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The most beautiful experience we can have is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion which stands at the cradle of true art and true science, Whoever does not know it and can no longer wonder, no longer marvel, is as good as dead, and his eyes are dimmed.
Albert Einstein wrote these words many years ago, and they are forever etched in my mind. Twenty years ago I firmly believed that the physical world we see and experience was the only reality. I believed what my eyes told me-life possessed no hidden mysteries, only countless forms of matter living and dying. The facts were clear; there was no evidence or proof of nonphysical worlds or our continued existence after death. I questioned the intelligence of anyone softheaded enough to accept the illogical concepts of heaven, God, and immortality. In my mind these were fairy tales created to comfort the weak and manipulate the masses. For me, life was simple to understand: the world consisted of solid matter and form, and the concepts of life after death and heaven were feeble human attempts to create hope where none existed.
I possessed the arrogant knowledge of a man who judges the world with his physical senses alone. I supported my conclusions with the overwhelming observations provided by science and technology. After all, if something mysterious was there, science would certainly be aware of it.
My firm convictions of reality and life continued until June of 1972. During a conversation with a neighbor, our discussion turned to the possibilities of life after death and the existence of heaven. I proceeded to present my agnostic viewpoints with vigor. To my surprise myneighbor didn't contest my conclusions; instead, he related an experience that he had had several weeks before. One evening just after drifting to sleep, he was shocked to discover himself floating above his body. Completely awake and aware, he became frightened and instantly fell back into his physical body. Excited, he told me it wasn't a dream or his imagination, but a fully conscious experience.
Intrigued by his experience, I decided to investigate this strange phenomenon for myself. After several days of research I discovered numerous references to out-of-body experiences throughout history. With some searching I found a book on the topic that actually described how out-of-body experiences are induced. The entire subject seemed extremely weird, and I considered the book the result of an overly active imagination.
Out of curiosity, I decided to try one of the out-of-body techniques before sleep. After repeated daily attempts, I began to feel a little ridiculous. In three weeks the only thing I experienced out of the norm was an increase in my dream recall. I became more and more convinced that this entire subject was nothing more than an intense or vivid dream stimulated by the so-called out-of-body techniques.
Then, one night about eleven o'clock I drifted to sleep during my out-of-body technique and began dreaming that I was sitting at a round table with several people. They all seemed to be asking me questions related to my self-development and state of consciousness. At that moment in the dream I began to feel extremely dizzy, and a strange numbness, like from Novocain, began to spread throughout my body. Unable to keep my head up, I passed out, hitting my head on the table. Instantly I was awake, fully conscious, lying in bed facing the wall. I could hear an unusual buzzing sound and felt somehow different. Extending my arm, I reached for the wall in front of me. I stared in amazement as my hand actually entered the wall; I could feel the vibrational energy of it as if I was touching its very molecular structure. Only then did the overwhelming reality hit me, My God, I'm not in my body.
Excited, my only thought was, It's real. My God, it's real! Lying in bed, I stared at my hand in disbelief When I tried clenching my fist, I could feel the pressure of my grip; my hand felt completely solid, but the physical wall in front of me looked and felt like a dense, vaporous material with form.
Determined to stand, I began to move effortlessly to the foot of my bed, my mind racing with the reality of it all. Standing, I quickly touched my arms and legs, checking to see if I was solid, and to my surprise I was completely solid, completely real. But around me, the familiar physical objects in my room no longer appeared completely real or solid; instead, they now looked like three-dimensional mirages. Glancing down, I noticed a large lump in my bed. Amazed, I could see that it was the sleeping form of my physical body silently facing the wall.
As I focused my vision on the opposite side of the room, the wall seemed to fade slowly from view. In front of me I could see a wide, green field extending far beyond my room. Looking around, I noticed a figure silently watching me from about ten yards away. It was a tall man with dark hair, a beard, and a purple robe. Startled by his presence, I became frightened and instantly 11 snapped back" into my physical body. With a jolt I was in my body, and a strange feeling of numbness and tingling faded as I opened my eyes. Excited, I sat up, my mind exploding with the realization of what had just occurred. I knew it was absolutely real, not a dream or my imagination. My entire ego awareness had been present.
Suddenly, everything I had ever learned about my existence and the world around me had to be reappraised. I had always seriously doubted that anything beyond the physical world existed. Now my entire viewpoint changed. Now I absolutely knew that other worlds do exist and that people like myself must live there. Most important, I now knew that my physical body was just a temporary vehicle for the real me inside, and that with practice I could separate from it at will.