Tuesday, July 25, 2017

God's Eyes and God's Hands

God's Eyes and God's Hands

by Bob Peterson

I believe we are all carefully guided by a "Higher Power." It doesn't matter whether you call that  higher power "God," "Tao," "Krishna," "Allah," "Yahweh," "Ahura Mazda," "Great Spirit," "All That Is," "Spirit Guide" or any other name. What's important is that I've seen it in action many times throughout my life, so I know it's real.

It often presents itself in the form of synchronicity: events that seem to conspire to accomplish some spiritual goal. In these cases, it feels as if "God" is using us as tools to accomplish spiritual work: we are literally God's hands.

In June 2010, I was working on my fourth book, Answers Within, but I felt I needed someone to help me proof-read. At the same time, my good friend, Phil Bolsta--who lives in California--was putting the final touches on his powerful book, Through God's Eyes and he needed a proof reader too.

So I came up with this idea: I would proof-read Phil's book, and he would proof-read mine. We'd exchange a few chapters at a time so neither of us would be rewarded unless we both were. My progress on his book fueled his progress on mine. I called this idea "Mutually Assured Creation."

Little did I know that we were all being carefully guided by that Higher Power. (Although Phil got the better end of the deal, because Through God's Eyes is a much bigger book.)

Each paragraph of Phil's book is a quote from a famous person followed by an important spiritual lesson. For every quote, there's a lesson, and for every lesson, a quote.

So on Sunday, June 6, 2010, I was at my sister's house in a suburb of Minneapolis, Minnesota, taking care of my mom, who needed constant care. I had been proof-reading Phil's book and came across this quote from one of my favorite authors, Paramahansa Yogananda. Phil's spiritual lesson / commentary that followed was:
"Your spirit is the angel on your left shoulder, reassuring you that we are all perfect creations of God, that you already are everything you need. Spirit shares and is always content; ego takes and is never satisfied."
Hold it right there, I thought, stop the press! At 12:44pm, I sent Phil an email that said:
"Phil, the second sentence is so powerful and poignant that I'd like to see it in its own paragraph, with a quote [from a famous person] of its own to support it."
Eleven minutes later, at 12:55pm, before he could even respond, Phil received another email from a friend named Lori, which contained this quote:
"For I can see in your eyes that you are exquisitely woven with the finest silk and wool, and that the pattern upon your soul has the signature of God. And all your moods and colors of love come from His divine vat of dye and gold." ~Hafiz 
"Hey Phil! Read this and thought of you, so I always follow my intuition and am sharing it with you."
Lori's quote from Hafiz perfectly fit the first sentence of Phil's lesson. Phil's original quote from Yogananda perfectly fit the second sentence. It was like "God" conspired to tell Phil--through me and Lori--to split the paragraph and to fill the prose with a perfect quote.

Phil, Lori and I were all flabbergasted. I was deeply moved by these events and it sent shivers down my spine. It only took eleven minutes for "God" to bring three people together from three different parts of the world to make this happen. I literally felt like I was a spiritual tool, guided perfectly to this place and time.

This has happened to me other times too.

I remember one particular Tuesday evening Kathy and I decided to go play Bingo in the nearby town of Aitkin, Minnesota. When we arrived in Aitkin, we were a half-hour early. Kathy asked me what I wanted to do in the meantime. I thought about it for a moment, then said, [my brother-in-law Dan's mom] "Helen is in the nursing home in Aitkin, isn't she? Maybe we should drop by and say hi." So I turned around and drove a half-mile (~one kilometer) back to the nursing home. We went inside and asked for Helen's room. This was the one and only time we ever visited her.

We walked into Helen's room and greeted her. She was smiley and warm, as always. I asked her how she'd been and she said fine, but she had a problem: Her laptop had stopped working a short time earlier, so she couldn't play her games. Without her laptop, she was bored and very frustrated.

I'm a computer professional by trade, so it only took a couple minutes and I had the laptop working perfectly again. Soon our half-hour was up and we left for Bingo. But as I walked out the door, I was struck hard by that same feeling of synchronicity: Helen's laptop stopped working and as if by magic, "God" placed a computer professional--me--in her room without bidding, to fix it. I've never felt more "used," and yet more good inside.

The next time Dan visited his mom in the nursing home, she had quite a tale to tell: Last Tuesday evening, her laptop stopped working. But strangely, enough, Bob and Kathy came in out of the blue and fixed it for me!

The message of Phil Bolsta's book is that we are more spiritually enriched when we learn to see life through God's Eyes. But I also believe we are God's hands. We just need to learn to pay attention to the guidance we're given, and act on it.

When Through God's Eyes was published, Phil put my endorsement on the back cover:
"One of the most important books I've ever read.  An incredible compilation of spiritual wisdom and insight.  It's the owners manual God should give you when you're born." --Robert Peterson, author of "Out of Body Experiences"

I stand by that.

Bob Peterson
25 Jul 2017

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Review: Astral Doorways

Astral Doorways

by J.H. Brennan

Today I'm reviewing Astral Doorways by J.H. Brennan.

This is another book that I read a very long time ago. It was one of the very first books I ever bought on astral projection back in the early 1980s. It was originally published in 1971, so the information is a little dated.

I remember reading Graham Nicholls' [very good] book Navigating the Out-of-Body Experience a couple years ago, in which he hailed "Herbie Brennan" as an important mentor and influence. I thought to myself, "I should probably re-read Astral Doorways, because I've forgotten pretty much everything in it. So I put it in my "to read" stack and it eventually bubbled up to the top.

Before chapter 1 even starts, Brennan states:
"Several techniques outlined in this book are dangerous. Readers are advised to take this fact into consideration before attempting to experiment with any of the Doorways."
Well, that's foreboding. That's scary. Either that, or he was just trying to protect himself from lawsuits from irresponsible dabblers in the occult. I prefer the latter explanation.

Brennan is a curious mixture of occultist and scientist, much like Dr. Douglas M. Baker. Much of his information comes from occult traditions, but he's very pragmatic, practical, and scientific about it all. There's no air of the secret, mysterious, or hidden occult knowledge here; it's just the facts as he sees it. There are even a few points of humor. This is unconventional for an "occult" book.

Chapter 1 is "Understanding the Astral" where Brennan lays out the foundation of his beliefs in astral projection and what it is. Curiously, he says:
"The use of the word 'astral' in occult literature never really added up either. It became obvious that the term had more than one meaning. Muldoon's 'Astral Body'* for instance, had no real connection with the Astral Plane. His meanderings had really taken place in the Etheric Body, which was something else again." (pg. 2)
He insists the astral body (as many other authors say):
"...is used only on the Astral Plane. But the trained occultist can use it on the physical as well." (pg. 10)
Chapter 2 is "A Pathway To The Doors". Here the author--much like Salvatore Caesar Scordato--talks about how astral projection all hinges on vivid visualization and how well you can do that:
"Your mental pictures must become crisp and clear. Their colours must be vital and alive." (pg. 11)
He gives exercises to help you develop your ability to visualize, and he stresses practice, practice, practice.

Chapter 3 is "The Ultimate Protection." Here he talks about rituals of protection, complete with a practical example taken from occult sources. I laughed out loud when I read this:
"The Medieval grimoires especially seem to have been composed exclusively by psychopaths." (pg. 19)
ROFL! See what I mean about unconventional? I think my brother Joe, who runs the site Esoteric Archives would probably disagree. The bottom line, he says, is this:
"I cannot over-stress this point. If you run into something nasty on the Astral, it is because something nasty already exists in your mind. The Astral Plane does nothing more than give it form." (pg. 24)
In other words, as Jane Roberts/Seth so famously put it, "You create your own reality" and that applies even more so to the astral plane which is even more flexible. Therefore, Brennan stresses "purity of motive, emotional control and self-awareness."

Chapter 4 is "The Elemental Doorways." Here Brennan explains:
"There are five basic Elemental Doorways to the Astral Plane."
He equates them with various traditions, such as the Golden Dawn, the Hindu Tattvic versions of Akasa, Vayu, Tejas, Apas, and Prithivi, and the alchemical versions of Ether, Air, Fire, Water, and Earth. He gives techniques for first visualizing, then stepping through, these astral doorways.

He stresses that you need to retrace your steps back to the physical (both symbolically and ritualistically) and close the astral door after you return, so no entities can follow you back and become attached.

Chapter 5 is "The Visions and the Dreams". Here he talks about his friends Nick and Bea Van Vliet, who participated in some experiments using his techniques and also with hypnosis. Bea was able to go into trance quite easily and narrate what was happening in her projections. She was even able to gather information that would later be verified.

Chapter 6 is "The Tarot Doorways." Here Brennan gives another technique that involves using a card from a Tarot deck as the source of visualization, and acts as your doorway.

Chapter 7 is "The Qabalistic Doorways." Brennan talks about the Qabala; an ancient system of Jewish mysticism, and its "Tree of Life."

Chapter 8 is "The Oriental Doorways." Here he talks about harnessing the I Ching, which is an ancient Chinese form of divination (like Tarot) in which you use coins or yarrow sticks to form a variety of hexagram figures. These hexagrams, may likewise be used to answer questions, but Brennan suggests using them as astral doorways.

Chapter 9 is "Hypnosis and the Astral." Here he gives some techniques for using hypnosis and self-hypnosis (responsibly) to achieve astral projection.

Chapter 10 is "The Hypno-Astral Experience." Brennan talks about using hypnosis to induce astral projection in various friends and acquaintances. He got some interesting verifiable information. The quality of the experience was interesting. Some people experience a total feeling of relocation, whereas:
"To Sam, the whole thing was rather like going to the cinema [movies]." (pg. 77)
Chapter 11 is "The Objective Astral" which is more theory than anything. He gives a diagram with concentric rings to represent the material world, surrounded by the astral plane, which is itself surrounded by the "mental" plane, and then the "spiritual" plane. This is similar to what Theosophy teaches.

Chapter 12 is "Astral Entities" where he talks about astral shells (discarded astral bodies, etc.), Artificial Elementals, and similar non-physical entities, like John Kreiter's "Moths."

Chapter 13 is "Heightening the Astral Experience." This is a grab-bag of occult lore, like using "Elemental Doorways", how words are really just vibrations, and using the [Qaballistic] names of God to improve your experiences.

He also talks about several other OBE techniques such as those taught in Tibetan Buddhist traditions, fasting, sleep deprivation, the techniques of the Whirling Dervishes, and Yogic traditions. I found this curious:
"And on no account try to mix visualizations with Yoga postures. Combining the two is a technique on its own. To try it without knowing what you are doing is asking for psychosis." (pg. 98)
I'm not sure I agree, but whatever. And here's something I don't recall reading in any other OBE book: using mantras (spoken or imagined words and phrases) to induce OBEs (which is common), but repeating them faster and faster until they gain their own momentum, take on a life of their own, and throw off all extraneous thoughts. I definitely need to try that out!

Chapter 14 is "Astral Credo". Here Brennan talks a little bit about his philosophy about occultism and astral projection.
"But religion, to be worth anything at all, has to go beyond the Astral Plane. Consequently, a vortex is built up, drawing down power from spiritual levels." (pg. 103)
There are also two appendixes. The first, oddly enough, is about developing psychometry. The other is "Etheric and Astral" in which he tells a few amusing stories about his wife's experiences.

The book was heavy on techniques, but despite that, I was somewhat disappointed. Most of the techniques weren't "practical" in my mind. It covered a lot of ground, but it wasn't very "deep" and it could have been bigger. He had a few narratives from people he knew, but none of his own personal experiences.

The book is 115 pages long, but the margins are tight and the font is small, so there's a "fair" amount of content. The writing and grammar are professional grade. I didn't find any mistakes at all. Not a single misspelled word or grammar problem. None.

I'll give it three and 1/2 out of 5 stars. It was fair to partly cloudy.

11 July 2017
Bob Peterson