reality.
  • I need to trust my own judgment and I can always call on my inner power to protect me.
  • I have always had the courage to move through doors of change, not knowing what is on the other side.
  • I have always had the presence of mind to make firm decisions about moving on if the present situation proves to be too macabre for me.
  • The voice that told me not to go to the past reminds me that the voice of my inner wisdom should be listened to even if it sounds harsh.
  • Furthermore, I must leave behind the skeletons of my past because they will kill me if I continue to give them validity." (pg. 64)
The book is pretty basic. You're not going to find any startling revelations or the depth of, say Jurgen Ziewe or Frederick Aardema. Perhaps I'm a bit jaded because I recently read and reviewed Ziewe's latest book, Vistas of Infinity, and that's a tough act to follow.

This book is 119 pages long. The size is normal, the typeset and margins are good. It's quick and comfortable (not heavy) to read, but there's enough content that I didn't feel short-changed. I don't recall any grammar or spelling errors, so the book is well executed. There was nothing offensive, nor anything I disagreed with.

I'll give it a thumbs up, but there are better narration books.

Bob Peterson
28 October 2015

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Review: Vistas of Infinity by Jurgen Ziewe

Vistas of Infinity

by Jurgen Ziewe

Today I'm reviewing the book Vistas of Infinity by Jurgen Ziewe.

If you read my blog, you may already know that Jurgen Ziewe wrote my favorite OBE book, Multidimensional Man (MM) and its sequel The Ten Minute Moment. You may also realize that it's been a long time since I've posted an OBE book review. That's because I wanted to read this book slowly, a little at a time, savoring each sentence. Consequently, this book review is a bit long winded. The book covers a lot, so I have a lot to say about it; sorry!

This book is about the author's further explorations into the non-physical realms, afterlife territories, and cosmic consciousness. It's a natural progression from Multidimensional Man (aka MM) explaining where the author has gone and what he's witnessed firsthand (mostly) since the first book was published. This book builds on and complements the first two books perfectly.

Ziewe took this opportunity to rectify several shortcomings of the first book. For example, on page 11, he lays it all on the line and spells out exactly what he used to judge his out-of-body experiences:
"1. I had to have full waking Consciousness while out of my body.
2. I had to be fully aware that my physical body was in another place.
3. I had to have full awareness of my waking life's social identity.
4. I had to be fully aware that the experience was not even part of a lucid dream, let alone a dream." (pp 11-12).
Those four statements say a lot about the clarity and awareness of his OBEs. It's more than apparent that his OBEs were not dreams or flights of imagination. As it was for MM, it's amusing how he almost runs himself out of superlatives to describe his experiences and level of awareness. For example:
 "The richness and complexity I discerned was staggering, seeing swirling particles of matter. This is how deeply our minds can view without the use of an electro-scanning microscope....The only thing more staggering was the exhilaration that my waking awareness had reached a new peak level. It had arrived at a super-level of clarity, something never to be found in physical wakefulness. The physical world, I pondered, is a clear second when it comes to an experience of clarity and reality awareness." (pg. 65)

Here are some more examples of how the book goes the extra mile:
  • Although he doesn't describe the techniques themselves, he does describe the procedures or meditations he used to induce each OBE, whether it started as a lucid dream, a meditation or other induction technique.
  • He goes beyond normal reporting of what he saw: he advances some theories as to how the multidimensional reality works and its structure.
  • He compares and contrasts his observations with the few historic reports of higher (beyond the astral) states of consciousness, such as Theosophists like author C.W. Leadbeater.
  • He describes OBE encounters with alien life forms, which is rare in the literature (also see Darryl Berry's book).
  • He also talks about his "Silent Companion" and where that's led him. This perfectly fits what I call my "inner voice."

I came across many really good quotes that exactly matched my beliefs about life, OBEs, and religion. For example:
"The Out-of-Body state in full waking Consciousness is undoubtedly the biggest miracle in human Consciousness we can ever experience, and every time I am blessed with this miracle my life is transformed anew." (pg. 19)
I've always maintained that experience and knowledge trump belief and faith, and OBEs can provide direct experience that religions only hint at. Ziewe is unafraid to challenge religious dogma (and not just Christian) with direct experience.
"Traditionally, religion rather than science has claimed the authority of knowledge of what our future beyond the physical has in store, but all too often our religions have been misunderstood and misappropriated, uncompromisingly, for propaganda purposes to serve invested power structures and control its followers, often with horrendous consequences." (pg. 22)
In his latest adventures, he separates fact from fiction with regard to karma, and visits many of the places people go after they die. This includes places most Christians would be quick to call "Heaven" and "Hell," even if they are still on the Astral Plane.
"I assume that some church mystics might have honed in on these extended stays in a negative mindset and referred to them as eternal hell. On closer inspection these are just illusions and states of mind." (pg. 50)

He even visited the afterlife of a suicide bomber, which is a fascinating encounter. Mostly what he found was ordinary people living ordinary life-after-death in very exotic places, places that best fit their own vibrational level. His adventures sometimes lead to some humorous encounters:
"I approached and mixed with the group. Trying clumsily to strike up a conversation with a couple next to me, by asking them whether they knew that they were dead, they looked at me as if I was some kind of simpleton, so I simply took that as a 'yes' and moved on." (pp. 107-108)

He also talks about encounters with the dead, including his own deceased mother, which is very interesting.

His OBEs also go far beyond the Astral Plane to some hard-to-reach places, Heaven-like worlds that some would describe as higher planes of existence. To do that, he had to abandon all concepts of "self."
"Getting into these levels beyond the Astral is an undertaking that requires a mindset free of all its previous identification and attachments. It is simply impossible to enter this state still connected to any of our cherished fixations of self-importance. If we are not prepared to do that, it would be like attempting a balloon ride with all the heavy weights and ropes keeping it anchored to the ground." (pg. 194).
Ziewe uses direct firsthand experience to correct misconceptions about OBEs. For example:
"There was plenty to learn from this short episode. For a start, the old belief that there are seven levels on the Astral plane needs to be instantly deposited into the bin of misinformation." (pg. 50)
The reality of it is much more complex:
"Sometimes it is possible to approach these elevated regions from the air during OBEs and they show themselves up first as a bright light in the distance, like dawn breaking in the morning. As we get closer, we find increasing discomfort when facing these brighter territories until we get acclimatised. This is another reason why I found it hard to accept that dimensional levels are in some way stacked vertically on top of each other. Although we can enter higher dimensions via a shift in Consciousness, we can also literally travel towards them." (pg. 186).
His descriptions of helpers and guides also matches my experience perfectly. For example:
"Other Out-of-Body experiencers have reported meeting a very specific personal guide, who was dedicated to them and always appeared as the same entity. Except for one stage during my OBEs, where I had a regular Chinese sage training me to reach higher dimensional levels, I seemed to be blessed with different helpers more on the basis of whoever happened to be available or suited for the specific nature of my request." (pg. 120)

Another thing that struck me when reading this book is how some of his experiences matched the movie Astral City, both in the scenery and the people he encountered.

Ziewe's OBEs also partly explain an oddity reported by author Robert Bruce: he talked about how the astral plane can appear with repeating patterns, almost like it had floor tiles. (See the cover of his book Astral Dynamics for example.)
"Frequently, when choosing to go for a stroll in these pre-Heaven realms and looking at the ground, a number of curious phenomena may be observed, such as the ground organising itself in a geometric and symmetric pattern, so it may appear as if one is walking on some kind of Persian rug, but these patterns will keep changing in accordance with one's feelings. I noticed the same phenomena when walking on our physical Earth after an hour or so of deep meditation. My explanation is that the inner experienced symmetry during meditation is projected through the eyes into the world and reorganises everything more symmetrically." (pg. 191)

Where does this all lead us? To Consciousness with a capital C, and something I've always maintained: The person you think you are is really only a very tiny fragment of who you really are. As Ziewe puts it:
"Consciousness was clearly showing me that my physical life was just a small part of many other life experiences and that, at night, possibly in deep dream state, or even parallel to my waking state, I had been busy pursuing one or more alternative existences. With this thought, I sank into a semi-meditative state and I began to remember more and more detail with astonishing clarity; I gained the realization that the life I am leading back in my physical body is only the tip of the iceberg, one of many lives I am leading - or, perhaps better, Consciousness is leading - each one of equal significance." (pg. 169).

So what is at the core of Consciousness when you drill down deep enough?
"From the viewpoint of Singularity this lonesome being that we consider to be us, which struggles to survive, has in reality never been an independent unit, but always been part of a whole, no matter how it perceives itself or on which level of reality it is focused on. It has always been part of a greater unifying Consciousness, but as long as we struggle, want, desire (even desiring to be united with our Singular Source), we experience ourselves as separate. In this state of perceived division, Singularity cannot reach us and bestow its blessings of reunion because we've erected the artificial barriers of separation via our personalised viewpoint. When the barriers are gone, the blessing starts flooding in and we then firmly experience our natural connection to our original and authentic Source. As far as Source is concerned, we have never been separated, not for a single moment, even if we were to dwell in abject spiritual poverty and darkness." (pg. 195)
Here's another quote I liked a lot because it reminded me of my novel, The Gospel According to Mike:
"In reality we are all 'chosen ones', linked to our Source. but because we are all, it doesn't make us anything special." (pg. 197)
So how can we get there ourselves? Ziewe suggests daily meditation, and gives us a lot of important clues. For instance:
"We may be meditating until the cows come home, but we cannot will ourselves into the position because the thing that wills is the very thing that needs to be surrendered. Singularity decides when we are ready to receive it and it does so by administering an intense experience of ecstasy and rapturous blessing. All we are then able to do is completely surrender any trace of our old mocked-up or inauthentic persona." (pg. 199)
Still, according to Ziewe, this experience is open to anyone:
"We also need to liberate ourselves from the idea that this is a state of Consciousness reserved for some spiritual elite. Quite the opposite: it is humility and surrender that will grant the humblest of people residency here if their heart is pure, committed to authenticity and surrendered to its Source." (pg. 226)
If Multidimensional Man left you hungry for more, Vistas of Infinity will satisfy you, but please read MM first. MM is still at the top of my OBE book list, but only because it touched on some nerves that actually made me cry. More than once. (I did not cry for Vistas of Infinity.) Nonetheless, Vistas transformed me as I read it. Somehow it brought about subtle changes in my awareness. I feel like a different person; more authentic, more connected. It's like an old friend has been whispering in my ear, reminding me who I am; who I want to be, who I can choose to be again. I can't promise it will do the same for you, but it has that potential.

The book's content and length are both good: it has both quantity and quality. The grammar is flawless. The presentation is professional and the writing is eloquent.

In short: Vistas of Infinity is exactly the book I was hungry for when I read William Buhlman's book Adventures In The Afterlife. Buhlman's book is mostly hypothetical and fictionalized, whereas Vistas is a firsthand eyewitness account. (Not to say that Buhlman's book isn't good; I still recommend it; it just didn't meet my admittedly high expectations.)

Thumbs way up.

Bob Peterson
13 October 2015

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Review: Untold Story by Dennis Leroy Stilwell

Review: Untold Story

by Dennis Leroy Stilwell

Today I'm reviewing the book Untold Story by Dennis Leroy Stilwell.

This book is pure fiction: a novel. In my review of William Buhlman's Adventures In The Afterlife I mentioned that I am primarily a nonfiction reader and how I burned myself out on visionary fiction. Now I only read fiction occasionally and reluctantly because it seems like such a waste of time to read "something that's made up" when there are so many good nonfiction books out there. Why did I read this one? Mostly because the author, Dennis Leroy Stilwell, sent me a review copy and asked me to review it, and I never turn down books. He insisted that it prominently featured out-of-body experiences throughout the story, and so it did.

I wasn't too excited about diving into a novel, but I started reading it anyway. As the pages flew by, something strange happened. Although it wasn't as engaging, powerful or riveting as some novels, I found myself somehow drawn in. Deep down in my soul, I somehow felt like I was meant to read this book, and that its message was meant for me. I can't explain it. I kept being drawn back to it, and I enjoyed it to the very end.

The story centers around Alex and Patricia (as well as several peripheral characters) who work at a rural zoo. Lately, they've had several camels miscarry, and Alex gets blamed for the deaths. In search of answers, Alex goes to New Guinea where he meets a local shaman (known as a "glas man") called "Gapa" and his apprentice, a boy named Pida. There, Alex learns out-of-body travel and other important lessons.

The characters were colorful and believable. Part of what I found so fascinating about this book is the author's descriptions of New Guinea, its culture, customs and its unique kind of shamanism. I've done a lot of international travel and even met shamans in the jungles of Peru, but I've never been to New Guinea.

I never candy-coat my feelings in these reviews, so I have to be honest: Although they kept recurring throughout the book, the OBEs were just a little bit flat and lackluster. They were an important part of some scenes, but only features of the story, and not the book's primary focus.

The good news is that the book was well written. The writing was mature, seasoned and professional, although I did find one or two mistakes. The bad news is that there were some scene transitions that weren't very smooth.

The first problem I had with this book is that there wasn't enough tension or conflict between the characters. Many of the characters just agreed with one another and there was little show of emotions. Although there was some, there could have been more banter. The second problem is that there wasn't enough conflict. The author didn't focus enough on the bad guys, their motivations or goals. The evil wasn't evil enough. In that respect, it felt kind of like a "Chick Flick" at times. There was "enough" conflict, but if there had been more, it would have been a better book. It could have used more plot twists too.

I did enjoy this book. Like I said; I felt repeatedly drawn to it. The OBEs in the story were enough to keep me interested. I especially liked it for the fascinating glimpses into New Guinea culture and shamanism (the one thing that all flavors of shamanism have in common is OBEs).

If you're looking for other novels that focus more on OBEs (rather than just a feature of the story), I also recommend:
  • The House Between The Worlds by Marion Zimmer Bradley (a fantasy novel about a scientist who stumble on a drug that induces OBEs and leads to the discovery of a parallel dimension.)
  • Flying In Place by Susan Palwick (about a woman who uses OBEs to escape from an abusive situation), or
  • Nightflyer by Christopher Fahy (a young adult novel about a teen who uses OBEs to exact his revenge on the bullies who pick on him).
None of the aforementioned are "spiritual" books, but they are fun if you're looking for fiction. And if you know of other good fiction books about OBEs, let me know.
Bob Peterson
01 September 2015

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Why Keeping A Dream Journal Helps OBEs

Why Keeping A Dream Journal Helps OBEs

By Robert Peterson

"Why should I keep a dream journal? I usually don't dream, but when I do, my dreams are nonsense anyway."

I know keeping a dream journal is a pain in the ass. It takes a lot of time and effort, and some mornings you just don't want to mess with it. However, it does help your ability to Lucid dream and have OBEs. Many people don't understand the connection, so let me explain it. It's complex, so bear with me.

It all has to do with memory and the way humans compartmentalize information. Think about it: our brains are constantly bombarded with gigabytes (if not terabytes or petabytes) of information: visual data, audio data, tactile data, as well as taste and smell, plus feedback from our own body on its current state: hunger, thirst, oxygen levels, pain levels, etc. All this sensory data arrives simultaneously to the brain. But if it all got through to your "conscious self" at once, it would be overwhelming. You couldn't function normally. So your brain has very complex "data filters" (for lack of a better word) to make sure the only data passed from subconscious to conscious is the "important stuff." One of the reasons why drugs like LSD are so overwhelming is that they temporarily tear down your brain's natural data filters.

One of the ways our brains keep this barrage of information manageable is to compartmentalize it. It's like a computer's file system, broken down into many levels of subdirectories. All the information is automatically filed into different categories.

Sometimes our brains need to process this information as quickly as possible. For example, if there's a sound, you need to be able to instantly judge whether the sound is a threat, and often that involves memory. You can only identify the sound of a pistol being cocked based on your memory of that sound. So each category is assigned a priority, and each memory is also assigned a priority based on the likelihood of needing that information.

What does science know about this memory sorting? A 2011 article in Scientific American magazine talks about the "doorway effect". It explains a phenomenon known to many, especially when you get older: You walk into a room, then pause and ask yourself, "Now why did I come in here?" The article is based on the work of a team of researchers at the University of Notre Dame who published a paper titled:  “Walking through doorways causes forgetting.” The article explains:
"The doorway effect suggests that there's more to the remembering than just what you paid attention to, when it happened, and how hard you tried. Instead, some forms of memory seem to be optimized to keep information ready-to-hand until its shelf life expires, and then purge that information in favor of new stuff."
Well, it's not purged; it's just archived into deep "hard-to-fetch" storage. Our brains automatically prioritize or set aside memory based on perceived need. When you walk from room A to room B, it's less likely that you'll need to recall the information from room A, so room A's memories are filed away to longer-term storage, then dumped from short-term memory, making it harder to access. Only room B's information is important now, so you forget why you came.

If you walk back into room A, those memories are given a higher priority again and you can often remember your original goal.

This shuffling of information and memory is all done automatically by the subconscious, but the good news is: you can program your subconscious. You have control over the priority. You can reinforce the importance of carrying the information over, and you can practice it over and over to reinforce the programming, making it easier. If you tell yourself, "Now when I get to room B, I'm going to remember that I need to do this" your subconscious will learn to comply and give room A's memories easier access.

Why does this have anything to do with OBEs and Lucid Dreams?

It's because it's not just doorways. Although the magazine article doesn't say it, I believe there are many types of barriers used by the subconscious to compartmentalize. The biggest and most glaring is: your subconscious does the same thing when transitioning from a waking to a sleeping state, and from sleeping to waking. The information from our dreams and other non-local states of consciousness are automatically shuffled to the bottom of the heap as "unimportant nonsense." (Because we've reinforced that all our lives, but that's another topic.) So trying to consciously remember your dreams is a struggle, if not impossible. Conversely, trying to remember your waking life during a dream is also a struggle.

By keeping a dream journal, you are forcing your subconscious to carry memories and information from your body's sleeping state forward to your conscious self. The information is carried through the proverbial doorway.

In order to consciously recall a dream, you need a certain fragment of awareness in the dream: You need enough "conscious you" to pay attention to what's happening, in order to be able to recall it in the morning. You need a tiny connection from the sleep state to the conscious self. So basically, a dream journal trains your subconscious to allow more conscious awareness on the other side of the sleep barrier. And "conscious awareness" is exactly what you need for out-of-body experiences and lucid dreams.

So why bother with a dream journal if the contents of your dreams are (usually) not important? It's because your dream journaling programs your subconscious to carry the information across the threshold of waking/sleeping. It tells your subconscious to keep an open connection to the conscious self into sleep.

"But I don't dream. How can I keep a dream journal?"

Science has proven that everyone dreams, multiple times every night. It's just that you don't remember.

"Okay. How can I keep a dream journal if I can't remember my dreams?"

You've got to make it a habit. Here are some things to jump-start the process:
  1. Take vitamin B-6 before bed. Don't take more than 100mg per day. Don't take it every day. Take it for a few days, then stop for a few days. For some reason, this seems to help with dream recall.
  2. Before you go to sleep, tell yourself, "Tomorrow morning, I'm going to remember my dreams."
  3. After that, imagine yourself in the morning. You wake up. You sit up in bed and recall the dreams you just had.
  4. Tell yourself, "Yes, that's exactly what I'm going to do."
  5. Repeat steps 3 and 4 a few times. Then go to sleep.
  6. In the morning, sit up, close your eyes and try to remember anything you can about the dreams you just had. Focus on any little fragment that comes in. "It had something to do with a man" Then follow it where it takes you. "The man was trying to take me somewhere..." And so forth.
  7. Once you're up, write down your dream. If you're too busy, just write down some keywords that will trigger your memory later.
  8. Perform these steps every day so that keeping a dream journal becomes a habit.

Bob Peterson
18 August 2015

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Review: Out Of Body Experiences by Kensho

Review: Out Of Body Experiences

by Kensho

Today I'm reviewing the book Out Of Body Experiences by Kensho. The subtitle is "A practical guide to exploring the Astral Plane."

The book is a short 80 pages, with average margins, average font, average grammar, and 12 small chapters. The cover art is good, but I also found another book on amazon that has an almost identical cover.

I've got to be brutally honest. The book turned me off right away. The prologue, introduction and the first chapter were okay, I guess, but chapter 2, "The Different Dimensions" didn't sit well with me. He started talking new-age pseudo-science that made no sense to me. He talked about different planes of existence as if they were different dimensions. First, he talked about the physical world as the "Third Dimension" because of its length, height and width. But I know I'm not alone in believing that the passage of "time" is a fourth dimension, and yes, it does exist right here in our physical world. It seemed like a glaring oversight to me. Next, regarding the physical world, he wrote:
"There are 48 different divine laws that control every physical object in this dimension. This includes laws of physics like gravity, and dimensional laws like distance." (pg. 14)
Hmmm. That sounded familiar.

The next world, he said, is "The Vital World" (which most books commonly call the Etheric plane or the Real-Time Zone), and it supposedly has 36 divine laws. After that is the Astral World and Mental World (combined) and there are 24 laws. Where did I hear these kind of claims before? Oh yeah. It was the late Samael Aun Weor's book, Dream Yoga, which I reviewed almost a year ago. It was the undoubtedly the worse OBE book I'd ever read. I quickly thumbed to the back of this book and read the "About The Author" section. Sure enough, I found:
"Kensho's knowledge comes from the teachings of his guru Zen Buddhist Master Dharmapa Rimpoche, and Gnostic Master Samael Aun Weor, as well as his life experiences and anecdotes." (pg. 80) 
So he just admitted his "knowledge" is mostly secondhand, rather than being based on firsthand experience. Hm...

Who is this Kensho, anyway, I wondered. From his photo he looked like a normal white dude, not a Japanese teacher. The copyright in the front of the book was listed as "Kensho" but I found another copyright in the back that said Cyrus Kirkpatrick. It said Kensho got his name from the Order of the Yellow Dragon, an organization I know nothing about.

I've always had a deep seated distrust of OBE teachers who change their name to something esoteric. I feel like either they aren't happy being themselves, or else they're trying to impress me. I've always had this problem, and I need to apologize for it. I had the same problem with Ophiel (aka Edward Peach) in 1980. I had the same problem with Beelzebub (aka Mark Pritchard) ten years ago, and I had this problem with Akhena last year (but she definitely earned her credentials and my respect). Yeah, I know. I shouldn't be so cynical about teachers who change their name. I should just humbly recognize that sometimes people want to reinvent themselves, and changing their name is part of that. Maybe someday, once I learn to destroy the last vestiges of my ego, I'll even move to an ashram myself and change my name too. But I digress.

A lot of people know I'm skeptical about metaphysical claims; even my own. It's just that I've had too many OBEs and seen too many weird and unbelievable things in my life; I can't deny what I've witnessed firsthand. Still, I question everything and try to maintain a healthy skepticism. And that's a good thing. Especially when reading an OBE book, because there's too much crap on the market.

So back to the book. If you're going to make a claim about the physical plane having 48 laws, I want to see them. Spell them out. Let the reader evaluate them. How did you come to know about these laws of physics? Was it from your OBEs? I've got a book on physics that's 3 inches thick, so bring it. How many of the 48 are laws of thermodynamics? Of quantum mechanics? Show me where Planck's constant fits in. Unfortunately, the author doesn't. He seems to make these claims for two reasons: One, to make a point that the higher the plane, the fewer laws, and therefore the happier you are. And two, to make himself sound like a voice of authority who knows how it all works. To me it just seemed like hand waving.

Chapter 3, "Common Misconceptions About Astral Travel" is alright, but somewhat shallow.

Although very short, chapter 4, "The Difference Between Dreams, Lucid Dreaming and Astral Projection" was a bit more to my liking. I've always insisted they were two different things. (It's a very deep subject, but basically I believe lucid dreams are OBEs in which you experience a hallucinated dream world.) This chapter also talks about brain waves, and he agrees with me that Delta brain waves are not good for OBEs:
"The Delta brain waves stage is when we lose complete awareness, it is when we simple "black out" and this lasts some 30 minutes. The Delta ruins everything for us when we want to be conscious to have an OBE..." (pg. 25)

Chapter 5 is titled "Preparation for Astral Travel" and has some decent advice, such as avoiding television before attempting OBE, lying face up, having the right frame of mind, and so forth. However, he recommends practicing between 9:30pm (21:30) and 10:00pm (22:00) which I disagree with. In my experience, it's always best to practice first thing in the morning when you're alert and your mind is less cluttered.

Chapter 6 is "O.B.E. Techniques" and it's actually pretty decent. Like Weor, he likes to use obscure mantras. This chapter is a mixture of different OBE techniques, most of which are better described in other OBE books. For example, he reduces Robert Bruce's famous "Rope Technique" to one tiny (poorly worded) paragraph:
"Imagine there's a rope hanging on top of you, either visible or invisible. Imagine you grab it with your astral hands and start pulling your astral body up until you leave your physical body." (pg. 41)
That's it. Needless to say, that's sorely lacking in detail. His other techniques are not quite that bad though.

Chapter 7 is "More OBE Techniques". I'm not sure why he felt the need to break his OBE techniques into two chapters, but he did. This chapter contains more mantras and miscellaneous other techniques. It's not bad information.

Chapter 8 is "The Magical Technique of the Angel's Trumpet" which he claims is "real elemental magic." It also uses a mantra (Angel's Trumpet is supposedly a type of tree.) I don't believe in "real magic." I believe in laws of physics that we just don't understand yet.

Some of what he recommends is to pray to the divine mother or divine father, which is probably just a link to the subconscious (and not bad advice).

The rest of the book is not bad. It contains practical advice for lucid dreaming, dealing with astral situations, meeting astral people, and how to tell "real" people from hallucinated dream people and so forth. It's pretty basic stuff.

There's really only one OBE narrative and it describes how the author once met a co-worker in the astral plane before they met in real life. I would have liked to read more of his experiences, but unfortunately, there were none. The book is more like "This is how things work" (implied: based on what my guru told me) rather than my preference: "This is what I experienced and therefore know firsthand."

Okay, so maybe my early impressions of the book tainted my opinion. Maybe I just didn't like how the author made secondhand claims that obviously came from his guru rather than his experience. Maybe I just didn't like the way the author gave himself the voice of authority with no evidence or OBEs to back up his assertions. I guess the book's content was not that bad. It was just...average. But I've read a lot of OBE books that are a lot better.

Bob Peterson
11 Aug 2015
Index to all my OBE book reviews

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

What Should I do When the Vibrations Hit?

What Should I do When the Vibrations Hit?

By Bob Peterson
28 July 2015

This is one of the most common questions I hear from people learning to induce out-of-body experiences:
"I've spent lots of time learning to relax my body and focus my mind. I've reached the stage where I can get the vibrations, but then one of three things always happens:
  1. The vibrations fade away quickly.
  2. I'm paralyzed and completely unable to move, or
  3. It seems like my heart is racing uncontrollably.
Eventually I snap out of it. What should I do to turn this into a full out-of-body experience?"
The most important thing is to remain calm. When the vibrations hit, you need to stay completely 100% passive. Don't think. Don't feel. Don't try to encourage the vibrations because that will cause them to fade away. Just keep your mind as still, unmoving, and passive as possible. Just wait and "watch what happens". Yes, I know that might seem nearly impossible: it's like trying to totally ignore your own electrocution. In one of my books I wrote that it's like ignoring getting slapped in the face, but it is essential. And yes, it can be scary as hell.

When the vibrations reach their peak intensity, try to physically sit up, stand up, roll out, or otherwise get up out of bed. If it's the real OBE vibrations, your physical body won't move, but your astral body may move. If your physical body moves, it wasn't the right vibrations and you probably weren't in a deep enough trance. Either that or you waited too long and the vibrations have already faded away.

If your astral body won't move, or is paralyzed, pinned or stuck to the physical body, try again physically to move in a different direction. If you can't sit, try to roll left. If you can't roll left, try to roll right. If that doesn't work, try to do a backward somersault.

If you've tried everything and still can't get unglued from your physical body, here's what to do:
  1. Close your (astral) eyes and keep them closed.
  2. Try to push forward with your consciousness and just imagine that your consciousness is moving forward.  Even though you may not feel any movement, your consciousness will move forward in your astral body.  If you have doubts that it's working and open your eyes prematurely, your awareness will zip like a ball on a rubber band back to your body.  So keep your eyes closed and have faith that your consciousness is moving forward.  
  3. Keep pushing forward with your consciousness in your imagination as hard as you can, just like walking underwater, until you are about fifteen feet (five meters) away from your body. Visualize that the walls or ceiling in front of you are getting closer as you imagine moving forward. Of course, since your eyes are closed, you can only guess your progress, so don’t obsess on the distance, just take a best guess. 
  4. Once you are safely fifteen feet away from your body, you may open your eyes, and you will be in your astral body and free to roam.
If this sounds familiar, it may be because I've given this advice before in an article on my website called "What Everyone Should Know About Sleep Paralysis, ASP and OBEs".

The "racing heart" thing is often a manifestation of fear or anticipation. You should let that all go. It's almost never your real physical heart that's racing anyway; sometimes it's scare tactics from your subconscious. It's usually an energy sensation associated with your non-physical body, not your physical body, so don't be concerned that your heart is going to explode, etc. Just do your best to ignore the sensation.

Bob Peterson
28 July 2015

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Review: Easy Astral Projection by Keith Morgan

Easy Astral Projection

by Keith Morgan

This time I'm reviewing the book Easy Astral Projection by Keith Morgan.

This is a small book: Just 21 pages. The font is small but so are the margins, so there's not a lot of content. Its copyright is 1992, so it's not ancient.

Although it doesn't say it on the cover, the subtitle is "Simple techniques for travelling in the Astral planes." I've read so many books that claim to make astral projection "Easy" or "Simple" that I've become a bit cynical about it. Inducing OBE has always been a long process for me, and never easy, so it makes me feel like they're luring me in, and I'm always disappointed.

I disagreed with this book on several points. For example:
"...this altered state of consciousness that we consider to be Astral Projection is the same altered state of consciousness that is considered to be termed as being 'Hypnotism' that of an auto suggested state of being that is different from the normal pattern of behaviour that is more commonly found within an individual." (pg. 2)
Yes, OBEs involve a kind of trance state, but to me it's completely different from a hypnotic trance.

Early in this book, the author starts using the term "magick" and "magickal" as if to give out-of-body experience some kind of special 'occult' mystique. In my opinion, there's nothing magical about it. It happens to common folks every day.

So let's talk about the author's OBE techniques. They're not bad and not without merit. They are, however, a bit obfuscated.

The first technique is "Visualisation of a Deity." These are run-of-the-mill visualization techniques, and not bad in themselves. The important thing in my opinion, is:
"Concentrate upon the image as a whole being & see it as a manifestation of such & of the Astral planes, but most of all, believe in what you are seeing, as a being of the element which is being invoked & as a being of your own magick." (pg. 10)
In other words, visualize the image as realistically as possible. The second technique, which is important enough to have its own heading, "Development of Clairvoyancy," is obscure. In fact, he says:
"This method is known as scrying, & is simply, expanding your consciousness through a medium of reflection, this looking into the deeper you, any reflective surface can give good effect, such as a still pond etc, it is a meditational device and nothing more, through these personal meditations deeper things can be learned." (pg. 11)
I'm sorry, but in my opinion, scrying is a lot different from astral projection. In my opinion, with astral projection your physical body is just another inanimate object in the bedroom, and your awareness is elsewhere. With scrying, your consciousness stays firmly planted in the physical and you're using your mind's eye to do something akin to remote viewing. If you want to do remote viewing, there are plenty of good books about it. If you want to do scrying, there are good books on that, too. For example, Donald Tyson's book "Scrying For Beginners". But in my opinion, OBEs are not the same.

There's another separate section of OBE techniques called "Astral Projection & Altered Consciousness Methods." It's small and unimpressive. It talks briefly about relaxation, slowing down your heart rate (and breathing), energizing the pineal gland and chakras, using a mirror, fasting and auto-suggestion. It's scant and not very detailed.

Toward the end of the book, he makes another dubious claim:
"The Void is the primal void of chaos, that is DAATH on the Cabbalistic tree of Life, out of the turmoil of the firmament all is born, it is a start & a re-birth.
TAKE NOTE: travel to the void is not recommended! There is excellent documentation of experimentation of Astral Projection into the Void, as a cabbalistic friend of mine once told me,
 "You will emerge, Mad, Bad, dead or enlightened!".......& he meant it!" (pg. 19)
Few authors have written about "The Void" but this is the only one I can recall that's negative. It seemed like needless negative superstition to me. Frederick Aardema's excellent book, Explorations In Consciousness has an excellent discussion of the Void, without the occult and/or kabbalistic connotations, and it's certainly not negative.

This book's grammar is poor and careless (as you can see from the quotes above). The content is small and often obscure and veiled in occult labels. And in my opinion, the information isn't very good. Although the book is cheap, there are a lot of better OBE books out there. I'd pass on this one.

Click here for a complete list of all my OBE book reviews.

Bob Peterson
14 July 2015

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Review: Mental and Astral Projection by Robert E. Moser

Review: Mental and Astral Projection

by Robert E. (Bob) Moser

Today I'm taking a trip down memory lane and reviewing the book Mental and Astral Projection by Robert E. Moser, an oldie from 1974. It's a short book; just 55 pages.

I first read this book in August of 1980. I had only had 21 OBEs then, so I was a newbie and I was eager for more. The book didn't stand out in my mind at the time, but after just re-reading it, I'm amazed to see just how much it influenced me.

Moser starts by explaining mental projection and astral projection, and the fact that mental projection is easier than astral projection. In my opinion, the author's "mental projection" is what we now call "remote viewing."

I remember how disappointed I was with Moser's OBE technique. After spending a considerable amount of time relaxing your physical body:
"Now, if you wish to [astral] project....simply use your imagination to lift yourself free of the body....to go where you have selected....knowing, at all times....that the natural protective mechanisms of your body are working normally...." (pg. 35)
That's pretty lame. He's advocating the use of imagination to induce OBE, and granted, imagination is an important step. But the process is so much more complex than that. I got nothing out of this. By the way, the overuse and abuse of the ellipsis "...." is the author's, not mine. :)

He expands on this technique later in the book. You use your imagination to visualize a doorway with a fancy door, a keyhole, and a key. You customize the door to make it "yours". Only you possess the key, and each time you induce an OBE, you imagine unlocking the door and locking it behind you to keep any foreign entities out. You always take the key with you.

The book didn't make a lasting impression back in 1980, but I did take a few things he said to heart: First, to keep a journal of your experiences. Second, that other entities can't control your body unless you allow them access. Third, the importance of keeping a dream journal and learning dream recall:
"The importance of the effort to receive full dream recall cannot be overstressed." (pp. 43-44)
This book may have also unconsciously prompted my earliest communications with my inner voice:
"Another point I would like to stress is that it is my firm and proven belief, that the superconscious mind has the answers to the information we seek, if we but look inward. It is in me, it is in you. This is our higher self, our God-Consciousness that has all the memory of time within it. We must seek inward and communicate there for the information." (pg. 44)
It probably also fueled my distrust in spirits:
"I do NOT advocate the use of guides on the astral planes. We have no way of knowing or judging who or what may be trying to either help or harm us. On the astral, since we are faced with a different set of values and a new set of rules, we can easily be misled by some entity who is trying to use us." (pg. 47)
In fact, Moser takes this a step further. He stresses not to interact with the astral plane. He advises us to merely observe what we witness. But to quote the 1980s rock song Blinded by the Light, "But mama, that's where the fun is!"

Maybe this book was just what I needed in 1980: A healthy dose of caution, a little esotericism, a dash of distrust in spirits, a few clues about my inner voice, and a few hints on how to self-induce OBEs. There are many OBE books that are far better than this, but I don't regret having read it.

30 June 2015
Robert Peterson

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Review: Travel Far by Darryl E. Berry Jr.

Travel Far

by Darryl E. Berry Jr.

I can't believe it's almost been a month since my last OBE book review. A barrage of crises and obligations left me little time to read. Sigh.

This time I'm reviewing the book Travel Far: A Beginner's Guide to the Out-of-Body Experience, Including First-Hand Accounts and Comprehensive Theory and Methods by Darryl E. Berry, Jr. That's a mouth-full.

The author was kind enough to send me a review copy and I really enjoyed it. Unlike most books in the genre, this one is "just right" in many respects. It's 220 pages: a good amount of content. It has good size paper, good margins, and a good font size. Its grammar and spelling are--you guessed it--good. That's refreshing, especially after the last book's many errors.

I always like to start off addressing the negative things about a book so I can end on a positive note, but in this case I don't have many negative things to say. It's just a good, solid well-rounded OBE book with good content.

The book is divided into two parts.

Part 1 is about the author's personal experiences, and you know how I love OBE narratives. The narratives were interesting, but somehow lacked emotion. Whenever I have an OBE, no matter how mundane, there's an element of, "Oh my God! This is so incredible!" even after 35 years. These narratives somehow lacked that element, so they felt a little "flat". Still, they were fascinating and unusual, even in this admittedly obscure genre. For example, in one OBE, Berry encounters "fire beings". In another, when he was 7 years old, he found himself in "The Desert World" for a solid week! This reminded me of my own childhood experience where it seemed like I had lived in another world for centuries (although it wasn't a desert world). He also writes about encounters with extraterrestrials; an important topic, but rarely found in the genre. Plus another important topic that's often neglected: time travel OBEs. It makes for some fascinating discussion. I can't go into detail here, but check out this quote:
"My perception is that I entered (or made) an alternate universe, a different reality stream or timeline, and lived in that alternate timeline for that duration of time." (pg. 73).
Part 2, "Theory and Methods" is where Berry gets down to business. This is where I perked up and starting flagging pages. He begins by explaining brain waves and states of consciousness. He addresses the topic well. I didn't agree with everything he said (but I rarely do). For example:
"Delta is the state of deep physical sleep, and home to the out-of-body experience." (pg. 83)
I've always believed that OBEs occur during deep theta brain waves, not delta, which agrees with Dr. Charles Tart's experiments on Robert Monroe and "Miss Z." I believe that lucid dreams occur during delta. But who am I to judge? I've never been hooked up to an EEG machine.

In reality, it doesn't really matter, because brain waves are old-school. They only measure what's happening on the outside (cortex) of the brain. Modern neuro-scientists don't give as much credence to brain waves as they do newer technology that addresses the whole brain: fMRI imaging, brain blood flow measurements, and so forth. But that's another topic for a future article.

Berry's approach to OBE practice makes a lot of sense:
"The general goal is to consistently practice so that you move this threshold of awareness at least through the deep theta state. From there you can initiate an OBE." (pg. 85)
In other words, you teach yourself--through practice--to retain conscious awareness deeper and deeper until you can get to the OBE state. It doesn't get much more practical than that. That's kind of how I learned to do it.

Another thing I liked is how the author sets up a clear division between OBE "Basics" exercises and "OBE Initiation." He makes it clear that his "OBE Basics" exercises are more important than the OBE attempts themselves. In fact, he says:
"As a general rule, for every hour you spend practicing to have an out-of-body experience you should spend 1 or more hours practicing one or more of these basics." (pg. 90).
The "basics" are not too different from the exercises of Robert Bruce in Astral Dynamics, but Berry is not so regimented. It was more relaxed and not as serious, and I liked that. It just felt right.

One of the things I liked most about Berry's exercises is that it took a Taoist approach to energy work, which is what I've always used because of my early Tai Chi training. That's unlike (1) traditional Hindu meditation which sends energy straight up the spine and through the chakras and out the crown chakra, (2) the IAC's "velo" technique, which pushes energy up and down in a oscillating fashion, and (3) Robert Bruce's technique which is similar, but focuses on storing the energy in the Tan Tien (navel / belly button chakra). Berry's Taoist method circulates the "chi" up the spine and down the front of your body: in a continuous circle.

He also talks about OBE Asanas (yogic body positions) and even gives photos to demonstrate them, which is a nice bonus. He also talks about OBE mudras (hand positions); something I've only seen in one other OBE book, also with photos.

On page 128 is his list of OBE techniques, and it's a pretty good list. It includes his own techniques as well as borrowing from other experts in the field. He covers all the basics, including his signature technique, the "Relax-Move Technique." He also suggests some unconventional techniques, such as the "Sleep Signal Focus" technique, which is a method to overcome sleepiness that often overcomes us during OBE practice:
"Become aware of or imagine the sensation of sleepiness and dive into it...You can attempt to 'stay ahead' of sleepiness, diving into it and keeping awareness ahead of it before it drowns you in unawareness. This is a signature technique of my friend Louis." (pg. 131)
One of my favorites is his "Creative Visualization" technique:
"Use your imagination to visualize something that holds your attention. One visualization of mine is to imagine myself engulfed in a flame, as if I'm the wick of a candle, or to imagine a flame in my third eye area." (pg. 138)
The book isn't all dry technique and business. He has just a dash of spirituality too. My favorite quote from the book is:
"All of our limits are ultimately self-imposed." (pg. 198)
This is a good solid OBE book; a well-rounded mix of narratives, theory, techniques and spirituality. The author is not pretentious or esoteric. He comes off as your good friend, not Severus Snape.

I give it a big thumbs up. It may not dethrone any in my list of Bob's Top Ten OBE Books but maybe I'll call it #11.

Bob Peterson
16 June 2015

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Review: You Can Fly

Review: You Can Fly

By Salvatore Caesar Scordato

This time I'm reviewing You Can Fly: How to Astral Travel: A Step By Step Guide to Out of Body Projection and Movement by Salvatore Caesar Scordato. This review is long, but that's because the book is informative and has a lot to talk about.

My first impressions were from the cover. There's a photo of the author on the back that reminded me of Severus Snape from the Harry Potter books: wizard extraordinaire and teacher of defense against the dark arts. You be the judge:
Maybe it's a cultural thing, but I guessed that the author was going for a certain mystique, and he nails it. Throughout the book, he comes across as a teacher of the art of astral travel, but he doesn't really say how he acquired his knowledge, except through experience. However, he's not overbearing or arrogant at all. He's not an occultist or a magician (as far as I know), but he is a pretty decent OBE teacher.

The book is 166 pages (not counting promotional pages at the end of the book) and the margins are small, which means there's a lot of content (that's a good thing). Almost all of the book is dedicated to teaching you--the student--how to do astral projection. In that regard, it's kind of like a classroom book. Although I disagreed with Scordato on many of his points, his methods and techniques seem pretty good.

The positives of this book outweigh the negatives, so I'm going to talk about the negatives first. The worst thing about this book is the grammar: not just minor rookie mistakes, (like its vs. it's or changing tense) but missing words, incorrect words and combined sentences. Mr. Scordato really needed a proofreader. Badly. There are so many grammatical problems it was distracting, at least for a grammar Nazi like me. The mistakes were much worse than Akhena's book, which I had previously complained about. After a few chapters, I started playing a little game: count the number of major errors on each page. Most pages had two to three major grammar problems, but I counted as high as six. I only encountered one or two pages where I did not spot a problem. Enough said: I don't need to harp on it.

The second negative is that the book didn't have any OBE narratives. The author spends a lot of time talking about how you can use OBE to unlock the secrets and mysteries of the Universe (in fact, he's a little redundant on that topic), but he doesn't give any examples of what he's seen or done.

Those are the only two complaints I have about the book. That's not to say I agreed with him on everything. In fact, I found several points of contention. But disagreements are healthy, right? They make for a good healthy OBE discussion. So let's talk about some points of contention.

Early on he talks about what astral projection is, planes of existence, as many books do. On page 41, he has a diagram of the Universe that shows three levels (As opposed to the traditional seven), corresponding to the Christian concepts of the Trinity: The Earthly plane (the Son), the Astral Plane (the Holy Spirit), and the "Greater Physical Realm" (The Father). His diagram shows God residing outside these three levels. He never does explain the Greater Physical Realm or what it is. I tend to think of "creation" as being more multifaceted and multidimensional (as per Ziewe's Multidimensional Man).

Second, he talks about exploring the Universe, but being limited by the speed of light, which contradicts a lot of other OBE books. This had me concerned, but later in the book he amended this by talking about advanced methods of astral travel where you can fold space, and thereby go anywhere in the Universe. (However, this is not taught in the book). None of the other books in the genre talk about folding space or needing to do so.

Third disagreement:
"Of course when I say this is limited only by the laws of this universe I mean that you can not travel outside this plane of existence into the spirit or after life plane." (pg. 23).
A multitude of OBE books beg to differ. He reiterates this later on:
"Although it is possible for our souls to travel from the Earthly Plane through the Astral Plane and into The Greater Physical Plane and back, we can never travel outside the Greater Physical Realm for so long as we live." (pg. 39)
That seems to fly in the face of many other OBE books. Fourth disagreement:
"...And that God does not exist within the same universe but outside this plane of existence." (pg. 25).
I tend to believe that God is everywhere, as an integral part of all creation, at all levels.

Fifth disagreement (the grammar mistakes in the quotes are his, not mine):
"What is the Astral Plane? I will not dispute what other people's perceptions and theory's are about what the astral plane is and where it exists? What I will do is tell you what I know to be the facts."
"The first firmament about the Astral Plane is that subsist within our Earthly Plane of existence. It is not another dimension but rather an extension of our dimension much like how our souls exist within our bodies and we live inside a house." (pg. 38).
After his discussion of the dimensions, the book gets better. He talks about the benefits of OBEs: How it opens and expands your mind, opens your creativity, gives you better understanding of the Universe, etc. I agreed with most of that discussion.

Next, he gets down to OBE instructions, which takes up the rest of the book. On page 52, he talks about "Morning Commands" which are basically OBE affirmations done at the very razor's edge of consciousness when you first wake up on the morning. He recommends refining this until your affirmations are your first thoughts of every day. A lot of books recommend affirmations. I wrote about how important it is to do them in the early morning (especially in Answers Within) but Scordato takes it to the next level, and I liked what he wrote about it.

I disagreed with him when he wrote:
"The disorder that is commonly called Sleepwalking is really not a disorder at all. It is the trapped soul attempting to leave the body." (pg. 62).
In my opinion, sleepwalking is a physical disorder caused by a malfunction in the normal sleep paralysis process.

Next point of contention:
"Ghosts are believed to be the souls of the dead who have irreconcilable troubles or concerns or deeds. But the fact of the matter is that all dead spirits can not return to this plane of existence in spirit form. That door is shut and no matter what anyone has put forth as to prove the existence of Ghosts, None can be proven. They simply do not exist." (pg. 64)
As a paranormal investigator, I have to disagree with this too. I've seen too much evidence of ghosts to make such a blanket statement.
"Although you are able to be hypnotized into remembering past lives, you can not be hypnotized into leaving your body." (pg. 67)
Again, I disagree. Although it's rare in the literature, there are cases of using hypnosis to induce an OBE state. Way back in the 1980s, Dick Sutphen was peddling OBE hypnosis tapes. Some would even call some of the Monroe Institute's products a form of hypnosis used for OBE.

Now let's talk about something more positive, shall we? Let's talk about Scordato's technique. This is where the book really shines, even though he describes only one primary OBE technique. It's primarily a visualization technique.

First, he talks about relaxation. Many books casually mention in passing that relaxation is the most important part of OBE induction, and I have to agree. Scordato emphasizes this better than most books. He recommends spending 30 days practicing nothing but relaxation and taking it to an extreme degree, using candles, music, bath salts, massage, massage oils and massage chairs, white noise machines--even masturbation--to learn how to achieve the deepest possible level of relaxation while still retaining consciousness. It's a good discussion, and treated well.

Next, he talks about learning to visualize a tunnel with a tiny dot of white light at the end, as often described in NDE (Near Death Experience) books. This is a pretty basic OBE visualization, but he insists you keep practicing it until your visualization is flawless.

Next, you visualize yourself walking slowly down the tunnel, toward the light. It's important not to visualize the light coming to you, but see yourself going toward it.

Next, he talks about dream awareness (lucid dreaming) and how to assume conscious control in your dreams by commanding your dream self to make a noise, grunt, or vocalization.

He also talks about WBTB (Wake-Back-To-Bed) although he doesn't call it that.

He talks about programming your dreams by falling back asleep (after you wake up) while saying to yourself, "I have fallen back asleep."

Although Scordato has some good ideas and a solid technique, I disagree with him when he wrote:
"This image of a dot of light at the end of a long circular tunnel is the key and essence of everything you have been trying to master. Think of this combined image as the magic words that will unlock the universe and all its dimensions to your commands. Without being able to create this image, you will not be able to leave your body." (pgs. 105-106).
I like his tunnel visualization, but I think he's giving it a bit too much importance. There are a lot of techniques out there, and every out-of-body traveler has different needs. I personally find that movement (imaginary floating coupled with a visualized object that is swinging) is the most important factor. But I definitely plan to try the tunnel visualization.

In his questions and answers section, he writes:
"Will I remember everything I encountered and will encounter on my journeys?"
His answer is:
"Yes, vividly. All the experiences you thus far been through will be forever etched into your memory." (pg. 118)
This directly contradicts Robert Bruce and other experts who insist that OBE memories, like dream memories, can be fleeting and learning to recall them (or "download them" as Bruce says) is an important key to having OBEs. However, other experts (for example, psychologists Gabbard and Twemlow in With the Eyes of the Mind) insist that OBEs stand on their own as very memorable: There's something memorable that sets them apart from ordinary dreams. My OBE memories have never been fleeting, so I'm siding with Scordato on this.

Scordato has some unique ideas. I don't agree with everything he says, but he's got some pretty good instructions, tips and techniques. I'm giving this book a thumbs up, despite the awful grammar.

Bob Peterson
19 May, 2015

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Review: Astral Dynamics by Robert Bruce - Part 2

Review: Astral Dynamics - Part 2

by Robert Bruce

This is part 2 of my book review of Astral Dynamics by Robert Bruce. If you haven't read part 1, it's available on my blog: http://obeoutlook.blogspot.com

Flag 17: In part 1, I talked about astral projections, lucid dreams, and something Bruce calls "lucid dream projections" which he claims is some kind of hybrid I don't understand. Chapter 24 talks about yet another kind of experience which he calls "Virtual Reality Projection." The idea here is that you enter into a mirror, a picture, a painting, etc., from the OBE state. In other words, you use it as a gateway into another level of experience.
"The projector then moves into the target rather than passing through it. This seems to trick the subconscious mind into creating a virtual astral realm around the projected double, identical to that shown in the picture or mirror being approached." (pg. 337)
It makes me wonder if this is just another form of passing into a lucid dream, a self-created hallucination.

Flag 18: Here Bruce talks about movement, and he gives a helpful hint I've never thought of:
"Imagine that every direction you want to move in is downhill and that you are wearing roller skates, and you will just start rolling forward whenever you want to move." (pp. 346-347.)
Flag 19: Bruce describes the astral planes as having a grid-like appearance.
"The surface of an astral plane is two-dimensional and covered with perfectly straight horizontal and vertical grid lines. This makes for a uniform checkered appearance over the entire surface. Each square contains a brilliantly multicolored geometric design, repeated endlessly in every other square. The surface of each astral plane has its own unique pattern, completely different from that of any other astral plane's surface pattern." (pg. 367)
Well, maybe I've spent most of my out-of-body explorations in the "real-time zone" but I've never noticed a checkerboard pattern anywhere in my travels.

Flag 20: Bruce talks about the structure and layout of the astral planes. He notes:
"The fringes of these area are not dangerous, but are decidedly unpleasant. The very bad lower subplanes are dark, shadowy areas populated (more aptly polluted) with all kinds of demons, monsters, and nightmarish figures. The lowest of these dark areas could aptly be called hellish dimensional areas." (pg. 373)
Again, I've (rarely) seen horrible looking scary creatures in my OBEs, but nothing I would describe as hellish. The vast majority of OBEs--both mine and other people's--are pleasant.

Flag 21: Bruce talks about making the transition from a "real-time" projection to an astral projection; in other words, how to get to the astral plane from the Earth-plane. He says:
"The method I use and recommend for getting into the astral planes is this: Starting near ground level, aim midway between the horizon and straight up and take off. Fly at the greatest speed possible. Start moving upward and feel  and become aware of the star-filled universe spread out before you...Fill your mind with the feeling of enormous distance and shoot for the stars. The incredible acceleration this causes makes your vision blur momentarily, and you may experience a brief tunnel-of-light effect." (pg. 386).
Flag 22: Bruce and I are in agreement with regard to the silver cord, although I tend to believe the cord is a purely psychological device:
"The silver cord, as far as I can ascertain, is invulnerable and therefore unbreakable...If it were possible to be destroyed by severing the silver cord, I would certainly have died many times over. Nor can it be damaged simply because a projection is suddenly ended, no matter under what circumstances or how abruptly." (pg. 401)
Flag 23: Here Bruce talks about the Akashic Pulse, the astral wind (which can pick you up and blow you to random locations) and "consciousness seeds" which are supposedly energies that "profoundly affect the lives of each and every incarnated spirit in the universe." I've never heard of consciousness seeds, except in this book. He makes it sound like a bunch of dice in some cosmic game of craps. I'm not sure what to make of that.

Flag 24: Starting on page 432, Bruce talks about Deja Vu, a strong sense of having relived a sequence of events before. His theory is that it may have something to do with the consciousness seeds which influence our lives. I have a different interpretation (which is beyond the scope of this article) but his observations about deja vu (for example, that we have the power to change the future) match mine.

Flag 25: Bruce talks about "Confusing Astral Effects". He says, in part:
"You do not have a real body during an OBE. You are an infinitesimally small point of consciousness, a spark created by the pure energies of your consciousness. You have no real size or shape." (pg. 457)
I agree with this. I, too, have experienced OBEs in which I was a pinpoint of consciousness. I really liked what Fred Aardema wrote about us identifying with a "body image" out of habit, because that's what we're used to. Or as I sometimes like to call it, "Schrodinger's Astral Body"...It's in an indeterminate state until you observe it. Bruce supports that on the next page (Flag 26) when he says:
"The subtle body parts that appear seem to be created by the subconscious mind. The mind of the projector does not seem able to accept the total nonexistence of its body, so temporarily creates body parts when they are looked for." (pg. 458)
Flag 27: I thought this was interesting:
"A brief glance at the hands during an OBE, for example, causes a small shock wave between the projected double and its physical counterpart that helps stabilize the projection. A longer observation often shifts a projector from real time straight into an astral realm." (pg. 459)
I've never really needed to glance at my hands to stabilize my OBEs, nor has it ever shifted me to another dimension.

Flag 28: I laughed when I read this, because I've often said very much the same thing when asked about different levels of the astral plane:
"Higher dimensions also do not have signposts in them saying 'Welcome to the Astral Planes--Ta ... Daaa!' or 'Mental Planes--Watch Your Mind!' or 'Buddhic Planes--Love One Another!'" (pg. 469)
It's just "poof" and you're in unfamiliar surroundings; who knows where.

Flag 29: Starting on page 472, Bruce has descriptions of different levels that he's visited. I found them interesting and informative, although I think the descriptions in Jurgen Ziewe's book Muldimensional Man were better.

Flag 30: Here Bruce gives one of his few OBE narrations. In this experience, he apparently meets with his dead son, Jeremy, who greets him with:
"You did it, Daddy, you did it! I told them you'd come...I told them you could do it!" (pg. 474).
This was a very touching moment in the book, and it reminded me of my own meeting with my dad after he'd died. This is the softer side of Robert Bruce, whereas most of the book is down to business with regard to OBEs.

Flag 31: Bruce surprised me with this one: He says:
"The best way to cultivate high-level contact, and to speed this moment along a little, is through regular, meaningful spiritual service and development, complemented by energetic and psychic development, in that particular order of priority and effort. (pg. 483).
Throughout the book, Bruce doesn't show much "spirituality." In fact, some people are quick to judge him or label him as an "occultist" with some amount of disdain. This soft spot in the book proves that he's actually a spiritual guy.

Flag 32: Bruce talks about "Lower Subplane Wildlife," a term he likes to use with regard to negative entities. His advice on how to deal with them meshes perfectly with mine: be fearless and, if you have to, aggressive. His discussion is thorough, so I don't want to short-change it. It's well worth the read. Still, I found this amusing:
"I have seen entities the size of polar bears run screaming when 'BOO!' is said to them." (pg. 491).
Flag 33: Bruce talks about how his mother was a Spiritualist, and compares how she dealt with negative entities to his own methods.

Well, I guess that's all I have to say about Astral Dynamics. It's long. It's complex. It's thorough. Its energy exercises are well thought out and worth doing. The book is well worth the time and the money.

Bob Peterson
23 April 2015