From time immemorial human beings have had Out of Body Experiences (OBEs). Many cultures have incorporated these practices into their religions and earth based beliefs.
For example …
I must go on boasting. Though there is nothing to be gained by it, I will go on to visions and revelations of the Lord. I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven – whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows. And I know that this man was caught up into paradise – whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows – and he heard things that cannot be told, which man may not utter.
(The New Testament; Corinthians 12:1–4)
Glory to (God) Who did take His Servant for a Journey by night from the Sacred Mosque, to the Farthest Mosque, whose precincts we did bless, – in order that we might show him some of Our Signs: for He is the One Who heareth and seeth (all things).
(The night journey of Mohamed; Surah 17.1)
In a recent survey as many as one in ten people claimed to have had an OBE.
Some out of body experiences happen naturally, while others are the result of deliberate practice and effort.
Some people have spontaneous OBEs while:
– under the influence of an anesthetic
– semi-conscious due to mental trauma or a direct blow to the head/body
– under the influence of Peyote (mescaline) or other psychedelic drugs
– participating in rituals
– sensing or feeling a “phantom” body limb (e.g., an amputated leg)
– under electrical stimulation of the right angular gyrus (located at the juncture of the temporal and parietal lobes) of the brain.
Near death experiences are just another form of these same phenomena – temporary conscious observation/interaction with the subtle, non physical world.
It has been said that all of us have an out of body experience every night. During deep sleep (while in REM) our subtle body hovers within 2-3 inches of the physical body. The physical brain, the seat of current life memory, is abandoned during this period – so there is no memory of the event.
Shamanism is an ancient spiritual tradition that is still practiced in parts of Tibet, North and South America, and Africa. Emphasizing religious experience over faith, their proponents claim that these practices are one method for communication with the subtle non-physical world.
Many Native American tribes built religious ceremony and ritual around these practices.
Most Shamans rely on out of body experiences, along with dreams and visions. They serve as an intermediary between the human and spirit (non-physical) worlds. They often use animal guides as message bearers, and also for interpretation of omens and portents. Shamans practice divination and seek to learn the outcome of future events.
In the past OBEs have been known as “Spirit Walking.”
Today there is a growing movement of teachers and organizations that promote the practice of OBEs. Techniques have been developed through direct OBE experimentation, and seminars revealing that knowledge are offered to the general public.
When one willfully tries to have an out of body experience, there are three phases that each practitioner passes through before reaching that state:
* Sleep paralysis; which often feels like a heavy lead blanket laying on your chest
* Rushing noises; which sound like static, white noise, ringing, and buzzing
* Vibrations; subtle or gross
This occurs as the subtle body detaches from the physical-etheric body.
Purposeful OBEs happen during hypnosis or REM sleep (not lucid dreaming).
Out of body experiences are a needless distraction on the spiritual path, and sometimes become an actual impediment to progress.
Unless an out of body experience happens naturally on its own, it is a hindrance because:
1. Separation from the physical body, even for short periods, weakens the link that exists between yourself (ego) and your current chosen vehicle (the physical body) for evolution.
“Remember your Creator before the silver cord is snapped”
The “silver cord” that out-of-body explorers often report seeing is the thread which carries life energies from the monad (self) to the heart chakra, animating the physical body.
2. You run the risk of getting sidetracked. The beauty of the subtle world is dazzling and intriguing. If you rely on out of body experiences as your primary means of spiritual growth, to the exclusion of meditation, you will not achieve enlightenment.
The subtle world is just that, another world in the field of thought, time, space, and causality.
3. There is time enough to explore these realms after death; when the monad, along with our emotional, mental, and lesser causal bodies leaves the physical realm.
Here are some examples of out of body experiences …
from “A Journey from Perception to Knowledge, Peace of Mind and Joy,” by James Blanchard Cisneros:
In my first totally conscious OBE, I answered for myself two of the deepest questions a human being can ask himself: “Can I really exist without my body and can my soul actually curse?”
During the experience, I remembered the vibrations quickening in speed and raising in volume. Fear had stopped me so many times before, but this time, I was ready. The vibrations quickened to the point where it felt more natural to leave my body than to stay in it. I gave the okay to go and I was gone.
Immediately, I found myself shooting out of my body and ended up five feet over it. I must say that the first phrase that I ever uttered while out of my body was not “this is one small step for me and one giant leap for mankind.” I just looked around in total awe, and when I realized what was really happening, I yelled, “What the [expletive] am I doing up here?” After that now infamous first phrase, I shot myself right back and, with one big thump, re-entered my body and the experience was over.
Tami Simon speaks with William Buhlman, interview text courtesy of Sounds True, Insights at the Edge:
TS: So what’s the relationship between this spiritual essence—to use your language—and the physical form, the physical body?
WB: I perceive the physical body as a vehicle of consciousness that we use to learn and grow and explore the physical world, because all of us are explorers, because this isn’t our natural habitat! We’re only here for a temporary period of time, so each of us is essentially, when we enter a body, we have become explorers, entering this dense body. I perceive the entire physical world to be the epidermis layer of the universe. I know from my own out-of-body experiences (or OBEs) that there’s countless realities, subtle realities that exist inwardly, and that as we have an out-of-body experience, we’re actually moving inward into the universe, and we’re experiencing these other realities that exist.
TS: OK, so here you are, you’re one of the world’s leading experts on out-of-body experiences. Did you spontaneously have an out-of-body experience at a young age? Is that how you became interested in this? Did you just decide, “This is my field of inquiry: how to leave the body and travel the inner dimensions of the universe”?
WB: Well, no, not exactly. A friend of mine in college, John, had a spontaneous out-of-body experience, and he came to me and shared his experience, and he got me excited about it. I was not a believer in the topic at all—never heard of it! I decided, well, if he could have this experience that so altered him, so changed him, I wanted to see myself if it was real.
I found that there were books available on the topic, and I began to do one of the techniques that I found, which I now call the Target Technique, where I essentially just focused my attention on three objects that were in my mother’s home as I fell asleep every night. And into the third week of doing this, I awoke in my small dorm room, I was laying on my side, and when I reached out my hand, my hand actually entered the wall. That’s when it hit me, that “Oh my God! I’ve done it!” because I had to prove this for myself. At that moment, I thought about standing. I’m standing by the foot of the bed, looking down at this lump that was my body, and it was a shocking revelation! It changed my entire paradigm! I was fully aware, fully awake; it wasn’t a dream, and I was existing, consciously, beyond my body.
TS: Your energy body hand was through the wall?
WB: Yes. And of course, before that, I felt a high vibratory feeling throughout my body that was totally, at that point, alien to me. I had never had an experience like that, but as I reached out my hand, my hand and arm actually entered the wall, and I could feel the energy of it. That’s when it hit me, because this is such a radical thing for many of us. It’s unusual for many people to experience this. It certainly was for me.
For me, it was important to prove it to myself, because I would have never believed it if somebody had walked up to me and told me, “Oh, Bill, you can leave your body!” There’s no way I would have accepted that as a reality! The beauty of out-of-body exploration is that we do have this capability of verifying our own expectations of what this is. I think that’s very powerful.
TS: What would be the benefits of me experiencing more time in the subtle body?
WB: Answers to the questions of life. As we move inward, one of the powerful things I’ve found is that we have the power to obtain the answers to the big questions, the answers to the really important ones, like “What are we?” “Where did we come from?” “Where are we going?” “What is our purpose?” These questions are available. As you move inward, you begin to connect with the more expansive part of ourselves, and this is where the answers are found, because this is where we truly reside as pure consciousness. This is where we’re far more expansive than in the physical body.
It’s almost like a vast dimension of consciousness has been focused, for each of us, into a tiny vehicle we call our physical body, and as we leave our physical bodies and begin to explore, we’re exploring ourselves! We are actually exploring the higher dimensional realities within ourselves, and we’re in touch with this higher portion of ourselves, so we can obtain answers that way.
Also, one of the great benefits is your fear of death, of course, disappears. In all the people that I’ve ever met that have had out-of-body experiences, there’s no fear of death.
TS: So you have no fear of death?
WB: No, because I know it’s a facade. I know I don’t die. I know for a fact, because I’ve been out of my body thousands of times. I know this is just a vehicle of consciousness.
TS: So what’s it like for you when you’re fully disconnected from the physical body, and you’re in the energy body? What is that experience like?
WB: Freedom. Unbelievable freedom. There’s no limitations. That’s what’s so wonderful about it: You no longer have any form-based limitations, unless you so believe you do. So you could fly, you could walk through walls, you could stand in the corner and just raise your vibration rate and explore anywhere you wish to go.
TS: Well, let’s not skip over the exciting vibrational state!
WB: OK! The vibrational state is essentially the prelude to an OBE that 80 percent of people experience, according to my research. It is powerful; it’s abrupt. It’s shocking for people. Suddenly you’re paralyzed; you feel paralyzed, and there’s energy flows going through you. There’s this electrical buzzing noise moving through you, or you’re being touched, or you feel like somebody’s trying to pull your legs, or you just feel a presence in the room or your name being called. There’s over 50 different elements that make up the vibrational state. Essentially, anything strange that happens out of the norm during what we perceive as sleep is the vibrational state. It’s the prelude that indicates that the transfer of consciousness is beginning, and for many people, it gets to be quite exciting. You have to be prepared for it. You have to remain calm. You have to surrender.
For instance: paralysis. I enjoy that temporary state of paralysis, because I know that’s a launch pad for OBEs. I surrender completely to it, and that’s what works. You surrender, because you’re transferring your awareness. You have to let go of the physical. The paralysis state that many people are so afraid of is actually a very natural state of consciousness. Same thing for the vibrations, and all this is part of the vibrational state.
TS: So the courage that you referred to earlier is being able to let go through that vibrational state, to go with it?
WB: Yes. You have to surrender and let go. You have to surrender to the now,
If an out of body experience (OBE) happens to you unasked for, in a natural way, then it is for your benefit and spiritual growth. Otherwise, it can become a stumbling block on your spiritual journey.
After enlightenment the five senses naturally become more refined. At that time nature spreads out the subtle realms of creation for you, to see and explore for increased enrichment. Guided at that time by egolessness, action is 100 percent in accordance with the laws and purpose of nature. Every breath taken is for the betterment of mankind.
The Buddha has said,
This existence of ours is as transient as autumn clouds. To watch the birth and death of beings is like looking at the movements of a dance. A lifetime is a flash of lightning in the sky. Rushing by, like a torrent down a mountain.
In meditation the mind settles down to unveil our true inner identity. Beyond the realm of subtle worlds is the eternal timeless value of existence. That is who you truly are.