Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Book Review: Astral Projection

Book Review: Astral Projection

by "Author Unknown"

Today I'm reviewing the book Astral Projection: The Out-of-Body Experience: A Complete Guide by "Author Unknown".

Well, that's certainly an intriguing title, so I had to buy it for my OBE book collection. It made me wonder: Why would any author want to publish a book as "Author Unknown"? If it's a complete guide, I'd think the author would be proud. Of course, there are certain advantages to anonymity: Maybe the author is concerned about his or her public image? Maybe the author is concerned about legal ramifications, or plagiarism? The book doesn't even have a copyright date, which is definitely odd in the publishing business. I had to delve into this mystery and read the book.

The first thing to note is that it's not in a standard format. The pages are full-sized, not book-sized, like it came straight out of the word processor. There are only 71 pages, but given the oversize pages, it still has a lot of information.

When I started reading, the prose, text and formatting were choppy. The section labels weren't bigger or even centered. The book was clearly not edited by a professional. Still, the information seemed reasonable. Better than that; the content was actually good. I could tell that this author knew what he (or she) was talking about. When I got to page 13, I saw this:
"Here is a simple, reliable method, I have developed, to create your own personal realm:..." (pg 13).
(Three commas in a sentence that doesn't need any. See what I mean?)

The author then describes a technique that involves a spotlight or directional bedside lamp, pointed at a poster. But wait a minute! This description is pretty much the same as a technique described by Robert Bruce in his excellent book, Astral Dynamics. So, I wondered, is this author ripping off Robert Bruce? Or is it really Bruce himself?

On page 19, the author describes a technique for silencing your inner dialog, and it also sounded a lot like it came straight out of Astral Dynamics. Hmm...

On page 20, the author describes energizing the chakras using "energy hands" like Robert Bruce does. On page 21, he describes the near-OBE state as "The trance state" just like Robert Bruce. On page 22, he talks about "Tactile Imaging" like Robert Bruce, and on page 23, he notes:
"I originally developed this technique for blind people." (pg. 23)
But Robert Bruce developed that technique for blind people, didn't he?

Mr. "Author Unknown" never does admit who he is, but he does say:
"See my new book "ASTRAL DYNAMICS" Chapter 21 - Overcoming The Mind Split -for more detailed information on this." (pg. 51).
In short, this is a "Readers Digest" super-ultra-condensed, unprofessional version of Astral Dynamics by Robert Bruce. I believe the original text probably predates Astral Dynamics, and its immaturity shows. It's clearly been reworked and re-edited many times over the years.

For many years, Robert Bruce gave away free information about astral projection on the Internet. It's basically good solid information, and I admire him for all the hard work he's done for the OBE community. This book could be some bottom-feeder's copy-paste of his original hard work.

The bottom line is: If you want good, solid information on astral projection, don't buy this book. Buy Astral Dynamics instead. It's professional, well organized, well written, and comprehensive. Plus, it's good. It's also 560 pages long; much more "A Complete Guide" than this book of 71 pages. Don't settle for an inferior book when the high quality comprehensive book is available.

So who is making money off of an old, inferior text by Robert Bruce? I sure hope it's Robert Bruce, but I wouldn't guarantee it. I can't imagine why he wouldn't put his name on it, unless he's afraid he'll be sued by Hampton Roads Publishing, the publisher of Astral Dynamics. Or unless he's a plagiarist taking advantage of him. I tend to believe it's the latter; Robert Bruce would probably do a much better job of creating a condensed version of his own information, or at least find a better pen-name, like "Bruce Robertson."

Bob Peterson
31 March 2015

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

The Heart-Shaped Leaf

The Heart-Shaped Leaf

by Bob Peterson

Taken from my journal, 24 March 2015:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

24 March 2015

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Review: Astral Projection by Janet Bord

Review: Astral Projection

by Janet Bord

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bob Peterson
17 March 2015

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Are OBEs the same as Lucid Dreams?

Are OBEs the same as Lucid Dreams?

By Bob Peterson

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Was it a lucid dream or an OBE?

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

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

Bob Peterson
03 March 2015