The Case For Out-Of-Body Experiences ~ Part I
by Preston Dennett
The central question pertaining to the phenomenon of out-of-body travel is: Is it real? While some ask this question out of scientific curiosity, those who have had out-of-body experiences (OBEs) themselves ask it because of a vital need to find out what is happening to them. Are they going crazy or are they truly travelling out of their body? This need can be so great that it becomes the primary goal of novice explorers. I know this is true because it happened to me.
Following the death of my mother in 1984, I developed an interest in dreams. This led to an interest in lucid dreaming and out-of-body exploring. After discovering Robert Monroe’s (1971) book, ‘Journeys out of the Body’, I began my own extensive forays of the non-physical dimensions. I say this because I am writing about a subject that is not only of great interest to me, it is something I have experienced myself. I went through the period of doubt and fear that nearly every new OBEr must navigate. And I moved beyond it to enjoy many of the benefits of ‘astral travel’, including meeting deceased loved ones, visiting with spirit guides, learning about past lives, rescuing lost souls, visiting the higher dimensions and more.
The experience so completely transformed my life that I couldn’t believe everybody didn’t know about this! So I began a quest to educate and inform whoever I could about the OBE and the worlds just waiting to be explored. I quickly found out that many people are frightened of going out of body. Many people don’t even believe it’s possible. The single most common question I am asked is: How do you know you’re not just dreaming? How do you know it’s real? And so I discovered that scepticism and fear are perhaps the main reasons why this subject has not been more fully embraced.
Here I shall present some of the best evidence supporting the reality of the OBE. My focus will be on corroboration in anecdotal accounts, and an examination of why anecdotal evidence should not be dismissed outright when it comes to OBEs. In this way I hope to reduce the fear and scepticism surrounding this subject and let everyone know that not only is the OBE real and safe, it can also have profoundly beneficial effects in one’s physical life.
The obvious question is: How does one prove the reality of an out-of-body event – an experience which seems to be wholly subjective? One cannot exactly bring back an artifact from the ‘astral planes’ to study in a laboratory setting. While out-of-body, one is in the situation of a ghost, seemingly unable to affect the physical environment in any way.
While this is true for most people, there are exceptions. In rare cases, OBErs have been able to obtain evidence that their experiences are real and/or affect the physical environment. Without getting too philosophical, it might be useful to define the word ‘real’, in the context of this subject. Many people might consider anything that’s not physical to be not real. For example, how real are our dreams? Can they be defined as not real? And if dreams aren’t real, how can one say that OBEs are real? Clearly, we are dealing with a tricky subject here.
I think we can safely say that dreams, while they don’t occur in physical reality, are real in the sense that they are actually experienced, as are OBEs. The difference with OBEs, is that – unlike dreams – they can sometimes be validated in a way that affects or overlaps into the physical world. In other words, there is evidence that can be found in the physical world supporting the objective reality of subjective non-physical experiences. The evidence falls into four main types.
The most common is corroboration. In these cases, OBErs visit a location or person and later obtain information that could only have been obtained at the location. Also common are cases involving psychic effects. Numerous OBErs who travel to the so-called astral planes have episodes of precognition, clairvoyance, and other psychic episodes which have a direct bearing on their physical lives. Less common are cases involving physical manifestations. While the secondary (or astral) body experienced in OBEs may seem non-physical, some experiencers have appeared as an apparition in front of independent witnesses, or have manipulated the physical environment in a variety of ways. The fourth type of evidence encompasses physiological effects. In these cases, OBErs note physiological improvements as a result of their journeys, including healings of a wide variety of illnesses.
The first three types of cases will be examined here. We will focus on different types of evidence with a primary focus on physical manifestations and corroboration. Further, a brief model of physical/astral interactions will be proposed, in which it is suggested that out-of-body states may be able to influence physical reality as an overlay effect. Although this theory is highly speculative, the preliminary evidence gathered here shows a strong likelihood of OBErs being able to interact with and influence the physical environment in a mind-over-matter fashion. If true, this form of evidence could well shape the ‘best case’ scenarios in future experiments, where OBErs willingly aim to engage with or interact with their physical environments.
Corroboration Cases: A Compelling Glimpse Into The OBE?
Corroborative anecdotes abound in OBE literature. It could be argued that virtually every advanced OBEr has experienced going to a location out-of-body and then returning there and confirming his/her observations. In fact, such cases are so common that they could be called a consistent feature of an OBE. Some of the cases are very compelling and most books on the subject present at least a few examples.
Pioneering OBEr, Sylvan Muldoon (1929), has received personal proof on numerous occasions. As he writes, “This is nothing unusual to do, while consciously projected. I have often gone into houses, and noted the things–later going there in the physical and seeing everything exactly as I saw it in the astral”.
Yram (1972), an OBEr from France, writes that he projected to a friend’s house “hundreds of miles away”. He carefully noted the details and then returned to his body. Then, says Yram, “I wrote to the individual in question, giving details of what I had seen so many miles away and, two months later, received full confirmation”.
Albert Taylor (1996) was able to obtain proof of projection on his very first attempt. In March of 1993, he went out of his body and started by exploring his neighbourhood. Suddenly he found himself drawn to the home of an acquaintance, Doctor H. Later that week he spoke with Doctor H, who recalled dreaming about Taylor on the night he had visited. Taylor then proceeded to describe her bedroom in detail. The doctor was impressed and told Taylor that everything he said was correct. Amazed, Taylor was inspired to continue his explorations out of body.
Literally hundreds of other similarly persuasive cases could be listed when it comes to gathering anecdotal evidence for verifiable OBEs. However, the problem with this type of evidence is that it is wholly circumstantial and derives from a single source. What about the possibility of coincidence or outright fabrication? While circumstantial evidence can be convincing, do these types of cases truly constitute proof?
While these types of cases might not convince a skeptic, certainly they constitute a strong degree of proof to the people who experience them. When an OBEr is able to describe a location in accurate detail, the most logical explanation is to conclude that they have been there. And given the enormous number of cases, this alone is perhaps the strongest indicator that the OBE is a real phenomenon and that OBErs physically visit these locations. A small number of cases like this would be enticing, but the fact that there are hundreds leaves little room for the possibility of fabrication or coincidence.
One of the most exciting and baffling effects of the OBE is the activation of a seeming ‘psi faculties’ and non-physical mental potentials. Almost without exception, advanced OBErs in particular find that they have suddenly become endowed with clairvoyance, precognition, telepathy, and numerous other phenomena. These are experiences that occur during waking physical life that, as theorised here, appear to be the result of a direct bleed-through or overlapping of the astral dimensions. Through repeated travel, the OBEr somehow alters (or raises) their awareness to a level that appears to allow for physical-astral interactions (and vice versa).
This occurrence is so common that, like corroboration, it provides an indicator to the reality of the OBE. While these events might be considered a therapeutic benefit of OBEs, they also provide examples in which the OBE (a non-physical experience) affects the OBEr in a physical way, during their waking life. In that respect, such experience provide a type of evidence that rises beyond subjectivity and affects not only the OBEr and his waking life, but sometimes other people. Hundreds of cases could be listed. The following represent only a small portion of examples.
Telepathy, a psi effect in which a person can communicate with another’s mind without verbally speaking, is often reported during an OBE. As with other psychic abilities, telepathic communication can also occur while in the physical realm. A good example of this is Yram’s (1972) case. Yram on one occasion experienced telepathy while in the physical world. Yram writes, “I once received thoughts from a distance of ten thousand miles as loudly as if someone had shouted them in my ear. Surprised at such a result, I sprang up to see who was standing beside me”.
Perhaps the most common psi effect is precognition. Oliver Fox (1962) reported that he began having precognitive dreams shortly before he began having OBEs. “Now and then it would happen that a dream possessed real prophetic significance, but only in connection with trivial matters”. He apparently experienced these precognitive dreams regularly throughout his life. In 1920, Fox wrote an article for the ‘Occult Review’ detailing several of his precognitive dreams.
Albert Taylor (1996) had two consecutive OBEs in which he saw an image of Stonehenge. One week afterward, he was excited to receive a book he had ordered. “I tore off the paper and was shocked by the cover”, writes Taylor. “A picture of Stonehenge covered the book. Remembering my last two OBEs, I began to feel a weird tingling sensation creeping up my spine. What the heck was this about?”. Taylor, like many OBErs, was coming to terms with the fact that his OBEs were affecting him in the physical world.
In one of Robert Peterson’s (1997) anecdotes, he writes: “As I continued to practice out-of-body experiences, I had more and more psychic experiences. And I was trying to deny it all. I didn’t consider myself psychic, but psychic experiences kept piling up, one upon another, forcing me to admit that I had psychic abilities.”
These psi effects appear to be some type of bleed-through from the astral plane, a ‘higher’ dimension of consciousness that overlays the ‘physical plane’ that many OBErs seem to project into. These psychic abilities may appear incredible in the physical dimensions, but in the astral dimension they are normal.
Flying, telepathy, and peering into the future or the past are natural occurrences in the astral plane. Somehow, repeated travel opens a doorway between the dimensions, and the abilities one has on the astral planes begin to translate into the physical world. At this stage we can only speculate as to what this bleed-through or overlapping means, or why and how it occurs. What we can surmise, however – based on ever-increasing anecdotes to support the case – is that repeated OBEs appears to strengthen the connection between the physical plane and the so-called astral planes.
Perhaps the most intriguing aspect of the OBE is that in which people have been able to physically manifest, in some cases being seen by those who they visit, in others actually affecting the physical environment, sometimes in astounding ways. While rare, these types of cases show us that it is possible to build a bridge between the physical and non-physical worlds. They also provide compelling evidence that OBEs are real and contain the potential to affect the physical environment in a wide variety of profound ways.
Again, in the below examples we will rely primarily on accounts from OBE adepts who have had extensive experiences, such as Robert Monroe, Sylvan Muldoon, Marilynn Hughes, and others.
Muldoon (1903-1969) was born in Wisconsin, and had his first OBE at age thirteen. More experiences followed, leading him eventually to contact psychical researcher Hereward Carrington. Muldoon (1929) was one of the first modern writers to write a book about his own OBE. From the very start of his out-of-body explorations, he experienced a wide variety of physical manifestations. The first were mysterious knocking noises or raps which usually occurred immediately following his OBEs. One evening he woke up following a lucid dream and found himself in a state of sleep paralysis. After three minutes, he was able to move and wake up. Then, as Muldoon writes:
About two seconds later a loud rap sounded–as if someone had struck the iron of the bed a blow with a heavy mallet. The noise was so loud that I ducked, as it rather frightened me…These physical manifestations are certainly interesting–to me, at least–as I never before experienced such things. But then, neither have I ever tried; these things came about by themselves.
Later Muldoon was able to produce physical raps at will, while still in a disembodied state. Often, OBErs find themselves totally unable to affect the physical world. Muldoon writes, “I have tried to move things while projected and conscious, but never could”.
Then one evening he lay in bed and dreamed that he was in the next room. In his dream, he decided to start a device called a metronome. Suddenly, the dream ended and he woke up. At that exact moment, the metronome, which was in the other room, started by itself. Muldoon writes:
There is no possible way that device can start itself; further, it has stood on the table for months without it being used. It seemed that no sooner had I touched it–in the dream–than I awoke and heard it start clicking in the next room.
For some bizarre reason, the metronome didn’t start moving until after Muldoon had returned to his body. Muldoon was unable to account for this curious time discrepancy. Time, as cases of precognition have shown, flows differently on the astral plane. Muldoon writes, “I wonder if it is possible to do something of that sort: to try and move something in the astral body, and not have it move until some time after the astral body has left it?”.
A few days later, the same experience occurred again. Muldoon dreamed about moving the metronome and woke up seconds later to find the metronome in motion. Muldoon became convinced that the astral body has the power to move objects, but it appeared to be beyond his ability to consciously control.
Later his most dramatic experience of this type occurred. In February 1928, Muldoon was very sick in bed and was too weak to call for help. He tried to crawl out of bed and fainted, then found himself out-of-body. At this point, he floated upstairs and found his mother and brother lying in bed. He experienced a gap in awareness, then saw that his mother and brother were lying on the floor. He heard them discussing how the mattress had been lifted off the bed and thrown them to the floor. At this point, Muldoon was pulled back into his body.
Muldoon called for his mother who ran into the room and told him excitedly how the mattress had lifted up by what she assumed were spirits. Muldoon writes, “She said that they had lifted it not once but several times, and she confessed that she was terrified for a moment”.
On several occasions, Muldoon has physically manifested to outside witnesses while out-of-body. In November 1881, he went out-of-body and visited two friends with the expressed purpose of “making my presence perceptible”. Muldoon also writes:
On the following Thursday I went to see the ladies in question, and, in the course of my conversation, without any allusion to the subject on my part, the elder one told me that on the previous Sunday night she had been much terrified by perceiving me standing by her bedside, and that she screamed when the apparition advanced toward her, and woke her little sister, who also saw me.
Muldoon was able to repeat this experiment with different witnesses. He also reports that on several occasions, he returned from his OBEs with such a high level of energy that he felt he might physically levitate. Muldoon states, “I always felt invigorated–sometimes even to the extent that, upon awakening, I actually believed I could fly off the ground”. Unfortunately, he was never able to do so.
Muldoon’s case may sound extreme, but it is far from unique. In fact, many advanced travellers who go out of body often report experiences of a very similar nature.
Finding one’s self in an immaterial body can be a disconcerting experience. Being ‘non-physical’ can be a difficult concept to grasp. One of the first instincts for many OBErs is to try to move physical objects.
Yram (1972) began his experiments by trying to move a piece of paper while projected. He writes of one incident: “Nothing distracted my attention. Remembering what I had decided to do I went towards the chest of drawers but saw two pieces of paper instead of one. I picked up both of them and put them on the bed”.
Yram then flew around and later returned to his body. “I opened my eyes, wrote down the details of the experiment and, looking up, noted that the piece of paper had not moved from the chest of drawers where I had originally put it”.
Another experiment produced equally dismal results. In a projected state, Yram blew on the piece of paper and noted its position. However, upon return to the physical body he saw that “the piece of paper had not moved at all”.
Yram had already found that the density of his astral body varied with certain projections. As he says, recalling one projection:
I was well out of my body and proceeded to carry out, in my room, the experiments I had in mind. As it happened, on that day my astral double was more condensed than usual. In order to change to another dimension I tried to pass through the walls of the room, but found that they resisted my efforts. When I tried harder to only managed to produce a pain in my forehead and had to resort to the astral opening of a window before my first projection could have its way.
Yram believes that the answer to manipulating the physical environment may lie in this direction. “Ever since I began these experiments I have noted the possibility of projecting a double whose density would vary considerably, bringing in its wake all sorts of experimental powers and possibilities”.
Yram did experience one remarkable physical effect. On several occasions, he would return from his OBEs with such an increased sensation of energy that, like Muldoon, he felt he should be able to physically fly. On at least one occasion, he apparently nearly did. Yram writes:
The following instance is rather unusual. I slept for six hours and awakened in an apparently normal state. As soon as I had risen, I felt extraordinarily light. I felt as if I were walking on air and my legs were moving far too quickly. At first this amused me. I had the impression of being in an intermediary condition between earth and a less material substance, and this form of disequilibrium was new to me. At last, I remembered my social obligations and, walking down on the street, boarded a tram. This semi-exteriorization had not come to an end, though, and it somewhat diminished my nervous sensitivity. It therefore happened that on stepping off the tram, I was nearly run over. No longer having a full control over my body, I still had the feeling of walking on air. On stepping off the tram it seemed as if a chasm were opening at my feet, and I reacted violently in order to keep my balance. All this took scarcely a second. Anyone looking on would only have seen me take a few steps faster than was necessary. I did not fall, but the vividness of the impressions which I experienced in so minute a fraction of time is beyond imagination. At all events, I do not consider that such states of spontaneous levitation are to be encouraged.
Marilynn Hughes is one of today’s leading practitioners of out-of-body travel. She has written a fascinating series of books about her own personal experiences while out of the body, which began shortly following the birth of her first child. She has also experienced numerous highly mystical experiences involving precognition, miraculous healing and other phenomenal events, including at least two recorded dramatic episodes of physical levitation.
One evening in the late 1990s, Marilyn was in bed having just returned from a major OBE journey. Suddenly, she felt strong energetic vibrations pulsing through her body. Hughes (2003) writes:
A massive energy surge overtook my body, thousands of times stronger than I’d ever felt before. Scared, I’d never felt anything like this, but suddenly, my whole body and spirit lifted up out of bed, beginning to fly around the room. ‘It is possible!’ I screamed out, trying to get Andy’s attention, but he was deeply asleep…For the next hour or so, the energy beam came and went, taking me on bodily flights around the room.
A few years later, Hughes experienced a repeat of this. Again, she was lying in her bedroom meditating when she sensed (but could not see) the presence of two spirits. She felt that the spirits were performing some type of “energetic adjustment” on her body. Evidently, the adjustment was effective, because Hughes found herself promptly levitated.
Suddenly, two spirits were lifting my body and soul up off the bed, as I began levitating. What wonder! What malaise! It was so spectacular; I cannot even fathom the words to tell! As my body and soul floated about the room in the hands of my unseen quests, I awaited the end of this levitation to bid them with a question. Lasting for about five minutes, they slowly began lowering my body onto the bed.
At this stage, Hughes asked for the invisible spirits to reveal themselves. She saw two glowing human-looking figures quickly appear and disappear, one male and one female. Although there are other explanations for these experiences, such as having a very vivid OBE that seemed to overlay with the physical experience of levitation, the accounts are compelling in their own right.
Excerpt from Consciousness Beyond The Body: Evidence And Reflections
See Part II here.
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