Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Review: Astral Projection & Sceptical Occultism by Nick Dutch

Review: Astral Projection & Sceptical Occultism

 by Nick Dutch
Book review by Bob Peterson

I never get tired of reading out-of-body experience books, and that's because everyone has a different perspective. This book is really different from other books on the subject, and for that reason I found it enjoyable.

When I first picked up the book, I was concerned. The back cover has a photo of the author sporting a baseball cap and looking positively angry. That's not a good first impression. Second, the cover was almost completely black: the face in the photo above is not visible unless you look really hard on my copy. On the other hand, it's 162 pages, and it's in a decent font, so there's actually a good amount of content there.

The title was intriguing. The term "Sceptical Occultism" (British spelling; for me it's Skeptical) seemed like an oxymoron: a self-contradiction. I haven't known any occultists who were skeptical (enough), and I haven't known any skeptics who were also occultists. So how can the two concepts be reconciled? It has elements of both. Sometimes the author sounds very grounded and skeptical, and yet his OBEs are just as "out there" as most books in the genre. I'm skeptical too, yet I can't deny my own experiences. That's how it works.

When I first started reading, I gained a certain amount of respect for the author for his honesty. He openly admits that we will never be able to prove things like a nonphysical world, the existence of a soul (or astral body), life after death, or anything else for that matter. We can never disprove the arguments of an atheist. All we can really say for sure is that people have the experience. Despite all the faith (or doubt) in the world, people do have OBEs, but Dutch insists that's all we can say: We can't necessarily imply the existence of a soul, the afterlife, nonphysical reality, or any of it based on the experience. But the experiences do happen. The author drives this point a bit too far, talking about it for at least the first 50 pages of the book. That's a long time to make that argument.
 "But we must always remember that "Proof" and "Evidence" are just stages in an academic debate." (pg. 47)
That's not to say the experience is without value. He argues that OBEs are still well worth having.
"...there are atheists who believe that if you criticise the intellectual fallacies of a superstitious person that is sufficient to honestly make a hard truth claim that the phenomena of which they speak or believe in, can't have any reality at all rather than just being a misinterpretation of something that could be real. To destroy an argument is not to destroy the natural phenomena in question! If you destroy an argument about what is real in the world, you have destroyed the argument, but you cannot destroy nature." (pg. 50)
In other words, even if a skeptic shoots down somebody's implications based on their OBEs, they haven't disproved anything: The person still had the experience. Even if it wasn't "real" it was still an experience, and it still has value for that reason.
 "In order to try and get these strange experiences it is quite common for the newcomer to the occult to get themselves too hard and fast involved with occultists, people who say they know, but in reality, these people who say that they know just have beliefs and a complete lack of ability to deploy scientific thinking to any strange phenomena that they might experience. Many of them are would be cult leaders and use the alleged authority of their alleged religion or beliefs to control the seeker of the truth." (pg 57).
The discussion was honest and fascinating, but it got old after a while. At first I thought the whole book might be a dry philosophical discussion, but it wasn't. The book gets much better after that. He does talk about OBEs, admitting that his major influence was the book The Projection of the Astral Body by Muldoon and Carrington (I have a book review of that one too). He talks about firsthand observations from his own OBEs, and that's where I perked up. For example:
"It is rare to see spirits in the astral world, but sometimes they do appear, and they can be summoned by calling them in the spirit world." (Pg. 66)
I don't agree. In my experience, seeing spirits is really quite common. However, there's a difference between ordinary spirits (which I often see) and guides or helpers (which I often can't see). They're not rare for me, anyway! Oddly, that's about the only place where I disagree.

Next, Dutch dives into the deep end of the pool and starts talking about how to induce OBEs. He has an excellent discussion about conditioning. He talks in detail about good relaxation methods. He points out things that are overlooked by many, like the importance of doing OBE walk-throughs:
"Rehearsal is also important. Work it out. How you are going to do the projection. Get familiar with the whole process. "Walk" yourself through it in visualisation or even physically around the flat, apartment or house where you live. Tell yourself, "As I fall asleep, I am going to start from my bed, rise parallel to my sleeping physical shell and then slide through the air from Here and then slowly descend and right myself so that I am standing up Here." (pg. 74).
I'm not talking about an OBE technique here (although it can work); I'm talking about using your imagination to impress the idea of OBEs on your subconscious mind (which is talked about by Muldoon and many other experts).

On page 89, Dutch slipped once again into his discourse about how you have to see this as just an experience, and that you can't imply anything from it about religion, etc. However, I cheered for him equally when he talked about how doing so can lead us into meaningless conjecture:
"...people go off on to the useless tangent of arguing about religion and different beliefs. Arguments that are by their very nature, arguments in a circle as no matter what, people from all sides of the debate won't be willing to concede that they might be wrong. All scientific reasoning goes out of the window and we end up with warring sectarian tribes attacking each other over cyberspace and no real scientific progression at all. Try and focus your attention on the experience and how to generate it." (pg. 90)
The "Astral Projection" Facebook group has been mired by too much of this type of useless bickering about religion, and no good ever came of it. He revisits this idea at the end of the book, stressing that focus should be placed on studying the experience itself, both scientifically and from a firsthand point of view.

I found Dutch's approach to OBEs to be fresh. For example, unlike many of the OBE books out there, he recommends using mantras to produce OBEs. He goes into fairly good detail about it. He doesn't try to make it some deep secret "occult" mystery. He explains why mantras work: they get you into the right frame of mind. He explains what to use: something simple that will give you an uplifting positive feeling. One example he uses is the mantra "HE - LI - UM". In other words, helium, the gas used to fill balloons to make them float. This is not rocket science. Helium is simple, can give you an uplifting feeling, has connotations of being lighter than air, able to float, etc. Sheer genius!

I really liked the book for its honesty. Nick Dutch is not trying to make himself out to be some kind of guru, occultist or something special. He admits that it took him a full two years of trying before he had his first OBE. He was persistent and tried everything before he found combinations that worked. And he's eager to share what he learned, without an air of superiority.

He talks about how belief is not necessary: All you need is "suspension of disbelief." Even if you don't believe in God or the supernatural, you can at least suspend your disbelief long enough to do OBE attempts, and that may indeed help you reproduce the experience. It's really kind of an enigma:
"Yes, I do believe that religious people may get more spiritual sensations and experiences, but they ascribe the experience to God, whereas I ascribe it to nature.
Incidentally, I have tried in the past, to use the concept of God to help me in reaching the state of mind for an astral projection. I chose the mantra "I am ascending slowly to reach God" and found it really rather powerful. Whether God exists is an irrelevance, the words had a degree of power to help me generate the experience." (pg 112-113).
On page 117, Dutch starts giving some of his OBE history and OBE narrations. This makes it all the more genuine. These aren't mind-blowing OBEs, but they definitely have a quality of authenticity. For example, he describes the OBEs as having "bluish yellow creamy light" and he writes about how objects in the room don't cast a shadow, and are illuminated from their own light. His descriptions are rich and often quite entertaining. Sometimes he went too far and scared himself. In one experiment, he tried to experiment with OBE-lycanthropy: trying to turn himself into a werewolf. It wasn't mind-blowing but it was interesting.

In college he was fond of going to the library to do his OBE work. He wrote:
"I probably spent more time in the library when out of the body then [sic] I did when in the body, or so it seems." (pg. 142)

Despite the word "Occultism" in the title, Dutch does not really talk about the occult. He doesn't give any incantations, spells or occult information. He doesn't talk about the history of the occult, except in passing. (Innocuous, but enough to prove he's studied the occult).

The converse is also true. Despite the word "Scepticism" in the title, he doesn't try to refute any claims, or present any scientific evidence. What he does do is tell you what he experienced and what worked for him.

It was not comprehensive. When it comes to inducing OBEs, there's a lot he did not cover, but what he did cover, he covered well: his discussions were not light-weight by any means. 

As a grammar Nazi, it made me cringe. There were probably a hundred or more typos and grammatical problems. Like so many self-published books, this one definitely needed both a proof-reader and an editor. And no, it's not just because I'm American and he's English. These are things like "then" versus "than" (as the quote above proves), or "an" where he meant "and" or "mediation" where he meant "meditation."

Despite the grammar issues, it's a decent book. I found this book to be very informative, honest and helpful for learning the art of inducing OBEs.


Bob Peterson
28 Oct 2014

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Review: Astral Travel by Bowe Packer

Review: Astral Travel


by Bowe Packer

Here is my book review for Bowe Packer's book Astral Travel: Your Guide To Understanding Astral Projection & the Effective & Safe Astral Travel Techniques.

First of all, this book is short. It's only 89 pages long, and it's got lots of white space. That's mainly because every paragraph is separated by two or more blanks lines, which is very unusual in the industry. So there's not much content.

It didn't take me long to find some points that I found questionable. For example:
"There has never been a discovery of 'hell' while traveling through astral planes. It seems that, so far as astral travelers are concerned, it simply doesn't exist. Though astral travelers for centuries have tried to find this land they have been unable to do so. Even traveling through the different realms it seems to have been impossible." (page 13).
Well, okay. Maybe. Although reports of "hell" are rare, I don't think it's entirely true. Granted, this book has a 2013 copyright, but Mary Deioma's 2014 book, Loved, talks about her finding what she thinks is "hell". Prior to that, some near-death experiencers (NDErs) have interpreted some of their locations as 'hell'. I tend to believe that our modern ideas of "Hell" come from various people's OBEs and NDEs. For example, part of Dante's Divine Comedy, "The Inferno." I personally have never seen "hell" nor have I looked for it. I've read some accounts of OBEs in which the environment was "hellish" but that's not quite the same as "hell". Many OBE authors insist that there are many "consensus hells" (and consensus heavens) and people who think they deserve punishment find themselves in these places after death: the direct result of their own beliefs. Still, he's right that the vast majority of OBE narratives have been positive, even heavenly.

A little later I found another example. After discussing dream interpretation, he writes:
"Now remember the fact that astral projection isn't a dream. That means that what's happening when you project yourself is completely real. You can't interpret the things that happen in your real life because they don't have an alternate meaning. They weren't put there by anything but chance and they have no extra meaning." (pp. 29-30)
Taken at face value, I disagree. I tend to think all our experiences (both in-the-body and out-of-body) are meaningful. I try to find meaning in every event in my life. I think everything we do can be given a spiritual or non-spiritual interpretation.

Then it occurred to me: There's another explanation: maybe the author is just not explaining this well enough. In dreams (both normal and lucid), events "play out" like a movie in front of us. We experience a self-created hallucination full of symbols and events that are symbolic of our fears, hopes, and concerns. In waking life (and OBEs), events don't "play out." We are not hallucinating; we're having objective experiences. So maybe Bowe Packer meant the same thing, but just didn't explain it well.

When I got to chapter 10, How to Project Yourself, I was very disappointed. The chapter is only five paragraphs long, and it really says nothing meaningful. In the first paragraph, he says that there are plenty of methods of astral projection that have been used throughout history,
"So look around and see what you can find out from others."
He goes on to say:
"These are the different ways that projection occurs"
He explains them as: (1) voluntary without control, (2) voluntary with control, (3) involuntary where you see yourself from the outside, and (4) involuntary  where you have conscious control. And that's basically it. End of chapter. There are absolutely no instructions--none, zero, nada, zilch--on how to induce an OBE in a chapter called "How to Project Yourself!" Maybe he just didn't name the chapter well?

Here's another prime example of the author not explaining himself well:
"Also, your physical body cannot be killed off while you are inhabiting your astral body." (page 40).
Does he mean to say that your physical body is immortal and immune from harm during an OBE; that it can't be killed? That's what he said, but he can't mean that, right? I think what he's probably trying to say is that your physical body will not be harmed as a result of the OBE. Again, a truth that seems hidden inside a poor explanation.

In Chapter 12, he talks about  psychic protection and "The Blessed Circle." He explains (in a strange tabular format) how to perform a ritual of protection. If you're Christian, that consists of drawing a circle of salt that's exactly 5.4 feet in diameter, and saying prayers in each of the four cardinal directions (plus up). Then he explains a similar ritual if you're Pagan rather than Christian. I'm sorry, but to me, this is all unnecessary. At first I wanted to say nonsense, but that's too strong of a word. In my opinion, the ritual serves only one purpose: To invoke your trust that you are protected, and that trust is what actually protects you. I believe in using psychic protection, but I don't do any rituals: it's more about controlling your fears, believing in yourself and your protection and having the confidence to handle potential threats. Since he gave both Christian and Pagan examples, he's probably trying to get to the same place, but he didn't explain that.

There were many places in this book that I flagged with post-it notes that said "What?" or "Huh?" or even "WTF?" For example, he states:
"...You'll want to have a soft mattress without metal springs. The metal has been known to interfere with your astral projection..." (pg. 54).
The reason I flagged this is because I don't recall ever reading that in any other book. Where did he come up with that? I've had hundreds of OBEs on a mattress with metal springs and it was never a problem. I remember a couple times where I sunk slowly down into my mattress and felt the metal springs piercing through my astral body. I felt like I was impaled all over my astral body by giant cork screws, but without any pain. It was very strange. It was weird. It was fun! But it was NOT a problem, and it definitely did not interfere. (I've also had OBEs in a water bed and a sleep number bed, but that's another story).

Here's another one I flagged:
"Make sure that you are taking care to get rid of these desires in one way or another. If you give in to sexual desire you will want to wait two hours before you attempt astral projection."  (pg. 56)
While it's true that you should eliminate hunger and other bodily demands before attempting OBE, I disagree with the two-hour thing. Speaking strictly as a man here: the time immediately after sexual release is ideal for inducing OBE, not two hours later, because it adds an extra level of relaxation.

Here's another oddity I flagged:
"Once you've created the circle make sure you place the foam mattress in the center of it so that you can lay your head down toward the east." (pg. 57).
Really? The East? That's the first OBE book I can recall that recommends East. In his breakthrough book Journeys Out of the Body, Robert Monroe recommended pointing your head toward the North. As I stated in my first book, I've always had the most success pointing toward the West. I suspect it's a psychological thing. And how exactly do you fit both a mattress and a body inside a circle that's only 5.4 feet in diameter? I'm 5 feet 10!

One more example and I'll shut up:
"Time of Day-The time of day that you try to project can have a lot to do with your level of success as well. It's difficult at certain times because of the moon or the sun but if you can find a good time of day it will begin to get easier for you quickly." (pg. 81)
First of all, that paragraph didn't say much, except to find a time that works best for you. What times are better? He doesn't say. (My opinion is that mid-morning is best because you're well rested and not drowsy, but still focused and close to the sleep state.) It blames the moon or the sun, but other than that, it doesn't give any justification. Why is the sun or moon a problem? He should have said something. Anything. (My opinion is that the sun triggers the body to release lots of the brain chemical DHEA, causing your body to be too awake.)

When I got to chapter 13, "Tips For Your Projection", guess what I found? Bowe Packer's OBE techniques! Shouldn't they be in chapter 10, How to Project Yourself? These were not tips, they were actual OBE techniques.

So the bottom line is that the author is not very good at explaining himself.

As a grammar Nazi, I'd have to say this book needs serious editing. The spelling and grammar were not bad, but the sentence structures and wordiness make it hard to read.

On the positive side, he gives four OBE techniques, although I could argue that the last one ("Sending an Observer") is really a remote viewing technique, not an OBE technique. The four are not very original or unique, but they are given in decent detail. On the negative side, there weren't any OBE narratives, so you can't get an idea of Bowe Packer's experiences. You can't tell his credentials or where he got his knowledge.

This book isn't high on my list. To make it a great book, it should have been five times as long, without the white-space, more succinct in style, with more clarity, and edited professionally.

Robert Peterson
14 October 2014

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Review: Yoga and the Art of Astral Projection

Review: Yoga and the Art of Astral Projection

by Jill Lowy

I recently finished the book Yoga and the Art of Astral Projection by Jill Lowy, and here's my book review.

It seems like there are two main approaches to the otherworldly: traditionalists and explorers. Traditionalists study the paths that others have followed, whether religious, mystic, or occult traditions. Explorers, on the other hand, care more about exploring and trail-blazing. Explorers rarely care about traditions, and traditionalists rarely care about exploring.

Oddly, my brother Joe and I fall into opposite camps. I've always been an explorer: I'd rather spend my time focusing on new teachings, new methods and, of course, blazing my own trail. That means I don't spend as much time studying the older traditions, valuable as they may be. I keep thinking I should read the works of Meister Eckhart or Emanuel Swedenborg, for example, because I could really learn from their mystical experiences, and yet somehow they never seem to rise to the top of my priorities.

Joe, on the other hand, is a traditionalist. He's the ultimate scholar when it comes to esoteric traditions. He could talk intelligently with you for hours about countless mystic, religious and occult traditions. Meister Eckhart? No problem. Swedenborg? Easy. Name any dead dude from the European renaissance like Johannes Trithemius, Giordano Bruno, or Dr. John Dee: he can talk about him or her for hours. All you have to do is visit one of his domains, like http://www.esotericarchives.com, to see what I mean. And I admire him more than he can ever know. (He's even published more books than me.)

What does all this have to do with Jill Lowy's book? Simply this: This book tries to bridge the gap between the two approaches. I was expecting the book to be focused strictly on OBEs and how they pertain to Yoga meditation, but I was pleasantly surprised. The book starts out with a crash course in esoterica and occultism, with depths that surprised me. I would have probably been blown away by the depth of her knowledge, except for the fact that I've already spent many hours talking to Joe about these things (No offense, but Joe could undoubtedly run circles around her).

Lowy talks about the Rosicrucians, Hermes Trismegistus, the Golden Dawn, Israel Regardie, Paracelsus and the like. She sounded remarkably like Joe, trying to give a crash course on esoterica. She doesn't stop there. She talks about Plutarch from ancient Greece, and cites St. Paul's observations from the Bible. She brings in Taoism (one of my favorite topics, which I've studied in depth), quoting from Lao Tzu. She explains about the Yoga Aphorisms of Patanjali (which I've studied). She talks about Paramahansa Yogananda (my favorite yogi, whose teachings I've studied in depth).

Then she starts to talk about the different schools and traditions of Yoga, patiently explaining how the branches differ. She moves on to explain all about the chakras.

From there, she gives an in-depth explanation of her favorite yoga meditation to induce out-of-body experiences. Then she gives some good narrations to illustrate what the experiences are like. (I love OBE narrations; I think they're an essential part of any good OBE book).

I was hoping to find a lot of information about OBEs and how they relate to yoga, and maybe some practical advice. Unfortunately, the book spends most of its time talking about yoga, its tenants, astrology and other peripheral topics, and way too little time on OBEs themselves. The information about OBEs was good (you can tell she's had a lot of OBEs). There just wasn't enough of it. If Lowy had spent as much time talking about OBEs as she did yoga, it would have been a great book. Unfortunately, she breezed through too many topics, spending too little time on each.


This book only has one OBE method, but it's explained in good detail. There again, the information was good, but I was hungry for more.

The book is only 150 pages long, which is kind of small, but bigger than many OBE books out there. However, the font is decent and the margins are very small, which means every page is chock full of information and there's little white-space or wasted space. But like I said, the information was mostly about yoga, and not OBEs.

Now, as is my custom, I have to put on my grammar Nazi hat. The book is fairly well written and succinct, although I found lots of simple punctuation problems, spelling problems and minor grammar problems. For example, in many places she has "mediation" where she means "meditation" (something a spell-checker wouldn't notice, but an editor would). Her worst offense is the misuse of the apostrophe. I'd say at least half of her apostrophes are wrong. Or maybe I just remember them more because I'm a grammar Nazi. Nonetheless, I did enjoy the book. It's definitely worth buying and reading, especially if you want some good information on the basics of yoga or esoterica.

In short, this book is everything I wanted Samael Aun Weor's book Dream Yoga to be. Weor's was ridiculous, condescending and full of misinformation. This book, by contrast, is useful and full of good information. And I'm looking forward to trying her OBE technique.

Jill Lowy would be a fascinating person to sit down with and have hours-long conversations with a cup of coffee. Better yet, sit her down with my brother Joe and watch the verbal ping-pong match! I only wish her book was two or three times as long so it didn't feel so rushed. I wish it went into more depth on each of the subjects, especially the OBEs.


Bob Peterson
September 30, 2014

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Review: Loved by Mary Deioma

Review: Loved: A Transcendent Journey


by Mary Deioma

Author Mary Deioma was kind enough to send me a copy of her OBE book Loved: A Transcendent Journey. This is my review.

This book is mostly about the author's rather extensive transcendent out-of-body experience, what led up to it and what she experienced. In that respect, it's similar to Gary Wimmer's A Second In Eternity and reminds me of some of author Jurgen Ziewe's more mind-blowing experiences. It also has some similarities to Eben Alexander's book Proof of Heaven, although Deioma was not near death. Which brings up a good point: This book is another shining example of how an OBE can be as mind-blowing as a near-death experience.

The subtitle is "A Transcendent Journey" and that's very fitting. Unlike more typical OBEs, Deioma's experience was really "transcendent". It was one of those "God Experiences," an experience in which the person has a direct experience of what we might call "God."

What led up to her experience--a bitter betrayal of love--was all very interesting and entertaining. When the OBE actually occurred, she was apparently driving! And although it only took about a second and a half of real time, the experience was out of time: Like Wimmer's, Ziewe's and Alexander's experiences, the passage of time was highly distorted: a vast amount of subjective time can transpire in the space of one second.

Her journey was not unlike the others: she experienced oneness with everything. She passed through several layers of experience, different layers of differentiation, the illusion of separation, and experienced "Love" as all that exists.

After her main "Transcendent OBE" she naturally went to a bookstore to search for answers. She studied various things, and that was an interesting journey with intelligent and insightful discussion. Then she decided to try to induce another OBE to learn more. She was successful, but she didn't say how. (That was a real disappointment. It would have made the story better.)

She did mention (in passing) her friend Dr. Albert Taylor, author of the best selling book Soul Traveler, but it was only a name-drop. She didn't say whether Taylor helped her achieve her next OBEs or where that friendship led. The only thing I didn't like about the book is that she didn't explain how she managed to induce more OBEs. There was no struggle, no conflict, no learning process; it was just "poof" and she was out of body again.

The book is fairly short, weighing in at 137 pages. It's longer than some of the fluff books out there, but there was a lot of white space. The chapters were short, as if written for today's short-attention-span audience. That made the book draw you in and kept you reading. In that respect it was very entertaining. ("I'll go to bed after just one more chapter!")

Deioma has a very interesting take on "Hell," what it is and how it relates to everything else. I was fascinated, and it definitely makes sense. Let's just say that neither "Heaven" nor "Hell" (as most Christians think about it) are anywhere close to the truth.

She did digress from the topic of her OBE near the end of the book, where she talks about some peripheral topics like visitations and prophecy, but it didn't detract from the book. I'm guilty of that too with my second book.

The author used simple language, and explained things very well: It's very easy to understand. She does a stellar job of trying to explain the unexplainable, to get some very difficult points across.

I enjoyed this book very much.

Because I'm a grammar Nazi, I usually have to say a few words about the writing. The book is well written, and well organized. The spelling is good, the grammar is good, but there were a few punctuation problems: Missing or extra periods at the end of sentences. Meh; I've seen worse.

September 16, 2014

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Review: Out of Body Ecstasy by Allie Theiss

Review: Out of Body Ecstasy


by Allie Theiss
Book review by Bob Peterson

Let's talk about OBE sex, shall we? The subtitle of this book is "The Anywhere, Anytime, Orgasmic Experience", and make no mistake: this book is about sex and how it pertains to out-of-body experiences.


There's a famous saying in advertising: Sex sells. In other words, you can sell just about anything just by advertising it with a picture of a sexy woman with bedroom eyes. It works because it's instinctual. Men especially think about sex a lot. I've often thought to myself that if men would casually think about OBE as much as they think about sex, they would have a lot more OBEs. So this book sounded like an exciting new twist to the OBE. (Plus, of course I had to have it for my OBE book collection.)

The subject of astral sex is an interesting one, and there hasn't been much mention of it in the OBE literature. Robert Monroe mentioned it his famous book Journeys Out of the Body. The only other mention I can recall off the top of my head is from D.J.Conway's books, and it was kind of hard for me to take them seriously.

I had some preconceptions when I started reading this book. For example, it's much more common to have sexual content in lucid dreams than in OBEs. In OBEs it's quite rare, and when it does occur, it's usually described as an ecstatic explosion, combining of energy, or a flash of energy exchange. Monroe described it as almost casual, like shaking hands. In other words, it's not much like physical sex. On the other hand, lucid dream sex is much more like physical sex, and is often very realistic.

So what is this book like?

First it gives some foundation, like "What is an Out of Body Experience?" She explains it this way:
"Out of body experiences are short-term episodes where the conscious mind, via the energy body, separates from the physical body enabling a person to engage in and observe the world from outside their physical perspective." (Page 24).
So right from the start I have an issue: As Susan Blackmore once pointed out the experience of being out-of-body is different from the fact of being out-of-body. I think it's much more accurate to say the OBE is an experience in which is seems like you are out of your body. It's a subtle but important difference. As much as we'd all like to believe that something actually leaves the body (and there's growing evidence to support it) I think we still need to make that distinction.

On page 24, she says:
There are three different methods to launch an out of body experience: a. Telepathy...b. Dream...c. Astral.
Okay, I disagree with that too. To me, an OBE is a conscious experience in which your physical body is just another inanimate object in the room: In other words, you're completely conscious and completely out. While I do believe that some aspect of you travels to another person during telepathy, that's not an OBE. I also believe that something travels out-of-body during our dreams, but we're unconscious and I also do not count that as an OBE. (In early 2014, I gave a long talk for INACS about the differences between dreams, lucid dreams, shared dreams and OBEs.)

After three chapters of the basics, chapter 4 is about telepathic sex. In other words, making a sexual connection with another person telepathically. While this may be interesting, I don't consider it related to OBEs. (However, while it may not be related to OBEs, it's not to be trifled with. If you have sexual fantasies about another person, you will make a nonphysical telepathic connection with that person, and it can have consequences, karma, etc. So be careful with your energy.)

Chapter 5 is about dream sex. In other words, having sex dreams about another person. Her instructions boil down to basically "Intend to have a sex dream about a target person." She does talk about lucid dreaming for three pages, but it's a very brief introduction to the subject, and not very satisfying. Not after having read Robert Waggoner's book, anyway.

Chapter 6 is about astral sex, but it starts on page 125 out of 216. That means she doesn't even start talking about real astral sex until more than half way through the book.

On page 133, she states:
"It is good to note that when the astral body separates--the current astral layer world will be an exact replica of the physical world. Therefore, if it is raining out--it is raining in the astral world."
Again, I disagree. It's often very similar to the physical world, but definitely not exact. For example, people will sometimes see the shades or curtains (or a door) open when, in physical reality, they are closed. The differences have been the topic of many interesting discussions in OBE literature. Many OBE authors agree that the first layer acts like some kind of energy echo of the physical, and that the differences are due to various thought-forms floating about.

I recently attended a OBE Intensive class at The Monroe Institute. In the class, Bill Buhlman told a story about a remodeling project where he and his wife were planning to transform a particular fireplace in his home. For many weeks prior to the physical work, he saw his fireplace mantle slowly transformed in his OBEs before the actual work was done: The OBE environment had echoes of the future plans (thought forms) overlaid with the physical, but the astral mantle was transformed weeks before the physical one. So the OBE environment (when near the physical) is close to the physical, but not exact.

I was also disappointed in the author's discussion about the methods of separation. She lists them as: floating out, sit up, rolling out, pull yourself out, climbing out, top of the head, and divine aid. For example, for the first method, floating out, she says:
"Focus in on the sensation of floating and allow your astral body to drift up and away from your physical body." (Page 134).
I'm sorry, but to me, that's not an OBE technique. Once you've become separated from your physical body, then yes, you can focus on floating and drifting away. But first you've got to do the separation, and she's missing that all-important step. There's no talk about relaxation, putting your body to sleep, sleep paralysis, inducing the vibrations or any of it. (Well, she talks about the vibrations, but not how to induce them).  Just "poof" (or "allow") and you simply drift away from your body. Or "poof" and you just sit up in the astral. If it was that easy, we'd all be having OBEs every day. It's a lot more involved than simply using your imagination. You have to play mind games (like visualization and such) to trick your mind into separating from the physical and then you can sit up or roll out.

On page 151, she suggests setting your alarm clock for "10 to 20 min." And somehow that's long enough to induce the OBE, have astral foreplay, and astral sex. Again, this doesn't make sense to me: When I induce an OBE, it often takes a long time get to the proper state. Yes, on my best day, I have induced an OBE in about a minute, but that was extraordinary: most of the time it takes me 30-45 minutes to get to the proper state. Often I fall off the tightrope of consciousness and have to start all over from scratch. Sometimes I lie in bed for hours (wife permitting!) before I'm successful.

There's another problem with setting an alarm clock (regardless of how long): it's a really bad idea because it's distracting. You're likely to start worrying "Do I still have time?" "Is the alarm going to ring?" and these worries pull your mind away from where it needs to be: focused, with all your thoughts stopped, while still retaining awareness. My advice is: Never set an alarm clock when inducing an OBE.

There's another problem with the concept of using OBEs for sex: Again, it goes back to distraction. To induce an OBE, you need absolute focus. Not concentration (which is doing) but focus (which is being). So if you try to induce an OBE while you're thinking about sex, it will never work; you'll be too distracted. Any "thought" is distraction. It's the same reason it's so difficult to contact a dead loved one during an OBE: Most of the time, you're too distracted by your goal to attain the proper OBE focus. My advice is: set OBE as your focus and nothing more. Focus on inducing the OBE alone. Once you are out of your body, then do whatever you want. Don't think about sex, or dead relatives, or anything else for that matter, until you're already completely out of your body.

The book is not all bad (like the previous one I reviewed!). In fact, there are some good things to be gleaned. For example, she has a decent section about psychic protection (although not as good as Erin Pavlina's book). She seems to have good ethics and cautions the reader not to try any kind of astral sex without the person's consent (for example, no stalking of celebrities.) She also passes on sound advice from William Buhlman in the form of "Clarity Now!" commands.

She also makes some accurate observations. For example, she mentions that it's easier to attain the OBE state after having (physical) orgasm. Although I don't recall it anywhere else in the OBE literature, I can vouch for this.

She also poses some interesting questions, like:
"Is OBE Sex Considered Cheating?" (Page 28).
Her answer is that "Cheating is all in the eyes of the partner." I'll admit it's a difficult question to wrestle with, but I wasn't very satisfied with her answer.

Near the end of the book, she has a section on "OBE Sex Grids" which are various crystals, herbs and even spices, arranged in specific patterns to boost your energy.  She also briefly goes into "sex magic" and the use of herbs, oils, incenses, sachets (charms). Call me closed-minded but I've never really bought into all that. I'll buy into basic energy work (such as Tai Chi, Qi Gong, Kundalini and the like) but I'm just not into potions and crystals.

As a grammar Nazi, I'm obligated to point out that there were several punctuation mistakes. For example, in several places she uses "Chakra's" (possessive) where she meant plural ("Chakras"). I also found one place where she used "there" where she meant "their."

The bottom line: Although the thought of sexual encounters in an OBE is enticing, this book did not live up to my expectations. Although there were some ahem--"creative" (shall we say)--OBE narratives, I was left unconvinced. There just wasn't enough "OBE" in this book.

September 2, 2014

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Review: Dream Yoga, by Samael Aun Weor

Review: Dream Yoga, by Samael Aun Weor


Book Review by Bob Peterson

The last time I went out to amazon.com to search for books on out-of-body experiences and astral projection, I came across this book: Dream Yoga: Consciousness, Astral Projection, and the Transformation of the Dream State. The title was intriguing. I've never really studied Dream Yoga, so this seemed like it might be a good introduction to the topic. Besides, I had to buy it for my OBE book collection anyway.

I almost didn't publish this review. I really don't like to slam other OBE authors for their work; it's just bad form. However, in this case the author died in 1977, so I know I won't hurt his feelings or impact his income. In this case, I feel I don't need to hold back. I have to be completely honest with you: This book is likely the worst book I've ever read on astral projection.

First, the author comes across as condescending, calling the average person "intellectual animals" and such:
"Normally, the consciousness within these intellectual animals mistakenly called humans sleeps profoundly; thus, the moments in which their consciousness is awake are seldom, very seldom. Yes, intellectual animals work, drive cars, marry, die, etc., with their consciousness totally asleep, and it awakens only in very exceptional moments." (page 6).
Second, although the author considers himself a Gnostic (although in no way related to the Gnostic Christians) he just jumps randomly from tradition to tradition without a sense of cohesion. For example, on page 22, he has a picture of a Tree of Life diagram from the Kabbalah, but it's thrown in the middle of a discussion on dreams, and without any explanation why. He jumps from Quetzalcoatl to Buddha to Christ, occasionally throwing out nonsensical references, like this:
"Let us never forget Padre Prado and Bernal Diaz del Castillo who, together, observed with delight the Anahuac priests in Jinn states." (page 90).

In many cases, it seems like the author is just making things up. For example:
"Any prophecy or announcement can especially occur on Wednesdays between 9:00 pm and 3:00 am." (page 134).
To make things worse, the language in the book is overly wordy and obfuscated. For example, take a look at this sentence:
"This makes us see the urgent necessity of understanding the profound meaning of all symbolism which should be deciphered in a very precise way in accordance to our development." (Page 108).
Does that make sense to anyone? It seems like every sentence is at least two to four times as long as it needs to be.

The footprint of the book is tiny to begin with; one of the smallest books I own on the subject. It has a reasonable number of pages, but the book could comfortably fit in your pocket. Plus, if the language was trimmed down to a reasonable level, it would be less than half the size.

In a few of my book reviews, I wrote that I was in complete agreement with the author. This book is the opposite: I disagree with pretty much everything the author says in this book. Take, for example, this quote:
"The wise Law of Contrary Analogies invites us to comprehend that if thirteen subjective and negative states exist during a hypnotic state for the projection of the double, likewise, another thirteen objective and positive states also exist during a healthy and natural projection of the double." (page 152).
Not only does he seem to be making up this "Law of Contrary Analogies," he is also saying that the use of hypnosis for OBE is a negative thing, for exactly thirteen different reasons! (He doesn't enumerate them or say why.) He's also saying there are exactly 13 healthy, natural ways to induce OBE without hypnosis, although he doesn't say what those are either.

Next, he goes on to talk about the astral body:
"The Astral Body is a body of an electronic, Solar nature. The Astral Solar Body has nothing vague, vaporous, or subjective. The Astral Solar Body is a body of bones and flesh; it is made out of the flesh from paradise, not from the flesh that comes from Adam." (page 153.)
I disagree completely; I tend to think of the astral body more in terms of our ingrained body image, as discussed in Fred Aardema's book. The astral body is, in my experience, subjective: You can experience it as a sphere of awareness just as easily as a human-shaped body.

The book gets more outlandish. The author talks about how the astral body must be built or created:
"This issue related with the building of the Astral Body has been, is, and shall always be an absolutely sexual problem...If sexual union of the phallus and the uterus is always necessary in order to engender a physical body, then it is also absolutely logical to state that the sexual act is indispensably necessary in order to engender the Solar Astral Body." (page 154).
So essentially he's saying that you need to have sex in order to build your astral body. Does that remind you of a cult leader or what? It's worse than nonsense, it's disinformation.

Next, he starts rambling about Sexual Hydrogen, element SI-12, developed within the human organism according to the musical scale, DO-RE-MI-FA-SOL-LA-SI. Any student who has taken a high school chemistry class (or music class) would laugh at that. It's nonsense.

I'm sorry, but I've never read a more ridiculous book on the subject, and I cannot recommend it.

19 August 2014

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Ghost Hunting At The Monroe Institute

Ghost Hunting At The Monroe Institute

by Bob Peterson

A couple weeks ago, my wife Kathy and I spent a week at The Monroe Institute taking William Buhlman's OBE (Out of Body Experience) Intensive class. It was great fun, and I wrote about it in my previous blog, but there's more to the story.

Most people don't know this, but in addition to being an OBE author, I'm also a paranormal investigator. I started doing paranormal investigations for a group called MSPR (Minnesota Society for Parapsychological Research) in the early 1980s when I was still attending the University of Minnesota. This was long before the movie "Ghost Busters," which came out in 1984.

Today Kathy and I are in a Minnesota ghost hunting group called Nightweb Paranormal Investigations.

Before the OBE Intensive class, I had heard rumors that people "fly in" out-of-body from all over the world to visit the lab and the huge rose-quartz crystal that sits on the lawn of the complex. So I wondered: Can ghost-hunting equipment detect the astral body of an out-of-body experiencer? Could I detect any paranormal activity (or energy) near the crystal?

So Kathy and I decided to bring some of our ghost hunting equipment to the class. It wasn't much; just a couple voice recorders, a camera, and a K-2, that detects electromagnetic activity.

One day, during our afternoon break, we took the K-2 out to the crystal. We walked around, but didn't detect any electromagnetic anomalies.

When one of the TMI staff found out about all this, she asked us to visit the house she was renting, to do a mini-investigation. It turns out that she was renting one of the houses Robert Monroe had built on Roberts Mountain (he built three).

She sensed some interesting energy at the house. The energy was so strong that she couldn't sleep in any of the rooms. She smudged. She cleared. She was finally able to sleep in one particular bedroom in the corner of the house. The energy was not negative or ghostly; it was just so strong that it made it hard to sleep. Now she asked us to investigate.

So one afternoon, during our afternoon break, we grabbed our ghost hunting equipment and rode home with her.

It was surreal to walk around one of Robert Monroe's homes where he had so many OBEs described in his first book, the book that started my spiritual journey. It was a modest two-story home, now broken into two apartments. We were only allowed into the upper part.

We walked around the place with our voice recorders and K-2, trying to get readings. We didn't find any evidence of ghosts (so maybe the clearing had worked) but I could feel a very strange and powerful energy in that house. I couldn't detect any electromagnetic energy on the K-2, but I could feel powerful vibrations, especially in one area, but no intelligence behind it.

My honest opinion? I think Robert Monroe built that house on top of a powerful energy vortex. I haven't finished going over the evidence, so there may be more to report later. I would have loved to spend a night there, but there simply wasn't time.

Later in the week, a group of us were allowed to go into the OBE lab where many of their experiments are done. People have reported all kinds of paranormal activity there. Our K-2 unit registered what I'm assuming was lots of electromagnetic noise from the lab equipment, but when we got to the isolation booth--which is electromagnetically shielded by a Faraday cage--it registered nothing.

For several minutes, Kathy and I sat in the pitch black isolation booth, trying to make contact with any kind of nonphysical intelligence. There was nothing.

The idea of gathering paranormal evidence at The Monroe Institute is a good one; we just didn't have enough time to do it justice. We spent most of my time focused on the OBE class and its exercises, so we never had time to do further experiments.

I'm not giving up on the idea. Next time we go to The Monroe Institute, I want to bring more sophisticated equipment, like maybe a REM-POD.

05 August 2014