The Secret of the Soul
by William Buhlman
Today I'm reviewing The Secret of the Soul: Using Out-of-Body Experiences to Understand Our True Nature by William Buhlman, copyright 2001. This is the first follow-on to his famous first book, Adventures Beyond the Body. It's hard to imagine the book is already 20 years old.
One of my blog readers asked me to review it, but in a way I already did! If you look closely on the back cover you can find this quote from me:
"Empowering and insightful. Contains important new information and techniques." --Robert S Peterson, author of Out of Body Experiences.
I stand by that. The first time I read this book was well before its publication. Buhlman and his publisher sent me a draft copy so I could offer my assessment, and that's where the back-cover quote came from.
According to Buhlman, out-of-body exploration is not just a novelty or some form of entertainment. It's an inevitable step in our spiritual evolution. He sets the stage with a brief preface in which he states:
"Eventually we must master the ability to explore beyond our dense limits, for transcending these limits is at the very heart of our spiritual evolution." (pg. xi)
Much later, he goes into more detail:
"Remember, the ultimate journey of soul is not death but the self-realization of our spiritual essence. Eventually we must make the important transition from religious believer to spiritual explorer. This is the path we all must travel sooner or later." (pg. 132)
And still later:
"It is essential that we take spiritual action in order to propel our consciousness away from the dense gravity field of matter. The great spiritual masters throughout history were well aware of this fact. Buddha instructed us to detach from the physical world and release the attachments and desires that bind us to matter. Jesus taught us to seek first the kingdom of God with all our heart and our entire mind. If you examine the teachings of any spiritual master you will hear a resounding call for spiritual action. Belief and faith are only the first steps of spirituality. Granted, belief is an important first step, but belief alone was never intended to be the sole core of religion and spirituality. Jesus, Buddha, Muhammad, and other enlightened spiritual leaders never taught us to become dependent upon man-made beliefs. Their lives were vibrant examples of personal spiritual action and spiritual exploration." (pg. 141)
Buhlman also addresses the popular yogic teaching that OBEs are just distractions (or "siddhis") from the path of true spiritual evolution. Buhlman writes:
"Some assume that out-of-body experiences are simply a psychic development or power of the mind. As such they are considered a side step in our spiritual development and to be avoided. This narrow view of out-of-body experiences is not only inaccurate but also extremely detrimental to the ultimate goal of self- and God realization." (pg. 183)
I stand firmly with Buhlman on this.
The book is divided into two parts. Part 1 is "The Testamonies" in which the author primarily covers the results of his public out-of-body survey. The survey results themselves are detailed in appendix 1 and 2, but part 1 is a really good summary of the results and what we can learn from it. Best of all, each of the results is followed by an OBE narrative or two that drives his point home. For example, chapter 1 is all about encounters. There's a section on sexual encounters, contact with spiritual beings, contact with animals, and so forth. On pages 4 and 65 he talks about how people often describe consciously meeting departed loved ones in an OBE, both accidentally and deliberately, and each of his points is immediately followed by narratives from people to illustrate his point.
The survey results are interesting. For example, he found that young children often report a Biblical silver cord, suggesting it may really exist, despite the fact that many people insist it's not. (Pg. 42)
He cites sources not only from his survey, but other historical accounts. For example, he discusses a possible OBE by Charles Lindbergh on his historic transatlantic flight.
On page 75 he talks about "Higher-Self Experiences," foreshadowing his follow-on book "Higher Self Now." He also gives his powerful "Higher Self Now" technique.
In chapter 5, The Thought-Responsive Universe, Buhlman writes about the benefits of out-of-body exploration. I liked this quote:
"It is critically important for us to recognize that our thoughts shape and mold our personal reality." (pg. 81)
He's not just talking about our reality during an OBE, but in physical life as well. I've always believed this is true ever since I read my first Jane Roberts "Seth" book in the 1980s.
He talks about how blind people can apparently "see" during OBEs (as per the book Mindsight) but I found this narrative equally fascinating:
"It was night, and the stars were shining beautifully. Suddenly I heard a voice--I am deaf, and I cannot hear anything--for the first time: "Did you know that you don't have to fly, you just have to think and then you will immediately be there?" When I heard the voice, I panicked, which caused me to return to my body. Darn!" (pg. 87)
So apparently deaf people can hear in OBEs, and I don't recall reading that in any other OBE book.
In chapter 6, Buhlman talks about extraterrestrial contact and abduction, which is a fascinating subject. When I was writing my second book, Lessons Out of the Body, I also devoted a chapter to this fascinating topic. As a source for my comparisons, I used Dr. John Mack's book Abduction. Coincidentally, Buhlman uses the same book for his comparisons. At the time, I had given Buhlman a copy of my book to review at the same time he gave his to me, and I often wondered if he got some of his ideas for this chapter from me. Or could it just be that Buhlman and I are on the same wavelength? I've said many times that he and I are very much alike. Maybe he wondered the same about me!
Part 2 of the book is called "The Techniques" and it's roughly the same size as part 1. Here Buhlman writes detailed instructions for many out-of-body techniques. This is where the book really shines. It has a wider range of techniques than his first book.
Buhlman writes about inner-motion techniques on page 173. These have always been the most effective for me. This includes climbing ladders (and yes, ropes; a staple of Robert Buce), floating, ballooning, rocking (described in my first book), rolling (described in Robert Monroe's first book), rotating, whirlpool/whirlwind (described in D. Scott Rogo's book), elevator, bouncing and extreme-motion techniques. He also talks about chanting and mantras, breath control, visualization techniques, drumming, fasting, Shamanic techniques, sound-and-light technologies, and even plant medicine. This is a very well-rounded technique section: far better than the vast majority of books out there.
In the last chapter, Conclusion: The Courage to Be a Spiritual Explorer, Buhlman gives one of my favorite quotes:
"Eventually you will find that all beliefs are anchors to illusion and that you must break free in order to experience the truth of your existence." (pg. 241)
The book is 264 pages with smallish font, good margins and no wasted space: There's plenty of content to satisfy. It's well-written and professionally edited.
This is an outstanding book, chock full of out-of-body information and techniques. I'm giving it 5 stars out of 5.
29 June 2021
If you want me to review a book about out-of-body experiences or astral projection, send me an email: firstname.lastname@example.org, but please check the index first to see if I've already reviewed it. Also, I've got a huge pile of books I'm planning to review, so don't expect a quick turnaround.
If you like my work, visit my website, robertpeterson.org, where you'll find lots of other free OBE advice and links.