[an error occurred while processing this directive] ZEPHYR Magazine
                              T H E
  
                           Z E P H Y R
  
                  __     M A G A Z I N E
                 {__]++++++++++++++++++++++++++[] 
                 Issue #40                5-26-87
 
            A weekly electronic magazine for users of 
                        THE ZEPHYR II BBS 
                    (Mesa, AZ - 602-894-6526)
                owned and operated by T. H. Smith
 
                    Editor - Gene B. Williams 
 
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                            (c) 1987
  
THIS ISSUE:

   My apologies for the long absence. Most of you know that I 
make my living as a writer. Well, deadlines have been really 
keeping me crunched, and since it IS the way I pay the bills, 
those had to come first.
   Fortunately, Steve Jackson came to the rescue by submitting 
this issue's piece. The subject is astral travel - one bound to 
stir some conversation that probably belongs more on Sore-ing 
Spirits or Plato's Republic, but which has ended up here anyway. 


                     OUT-OF-BODY EXPERIENCES

                               by

                          Steve Jackson


                          Introduction

   It has been a long day, and you're tired.  You come home, 
nearly doze off in front of the television set, then wander down 
the hall and plop on your bed expecting to fall asleep in an 
instant.  But - suddenly and mysteriously - you find yourself 
paralyzed.  Gushing sounds fill your ears.  Bright flashes of 
light flicker under your closed eyelids.  Then you feel as if you 
are beginning to float.
   A moment later, you open your eyes and find yourself hovering 
above your body.  You are floating in the air!  You are able to 
examine your physical body and everything else in the room from 
this viewpoint and independent perspective.  Your mind seems 
totally released from the confines of the body and you feel a 
freedom and expanded sense of awareness you have never before 
experienced.  But just as you are beginning to orient yourself to 
this new and novel state of being, you have a momentary 
"blackout."  Within a fraction of a second, you "awake" back 
inside your body.
   If this has ever happened to you, you are not alone.  The 
experience may have been frightening, transcendent, or merely 
puzzling.  But it was not unique.  Millions of people have 
undergone this strange adventure, which has been variously called 
astral projection, out-of-body travel, and a host of other 
things.(1)
   "It is unfortunately true, however, that the classic out-of-
body experience (or OBE for short) does vaguely resemble certain 
phenomena studied in psychiatry and abnormal psychology.  A 
psychiatrist reading the above account might classify it as an 
example of depersonalization (a feeling that the self is no 
longer real), distortion of body image (where the sense of the 
body's boundaries become confused), or autoscopy (the seeing of 
one's own apparition).  The OBE is markedly different from these 
anomalies of perception in one great - and vastly important - 
way, however.  It is often veridical, or truth telling.  In other 
words, if you were to 'leave the body' and travel to a location 
miles away, you might be able to correctly see what was going on 
there!  This aspect of OBE takes it out of the hands of the 
psychiatrist and into those of the parapsychologist and those 
scientists who study the strange byways of psychic phenomena."(2)

               What Is An Out-Of-Body-Experience?

   What exactly is an out-of-body Experience?  In short, an OBE 
is the projection of the "I" consciousness into an area of space.  
It is the ability to move one's own psyche from the body (where 
it may or may not normally reside) outside of the body.  In this 
state, the projected individual has a great sense of increased 
perceptions.  All normal sensory functions become quite 
magnified.  Yet, the individual "knows" that the normal means of 
receiving these perceptions somehow do not exist in this state.  
In this state of being, nothing more than a pinpoint of 
conscious awareness, an individual can hear, see, and sometimes 
feel, all while knowing they do not possess ears, eyes, or hands.  
   The following, from the well known astral projector Robert 
Monroe, best summarizes the situation at hand:

   "In our action-orientated society, when a man lies down to 
sleep, he is effectively out of the picture.  He will lie still 
for six to eight hours, so he is not 'behaving,' 'thinking 
productively,' or doing anything significant.  We all know that 
people dream, but we raise our children to regard dreams and 
other experiences occurring during sleep as unimportant, as not 
real in the way that the events of the day are.  Thus most people 
are in the habit of forgetting their dreams, and, on the 
occasions when they do remember them, they usually regard them as 
mere oddities."(3)

   If we look for scientific sources for information about OBEs 
we find practically none at all.  Scientists have rarely paid any 
attention to these phenomena.  The situation is rather similar to 
that of the scientific literature on extrasensory perception 
(ESP).  Phenomena such as telepathy, clairvoyance, precognition, 
and psychokinesis are "impossible" in terms of the current 
physical world view.  Since they can't happen, most scientist do 
not bother to read the evidence indicating that they do happen; 
hence, not having read the evidence, their belief in the 
impossibility of such phenomena is reinforced.  This kind of 
circular reasoning in support of one's comfortable belief system 
is not unique to scientists by any means, but it has resulted in 
very little scientific research on ESP or OBEs.  
   In spite of the lack of "hard" scientific data, there are 
still a number of definite conclusions one can make from reading 
what material there is.  
   First, OBEs are a universal human experience, not in the sense 
that they happen to large numbers of people, but in that they 
have happened all through reported history, and there are marked 
similarities in the experience among people who are otherwise 
extremely different in terms of cultural background.  One can 
find reports of OBEs by housewives in Kansas which closely 
resemble accounts of OBEs from ancient Egyptian or Oriental 
sources.  
   Second, the OBE is generally a once-in-a-lifetime experience, 
seemingly experienced by "accident".  Illnesses sometimes bring 
it about, especially illnesses which are almost fatal.  Great 
emotional stress sometimes brings it about.  In many cases, it 
simply happens during sleep without our having any idea of what 
might have caused it.  In very rare instances it seems to have 
been brought about by a deliberate attempt.  
   Third, the experience of a OBE is usually one of the most 
profound experiences of a person's life, and radically alters his 
beliefs.  This is usually expressed as, "I no longer believe in 
the death of the immortal soul, I know that I will survive 
physical death."  The person feels that he has directly 
experienced being alive and conscious without his physical body, 
and therefore knows that he possesses some kind of soul that will 
survive bodily death.  This does not logically follow, for even 
if the OBE is more than just an interesting dream or 
hallucination, it was still occurring while the physical body was 
alive and functioning and therefore may depend on the physical 
body.  This argument, however, makes no impression on those who 
have actually had an OBE.  Thus regardless of what position one 
wants to take on the "reality" of the OBE, it is clearly an 
experience deserving considerable psychological study.  I am 
certain that our ideas concerning the existence of souls have 
resulted from early experiences of people having OBEs.  
   Considering the importance of the idea of the soul to most of 
our religions, and the importance of religion in people's lives, 
it seems incredible that science could have swept this problem 
under the rug so easily.
   Fourth, the OBE is generally extremely joyful to those who 
have it.  I would make a rough estimate that between 90 and 95% 
of the people who have this experience are very glad it occurred 
and find it joyful, while 5% are very frightened by it, for the 
only way they can interpret it, while it is happening, is that 
they are dying.  Later reactions of the person as he attempts to 
interpret his OBE can be rather negative, however.  Almost every 
time I give a speech on this subject, someone comes up to me 
afterwards and thanks me for talking about it.  They had had the 
experience sometime before, but had no way of explaining it, and 
worry that they were going "crazy".
   Fifth, in some instances of OBEs the description of what was 
happening at a distant place is correct and more accurate than we 
would expect by coincidence.  Not the majority, by any means, but 
some.  To explain these we must postulate either that the 
"hallucinatory" experience of the OBE was combined with the 
operation of ESP, or that in some sense the person really was 
'there.'  The OBE then becomes very real indeed.(4)
   Unfortunately for our peace of mind, there are thousands of 
instances, recorded by normal people, of exactly this sort of 
occurrence.  We are not dealing with a purely hypothetical 
situation.
   Such events have been termed traveling clairvoyance, astral 
projection, or, a more scientific term, out-of-the-body 
experiences (OBEs).  We can formally define an OBE an event in 
which the experiencer (1) seems to perceive some portion of some 
environment which could not possibly be perceived from where his 
physical body is known to be at the time; and (2) knows at the 
time that he is not dreaming or fantasizing.  The experiencer 
seems to possess his normal consciousness at the time, and even 
though he may reason that this cannot be happening, we will feel 
all his normal critical faculties to be present, and so knows he 
is not dreaming.  Further, he will not decide after awakening 
that this was a dream.(5)

                        Where Do You Go?

   Where do you go in an OBE?  As perhaps a standard, nearly all 
individuals report being right next to their own bodies.  They 
are here where we all are yet in an invisible state.  Another 
report from individuals who have had OBEs report to be able to 
permeate matter.  They simply act as invisible ghosts walking 
through doors, or walls.  After the initial step of projection 
from the body and seeing ones own self, accounts vary and 
differentiate.  It is quite likely that the idividual is in an 
after death state since many astral projectors, such as Robert 
Monroe in his book FAR JOURNEYS report seeing and speaking with 
deceased ones, roaming areas of great joy or bliss, and speaking 
with beings who appear to be everything from your next door 
neighbor type to angels. 

            Whoever Said You Were In the Body Anyway?

   Who said you were in a body to begin with?  "Some cultures 
hold the belief that people function from their hearts; our 
culture seems to hold to the belief that we function from inside 
our brains or heads.  If the living entity can be thought of as 
being located in the heart or brain, is it not just as easy to 
think of it as outside the body - operating the body from a foot 
above the head or any other location that feels right?  
   Philosophical materialists adhere to the idea that we are in 
bodies and therefore identical with them.  Many theories have 
been put forward as to how the mind and body are interrelated.  
Present-day philosopher Michael Grosso suggests as a possible 
conceptualization of the mind-body problem that one always was 
out of the body and that the paranormal OBE represents one type 
of empirically dramatic and self-certifying instance of becoming 
fully conscious of the fact.
   Another Philosopher, C.J. Ducasse, concluded twenty years ago 
that "the soul is not in the body, but the body is in, and 
dependant upon, the soul, which precedes and survives it, and 
whose force gives form and organization to the matter of which 
the body is composed."(6)
   Finally, the subject is best summarized by Swami Satchidananda 
who states:

   "Our belief that we are identical with our bodies is 
contradicted by our language.  If we are in the body and 
identical with it, why do we use the possessive "my" when we 
speak of it?  We speak of it as something we own, not something 
we are.  With our belief that we are in the body, it would be 
more appropriate to say, "I hurt up here," than our usual comment 
that "my head hurts."(7)

                           Conclusion

   In conclusion, the study of the phenomena of astral projection 
is still very much an infant stage.  Many individuals have 
written books on their astral projection experiences.  There have 
certainly been a few great pioneers in the field to excite 
scientific research and study.  Many write books on the subject 
to help and guide others experiencing the same phenomena.  Robert 
Monroe wrote his books on OBEs exactly for this purpose.  At the 
beginning of Jouneys Out of the Body he clearly states his books 
and research institute are to help people who feel there is 
something psychologically wrong with them because they have OBEs.  
It is interesting to note, that he wonders how many individuals 
being treated by psychologists are in therapy or institutionalized 
because they have had similar experiences.  As society moves on 
and realizes we do not live on a left brain alone, and we exist 
in more than a mechanistic universe the idea of having an OBE, 
and traveling to the spirit or astral realm will become a viable 
natural gift.  
   "The OBE is a unique phenomenon that can teach us much about 
the nature of life and reality.  One of the OBEs most fundamental 
values is what it teaches about our minds and spiritual 
nature...I am talking of the use of the OBE to explore new levels 
of reality, new dimensions of time and space within the universe.  
All of the great astral projectors have been aware of these 
spheres of existence, these 'higher worlds,' and have glimpsed 
them, Hugh Callaway, Marcel Louis Forham, Robert Monroe, J.H.M. 
Whiteman, and many others have described these parallel worlds 
and spiritual dimensions in their autobiographies.  Some have 
been able to interact with their residents."(8)
   "The lessons we can learn from all this information is pretty 
obvious...The universe and its various dimensions cannot be 
studied merely by the cold art of scientific measurements and 
statistics.  It can be studied only by those who have experienced 
the various domains of the cosmos at first hand."(9) 
  "Learning the byways of time and space may turn the normal 
world of the five senses a bit topsy-turvy.  But when one embarks 
on what is essentially a spiritual quest, that is a small price 
to pay."(10)

Footnotes

1.  Rogo, Scott D, "Leaving the Body," (New Jersey: Prentice-Hall, 1983): 
   p. 1: Good book on different techniques to induce an OBE.
2.  Ibid. p. 1,2
3.  Monroe, Robert A, "Journeys Out of the Body," (New York: Anchor       
     Books, 1977): p. 5: Excellent book on personal studies and research
into the Astral Plane.
4.  Ibid. p. 7,8,9
5.  Ibid. p. 7
6.  Mitchell, Janet Lee, "Out-Of-Body-Experiences," (North Carolina:
MacFarland & Company, 1981): p. 76:  Good book explaining in detail OBEs
and what to expect if you do induce an OBE.
7.  Ibid. p. 77
8.  Rogo, Scott D. Ibid.  p. 174
9.  Ibid. p. 182
10.  Ibid p. 183


EDITOR'S NOTE (from Gene)

   Undoubtedly, quite a few of our users have had an experience 
much like that mentioned in this week's article. You might have 
ignored it, passed it off as a dream, . . . or did it really 
happen? 
   Closely related are near-death experiences. A very close friend 
of mine was declared dead twice. The first time, he was in his 
late teens. He was playing football and received a particularly 
hard crack on the head. When he "awoke" he was standing in the 
crowd looking over the doctor's shoulder - at himself. He heard 
the doctor saying that the boy was dead. As they started to load 
the body into the ambulance, he felt himself yanked "back inside" 
and opened his eyes. The scene was precisely what he'd seen while 
"disembodied."
   Did *that* happen? Or was it stimulated by the concussion?
   The major problem is that such experiences are very personal. 
It happens to the individual alone and cannot easily be shared 
except by telling about it later. (In other words, two people 
don't seem able "project" and go traveling together.)
   The experiences can't be measured or quantified. Nor can they 
be called up on demand. Worse, a common excuse (or explanation, 
depending on your point of view) is that the experience is not at 
all conducive to a laboratory situation.
   It's not unusual for a person to want to *be* unusual. Being 
able to claim, "Hey, I leave my body and go traveling around," 
can make a person feel powerful and/or unique. Some claim that 
this motive can be powerful enough that the individual could fool 
himself or herself.
   And then on top of all that, making matters even worse yet, are 
all the flakes, frauds, charlatans and downright liars in the 
variety of "psychic" fields.
   It's easy - even necessary - to be skeptical. Even of your 
own experiences. In my personal opinion, it's also necessary 
to keep an open mind. 
   Not all true things can be absolutely proven to be true; and 
lack of concrete evidence doesn't necessarily mean that the 
thing in question is therefore automatically false. 
   Think of something simple - germs. There was a very long time 
in our history where the existence of things like germs was 
denied. You can't see them. Until relatively recently, our 
science wasn't advanced sufficiently to measure or quantify. 
   Many made the mistake that since germs couldn't be absolutely 
and concretely proved to exist, they therefore didn't exist. At 
several points in our history it was considered heresy - even 
blasphemy - to claim that germs made people sick.
   At the same time, there have been many things in our history 
that were claimed to be true without evidence, and often with 
the usual, "Our science isn't advanced enough to measure it" 
excuse. Then science caught up, was able to measure it, and then 
prove the idea to have been false all along.
   It works both ways.
   The die-hard skeptic who never believes anything that can't 
be demonstrated and measured before his own eyes (if then) is no 
more - and just as much - a fool as the person who blindly accepts 
an idea just because it's interesting, fun or comfortable.
   That works both ways, too.


UNTIL NEXT TIME

   For those keeping track, I've just finished book #9 for Chilton. 
This one is on home video equipment, with a concentration on video 
cameras and the related peripherals. 
   Excuse the bragging - my earlier book, "Chilton's Guide to VCR 
Repair and Maintenance," (third in the series) has been listed as 
the #1 best seller in the "technical" category. Needless to say, I'm 
rather proud of that. It's just a category, and a fairly small one 
at that. You won't see it in Basha's or Circle K. But getting a "#1" 
in anything is rather nice.
   At the moment I have two books and a new series of books all 
under negotiation; plus the usual efforts towards magazine writing. 
So you can see that things are busy, busy, busy.

   As I started saying, deadlines have kept me from doing new 
issues for over a month. Now the deadlines are taken care of, and 
Steve's article gave me one more bit of relief. As of this posting, 
I have not only this issue but also another of my own, plus a 
couple other guest issues promised.
   So, things should flow smoothly for a while.
   Even so, if you have dreams and/or desires to be a writer, or 
to see your name in "print" (if only as a glowing letter on a 
screen), contact me in E-mail with your article or story idea. 
 

Zephyr Magazine is © Gene Williams. All rights reserved.