Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Review: How I Learned Soul Travel

How I Learned Soul Travel

by Terrill Willson

Today I'm reviewing How I Learned Soul Travel by Terrill Willson.

I know for a fact that Terrill Willson is not the author's real name, but a pen name. I know this because he sent me a copy of his book several years ago with a personal letter. To respect his privacy, I won't divulge his real name. At least he didn't use a demon name like the last book I reviewed, Experiencing Astral Travel (there was no such violation of trust with V.M.Beelzebub, whose real name openly appears in his book's copyright notice.)

This is the story of how the author, "Terrill Willson," became interested in Eckankar, an OBE-based religion (or cult, depending on your point of view) and the steps he took to learn and refine his "soul travel" (out-of-body) techniques. Although the book is cast in the light of Eckankar, it's not preachy or Eck-saturated. That's just a back-drop to Willson's story.

First a little background. Eckankar was founded by Paul Twitchell, whom William Buhlman still defends to this day as "the real deal." He co-opted many yogic traditions from India and claimed it was an ancient religion he was entrusted with. Yeah. Right. I can't judge Twitchell because I've never read any of his books (yet!).

I've always felt negatively toward Eckankar because when I first checked them out in 1980, their "Living Eck Master" (whom they claim is the sole representative of God on Earth) was "Sri" Darwin Gross, whose books, like Your Right to Know, were not only self-contradictory every couple pages; they were, to quote a song by Jon Oliva, "nonsensical ravings of the lunatic mind." Darwin Gross was eventually canned, fired, sacked from the position and kicked out of the organization in 1981 amid scandal. The position of "Living Eck Master" was taken over by Harold Klemp who still leads the organization (at least Klempt comes across as somewhat more sane).

Anyway, back to Terrill Willson. The book is copyrighted 1987 and it covers at least 5 years of out-of-body progress. Willson writes about several OBEs in which he sees and/or interacts with the Eckankar Living Master. Although he's not named, I assume he's referring to Klemp at this point.

The best thing about this book is that the author writes down what he tried, and how well it worked, and what he learned from all his trial and error. You can clearly watch his progress from novice to accomplished out-of-body traveler, and the steps he took to get there. That's helpful.

When he started out, he struggled a lot and tried a lot of things:
"As yet no particular technique had ever proven effective for me more than once, and by this time I'd begun to figure out why." (pg. 62)
He tried everything from meditation to concentration to contemplation. He spent hours every night lying awake trying everything at the expense of his sleep. The most important thing I got is: Contemplation is where you should focus your efforts.

This is a really hard thing to teach. In my books, I talk about how you need "focus" and stillness, but you also need to remain passive and receptive.

I really loved Willson's definitions of meditation, concentration, and contemplation, so I'll quote them here:

Meditation

"My definition of meditation goes something like this: meditation involves trying to achieve a completely relaxed, totally passive state of body and mind. Ideally this is accomplished by first relaxing the physical body as much as possible and then throwing the mind blank, trying to free the mind of all thoughts concerning the physical body and the physical world." (pg. 81)

Concentration

"My definition of concentration, based on my own futile learning attempts, is this: concentration is an attempt to rigidly force the mind to hold a specific idea or visual picture, trying to lock the mind so perfectly onto this single idea or picture that all attention is withdrawn from the physical body and physical surroundings. Reaching a level perfect level of concentration is extremely difficult, but if achieved, even just for a moment, separating from the physical body then becomes quite easy." (pg. 82)

Contemplation

"Contemplation is more of a happy medium between meditation and concentration, not passive like meditation and yet not nearly as mentally and physically draining as concentration...my definition of contemplation goes like this: Contemplation is a relaxed pointing of the mind in one certain direction, a continuous dwelling on some feeling, thought, or idea in as relaxed a manner as possible. In contemplation one does not try to rigidly affix the mind to anything but instead allows it to wander and simply brings it back each time it strays off." (pg. 82)
Willson says that Contemplation offers two important advantages: simplicity and effectiveness.

Willson gives his OBE technique at several stages while developing it, so you can see how he tweaks it, makes changes, and improves it along the way. That's very helpful. For example, relatively early in his development, his technique went something like this:
"Just before bedtime I would read a few pages of one of my Soul Travel books and then just go to sleep. Either by alarm clock or self- suggestion, I would wake up in the middle of the night and go back to sleep, keeping my full attention on the faint high whistle in the top of my head. All thoughts concerning Soul Travel would be avoided while listening to this sound. Each time my mind wandered, I would simply bring it back and place my attention on listening to the sound again. If it took 30 minutes, or an hour, or 3 hours for me to drift into sleep, so be it. Any chance of moving out of my body, either automatically or of my own accord, would likely come at the moment of drifting into sleep..." (pg. 108)
Gradually, he made changes and added elements:
"I developed a new sound technique during this time, imagining the sound of the faint high whistle as a current of energy flowing into the top of my head and focusing on the tingling sensation that would develop at this particular spot. Somehow my chances of moving out of my body seemed improved when I did this." (pg. 114)
Later, he improved it by reversing the flow: he started with the whistling energy entering his feet and exiting through his head. Then he added his own version of Wake Back To Bed (WBTB), setting an alarm, getting up in the middle of the night, just for a few minutes, splashing water on his face, then back to bed.

Throughout the book, he uncovers helpful observations, like this one:
"Toward the end of this two-month trip, I uncovered my most valuable bit of information to date about contemplation. I learned that the closer I let the black inner screen draw to my inner point of vision while contemplating, the better my chances were of moving out of the body after drifting into sleep. I also gradually began to notice that the direction my eyes were pointed during contemplation made a difference, too." (pg. 122)
This eye direction thing is interesting too, and it matches my experience.
"My primary attention was on keeping my eyes rotated upward as high as possible in my head yet staying relaxed; then I'd concentrate on listening to The Faint High whistle in the top of my head. If I could drift into sleep still contemplating like this, my chances of moving out of my body automatically were very good." (pg. 123)
Later, he refines this even further, pointing his eyes upward only for the first minute or so of contemplation, then he lets them relax into their natural position for the rest of his technique. He found out it's not so much the direction of your eyes, but the direction of your attention.

He actually lays out his technique, which he calls "Contemplation Technique A" and later, he refines it and gives alternates B, C, D, E, F, and G. He also discusses how to use the famous Eckankar mantra "Hu" (which sounds like the name Hugh.) He recommends chanting aloud, because, he says:
"Chanting silently won't usually stop the mind's wanderings, but in my experience chanting softly outloud will." (pg. 161)

Willson doesn't talk much about his OBEs, but he does make some interesting observations. For example, he talks about how glass behaves in an OBE: Sometimes it acts like a barrier, and sometimes you can push on it and it stretches, making a sound like running your hands over a balloon. But when you give up trying to push through, it can suddenly shatter. (pg. 129)

He also talks about how to handle scary encounters with threatening people and creatures: He says if you become totally passive, the threatening creature or person will become passive too. Kind of like disarming them. (pg. 131)

Another important thing he discovered is that the first OBE is always the hardest, and makes others easier. This is especially true about multiple OBEs in a single night: If you induce an OBE, regardless of how brief--even just a second--it's vastly easier to induce more OBEs that night. But it helps to remain motionless after you return to the physical.

Following that, he began to notice a post-OBE feeling that immediately followed one of his OBEs. This led him to another important discovery: You can induce more OBEs just by remembering that post-OBE feeling, even if it's your first for the night!

Another thing I found interesting: Willson writes about a few experiences in which he's inside a very large building. For many years now, I've noticed that I'm inside very large buildings in my ordinary dreams (not so much my OBEs, in which I'm often outdoors). In my dreams I'm often in huge warehouses, vast factories, enormous hotels, gigantic shopping malls, etc. I wonder what that means.

This isn't the most comprehensive book about inducing OBEs, but it's definitely packed with gems, and very helpful.

The book is 176 pages with smallish font and good margins, which means there's plenty of content. It's broken into 40 bite-size easy-to-read chapters, so it's a quick read. The writing and editing are professional and the content is good. I'll give it 4 stars out of 5.

Bob Peterson
31 March 2020

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3 comments:

  1. Thank you - again!

    I see the Eckists think "Hu" is superior to "Om". Om comes from the physical and lower(negative)levels, while their Hu is from higher up the ladder(positive)... They reckon it is actually discernible by the results if you compare the two, using it in contemplative meditation.

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  2. Well... I liked this book. I read it about two years ago and don't remember details, but was a good reading.
    Nice review!

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  3. Thanks saves me from needing to read from another questionable Eckist type since I was one for about 3 years before smartening up.

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