Are OBEs "Real?" - Part 5
by Bob Peterson
is part 5 of a series of articles that examine whether out-of-body
experiences are "real" or veridical. Full disclosure: Much of this is
based on the chapter I wrote for Alexander DeFoe's eBook Consciousness Beyond the Body, which is free in many countries.
To read part 1, Introduction, click here.
To read part 2, Laboratory Experiments, click here.
To read part 3, Anecdotal Evidence, click here.
To read part 4, Evidence from OBE Adepts, click here.
my previous article, I talked about evidence from OBE adepts. That is, people who claim to be able to
self-induce OBEs. In this article, I'll cover indirect evidence. That is, gathered from a third party. I'll also talk about more recent evidence.
In the previous sections, I wrote about "direct" experiential evidence of
OBEs. That is, evidence obtained by the experiencer. Indirect evidence
is when a third party obtains evidence of a
subject’s OBE, and it's also important to consider. An earlier case in which the witnesses claimed to see
Vincent Turvey's spirit body at a séance exemplifies this well.
My personal indirect evidence - JH
In my first book, (Peterson, Out of Body Experiences, 1997), I narrated an experience in which my roommate, J. H., saw my astral body during an OBE where I had walked through the bedroom wall into his bedroom.
09/07/85 Sat - OBE #116
JH [my roommate] and I were discussing OBE last night until 2:00 a.m. after watching a horror movie on television. We both decided to try having OBEs, and we agreed that if either had an OBE, he would try to contact the other in the OBE state.
[After inducing an OBE and finding myself glued to my body] I thought, "I am out of my body, and I am controlling this reality entirely. I should be able to get away from this body." I decided that the only way I was going to get anywhere was to close my eyes and walk, relying entirely on my other senses. So I closed my eyes and bent my knees down until my legs were through the bed and my feet were touching the floor. I used my arms and a kind of swaying motion to stand up. I took a few steps toward JH's room. Then I stopped and wondered whether it would be best to walk into the living room, and through JH's bedroom door, or through the physical closet [between our bedrooms].
I decided to walk through the closet and straight into JH's room. So I kept going toward JH's room and I approached JH's bed. Just as I started to look around, I was picked up and forcefully pulled back to my body.
The next thing I knew I was back in my body, and my eyes were closed. I felt as if I were still out of my body, only I felt very stiff and rigid. I forced my eyes open, and as I did that, I became more physical, until my physical eyes opened and I was again completely in my physical body.
I turned to look at the clock and it felt great to be able to turn my head. The time was slightly after 10:00 a.m.. I recalled the whole incident in my mind. Then, I got up to type it into the computer. JH heard me get up, and came out and asked me if I had an OBE.
JH said that he was experimenting with the hypnagogic state when he saw me in his bedroom. Other people have felt my presence too.
My personal indirect evidence - Stephanie
In a more recent instance from 2013, I was at an astral projection group in Austin, Texas during a group meditation. While I was preparing to induce an OBE, I perceived (through closed eyelids) a black shape moving past me. Instinctively, I visualized a protective silver shield of energy surrounding my body (this is a common technique used for the purposes of psychic self-defense). After the exercise, the participants shared their experiences. One of the participants, Stephanie, said that she had exited her body and walked past me, at which point she saw a silver shield appear around my body. In this case, I perceived her astral body (as a black shape) and she had perceived the energy shield I had visualized.
This was a double verification: I perceived her astral body and she perceived my shield.
Akhena’s indirect evidence
Akhena's book Out of Body Experiences also provides some great examples of indirect evidence. For instance:
"There have been occasions where I have myself been seen by other people who were not aware of my astral presence, and their accounts match up completely with my own recollections. One night I leave my body and go straight to the bedroom of a clairvoyant with whom I have an appointment the next afternoon. I must emphasise [sic] that I had never met this person. I stand at the foot of her bed and tell her the reason I want to see her the next day. When she comes to my consulting room, she exclaims, 'Well, you must have something important to ask me, since you came to see me during the night. Your astral being was fully formed and stood at the foot of my bed.'" (Akhena, 2013, pg. 169)
Evidence Since DeFoe's Book
Since the publication of Alexander DeFoe's book, new evidence has come to light, so I thought I'd add some of that.
The White Car
One of my favorites pieces of evidence comes from Rodrigo Montenegro's book The Out-of-Body Experience: An Experiential Anthology. It involved a guy named Ron Smedts from the Netherlands. In his OBE, Smedts floated out the window of his second-story apartment. Looking for proof that he was seeing the physical world from a non-physical perspective, he drifted down to the parking lot and tried to find his car. He couldn't find his car, then became disillusioned when he noticed that every car in the parking lot was white; a very unlikely scenario. But after he returned to his body:
"As I passed a window I glanced out and stopped in my tracks: I was shocked. Every car in the lot was entirely covered with a fresh and uninterrupted layer of pure white snow." (pg. 65)
The Ugly Jacket
In Paul Elder's book Eyes of an Angel the author talks about visiting his home in the out-of-body state during a trip. In his OBE, he saw a strange ugly jacket in his house. Once home, he saw the same ugly jacket, which his wife had bought for him.
Evidence from Blind OBErs
The 2008 book Mindsight by Kenneth Ring and Sharon Cooper discusses OBEs reported by blind people, and in many cases, people who have been blind since birth. Some of the evidence is pretty remarkable, such as the case of "Vicki" who, despite being blind since birth, was able to "see" metal chairs in a room during her OBE.
What about evidence to the contrary?
For five articles, I've examined some of the evidence that suggests OBEs might be "real" or veridical. In the sixth and final installment of this series, I'll examine some counter-evidence. That is, evidence that doesn't support the theory that OBEs are "real," and what conclusions we can draw.
15 Dec 2020
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If you like my work, visit my website, robertpeterson.org, where you'll find lots of other free OBE advice and links.