Sunday, December 15, 2013

Book review: The Ten Minute Moment

Book review: The Ten Minute Moment

by Jurgen Ziewe
Click here to see a list of all my OBE book reviews

Back in April, 2013, I did a book review for Jurgen Ziewe's book, Multidimensional Man and I gave it a glowing review. It's fantastic. It's definitely a "must have" book for anyone interested in out-of-body experiences and where they can take you.

The sequel, The Ten Minute Moment, is not directly about OBEs, but there are several reasons why I felt I should add it to my "OBE Book Reviews". First, it is "A powerful experiment in consciousness" as the back cover suggests. Second, it does talk about OBEs and other transcendental experiences. Third, it makes a good addendum to the author's first book, which is about OBEs.

The author was kind enough to mail me a copy of this book, and although I received it several weeks ago, it's taken me a long time to read, despite the fact that it's a short book (138 pages, and much of that is taken by photos). The reason is: I deliberately read it slowly, carefully. I would read a page here and there, then set it down, giving it time to digest for a few days. Many times my inner voice--my intuition-- would step in and suggest I set the book down and let it settle. This isn't out of line: It took me more than a year and a half to read Yogananda's translation of the Bhagavad Gita because I would read a page or a paragraph, then set it down for the day to let the wisdom sink in. Many times I'd meditate on it as well. I also did this when I read The Bible.

In my review of Multidimensional Man, I described Jurgen Ziewe as the "Eckhart Tolle of OBEs." It was so subtle that I gave a lengthy explanation. In The Ten Minute Moment, it's not subtle; it's obvious: this book is chock full of wisdom that often lies hidden and might easily be overlooked: an unintended bi-product of the deeply spiritual experiences of the author. My point is: It pays not to rush through this book.

The only thing I didn't like about Multidimensional Man was its lack of a "how to" section. The author gave all these fabulous out-of-body narratives and even some "God" experiences, but he never gave any techniques on how to do it yourself. In The Ten Minute Moment, Ziewe bridges that gap: he gives tips and techniques, not so much for achieving OBEs per se, but for his unique forms of meditation. For that reason alone, the book is a great addendum to Multidimensional Man.

One important thing to understand is that Ziewe was not trying to achieve OBEs (in either book); he was meditating, trying for a God / Nirvana / Satori / Enlightenment experience. It's just that many times he slipped into an OBE state "by accident" instead of reaching his ultimate goal. So his instructions in this book are not geared toward OBE as the goal. In fact, he often resists the pull of OBEs because he's after something much better. An out-of-body experience is still an "experience." It's still "doing" as opposed to "being", or as Ziewe puts it:
"Light is just a space which exchanges the old physical space with the new non-physical one and despite its glory it means nothing as long as it is perceived as separate from me. Stillness is different even if it is a black void, but as it offers silence, belongingness and unity it is much closer to reality and more powerful than any external experience no matter how glorious." (p.27)
To say that the book gives instructions for meditating is very misleading (some would say incorrect), so I should explain. In fact, Ziewe doesn't give instructions at all. He doesn't suggest exercises in any conventional sense of the word. He doesn't tell you to focus on your belly button, or visualize energy rising up your spine to energize the chakras. He doesn't say to focus on your third eye, or to chant an inner Aum sound, or any conventional techniques. In fact, he doesn't advise you to "do" anything, really. He does something much more important: He takes your hand and walks you through exactly what he did, step by step. That's much more helpful, at least to me. And in so describing what he did, and what happened, he gently invites you to take his arm and be escorted to the doors of inner silence. For example:
"With my inner vision held suspended in the dark void within, my ears methodically collected all sounds as if they were pearls found on an exotic beach. As I gathered their treasure they found themselves strung on a colourful necklace stretching across the inner void." (p.85)
That description is much more than clever or artful writing. If you look under the covers, you'll notice it is very instructional: instead of telling you what to do in your meditation (doing), he tells you exactly the frame of mind or attitude to place yourself in (being). He teaches more by example than by recipe:
"The sun of love had now become the object of my meditation. The only way to focus on it was to surrender to it. Love can never be divided. To fully understand and appreciate love I had to become love, and surrendering to it was the only way. The moment I did it ceased to be a sun and became a stream, rising into the air and then cascading down in its blessing, taking me with it." (p.87)

The author is a word-artist (as well as an artist by trade), trying to draw you into the painting.

There is a "Nine-Step Meditation towards Awakening" sprinkled throughout the book at strategic intervals, but even those instructions are more geared toward being than doing. He uses descriptions like "I surrender to it and let it unfold." Or like "I simply allow Consciousness to reveal Unity to me." Instead of meditating on a word, he would "allow it to float through my awareness." It's almost as if he's describing himself in a cosmic river, but instead of paddling or kicking to move from place to place, he's simply allowing it to flow, allowing his awareness to be swept away with it, with a feeling of immense gratitude.

There is also a down-to-earth humanness to the book. Ziewe is not some high and mighty enlightened guru on a mountaintop. He's an ordinary man, with ordinary flaws. He doesn't always get it right; his meditations don't always produce the results he wants. He writes with an undeniable honesty that speaks to the heart:
"...humbly accepting what I am with all its limitations. There were no attributes that could make me into anything special, make me stand out, and in that I perceived the greatest blessing, to be as humble as the squirrel on my porch, as the bird feeding on the crumbs given to them. The pleasure was intense and so was the gratitude I felt." (p.44)
This book is not just about meditating and inner experiences. It's a journey, physical as well as spiritual, and even the physical descriptions touched a special place in my heart. Perhaps that's because there are many parallels between my life and the author's. Consider this:
  • Ziewe and I are both published authors.
  • Ziewe has had countless OBEs, and so have I.
  • On page 71, he writes about consciously watching the process of entering a dream. I've done this too, and seen the entire process in detail.
  • Both of us could be considered old-timers, in our 50s.
  • Ziewe has a stable long-term loving marriage. I do too (21 years).
  • We both value solitude and nature: This book takes place at a cabin in the middle of a forest, with a nearby lake. I actually live in a house in the middle of a forest, on a lake in Northern Minnesota.
  • Ziewe feeds crumbs to the birds and squirrels. I have bird feeders and enjoy feeding the birds and squirrels right outside my office.
  • Ziewe describes watching deer walking by. As I'm writing this account, I can actually see a deer walking by, just outside my window.
  • Ziewe writes about his love of photography and walking around with his camera, taking pictures of the wildlife. I love photography too, and have taken countless photos. Anyone who's read any of the travelogues from my website will vouch for that.
It's almost as if Jurgen Ziewe and I are walking the same path. Right now, Jurgen is so far ahead of me spiritually, that I may never catch up. Maybe that's why I see his writing as such a beacon of light on my path.

This book is one man's personal journey: a journey into the wilderness and a journey to enlightenment. It's well written, descriptive and very informative, which is not easy to do when you're talking about transcendent and/or ecstatic experiences.

The Ten Minute Moment is an excellent book, and I highly recommend it.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Book review: Astral Dancer by Alison Wylie

Book review: Astral Dancer

by Alison Wylie

I've known Alison ("Ali") Wylie, author of Astral Dancer, for a few years now, thanks to facebook and other online sites. She's a fascinating woman and passionate about OBEs, but she keeps a very low profile. Like me, she is pretty quiet and reserved and doesn't do much to promote her book. In fact, I didn't even know the book existed, and I make it a point to: I've got one of the largest collections of OBE books on the planet.

So when my wife Kathy and I (along with three other family members) took a vacation to Italy in late September, I had a golden opportunity to meet the author in person. As part of our trip, Kathy had planned to spend a day in the town of Caserta, and I knew Ali lives in a town not far from there. And so we met her at the main attraction in town, the Palace of Caserta.

She (along with her husband and daughter) orchestrated an over-the-top picnic lunch for our meeting. I gave her a copy of my first book, Out of Body Experiences and she gave me a copy of her book, Astral Dancer. I only recently got a chance to read it. It's an interesting book, and unique in the genre.

Due to unfortunate train schedules, mishaps and other circumstances, I didn't get to spend much time talking with her; about an hour: just enough to learn that she's a wonderful, warm person, with an inner strength that she doesn't let show. That shows in her book as well.

Part One, "Danny's Story," is a strange set of interchanges and lessons involving Ali and Danny, who is kind of like another aspect of Ali. In my books, I wrote about my inner voice, and I suspect Ali is doing a similar thing with Danny, although with Danny there are more past-life and OBE connections. This is a journey of Danny's healing from past-life abuse, but it's about so much more: It's also about exploring different aspects of ourselves, karma, and awareness of our spiritual being and Higher Self, and spiritual growth, all facilitated by Ali and her OBEs.

After Danny's story ends, it is "the Beginning of all the Others", also known as Part Two. This is mostly narratives of Ali's OBEs, and there's a lot of them.

As I've done with all my OBE book reviews, I need to be honest and upfront about what I liked and what I didn't.

The only thing I didn't like about the book was that the lines seemed to be sometimes blurred between OBEs and dreams. In my writing, I've always tried to make a clear distinction between ordinary dreams ("unconscious and hallucinating"), lucid dreams ("conscious and hallucinating"), and OBEs ("conscious but not hallucinating"). In this book, it wasn't always clear to me what was what. It seemed like there were transitions from OBEs into and out of dreams, and back again. I found that a bit off-putting, but that's probably just me and my own rigidity. After all, even in waking physical life, our minds form our perceptions, and that's all we ever really perceive, so I shouldn't get hung up on that, right?
On the positive side, I love how Ali interprets her experiences; both dreams and OBEs. She clearly sees the spiritual lessons, and I admire that clarity of vision that most people lack. Her experiences--even negative ones--have a positive spin, and she explains them quite well.

I love how Ali always confronts negativity with a level head, without fear, and on her own terms. There are times in the book where it seems like she'd like to sit down and have a nice cup of tea with the Devil (if such a being exists), just to chat and ask him a few questions and find out what makes him tick. Most ordinary human beings would be terrified of out their wits at the prospect of confronting the ultimate symbol of evil, but not Ali Wylie.

Along the same lines, I love how she deals with negative energies and entities in her OBEs. She wraps them with love, joy and compassion, and in some cases, even directs them out a nearby window. Her gentle but mature nature shine brightly in this book.

Ali has some great ideas and great quotes throughout the book:

"We have to save our children, both in the literal sense and in the inner sense. We need to reconnect to our inner joy, to rediscover the wonder of life and of the world. Maybe if we all do this, humanity will find her inner child too."

I loved this quote too (but I would have made it two sentences!):

"There is always a choice, we can react from fear, from negativity and aggression or we can react from love, in peace."

The author doesn't focus much on techniques or recommendations. Instead, she focuses on the OBE narratives and what we can learn from them at a spiritual level. This book is as much about life lessons (learning from our dreams and other experiences and connecting with different aspects of our soul) as it is about the actual OBEs.

Where does she get the title, Astral Dancer, from? As she puts it:
"I do a lot of dancing in the Astral. I often throw my clothes off and dance gracefully, like twirling energy, to hauntingly beautiful music, or I throw somersaults and dance enthusiastically in the air." So if you ever have an OBE and you see a naked woman darting about joyfully in the air, it might be Ali Wylie! But all kidding aside, I get it: too often I've cast aside all my own lessons, goals and missions to soar and dart about wildly in my OBEs. The freedom you feel is exquisite, and the joy is sometimes just too explosive to resist expression.

In my reviews, I usually talk about the writing itself.

The book has some endearing British colloquialisms that I need to acknowledge. It wasn't excessive, but at times I didn't even recognize a word, and had to look it up in the dictionary. For example, she writes: "I put a pair of dark plimsolls on and start running." Plimsolls are apparently running shoes. Still, that gave the book character and a unique personality.

Being an admitted over-zealous grammar Nazi, I found some grammatical problems. Mostly these were just sentence fragments that should have, in my opinion, been broken into two sentences, as I pointed out above. However, that did not detract from the content; her meaning was clear. I don't recall any spelling errors, and only one typo.

I give Astral Dancer a thumbs up, but I wouldn't recommend it as your first exposure to the topic of OBEs. Make it your fourth or fifth book instead. The reason is: there are some pretty wild stories in there, and it makes the topic seem a bit weird for newbies.

Bob Peterson
13 November 2013

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

What if God's Grace Came in Packets?

What if God's Grace Came in Packets?
By Bob Peterson, Oct 14, 2013

In a song called Part of the Plan, Dan Fogelberg wrote:

I have these moments all steady and strong,
I'm feeling so holy and humble,
The next thing you know, I'm all worried and weak,
And I feel myself starting to crumble.

Often you trudge through your days, stuck in a thick mire of habits and obligations. You move forward, fighting the obstacles in your life, trying to give each day some meaning, some justification. Every move you make in your chess game is countered with a new challenge, a new threat. Your work seems overwhelming. Bills need paying. Dishes need washing. Clothes need laundering. Life is a struggle. Through it all, you worry. You feel inadequate, weak, and small.

But every now and then, something changes. You wake up feeling elated, strong, and confident. You know you're okay. Everything in life runs smoothly, comfortably. Even when things aren't working, you feel purposeful and knowledgeable; stronger than the tide that threatens to carry you out to sea. Surrounded by mindless, ignorant people, you feel nothing but love. Engulfed by a dirty, chaotic world, you feel nothing but empathy. Trapped inside a mundane world of physical objects, you somehow feel connected and spiritual. As a soul, you can sit back and laugh at the world's ridiculousness. You have an overwhelming love for God, and gratitude for no particular reason. You can feel it: it's God's Grace.

The next day, you're stuck in the mire again, but that sacred touch was enough to keep you going.

Psychologists say that we're all bipolar to a greater or lesser degree. Everyone has moments of being manic and being depressed, but for most people, the peaks and valleys are small and inconsequential. Still, these moments of grace seem to defy your normal ups and downs of life, like a reprieve. Or a gift.

What if God has a small pouch tied around His (or Her) waist, filled with packets of Grace? Every day, He reaches in with a mighty hand and pinches a carefully measured amount between his fingers. He reaches his enormous arm over the Earth and sprinkles that grace over the surface. If you're in the right place, God's Grace enters your body like a drug, revitalizing you, and spreading its messages of hope:

“Everything's going to be all right.”
“Everything is exactly how it should be.”
“You're right where you're supposed to be.”
“You're good enough.”
“You are loved.”
“You are a child of God; you are Love incarnate.”

Grace lingers for an hour, or a day. If you could see it, you would put it on the upturned palm of your hand, thank it for its gifts, then blow it away in the direction of someone who needs it more. Having done its job, the packet of God's Grace leaves you and bounces and skips joyfully across the surface of the Earth, looking for another life to touch. 

Still, it echoes and reverberates through your soul, until you need to be reminded again.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Review: Journeys Out of the Body by Robert A. Monroe

Journeys Out of the Body by Robert A Monroe

Book review by Bob Peterson

It has been 34 years since I read Journeys Out of the Body by Robert A. Monroe. This was the book that started me on my spiritual journey. It made a major impact on my life and changed me forever. I'll never be the same. Back then I knew absolutely nothing about OBEs. Now, after reading pretty much every OBE book I could get my hands on, hundreds of my own OBEs and writing two of my own OBE books, and I decided to re-read it and see how it stacked up.

Monroe opens with the story of how he started having OBEs. He didn't read a book like I did; it was purely by accident. At first he thought there was something wrong physically: he saw a doctor. Then he saw psychiatrists and other professionals, but nobody could give him any answers. In the end, he decided to just explore the state on his own.

He wrote about some of the physical evidence that led him to believe this was more than just a realistic dream: he was able to witness places and events while out-of-body that he could later verify.

Monroe talked about discovering three "locales". Locale 1 is "Here-Now" which is the OBE equivalent of our physical world. This is typical for beginners: seeing your bedroom and your house, etc.

Locale 2 is what most people might call "The Astral Plane". It's a completely non-physical environment. Many experienced explorers find themselves here.

Locale 3 is more intriguing. Monroe describes it as a parallel physical world with a different level of technology. On many occurrences, he entered the body of another man and lived his life in that world, often getting him into trouble. Sometimes this seemed to last for years (in that other person's timeline). Locale 3 is hard to fathom because it's never talked about in any of the other OBE books. I've never had a Locale 3 experience in any of my OBEs, but in my first book, I wrote about a childhood experience that might be the same thing. I wrote: "It was like waking from a dream; this world was a dream and I awoke to a reality more real and vivid than this world was." And at the time, it seemed like I spent many (think hundreds of) years in that place. In recent years, however, I have come across a few more people on the Internet who claim this has happened to them as well. Modern physicists postulate alternative realities, so maybe it's something like that. Whatever it is, it's worth exploring further. I might add that, as best as I can recall, Monroe didn't talk about this in his book Far Journeys nor Ultimate Journey. However, my memory of those books is equally old, so I need to go back and re-read them as well.

In this book, Monroe describes some pretty graphic and unusual OBEs. For example, he describes an OBE in which he slammed into a wall and was stuck for what seemed like an hour, trying to get around it. It's not unheard of in the literature: In Jurgen Ziewe's book Multidimensional Man he talks about taking great effort to penetrate boundaries that lead to other planes of existence.

At another point in the book, Monroe talks about touching his own physical body. He talked about probing his physical feet and face with his astral hands, from an OBE. This is something that's not mentioned in other OBE books as far as I recall: most books state that if you touch your physical body, or even think about it too much, you'll be drawn back inside. That's always been my experience as well, so I'm not sure what to make of this claim.

He also describes experiences in which he is being pestered by small, childlike beings that would attach themselves to his body in the OBE state. That's definitely never happened to me.

One of the more interesting experiments was when Monroe apparently induced an OBE while inside a Faraday cage; an electrically charged metal cage. He couldn't get out of it. I question whether he was confined by his own expectations rather than any laws of physics.

In chapter 15, Monroe talks about uncontrollable, almost irresistible sexual urges during an OBE. When he returned to his physical body, the urges went away. That also seems unusual; I've never had sexual urges in an OBE. When I'm out-of-body, sex is the last thing on my mind: I'm filled with the joy and excitement of discovery and exploration. Often I have to fight the urge to go soaring up into the sky like a rocket, hands in the air, screaming like a little kid on a roller coaster that fills the sky. The thought of sex just isn't there. Still, I did have one sexual encounter in an OBE, and Monroe's description was pretty accurate: it was just a simple, intimate, explosion / exchange of energy that involves your whole astral body. At one point, Monroe talks about encountering a society in which astral sex is as common and unattached as shaking hands. My encounter wasn't that casual.

In chapter 17, Monroe talks about the separation process. I found one thing very peculiar. He wrote:
" is most important for your own objective continuity that you remain in complete control. The only possible way to do this seems to be by staying close to the physical in the early stages."

That's peculiar, because it's the exact opposite of my experience. I side with OBE veteran Sylvan Muldoon, who described a "[silver] cord activity range" approximately 15 feet (5 meters) away from your physical body. If you're within that range, you're more susceptible to perception problems, eyesight distortions, lack of control, and being sucked back inside your body. Once outside that range, you're clear to roam, free as a bird. So I have no idea how Monroe was able to retain such control near his physical body--even touching it--while within such close proximity.

Monroe talks about the vibrations. He talked about how they can first appear like a blue ring of electrical energy. I had long forgotten that, but I wrote about the same thing in my first book. He also talked about how the vibrations start out rough, course and electrical, and as time went on, they became more refined and smooth; just a hum. That also matches my experience as well.

Another thing that struck me as odd is how easily Monroe describes leaving his body. He makes it sound as easy as opening a door and walking through. For me, it's never been that easy; I have to hold my mind still and focus for a very long time before I can actually exit.

I'd say Journeys Out of the Body is required reading for anyone interested in out-of-body experiences. It's objective, impersonal, and definitely very engaging. It's definitely not the end of the story; some of the most important books came out after this one. Still, this book did change my life, so it has a special place in my heart.

2013 Sep 13

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Ghost Cats

Ghost Cats

by Bob Peterson

In a way, my out-of-body experiences make me a good paranormal investigator, since I've already conquered my fears of the unknown, fears of spirits and so forth. I've come face to face with "ghosts" so many times in an OBE that there's not a lot that can frighten me anymore. Plus, in those OBEs, I am a ghost!

A few weekends ago, the Minnesota Paranormal Coalition (MPC), hosted a paranormal investigation of the Palmer House hotel in Sauk Centre, Minnesota, and I joined in. Several paranormal teams from the MPC were there, but the investigation was led by a team called F.R.E.A.K.S (Friends Researching Entities And Known Spirits) and their team leader, Char.

I must admit I was apprehensive: I hadn't done a ghost investigation since around 1984, when I was president of the MSPR (Minnesota Society for Parapsychological Research). Back then, we did many ghost investigations (that's primarily what we did) but I got out of it after I graduated from the University of Minnesota. Since that time, the technology has advanced greatly. Now I'm a member of a team called Nightweb Paranormal Investigations, led by my friend Mikail Bumpus.

The subject of the investigation, the Palmer House, is a very old hotel, and reputedly very haunted. People see ghosts there all the time. It's even been the subject of popular television show "Ghost Adventures". I heard dozens of ghost stories about the place: There's room 22, which is very noisy, even when unoccupied (and the television turns itself on). There's the ghost of a little boy who sits on the stairs and sometimes rolls a ball. There's the ghost of a German fellow and lots of other ghosts in the basement. There's Annie, an affectionate old woman who haunts room 11. Lots of ghosts.

I think most people would agree: It's one thing to hear ghost stories, and it's another to experience it yourself. I only want to talk about what I personally experienced myself. Seeing is believing, so I know my camera's photos were not faked. I know my audio recorder was not altered. Besides, I haven't heard from the other teams yet.

There were a lot of investigators. That makes it difficult because there's too much talking and background noise to get solid evidence over all the noise. We split up into small groups, each of which walked around the place with cameras, audio recorders, video recorders, K-2s, and other gadgets, trying to make contact.

And what did I find? Ghost cats. I'm still waiting to hear what other investigators got, I got evidence of ghost cats.
The first ghost cat I noticed was on an ordinary photo from my Sony Alpha 1 digital camera of the hotel lobby sitting area. I took this photo myself and it's not been altered. At first glance, it looks like a normal photo, right?
Look closer. This is a 24-megapixel camera, so focus on the blue chair sitting on the very back wall, next to the sofa. Next to the curved railing, it looks like a ghost cat is sitting in the chair. Zoomed in, it looks like this:
I used a photo processing program called "gimp" to adjust the brightness and contrast (and nothing else), and it becomes a bit easier to see:
Incidentally, the photo I took before this one also shows some possible paranormal activity: It looks like the ghost of a little girl standing next to that same chair. But that's another story.

Later that night I joined a group of investigators in room 11, "Annie's Room." As standard operating procedure, I had my audio recorder going. At one point in the recording, there is a very clear "meow" and 17 seconds later, another very clear "meow." You can listen to the excerpt here:

I have a strong allergic reaction to cat dander, so I'm always on the lookout for cats. I guarantee you: there were absolutely no cats in any of the rooms while I was there, and I did not have a reaction. So whatever made these "meow" sounds was either a ghost cat, or one of the investigators (or their recordings.)

I contacted one of the investigators who was in the room with me, a guy named Jerry from SIM (Supernatural Investigators of Minnesota). I sent him a facebook message:
Bob: "Hey Jerry, remember Palmer House when you were doing the Ganzfeld experiment? I've been going over my audio recording and seem to have caught EVPs of two cat meows. You recorded that on video, right?"

Jerry: "Yes I did - plus I had a cat walking on my bed and video taped that too!"
Bob: "Wait. A physical cat? Or a nonphysical one? I don't remember any physical cat there."
Jerry: "A Ghost Cat!"
So now I'm anxiously waiting for the other evidence to pour in, including Jerry's video recording.

One nice thing about a ghost cat: It's clear to hear over the noise and talking of other investigators.

Note that we haven't examined all the evidence we gathered, so these are only preliminary findings.

2013 Aug 29

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Adventures in the Afterlife by William Buhlman

Adventures in the Afterlife by William Buhlman

book review by Bob Peterson

I have to apologize for the length of this article, but I need to explain a few things so you don't get the wrong idea.

First of all, let me say that I love everything about William Buhlman. I remember many years ago when I got my copy of his first book, Adventures Beyond the Body. My wife Kathy and I were staying at a lodge in the woods of northern Minnesota, one of the perks of her job at the time. I had just bought Adventures and took it on the trip. Kathy wanted to go out boating and hiking, but all I wanted to do is read. And so we sat on the balcony overlooking the pristine lake and read our respective books side by side. I always prefer nonfiction, especially books on OBEs and consciousness, whereas Kathy prefers fiction, especially Stephen King.

I distinctly remember turning to her on several occasions and breaking the silence, saying, "I love this guy! Listen to this, Kathy..." and then I'd read another passage to her. I also told her, "If this book had been written a couple years earlier, I might not have written my book. He says a lot of the same things I said in my book, and a bunch of things I should have said!" (That was before I wrote my other three books).

A couple years later, I had the pleasure of meeting Buhlman on a trip to Colorado where he was doing a joint OBE seminar with Albert Taylor and Patricia Leva. They invited me along as an unannounced special guest speaker, and I was thrilled. I was surprised to find that Buhlman (who insisted we call him Bill) and I were a lot alike. It wasn't just the OBE thing. We had a very similar attitude toward life, politics, religion, spirituality and everything else. There was an instant bond there.

Not long after, Bill asked me to read his book The Secret of the Soul before it was released, and I even wrote an endorsement for the back cover.

So I was really looking forward to reading Bill's latest book, Adventures in the Afterlife. Unfortunately, Kathy and I were in the middle of some expensive projects (for example, painting our house) so I didn't want to spend the money to buy it. I figured I'd wait patiently a couple months when money wasn't as tight. Then, out of the blue and unsolicited, Bill sent me a copy of his book in the mail. It's funny how the Universe always conspires to make certain things happen, regardless of the circumstances.

Then I quickly discovered that most of Adventures in the Afterlife is fiction. Do you remember my first paragraph where I said I always prefer nonfiction? Well, this book isn't just fiction, it's visionary fiction.

Now I have to explain my feelings about visionary fiction. I've always preferred nonfiction, but when I read my first visionary fiction book, Illusions by Richard Bach, I loved it. I absolutely loved it, and I was hungry to read more like it. I read Jonathan Livingston Seagull, and it was okay, but I was already starting to lose faith in the genre. I read more: 2150AD by Thea Alexander, which was just alright. Then God on a Harley by Joan Brady. Blah. Then I read The Celestine Prophecy by James Redfield and it felt more like a sales pitch than a work of fiction. I tried several others, but finally gave up: I became completely disillusioned with the entire genre of visionary fiction.

The problem with visionary fiction in general is that it never seems to have a captivating story line, a plot or conflict like "real" fiction. Even the characters seem flat and two-dimensional. Visionary fiction always seems to be a long boring series of statements like: "The master took me here, showed me X, and told me Y, and I learned Z, an important spiritual lesson." At the same time, you can't trust what it's saying: the fact that it's fiction means that it's not true; it's made up. So who cares what happens in the book? Even if it's based on real events, it's not true! In other words, the fiction spoils the lesson, and the lesson spoils the fiction. It's like baking brownies with garlic: I love brownies and I love garlic, but if you combine the two, the two flavors spoil each other: yuck!

Disillusioned, I told myself, There's got to be a better way! There's got to be a way to weave a set of spiritual lessons around an interesting, engaging, captivating plot! And so I took it upon myself to tackle the impossible: to defy the stereotype of visionary fiction. I wrote a novel called The Gospel According to Mike, and my goal was to tell a compelling story, and still be visionary fiction. I worked for years on that novel, weaving an intricate plot with interesting characters embroiled in conflict. But guess what? I failed too. In the end, my novel turned out to be not very "visionary" at all. I focused too much on the plot and made it too much like a "real" novel and didn't spend enough time on the spiritual messages. Sigh. Oh well. I gave it a good try though.

That should give you a pretty good idea about my feelings about visionary fiction: It frustrates the hell out of me. Needless to say, I started out extremely apprehensive about Adventures in the Afterlife, but I dove in and started reading it anyway, because hey: it's William Buhlman! I was pleasantly surprised.

In March 2011, Buhlman, was diagnosed with stage-four cancer of the tonsil and lymph nodes. It threw his life into turmoil and he faced the possibility that he might die. The main character of this book, Frank Brooks, is also diagnosed with stage-four cancer, and that's how the book begins: on a very real and sobering note.

The book reads like the diary of the main character, Frank, as he slowly deteriorates from cancer. This part of the book was very engaging; I was shaken, reading this heart-wrenching story. The cancer eventually takes his life and he begins his adventures in the afterlife.

After a long stay in what he thought was "heaven," Frank eventually gets fed-up and decides to explore outside the comfortable boundaries of his after-death society. This leads him to meet his spiritual guide, Remi. Remi takes him from place to place and teaches Frank all about how we humans keep returning to Earth, feeding our addictions and ego, and get trapped inside the illusion of the Earth plane.

The book's descriptions of nonphysical environments are very good; they perfectly match my experiences. But to be perfectly honest, it felt a little flat as fiction goes. As I said, that could just be me: I have a hard time with visionary fiction.

Then, surprisingly, two thirds into the book, the fiction ended and I got to "part 2" which is nonfiction. This is where I perked up and I started really enjoying the book. He hit the ground running, talking about our life-lessons and how we plan our lives. Once again, this perfectly matched my beliefs. For example, here's a quote I like:
As your awareness grows, lessons take on a deeper significance. You begin to witness the beauty of the universe. The synchronicity of spirit gives everything in life a new meaning and purpose. You feel a reverence for all things because you know that the characters around you are important vehicles for learning expressions of unconditional love. You take a deep breath and try to comprehend it all. The awesome intelligence behind this magnificent creation is amazing to behold--you realize that all are evolving through the use of form. (p. 175)
Very well put.

Chapter 7 of part 2 contains what Bill calls his "personal reality principles" and I really enjoyed them. I think mankind would make a lot faster spiritual progress if we all repeated these 33 important messages to ourselves, rather than our usual inner dialog of typical negativity.

The book was well written, with good grammar and spelling (with the usual number of typos). It's also well organized. Each lessons leads to the next, in a logical progression.

The visionary fiction part was off-putting to me, but despite my own biases, I liked the book.

This book is not about out-of-body experiences. If that's what you're looking for, read Buhlman's first book, Adventures Beyond the Body, instead. This book is about life after death, and our purpose for being here, and where we go from here. And really, those are some of the most important things we can learn from OBEs.

2013 Aug 8

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Controlling Your Reality in an OBE

by Bob Peterson

Recently, Jess Golden posted a very good question in the Astral Projectors facebook group. She asked:
It is said that the astral realm is controlled by thought processes. I believe that. However I am having troubles. I did a test where I commanded (while I was in the astral) that a series of numbers appear. I said it loud and with conviction. However NOTHING happened!!!!!

What gives?!?!
Later on, she sent me a private message that said, in part:
I don't even know if I could manifest Green Eggs & Ham in the astral!

LOL. Okay, here's my take.

First I have to make clear: I've always maintained that there is a difference between out-of-body experiences and lucid dreams (many authors do not). And unless you've seen the difference, it's hard to tell them apart. In both experiences, you're awake, aware, lucid and out of your body. So what's the difference?

In a lucid dream, you're basically hallucinating (because that's what a dream is), and you're in complete control of your hallucination. So it's easy to create a series of numbers or green eggs and ham or whatever you want. You're probably floating above your physical body, but you're dream hallucination is still going on in front of your eyes.

In an OBE, you aren't hallucinating, so you have much less control over your environment. That's not to say that you're seeing our physical world, or even an echo of it (which some people believe). It does, however, seem to be some kind of objective reality.

Yes, many authors claim you can manipulate astral reality with a thought. I wonder if maybe some of these authors got that idea because they were experiencing lucid dreams rather than OBEs. That's best left for another article.

(By the way, you can transition from a lucid dream to an OBE by dispelling the illusion / hallucination of the dream. When you do, you will see the hallucination dissolve, and you will "wake up" in the out-of-body state.)

I wrote in my first book about how I struggled with these kinds of problems--trying to use thought power--all the time when I was first starting out. I'd try to get to a friend's house, and I'd follow the advice of all the books, and even try my own things. I'd visualize my friend. No movement. I'd think about them. No movement. I'd say their name. No movement. I'd voice my desire. No movement. I'd demand to get there. No movement. Sometimes I'd even try to fly and end up falling on my face in the middle of the street. The books said it was easy: Just think about the person or a place and *poof* you'll be transported there. Wrong. For me it was not that easy.

I often get asked if I've gotten better at out-of-body transportation since that time, and the answer is: a resounding yes. I was like a baby who wants to walk, but whose legs were too weak to do it. I needed practice, patience and I needed to exercise my astral muscles. Like a baby, I learned slowly by doing it, trial and error.

So how do you travel to a person? It's kind of hard to explain. It has a lot to do with intent, exerting your will, and focusing your consciousness. It's almost as if you think of that person, at their remote location, then you place your intent there, then you follow your line of intent to where you put it by exerting your will. I know that sounds cryptic, but like I said, it's hard to explain.

As for commanding things to appear: The fact that you're having trouble doing it is proof enough for me that you're having a genuine OBE and not a lucid dream. If it was a lucid dream, you would be able to easily change it by an act of sheer will.

I remember one lucid dream I had in which I found myself in a (hallucinated dream) hospital. I was walking down the halls, but I decided I wanted to fly. So I started flying down the hall, no problem. I was about to hit a wall, but with an act of will, I commanded the walls of the hospital to open up into a tunnel, then I flew down the tunnel. It was great fun, but eventually I got bored and dispelled the hallucination. After the dream dissolved, I found myself in an OBE state, comfortably floating above my body.

Now let's briefly talk about limiting beliefs. Limiting beliefs can and will tie you down and prevent you from accomplishing your goals. In my opinion, this is true not only of the astral world, but the physical world as well. If you think, "I'll never be good at math" then you won't. If you think, "I'll never be rich" then you won't. The concept of "thinking outside the box" is important to your experiences in life, and I do mean that literally.

Likewise, in an OBE if you think, "This is nonsense; I can't fly" then guess what? You won't be able to fly in your OBE. Sometimes you have to combat your own self-doubt to get something to happen. Often all it takes is a suspension of disbelief and self-doubt.

Sometimes all you need is a crutch. One perfect crutch I've found is the invisible helpers. Don't be afraid to ask aloud, "Can I get some help here? I want to do X." Often an invisible helper will accommodate you and give you a helping hand. Sometimes that's quite literally. For example, there have been times when I've asked them to help me fly, and felt their warm hands gently grabbing my wrists and helping me lift off.

Once you prove it to yourself--with their help--that you can do something (like flying), the limiting belief is no longer an issue. Sometimes you just need to get out of your own way.

As for manifesting astral things, like green eggs and ham, I'd like to give you a word of warning. It has to do with something I wrote about in my first book, which I called "The fantasy trap." The problem is this: If you try to use your imagination to create an object, it can easily lead you to focus your attention on your imagination. Focusing your attention on your imagination can easily lead you back into another dream hallucination, which in turn, can suck your awareness into the dream state. Pretty soon, you can find yourself dreaming, and it's often not a lucid dream.

So my best advice is to set goals for your OBEs, try to stick to your agenda, try not to get distracted, and don't use your imagination for things like this, because you'll just spoil the OBE when you could be out there exploring.

2013 Jul 30

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Book Review: Astral Travel & Aura Viewing

Book Review: Astral Travel & Aura Viewing

by Yvette LaBlanc
Review by Bob Peterson

Don't judge a book by its cover. Here's why: Yvette LaBlanc's 165 page book Astral Travel & Aura Viewing has a really blah cover, and a blah title, but it's really not bad at all. Like all OBE books, there's good and bad.

What I liked most about this book is its no-nonsense approach. There's almost nothing extraneous. It's all practical. She doesn't waste time or words. She spends almost no time telling stories or touting theories; it's all good information.

The book is divided into four parts.

In part one, she gives OBE definitions and preparation. It's all practical and good information.

Part two, the next 82 pages, is a concise but detailed set of different OBE techniques. It's almost like a recipe book. Very few books in the genre devote that much space to techniques, and I applaud her for that. She details many techniques; lots of things to try.

Some of her techniques were surprisingly new to me (although I doubt many would work on a stubborn mind like mine). I've read almost every book on OBE and studied every OBE technique under the sun, but LeBlanc has some unique new ideas.

My favorite example relates to how breath is used. A few rare OBE books talk about the importance of breath control in regard to OBEs (author Robert Crookall devoted an entire book to the subject), but the subject is largely ignored by the vast majority. But in one of LeBlanc's techniques, she recommends slowing down your breath, then pausing a second or two after you exhale. During this exhale pause, you try to separate your astral from your physical body, and she says sometimes it works. Most people would be deathly afraid that their body would stop breathing.

Many OBE beginners are very much alarmed when they get close to the jumping-off point and lose their awareness of their body's breathing. They think "Oh my God, my body's stopped breathing!" and abort the experience, even though it's really still breathing, but they've just lost awareness of it. Rookie mistake. LeBlanc deliberately tries to use that pause after you exhale to initiate an OBE. Of course, in order for this to work, you have to just blindly trust that your body's autonomic nervous system will take over and continue breathing while you're out-of-body. An interesting concept, and definitely worth trying. Note that you don't want to force your breath to be unnaturally slow; it needs to be a natural progression to slow breathing. It's interesting to note that my breath is naturally very slow to begin with.

Part three of the book is what I didn't like. It's all narratives of the author's OBEs, and in my opinion, they are sorely lacking. Her narratives are way too short and nondescript. Books like Robert Monroe's Journeys Out of the Body, Fred Aardema's Explorations in Consciousness and Jurgen Ziewe's book Multidimensional Man are chock full of amazingly vivid descriptions of astral worlds, breathtaking vistas, and eye-opening adventures. They draw you into the scene and you can feel the excitement of standing in a strange new world. By comparison, most of LeBlanc's narratives are as "blah" as her cover. For example, here's one of her narratives:
I projected to a crystal and moved all around it. I was tiny; it was gigantic. The experience was life altering.
That's it. That's the whole experience. She doesn't say why this particular OBE was life altering. She doesn't describe what she felt or what she saw, the colors or the enormity. She doesn't set the scene or paint the picture. Why was it life altering? The reader is left to wonder.

Most of her OBE accounts are like that: very short and uninspiring. It's almost enough to make me wonder if LeBlanc is the "real deal." You can just tell authors like Monroe, Aardema, Ziewe and many others have genuinely "been there" because of the way they describe the experience. I don't get that warm fuzzy feeling with this book's narratives. Regardless, I still say the book is good, and worth buying for the technique section alone.

Earlier I said that there's nothing extraneous in the book, but some would argue the point because of part four. Part four is about aura viewing. If you're into auras, this is also good, practical information. It has little to do with OBE (even though she makes a good effort at tying the two together), but it's still good information about auras, and it's short enough to not be annoying. The book's title includes "& Aura Viewing" so I can't fault her for including this information. If the book was just called "Astral Travel" I'd complain about extraneous information about aura viewing. But I bought a book on "astral travel AND aura viewing" so part four is definitely fair game. I can't fault her. I'd have a problem if the aura viewing section outweighed the astral travel sections, but it didn't. It was a good size, and good information.

Ms. LeBlanc needs some help with her OBE narratives, but don't let that discourage you from buying her book. I had low expectations, but was actually impressed with it. I liked her no-nonsense, lay-it-on-the-line approach to OBE. Her techniques were solid and her information was good. She doesn't beat around the bush or make you wait for the good stuff. She dives right in and tells you how to approach the OBE. There are better OBE books out there, but I still give it a thumbs up.

2013 July 11

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Stairway to Heaven

Stairway to Heaven

by Bob Peterson

Message number one from the Universe:

A few days ago I heard the classical Led Zeppelin anthem Stairway to Heaven on the radio. And it makes me wonder: Is it about out-of-body experiences? After all, climbing a stairway to heaven wouldn't be much different from the famous rope technique; climbing a rope or a ladder. There's even a ladder pictured on the Astral Projectors group page on facebook. Why not stairs?

Message number two from the Universe:

When I got home I kept thinking about the song. I felt inspired to research an article on how the song might be related to out-of-body experiences. After all, it's well known that Jimmy Page was into new-age stuff. I googled the meaning of Stairway to Heaven, and according to one site:
The lyrics came to Robert Plant in a flash of inspiration when he and Jimmy Page were sitting by the fireplace at Headley Grange with Page strumming the intro chords. Said Plant: "I was holding a pencil and paper, and for some reason I was in a very bad mood. Then all of a sudden my hand was writing out the words, 'There's a lady who's sure all that glitters is gold/And she's buying a stairway to heaven.' I just sat there and looked at the words and then I almost leapt out of my seat."
So clearly this was a case of automatic writing, which is typically viewed as spirit communication. In other words, it sounded like someone from the spirit world reached across the veil to give Robert Plant (and the world) some messages, albeit cryptic ones.

I took a look at the lyrics and I started to believe there wasn't enough material there for a decent article. It seemed like a stretch.

Message number three from the Universe:

Then, early this morning, a new-age radio talk show host, John DeSalvo, not only posted a youtube video of Stairway to Heaven, he also quoted some of the lyrics on facebook. Hm, I wondered, is the Universe trying to tell me something? Getting the same message twice is nothing, and can easily be ignored. Getting it three times is what I call "a coincidence" and I'm well practised in brushing those off too. So no big deal, right?

Message number four from the Universe:

After checking facebook this morning, I turned my attention to other things. First, I fired up my computer's music player in shuffle play mode. There are 6490 songs to choose from--enough to play nonstop for more than 23 consecutive days--but it somehow managed to "randomly" play Stairway to Heaven as its first song!

Hm. Now I knew something was up. When you get the same message from the universe four different ways, you should definitely pay attention. I took another look at those lyrics:
"And it's whispered that soon, if we all call the tune,
Then the piper will lead us to reason."
I kept getting this song from multiple sources, and I'm not alone: John DeSalvo got it too. Maybe a spirit, reaching across the barrier of death, is trying to "lead us to reason", by making us "call the tune." So for the sake of argument, we should call him (or her) "the piper".

What does this song have to do with out-of-body experience, you ask?
"There's a feeling I get when I look to the West and my spirit is crying for leaving."

I mentioned in my first book, Out of Body Experiences, that I've had my best luck inducing OBEs when my head was pointing to the west. And yes, my spirit is crying for leaving: leaving the body!
"In my thoughts I have seen rings of smoke through the trees, And the voices of those who stand looking."

To me, that sounds an awful lot like hypnagogic imagery, a precursor to OBE. It's very common to see things and hear voices when you get to that stage.
 "And a new day will dawn for those who stand long"
Translation: if you're persistent and keep at it, OBE can change your life and your way of thinking.
"Sometimes all of our thoughts are misgiven."
Translation: While inducing an OBE, you need to focus. Stray thoughts will interfere and kill your attempt. Stray thoughts lead to other stray thoughts, and pretty soon you're no longer in the right frame of mind.
"Your head is humming and it won't go."
That sounds a lot like the vibrations, doesn't it? It often feels like your head, and sometimes your whole body, is humming.
"In case you don't know: the piper's calling you to join him."

If "the piper" is a spirit with a message, perhaps he is "calling you to join him" in the spirit world. How can that happen? Only in an out-of-body experience.
"And as we wind on down the road, Our shadows taller than our soul."

That reminds me of how our fears can outweigh our ability to leave the body. It's only after conquering our fears that we can start to leave the body.
"Dear lady, can you hear the wind blow, and did you know
Your stairway lies on the whispering wind?"
In other words, the stairway to heaven is not a real stairway, but a stairway in your imagination. It's very common to use intense visualization to achieve OBE.
"And if you listen very hard, The tune will come to you at last."
The act of "listening very hard" is a trick I mentioned in my article "OBE Class Notes". Pretend there is a sound that's about to be played, and just listen for it. It's a trick to "quiesce" or silence your mind.
"To be a rock and not to roll."
Perhaps this is a reference to the stillness required to achieve OBE?

Well, maybe I'm reading too much into the song. 'Cause you know sometimes words have two meanings. But remember the song Kashmir? "I am a traveler of both time and space to be where I have been." Perhaps that was another hint.

Maybe the song is nothing more than poetry. Still, being reminded of OBE is never a bad thing. It can plant the idea of OBEs into your subconscious. Or should I say "Plant" with a capital P?

2013 July 5

Wednesday, June 26, 2013



by Bob Peterson

Something strange happened to me today. I was sitting on my computer, working at my day job as usual, when all of a sudden, a wild hawk flew down from the sky and landed outside the window. There are seven windows in the office, but the hawk chose the one next to me. There is 52 feet of fence, but the hawk chose to sit closest to me. In fact, the hawk was only ten feet away from me, and it just stood there and looked me in the eye.

I admired its beauty and tried not to move, so I didn't spook it. It turned and cocked its head a bit. I thought, That's odd; I wonder what it's doing. Then it occurred to me: it was listening to my music. The windows were closed, but I had the music kinda cranked, so you could still vaguely hear it outside.

Some days, when I'm working on something simple, I listen to music while I work. In this particular case, I was listening to the song Wishmaster by the band Nightwish. I've mentioned in other posts that I have a strange taste in music; here's another good example. Nightwish is halfway between opera and heavy metal, and the song Wishmaster is the first one I heard of the entire genre. I liked the song so much, I bought the CD. Then I bought all of Nightwish's CDs. Then I bought dozens of CDs from just about every band in the same genre of female-fronted metal: Epica, Within Temptation, Amberian Dawn, Coronatus, Warlock, Dark Moor, Stream of Passion, Edenbridge, Evanescence, Holyhell, Hydrogyn, Leaves' Eyes, Delain, Lyriel, Lunatica, Visions of Atlantis, Xandria, Amaranthe, you name it.

Now I'm not trying to extol the virtues of female-fronted metal; everyone has their own taste in music. In fact, there's a lot of negativity in that style music, and I don't want to spread that negativity. But there was just something about that one song--Wishmaster--that embodies how I like to think of myself.

The song itself is difficult to understand; I think the lead singer, Tarja, sang the song before she learned to speak English. :) It's about Lord-of-the-Rings style fantasy, and talks about Elves and such. That's not really important; I just like the music and the refrain. The refrain goes like this:

Heartborne, 7th Seeker
In me the Wishmaster.

We're all masters, teaching one another. We're all apprentices, learning from one another. I like to think of myself as Heartborne: carried onward by my heart. I think to think of myself as a seeker. Having studied Tai Chi, Chi Kung, and the writings of Carlos Castaneda, Dan Millman, Ken Eaglefeather and others, I also consider myself somewhat of a warrior. I've studied the religions of the world, so I consider myself a disciple. And yes, even a wishmaster; one of the chapters in my latest book, Answers Within is about manifesting, so the title seems fitting.

As the hawk flew away, my inner voice said that the hawk came to remind me of who I am, which was all those things.

I'm here to remind you: you are all those things too.

Click here to listen to the song Wishmaster

26 Jun 2013

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Review: Avenues of the Human Spirit by Graham Nicholls

Review: Avenues of the Human Spirit

by Graham Nicholls

Book review by Bob Peterson

Sunday night I finished reading Avenues of the Human Spirit by Graham Nicholls and here's my review.

A few months ago, I discovered and read the book Navigating the Out of Body Experience by Graham Nicholls, and I enjoyed it very much. Later, I discovered it was actually his second book, and that he had written an earlier book called Avenues of the Human Spirit. Naturally, I had to get it.

Avenues is not about out-of-body experiences, so if that's what you're looking for, get his second book instead. This book is about the author's personal journey to discovery. It's about spirituality, and where his OBEs have led him. It's about his rejecting the distractions, the violence, and the "noise" that fills so many people's lives, to discover the spiritual, the sacred, the silence.

This book really resonated with me. The reason is: My path was very similar and I did a very parallel thing. Like Nicholls, I too started out with OBEs, and they led me on a journey of learning, spirituality, and discovery. I chose to write my OBE book first, and my "journey of spirituality" book, Lessons Out of the Body second, whereas Nicholls did it in the opposite order, writing Avenues of the Human Spirit first.

The book starts out with an ordinary kid, growing up in inner-city London. (I grew up in inner city Minneapols). He had a few decidedly paranormal experiences as a child (do did I). He gets mixed up in decidedly worldly problems and distractions (so did I). Then he discovers OBE, and it turns his life around. Suddenly he starts to see the importance of spirituality. He begins to read books and engage spiritual teachers. He starts to reject the social norms of his parents and community; embracing things like meditation, OBEs and vegetarianism.

In some ways, Nicholls reminded me of the young Parmhansa Yoganada, the famous author of Autobiography of a Yogi, who eschewed the ways of his parents and kept running away from home at an early age to find God and pursue a spiritual life.

There's another way Nicholls and I are alike: although he had friends along the way, much of his spiritual discovery was done alone. He didn't inherit his spirituality from other spiritual or psychic traditions. He didn't study under a spiritual master. He took guidance from a few sources, like Herbie Brennan, but it wasn't the focus of the book. Much of his spiritual path was carved out of the forest by his own hand (and sometimes in a literal forest).

I liked his prose. The book was well-written, insightful, and mature. A better word might be "deep". I like "deep." It was chock full of notable quotes. So many quotes that I could scarcely choose. Here's one:
When we reclaim our awareness and walk the streets and byways with open eyes we shift ourselves into a new way of being. There is no technique to spiritual transformation, there is only a revolution within the life we lead, a tangible move towards liberation. There is a choice to remove the unnecessary, the stuff we have learnt to depend upon, and to embrace the things that awaken something deeper in your life.
That, in a nutshell, is part of why I loved this book: Nicholls's never-ending quest for something deeper in life. Here's another notable quote:
It is not through a philosophical change that spirituality truly grows, it is through direct contact with something greater than we could imagine before.
There is the value of direct spiritual experience; not being content with reading someone else's philosophy or going to someone else's church; not being a follower, but finding your own path.

Part of the charm of this book is the references to travel. Like Nicholls, I've been on many trips (physically as well as astrally!). In fact, I've got many travelogues and photos on my website. And his book captures the charm of travel, within a spiritual context. Here's another quote:

Travelling holds the key to renewal and inspiration; the new and the unknown open our perceptions, challenge and mould us into new forms.
I also like his attitude towards knowledge and ignorance:
In my own attempt to outline a spiritual philosophy I have held in the forefront of my mind the belief that these ideas will grow and evolve over time. I also remember the humility of not knowing. When we approach any knowledge I believe it is extremely important to have the humility to say you don't know. There are many ideas about spiritual and psychical reality but the best position is to be aware that we might not be correct in our perception of reality. In fact we should be aware that it is actually highly likely that we are wrong.
Very well put! Or as the Styx song "Borrowed Time" puts it, "The more I learn, well, the less that I know." We all start out young and innocent. When we find "The Truth" it's tempting to think that you've got all the answers.  And it's tempting to want to teach others. But the deeper you probe, the more you discover your own ignorance. Eventually you reach a point where you want to throw up your hands and think, "It's useless for me to teach anyone anything, because the truth is so far beyond me, it's impossible to comprehend." Later, you come to the realization that you've been travelling along the same road as millions before you, and you've just been reading the signposts. Later still, you see the value of sharing what the signs say to others, with the full knowledge that the story will change. The signpost you read ten years ago will be made obsolete by another, and another, and another. And yes, it makes you humble to realize your own ignorance.

It boils down to what the Tao Te Ching says: "Those who know do not teach. Those who teach do not know." And "The Way that can be taught is not the Way." Still, there is value is shining a light to illuminate your path for others to see, even if you know it will be useless to both you and them in ten years.

Do I agree with everything the author says in this book? No, of course not, but that's not the point. The point is to see beyond the entrapments of this physical world and reach for something deeper.

Avenues of the Human Spirit is a very good book, and I recommend it. If you're expecting it to be an OBE book, it is not. But I can say the same thing for my own book, Lessons Out of the Body. In both books, the OBE may be a catalyst, and can provide lessons, but both books are collections of personal spiritual tales. They put an emphasis not on OBE, but on the spirituality and where the OBE can lead us. It's not about the experience, but the journey along the way.

2013 June 11

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Book Review: Spirit Walking by Everett Stone

Book Review: Spirit Walking by Everett Stone

Review by Bob Peterson

I recently finished reading the book Spirit Walking: True Tales of Out of Body Experiences by Everett Stone, and here are my thoughts.

I've always loved narrations of other people's out-of-body experiences. It was Robert Monroe's narrations that first got me interested in OBEs. It was the narrations in Robert Crookall's books that propelled me forward and taught me a lot about OBE, its potential for exploration, and some of the theories regarding the reports. So I have a soft spot for reading them. So I dove into this book with a certain sense of excitement. Unfortunately, it didn't live up to my expectations.

First I'll tell you what I liked about the book: the stories themselves. Many of them were interesting. Now for what I didn't like:

First of all, that's all it is: just OBE narrations. There is no commentary, no conjecture, no information; it's just a bunch of OBE stories from anonymous people. Books like Monroe's and Crookall's used the stories to formulate theories and ignite ideas. This one does not.

Second, there are all kinds of grammatical problems. When you're using someone else's stories, I know it's tempting to present the material "as is" because it's their story, their writing, not yours. Still, these seem to be completely unedited, and as such, it's loaded with mistakes that would make any editor cringe. The author should have taken the time to proof-read these stories and at least fix the grammar and spelling. I know I'm a "grammar nazi" but there's no excuse for sentences that don't even end with a period.

Many of the narrations in the book, in my opinion, aren't even out-of-body experiences. Several of them could be easily classified as completely different phenomena, like deja vu or precognition.

Like many of the books I've read recently, the book was also too short.
It's only 79 pages, and the type is very big, so it's much too short.
That was a tip-off that I'm the wrong audience for this book. The book was probably targeted toward teens or grade-schoolers.

Six of those pages just say "One" through "Six". I wasn't sure if they were chapter numbers or what. They seemed more like "Part One" type headings, but there was no explanation, no logical grouping, nothing to set them apart. There was absolutely nothing to distinguish the stories in "One" from those in "Six" so why even bother with this? It would have been nice if the stories were grouped in some way: "Five: OBEs in which the experience had these features" or some such, but there was no explanation.

I'm sorry, but I can't recommend this book for anyone serious about OBEs. You'd be much better off picking up one of Robert Crookall's books; they're a lot more informative, there's a lot more content, and the grammar and spelling are better. It might be a good way to get your pre-teen interested in the topic though.

2013 June 4

Thursday, May 30, 2013

The Onion Ring

The Onion Ring

By Robert Peterson

Kathy and I drove to Wisconsin last weekend to visit her father. We knew the drive was long--more than seven hours--so we didn't want to stop very long for dinner. As much as Kathy hates fast food, we decided to expedite the trip and stop at the Hardee's restaurant in Hinckley, Minnesota. Among other things, I ordered some onion rings, and they were the first item to be delivered.

As we stood in the restaurant waiting for the rest of our order to be filled, I reached inside the box and pulled out an onion ring. I'd never seen an onion ring like this: it had a bridge of batter on the inside.

I'm a firm believer that things happen for a reason. Anyone who has read my book Answers Within will tell you that I love to find spiritual metaphors in everything around me. The Universe is sending us messages all the time, disguised as ordinary things; we just need to pay attention to the signs.

So when I looked at this odd onion ring, I immediately thought that it resembled the Greek letter Theta. That made me think of Theta brain waves, which signify the bridge between sleeping and waking. Often, out-of-body experiences occur during Theta sleep. Was the Universe telling me something? Perhaps to focus more on my theta brain waves?

But maybe it wasn't a Theta after all. It seemed to me that the onion ring also looked kind of like the Greek letter Omega, in lower case. In the Bible, Revelation 1:8, God reportedly said, "I am the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending" so maybe this was a message from God: We are infinite beings, and we can stretch our consciousness to infinity.

I pondered all these deep thoughts, then I pointed to the onion ring and said, "Hey, look at this onion ring!"

Kathy saw the ordinary object with an unusual feature. "So?"

The cashier gave a bubbly laugh and said, "That's a 'Do Not' symbol! You know: a circle with a diagonal slash through it." Realizing the negativity she was implying, she added, "It means 'Do not leave the store without eating it!'" and we all laughed.

I pondered how remarkable it was that we can all see the same things, and yet interpret them different ways. I chose to see the OBE potential, the spiritual--even God--in that simple onion ring. Kathy chose to see the ordinary; the food. The cashier chose to see a message of negativity, and then she had to release everyone from her negativity.

As the metal band Savatage puts it, you "see what you want to see". You do it all throughout your life. You can choose to see the negative, the positive, or even the sacred in all things. And all those thoughts will draw you to negative, positive or even sacred experiences.

2013 May 30

Thursday, May 23, 2013

What Should I Say to the World?

What Should I Say to the World?

by Robert Peterson

Due to its sales history, my publisher, Red Wheel/Weiser/Hampton Roads recently published a second edition of my first book, Out of Body Experiences: How to Have Them and What to Expect. I was thrilled. Naturally, they wanted me to help them promote the book so they could make some money on the deal. I've never been all that interested in the money or self-promotion, but getting my message out is important, so I agreed.

I was contacted by Red Wheel's publicist, an enthusiastic woman named Kat. She asked me to call the producers of the famous radio show Coast to Coast AM, and somehow between the two of us, I managed to get on their schedule.

I remembered back in March, 1999 when I met William Buhlman (author of Adventures Beyond the Body), Albert Taylor (author of Soul Traveler) and Patricia Leva (author of Traveling the Interstate of Consciousness). Buhlman and Taylor had both been on c2c several times when the host was still Art Bell. They told me, "Bob, you should send them your info and try to get on the show!"

After that I was all fired up with enthusiasm. I sent Coast to Coast emails, resumes, credentials, even a copy of my book. Unfortunately, I never got a response. Not even a thank you. Oh, I did probably a dozen or more other radio interviews, but I never got on c2c; that was the holy grail. Well, it's probably just as well, I told myself; I'm not a polished speaker like Buhlman, Taylor or Leva.

Fast-forward fourteen years, and I was going to be on the show. Despite the large audience, I wasn't nervous at all. In 1999, I would have been. But while I was waiting for the night of the show, I kept thinking to myself: This is my chance to speak to the world, maybe even change the world. I may not get another chance like this. It might be my only chance to give a message to the world; my proverbial 15 minutes of fame, my last and final message. So what should I say?

My friends know I've got thousands of song lyrics locked inside my head, and music plays a big role in my life. So I remembered a song by the 80s hair band Poison called The Last Song, that posed a similar question. Some of the lyrics went like this:
If this were my last breath,
Or my last day,
My last chance,
This is what I'd say:

I thank you for the laughter,
Sorry for the tears,
Time to say goodbye,
After all these years
The metal band Megadeth had a different solution to the problem. In their well-known song A Tout Le Monde, Dave Mustain's last words are:
A tout le monde (To all the world)
A tout mes amis (To all my friends)
Je vous aime (I love you)
Je dois partir (I must leave)
I liked that so much, I quoted it in my novel, The Gospel According to Mike.

My life has been such a jumbled collection of lessons, I didn't even know where to begin. Ever since my first out-of-body experience, OBEs have been my passion, so the most prominent message, of course, is: "You are more than your physical body." But with that knowledge comes enormous implications. I could think of ten lessons off the top of my head, all worthy of a last message:

The first lesson is that prejudice is just stupidity because we're all just souls. When you're out-of-body, you're not black, white, yellow or red; that's your physical body. You're not male or female, straight or gay, old or young; that's your physical body. Judge a person by his or her character, his or her soul, not their physical body.

The second lesson is that there is no death; it's only a shedding of the physical body, that's all. There's nothing to fear, and nothing to cry about. It's like changing into your pajamas before bed.

The third lesson is that materialism, hoarding and consumerism are futile and a waste of time. You can't take anything with you but your experiences, your life-lessons and your love. Got it?

The fourth lesson is that your time is not infinite; OBEs or not, sooner or later you're going to have to leave that physical body. So you better stop wasting your time and do what you came here to do.

The fifth lesson is that you are infinite. When you're out of body, you can go anywhere and do anything. You have no limitations.

The sixth lesson is that privacy is an illusion. When you're out of body, you can silently witness people's private lives. In fact, there have been times when I've left my body and found my bedroom crowded with spirits. You might think you're alone, but you're not. When you do something immoral, eyes are watching you all the time.

The seventh lesson is like the sixth: You are never alone. So even when you're depressed and feeling like you're alone in the world, it's not true. Not by a long shot. You're surrounded by loving spirits all the time.

The eighth lesson is that death is not a tragedy. So your loved one has died, and you miss them, and that hurts. It's not this huge tragic thing; in most cases they're still right there beside you, but you can't see them. They can hear you, but it's not their fault you can't hear them!

The ninth lesson is that visiting someone's grave is useless: believe me, your dearly departed is not lying in a hole in the floor of the cemetery, waiting for you to visit. That's just their decaying physical body. They're not in it anymore! If you want to talk to them, just talk to them here, now!

The tenth lesson is not to believe everything you're told by the religious authorities. The sum of our beliefs in the afterlife are all based on someone else's out-of-body experiences. For the most part, organized religion is a game of power and control. Don't let anyone tell you what to believe; you have the power to go out and find out for yourself, so do it.

My OBEs have taught me so much. How could I pick just one for a final message?

Then I remembered my "parting message" from chapter 13 of my second book, Lessons Out of the Body. The chapter is called "A Parting Gift" and it was all about a powerful dream I once had where I dreamed that I died. My final message to the world was, and I quote: "Love!" And compacted into that final word came multiple meanings: Love is the most important thing. Love God. Love one another. I love you all. Love is eternal. On and on.

My inner voice finally stepped in and simply said, "Don't worry about a message; Just be yourself." Sage advice. And I think the show went very well.

May 22, 2013

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Book Review: Less Incomplete by Sandie Gustus

Less Incomplete by Sandie Gustus

Book review by Bob Peterson

I just finished reading the book Less Incomplete: A Guide to Experiencing The Human Condition Beyond the Physical Body by Sandie Gustus, and wanted to share my thoughts.

Sandie Gustus is another instructor and proponent of the IAC, the International Academy of Consciousness, which is a non-profit organization based on the work of Waldo Vieira. The IAC teaches out-of-body experiences and explorations of consciousness. They approach this as scientifically as they can, preferring to call them "projectiology" and "conscientiology" respectively.

As I was reading the first half of the book, it struck me as too much like Luis Minero's book, Demystifying the Out-of-Body Experience, but as I got deeper into the book, I revised my thinking. Yes, Gustus comes from the same perspective as Minero, but it's much more personable. Minero's book reads like a text book, with lots of new off-putting terminology (the information, however, is good). Gustus's book only uses the new IAC terminology sparingly, and subtly (and I was grateful for that). In my opinion, it's a bit easier to read for that reason. And it's very well written. She's a good writer.

Again, this is my opinion only: Like Minero's book, this one spends way too much time on peripheral topics: intrusion, bioenergy, karma, reincarnation, precognition, retrocognition, past lives, the evolution of consciousness, life plans, holomaturity (basically, ethics), and so forth. She even talks about finding your life's purpose. Yes, the information is good. Yes, it's important, but when you buy an OBE book, you want to read about OBEs, not other topics. I kept reading and reading, waiting for her to "get to the good stuff" but it took a very long time to get there. Maybe I was just impatient because I had recently read Minero's book and he had covered a lot of the same topics.

That's not to say there wasn't good OBE-related content. She had good information on the non-physical bodies, non-physical beings, and the importance of energy work. She definitely filled in some blanks left by Minero's book, such as preparing for an OBE, places that you shouldn't visit out-of-body, beings you should not approach while out-of-body, and such.

Gustus also gives some solid projection techniques, but in my opinion, she could have had a lot more. It was all pretty basic stuff. She did, however, have a lot of good common-sense tips above and beyond those in Minero's book.

One thing I found disappointing was the lack of personal point-of-view. It's clear from Minero's book that he's had many out-of-body experiences and he even shares some of them, which gives his book a certain feeling of authenticity. With Gustus's book, there are no personal OBE stories, and no personal perspective, so I didn't feel "close" to the author as a fellow experiencer. I was left wondering if she even did OBEs herself, or if she was just teaching them (i.e. if it was all "book learning"). In my opinion, a more personal perspective would have made the book better. Full disclosure: I've never taken a class from Gustus, Minero, or the IAC. People who have would likely gain that personal perspective, and not share my disappointment.

I'd have to say: yes, this is a good book. It's certainly better than many I've read. It's more "user friendly" than Minero's book (which is also good), but in my opinion, both spend way too much time on side-topics.

It's good to get the IAC perspective and approach to out-of-body experiences. The average reader probably doesn't need to read both books, since a lot of the material is similar. At this point, it would be hard to choose which one is better. Minero's book has more information and good solid references to back up his statements. Gustus's book is easier to read and doesn't get bogged down in terminology. Pick one. Flip a coin, or whatever you have to do, but read at least one of them. Or, if you're a fanatic like me, read them both!

2013 May 08