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Lessons Out of the Body
A Journal of Spiritual Growth and Out-of-Body Travel
By Robert S. Peterson
Hampton Roads Publishing Co., Inc.Copyright © 2001 Robert S. Peterson
All rights reserved.
The Next Step
Glide on silver wings of air,
Float on top of mountain breezes,
Reach up for the highest good,
Lift your spirit higher than the farthest reaches of space,
Pour your soul into the ocean of Love,
For Love is the most sacred accomplishment.
To this end, will we all one day meet.
On September 9, 1979, I read the book Journeys Out of the Body by Robert Monroe. It was a book that changed my life forever. Instantly, I became fascinated with the possibility that we could somehow learn to leave our bodies and step into a different reality, transcending the limitations of the flesh. Most of the books called this astral projection, out-of-body experiences, or OBEs. Up to that point, I was skeptical and science-oriented. Everything Monroe said went against all of my religious and scientific beliefs, but Monroe explained astral projection in such a logical and scientific manner that it appealed to me right away. Instead of asking readers to believe his assertions, he asked them to try it for themselves. Monroe even gave a technique to induce OBEs in his book. I decided to try Monroe's method, mainly out of curiosity.
Much to my surprise, Monroe's method gave me immediate results: I had a terrifying run-in with "the vibrations," a convincingly real precursor to an out-of-body experience. From that point on, I was hooked; I had to explore it further. Had it not been for that instant gratification, I would probably have lost interest in OBEs and gone back to living my shallow, mundane, and materialistic life. Instead, Monroe's book started me on a high-speed roller-coaster ride of out-of-body experiences and psychic powers.
My mom and dad instilled in me a firm belief that I could achieve any goal if I had enough willpower, focus, and determination to learn the necessary skills. Though I've always set high expectations for myself, I've also always had the determination of a barracuda. For example, I once took a community education class to learn woodworking. When the instructor asked me to pick out my very first woodworking project, I didn't ask him for suggestions. Instead, I told him I was going to build a grandfather clock. Somehow he managed to keep from laughing, and kindly suggested that I try something simpler. To appease him, I built a simple wooden box that was done in one week, but my second project was, in fact, a grandfather clock, and I built it entirely from plans and planks of wood, not from a kit.
So after I finished reading Monroe's book, I had the same determination to learn how to induce out-of-body experiences. I began meditating, studying, and inducing altered states of consciousness, including OBEs. Although I only wanted to have OBEs, I got an unexpected by-product: I started having weird psychic experiences of every kind. Often the coincidences and synchronicities in my life piled up to the point of absurdity, to the point where I could no longer deny that psychic experiences were real or that they were happening to me. I also discovered how to communicate with an inner source of wisdom I call my "inner voice." I don't know exactly what my inner voice is, but I'm sure that everyone has one. Some people may call it their "spirit guide," but I don't think it's all that complex or mysterious; I think it's just a link from my conscious self to my "higher self" via my subconscious. Fortunately for me, I documented almost all of my unusual experiences in several journals. (I highly recommend journal writing, not only as a means of documenting your experiences, but also to help you organize, remember, and focus your spiritual life.)
My out-of-body adventures were many and varied. After studying and practicing OBEs for more than ten years, I had amassed a collection of books containing almost every volume on the subject of OBEs. After having read all but a few, I felt that there were a lot of misunderstandings and superstitions about the subject. For example, many of the OBE books approached the subject from an occult point of view, treating astral projection as some sort of psychic paranormal power, despite the fact that most OBEs happen to normal, ordinary people. Gabbard and Twemlow, in their 1984 book With the Eyes of the Mind, point out "the 'typical' profile of the OBE subject is remarkably similar to the average, healthy American individual. The individual may be of any age and is equally likely to be male or female" (p. 40). I believe there's no such thing as a paranormal experience. No one out there is breaking the laws of physics. I think it's more correct to say that our knowledge of the laws of physics is incomplete, since those laws don't leave room for the experiences we label "paranormal," such as OBEs.
I also discovered that most OBE books are sketchy at best when it comes to giving directions on how to induce an out-of-body experience. Some of the OBE books seemed like glorified storytelling. Without providing any methodology, the readers were left on their own to believe or not and only wishing they could do it themselves. Other books provided methods, but very vague ones.
I don't think those authors were deliberately trying to hide their knowledge. It's more likely that most OBE adepts are either right-brained, artistic people, or naturally gifted people. The artistic ones have probably never analyzed what they do to induce their OBEs. The naturally gifted ones just slip into that state, so it's nearly impossible for them to describe what they do to get there. Usually, their instructions looked something like this:
1. Relax totally.
2. Imagine floating.
3. Now that you're out of your body, go ahead and explore.
Unlike those artistic or natural projectors, I'm a computer programmer, an analytical thinker. Most of my early OBE years were spent just experimenting and analyzing what works and what doesn't. I was like a first-time golfer who makes only one good swing during his game, then stops to ask himself what he did differently from all his other miserably botched swings earlier in the game. There was a lot of trial and error.
In the early years, I spent more time examining the process of leaving the body and how to do it than actually exploring the out-of-body state itself. Many times, I was so focused on learning the induction process that I decided to forgo experimentation so that I could study the process of leaving and reentering the body. A fitting analogy is when someone trains to become a pilot; he or she develops the necessary skills by repeatedly taking off and immediately landing again.
I finally realized that I had to write my own book to clear up some basic misunderstandings and present some concrete methods of inducing out-of-body experiences. My first book was Out of Body Experiences: How to Have Them and What to Expect, published in 1997.
I'm sure that nearly every writer goes through the same thing I went through next. As soon as I submitted the text for publication, I needed to reread and reproof the text several times for errors. In the process, I thought of all the things I forgot to say in the first book. Over and over again, I'd kick myself for some omission. For example, why hadn't I addressed the issue of psychic protection? Plus there were all the new things I'd learned during the two-year publication process.
Then one day in July of 1997, I was looking at a copy of my newly released book. At first I was pleased to see the outcome of so many hours of work, but looking through my book, I had to stop and ask myself, "Where's the spirituality?" Out-of-body experiences gave me the most important aspect of my spirituality: a certain nonphysical perspective on life and its lessons. If not for the lessons, there would be no point in coming to this earthly life. I had many lessons, both in the body and out. In the first book, I mentioned in passing that OBEs made me a more spiritual person, but I was reluctant to put much spirituality (in the form of lessons) into the book. I tried to keep the book as down-to-earth as possible. I wrote about the simple out-of-body experiments I did: exploring the different types of astral eyesight, my attempts at learning to fly, getting into my body backward, and so on. Now I felt the weight of that decision on my shoulders. My inner voice piped up: "So do something about it! Write another book!" "Come on," I retorted. "What would I write about? The invisible helpers who take hold of my hands and cart me off to faraway places? Who cares?" "Write about what you've learned."
I wasn't convinced. I wasn't sure I wanted to write another book. First, I certainly didn't care about the money. At that time, I hadn't seen any money from the sales of my book, and I didn't expect to make much money from royalties. Just after the book was published, I met and spoke with William Buhlman, author of Adventures beyond the Body, an excellent book that was published after my text was submitted for publication. Buhlman told me frankly that I'd starve if I relied on book sales to pay the bills. People don't write OBE books to make money, because there isn't a large enough target audience. Besides, if I had cared about the money, I wouldn't have offered the entire text of my book absolutely free on the Internet two years before the book's final publication.
I wasn't looking for fame either. I was (and am) a private, introverted person. If anything, I was deathly afraid of the public's reaction to my book. I still hadn't told my mom, my sister, my wife's relatives, or any of my friends that I had written a book on such an off-the-wall topic, and I was dreading the day I'd have to talk about it with them. How would my boss react? I tried to push thoughts like these out of my mind, telling myself not to worry. The book had been a labor of love.
The hardest part about writing the first book was coming up with a title. "What is the title of my next book?" I asked my inner voice playfully, expecting not to get an answer. As soon as I formulated the question, my inner voice responded with "Flying with Angels," and at that point, I knew it wasn't joking.
Soon after Out of Body Experiences: How to Have Them and What to Expect was released, I started getting e-mail from people who had read the book. Many of them noticed that the book contained experiences mostly from my early years of astral projection, and they wanted to know what I've been doing since those early experiences, what else I've learned, and where it's taken me.
So what have my OBEs taught me? How have they made me more spiritual? What have I done with them besides the simple experiments? What have I encountered on the journey and, more importantly, what lessons have I learned? That is the subject of this new book.
Professor Charles Tart, the famous OBE researcher who did laboratory experiments on Robert Monroe and other OBE experiencers, once wrote: I'm very impressed by the two answers regarding the purpose of life given by people who have had near-death experiences. From their physical rendezvous with death, the most common answer they give is that the purpose of life is to learn how to love. The second most common answer they give is that the purpose of life is to contribute to human knowledge (Tart 1994).
My entire life has been an affirmation of Professor Tart's statement. I've had many life-lessons, and most of them concerned the subject of love. Some lessons were learned through normal in-the-body experiences. Others were facilitated by out-of-body experiences. Many times, I learned these lessons through a combination of the two.
This book is divided into two parts. Part 1 is about the spiritual lessons I've learned, both in the body and out of it. Part 2 is educational, with out-of-body information and techniques for people who want to have their own OBEs.CHAPTER 2
A fly wanders back and forth through the air, then lands on the windowpane.
It launches itself, flies for two feet, then lands on the glass again.
It continues to walk around, on the glass, never finding the exit.
It doesn't know that there is an opening in the window just a few feet away.
You and I can see the opening because we have the bigger picture.
If only the fly would unlimit itself, get the bigger picture,
and allow itself the freedom and perspective to fly higher,
it could rise above it all and be free.
Instead, it is content to wander aimlessly.
Now I tell you: You are that fly. You know the way out.
But you choose to ignore it.
My story begins when I was going to the University of Minnesota from 1980 to 1984. It was a time when I was truly happy. My life was not quite as complicated as it is today.
The best times of all were spring and summer (Minnesota winters can be harsh). My best friends in the world were John (at school), LD (at work), and my brother Joe and his wife, Candy. I worked for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources then, doing computer programming odd jobs.
My early out-of-body experiences taught me that the physical world was superficial, a façade covering the "real" world. I was introverted, so I didn't feel the need to share my experiences with anyone, and I was afraid of the reaction I'd get if I ever did.
I didn't own a car or motorcycle, so I got around mostly by bus or bicycle. I used to spend hours waiting for buses, hours riding on buses, and hours waiting between my classes, so there was always plenty of time for introspection back then. I used that time for development of the psyche: psychic development. At times I was very psychically sensitive. How psychic I was changed from week to week, depending on the meditation / OBE exercises I was doing and how much of my time was taken up by college.
I loved to take long walks and listen to my inner voice. Sometimes it automatically spoke to me as I walked. Other times I would start the conversation by asking, "What is love?" or "What's today's lesson?" and every time I would get a different response, like "Love is the anchor-bolt of the universe." Once I started this inner dialogue, it was easy to maintain the connection. I found that if we take the time to listen to that inner voice deep inside us all, it can teach us things we never dreamed of.
I remember walking around campus with a back pack full of books. Instead of my class books, I had books on spirituality, OBEs, religion, philosophy, psychology, even sociology. I remember finding obscure places on campus to read, like in the basement hallway of Northrop Auditorium. People would walk past me and not say a word. If they could have read my mind, they would have been overwhelmed by the joy inside me, radiating out in all directions. I never wanted to read in one place for too long. After reading for a half-hour, I would have to move to another place. It was almost as if the room had filled with joy, and couldn't hold any more.
I was an introvert back then. I felt like some kind of freak because weird things were happening to me on a daily basis. No one else around me was having psychic experiences and out-of-body experiences, and when I tried to talk about them, it made people too uncomfortable. It seemed like there was no one I could talk to. Sometimes I would go outside and watch the beautiful college girls walk by the buildings. There were thousands of girls, all of them to me beautiful beyond words. Some were beautiful on the outside, and some were beautiful on the inside—I could feel it psychically. I remember thinking: "There are so many beautiful people. Each is unique. Each has a whole world inside them. How can I pick just one of them as my mate?" At the same time it seemed impossible to find a mate who could begin to understand me; she'd have to be as weird as I was.
I always thought about how grand it would be if I could spend a whole lifetime exploring each and every human being that I met, both men and women. I thought that if I worked hard and developed my psychic abilities well enough, I could learn to explore their minds with my mind.
Excerpted from Lessons Out of the Body by Robert S. Peterson. Copyright © 2001 Robert S. Peterson. Excerpted by permission of Hampton Roads Publishing Co., Inc..
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