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.-Inner Voice
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 the reader 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 will-power, 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 byproduct: 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.(1) 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 story telling. 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 really 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 re-entering the body. A fitting analogy is when someone trains to become a pilot; he or she spends hour after hour doing "touchdowns" to practice takeoff and landing procedures.
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 re-read and re-proof 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 non-physical 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 my 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. 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 far-away 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 instantly 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 my own crude form of experimentation? What have I encountered on the journey and, more importantly, what lessons have I learned? That is the subject matter of this new book.
Professor Charles Tart, the famous OBE researcher who did laboratory experiments on Robert Monroe and other OBE experiencers, once wrote:
Iím very impressed by the two answers regarding the purpose of life given by people who have had near-death experiences. From their mystical 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.
My entire life has been an affirmation of Professor Tartís statement. Iíve 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 One is about the spiritual lessons Iíve learned, both in the body and out of it. Part Two is educational, with out-of-body information and techniques for people who want to have their own OBEs.
1. Gabbard and Twemlow, page 40, "...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."