Tuesday, March 12, 2024

Ekstasy: Out-of-the-Body Experiences

Ekstasy: Out-of-the-Body Experiences

by David Black

Today I'm reviewing Ekstasy: Out-of-the-Body Experiences by David Black. The copyright is 1975.

David Black is a researcher who became interested in out-of-body experiences (OBEs) and did some very serious research on the topic in the early 1970s. After the obligatory introduction to the topic, he gives a detailed history of the OBE, which is as good as, if not better than, the one in Anthony Peake's more recent book The Out of Body Experience.

Black's research brought him literally to the doorsteps of some of the foremost scientists who studied it. Scientists like Dr. Janet Mitchell, whom I idolized in my Trip Report from the 2018 SSE/IRVA conference. One of my heroes, Charles Tart, Prescott Hall, Karlis Osis, Melvin Morris, Gertrude Schmeidler, Andrija Puharich. Big time name dropping. He explains the scientific tests that were done in various laboratories, what the conditions were like, and the outcomes.

He talks about some of the greatest adepts the subject ever had to offer. People like Stuart ("Blue" AKA Keith) Harary, Ingo Swann, and Alex Tanous. He met with Robert Monroe after Journeys Out of the Body was written, but before Far Journeys or Ultimate Journey, although he discussed other subjects with Monroe like "loosh." If you don't know what that is, it's too a long story for this blog.

What's great about this book is that Black shows a personal side to all the people he met during his research. I can't stress this enough. If you want to hear the personal side of these people, there's no better book. Black is all about the research and the people doing the research: both the scientists and the adepts.

He does his utmost to bring the reader into the lab and explain what was going on, in a personal way. For example, he talks about what the people looked like, the clothes they were wearing, their mannerisms, their outlook on the experiments, and other personal details.

For example, Chapter 8, "Blue," is dedicated to Harary, but he goes into great detail about who Blue was (at the time) and what he was like. He talks about how Harary grew up "on Long Island, East Meadow, out in Hempstead, near Levittown" as well as tidbits about his parents and his childhood. He also talks about the experiments done with Harary, such as the one with his two kittens, Spirit and Soul, who were part of an experiment when they were two and a half months old. I won't leave you guessing:

"During the control periods, the kitten ["Spirit"] continually ran around the cage and maeowed [British spelling] thirty-seven times. During the time Blue had the sensations of being out of his body, visiting the kitten, the animal stopped running around the cage, did not maeow once, and seemed to be attentive to a presence in the enclosure that no human in the room could perceive." (pg. 76)

In chapter 9 Black talks about another interesting experiment (different lab, different scientists) in which Harary was instructed to go out-of-body and visit a snake in a cage:

"When Blue visited the snake in his out-of-body state, it stopped its typical maneuvering around the cage and started literally to attack. It sort of bit at the air, viciously, for about twenty seconds. Twenty seconds which were right in the middle of the time Blue, without knowing what was going on in the laboratory, claimed to be out of his body and in the cage with the snake." (pg. 80)

Chapter 11 talks about another famous out-of-body adept, Ingo Swann, who was born on September 14, 1933, in Telluride, Colorado, as Ingo Swan and he added the second "n" himself. Swann had some very interesting and amazing lab experiments. For example, he could raise or lower the temperature at a distance:

"Swann sat about three feet in front of a Dynograph which was used to record the temperatures of four thermistors [sensitive scientific digital thermometers] that had been taped to pieces of either bakelite or graphite to facilitate his possible PK. Each thermistor recorded independently of the others, and all were extremely sensitive. All four were sealed within Thermos bottles so that there would be little likelihood of their being affected by any force other than Swann's apparent paranormal abilities."

"...Seven of Ingo's ten scores are statistically significant, and five are highly significant. . . .Each of the significant differences is in the direction specified by the instructions; that is, the recordings show more change to hotter temperature in the test periods with "Make it hotter" instructions than in the test periods with "Make it colder" instructions." (pgs. 95-96)

Another of Swann's interesting experiments is when he used his mind to visit a visual target in a lab:

"Swann, sketching what he saw on each side of the partition, achieved a perfect score: eight tries out of eight. The odds against this happening by chance are approximately 40,000 to 1." (pg. 97)

The scientists took a lot of care to try to determine if Swann was actually "seeing" visually at a distance or whether it was "just" ESP or clairvoyance. This also gets into long complex arguments about whether this was really just "Remote Viewing" or whether he was actually "out of body." According to David Black:

"Swann smoked cigars and sipped coffee while he was 'remote viewing.'" (pg. 115)

Later in the book, it talks about another amazing experiment with Swann done at Stanford Research Institute:

"In the preliminary work, using a shielded magnetometer, Mr. Swann apparently demonstrated an ability to increase and decrease at will the magnetic field within a superconducting magnetic shield." (pg. 112)

Black also talks about author D. Scott Rogo, who was both a researcher and an out-of-body experiencer, who was apparently influenced by the spirit medium, Mrs. Keeler, whom I recently referenced in my previous book reviews.

Next up, Black talks about another famous out-of-body adept, Alex Tanous. Again, he gives personal details like:

"Tanous, quietly mysterious, with hypnotic eyes, looked like an MGM mystic. Part of his magnetism was an appeal to vanity. He gazed at you with rapt attention, all the furrows in his brow tending down to a point about the bridge of his nose as though they were caused by a pulled drawstring...He was born in 1926 in Van Buren, Maine, a small town on the New Brunswick border." (pg. 101)

Tanous took place in experiments that involved optical targets, like Ingo Swann.

"According to [Karlis] Osis, Tanous's out-of-the-body consciousness appeared able to adjust to its environmental situation--in certain cases, for example, he had to move his point of view higher to peer into the window of the illusion box. This ability to interact with the world in a disembodied state would not be manifest if he were receiving information through ESP." (pg. 106)

You won't really find any OBE induction techniques in this book, but there are a few scattered hints. For example:

"The experience is hard to describe," said Andrija Puharich, "but it's certainly not a trance. It's like intense concentration. The essence of it is learning how to switch the body onto automatic pilot. You switch the heart system, the brain system, the respiratory system, all those systems that keep you from getting out of your body, onto automatic pilot, and you're free." (pgs 201-202)

Here's another hint:

"Most of the conditions that can induce the out-of-the-body experience seem to involve this typical movement from a state of greater to one of lesser excitement. Dick French tended to have his feelings of being out of the body when he lay down to rest after doing exhausting physical work." (pg. 203)

Black also echoes a key point of my own book Hacking the Out of Body Experience:

"And the conditions of sensory deprivation which [John C] Lilly used to spark his out-of-the-body episodes probably work in a similar way. The disorientation which results from blocking off sensory reference points prompts the subject to construct temporary reference points which mimic those usually given by the senses; and, since consciousness then begins operating in relation to those temporary points of reference, it feels, perhaps is, freed of the body, which it then objectifies." (pg. 204)

I loved this book, but then again, I've always loved the experiments and the science behind it. Some people might find it boring, but I loved how Black made the people and experiments come to life with every page. The down side is the lack of techniques.

The book is 243 pages, with good font and margins. There's plenty of good content. I give this book 4 and a half stars out of 5.

Bob Peterson
12 March 2024


If you want me to review a book about out-of-body experiences or astral projection, send me an email: bob@robertpeterson.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.

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  1. Interesting book. Thank you for the review. 👍

  2. Thank you for the great review Bob 👏🏼