Beliefs Blown to Bits

After my experience with the vibrations, I got up out of bed and walked out into the living room to tell somebody, anybody, that it was all real. My mom was in bed sleeping already, and my dad was asleep in his favorite chair in front of the television, and I didn't want to wake him. I walked into the kitchen and got a glass of water, occasionally shaking my arms and legs to make sure I was completely inside my body. After a few minutes I walked back to my bedroom and lay down, but I could not sleep. I could not stop thinking about the encounter and its implications.

First, it was the most terrifying experience of my life. It felt like the vibrations were harming my body, and the roaring, hissing sound only scared me more. I had confronted mankind's two biggest fears: fear of the unknown and fear of death. My scientific self couldn't make any scientific sense out of the experience--it was not part of the physical universe that I knew. I tried to think about it based on my Catholic beliefs that insisted I could only leave my body if I died. Did I just have a close encounter with death? After several hours of trying to make sense out of the experience, I fell asleep without any answers.

I spent the next day arguing with myself about the experience. My whole belief system was blown to pieces. Seeing is believing, and I could not deny that I had experienced the vibrations, the hissing sound, the paralysis and the blue ring of energy. I even "saw" through my closed eyelids. I knew I was not hallucinating, I was not insane, I was not dreaming and I was not under hypnosis. My experience was very "real" to me, as real as my normal waking consciousness, if not more real than that.

My first observation was that some kind of nonphysical reality existed. That observation was a direct contradiction of my scientific beliefs because science had been leading me to believe there was no such thing as a nonphysical reality.

Furthermore, I reasoned, Einstein's theory of relativity says that matter is the same as energy. If a person could consciously leave their body and enter a truly nonphysical world, they wouldn't exactly be "matter," or "energy" as we know it. Science left no room for "consciousness" or "spirit" in their formulas. Science led me to believe that there were only three basic dimensions of experience (plus time) and five senses. Everything else was labeled superstition, nonsense, hallucination or possibly religion.

There is a fact of logic that when a premise is wrong, any conclusions made from that premise are also wrong. Since I had discovered a premise of science that was wrong, or at the very best incomplete, I deduced that many or all of the conclusions made by modern science were also wrong. At the very least, they were ignoring some major facts.

My own scientific training had led me to distrust science itself! I could no longer trust the textbooks I loved as a child! Nevertheless, I believe that if a system works, it is okay to use it until you find something that works better. I decided that I would still use the scientific method as a tool but never completely trust science again. Meanwhile, the only thing I could do to find peace of mind was to try to induce more out-of-body experiences and learn more about the nonphysical world.

My inner turmoil didn't end with my scientific belief system. I was Catholic. And that caused its own complications.

The Catholic system taught me to believe in one "Heaven," one "Hell" and one Earth. On judgment day, they said, God judges a person to be either "good" or "bad." The people labeled "bad" go to hell forever, and the people labeled "good" go to heaven forever. And of course, until you die, you spend your days on earth.

I could guess what the Catholics would say about a nonphysical reality. The liberal Catholics would probably say that I was being absurd, and they had science to back them up. Fundamentalists would probably say that any such experience must surely be the work of the Devil, trying to lead my soul into sin.

Still, I refused to believe I was being tricked: Seeing is believing. I had seen that a nonphysical place existed and it wasn't "heaven" or "hell." Therefore, I had also found a basic premise of Catholicism that was wrong. I decided not to trust what the Catholics had taught me because they were just as ignorant of this nonphysical world as I had been.

I continued going to church for a while, but I started an intense examination of my Catholic beliefs. Hoping to find some answers, I found a Bible that I got as a confirmation gift, and I read the entire New Testament and much of the Old Testament. The Bible convinced me that Jesus was a good man, and taught good lessons. In fact, I agreed with everything that Jesus was supposed to have said.

But even what I read in the Bible didn't agree with my Catholic belief system! Heavy questions nagged in my heart. Why does the Catholic church insist that Jesus is the son of God, when Jesus called himself the "son of man" repeatedly? Why do they pray, "Lord, I am not worthy to receive you" then immediately they receive him? Why do they pray for their own petty interests instead of entrusting that God would take care of the world? Why do they preach about needing to fear God? Why do they hold carnivals and bingo games when Jesus said not to use a place of worship in these ways, and even kicked moneychangers out of a temple? Why, indeed, do they pass a money plate in church? Why do they spend millions and millions of dollars on grandiose churches-- have you ever seen St. Peters Basilica? --when people are starving? Why do they call the pope, "our holy father" when Jesus said not to call anyone father (Matthew 23:9)? Why do the Catholics go to church and pray in public when Jesus said, "when you pray, go into a room by yourself...in your secret place" (Matthew 6:5). Why do people go to church on Sunday and are unspiritual the rest of the week? It seemed wrong that, as a Catholic, going to church was my obligation and, once fulfilled, I was free to be as mundane and unspiritual as I wanted. Just one out-of-body experience blasted that whole hypocritical concept out of the water: During my OBE, I saw that I was a spiritual being--in fact, I was a spirit--and the thought of dying without some real relationship with God was scary. Before my OBE, it was enough to recite prayers I didn't even understand. After my OBE, it was clear I needed to do more.

Eventually I came to realize that my Catholic belief system was not spiritual at all. The closer I looked, the more I understood. So I stopped going to church and embarked on a truly spiritual path. I don't mean to imply that all Catholics are unspiritual. It's just that I needed to find my own answers.

Since my OBE taught me to have a real concern with spiritual matters, I realized that my OBE had taught me to be more spiritual, not less. I decided that God would not send me to hell for leaving the church and finding my own spiritual path.

I resolved to ignore the pain, ignore the fear, ignore the danger, and take my chances with death and damnation to discover the truth. I decided to keep trying every night, until I got more results. Meanwhile, I decided to "raid" the Minneapolis Public Library to find more information on OBEs, and other methods of producing them.


Pretend Day

If you've read any other books on Astral Projection, you may have wondered: Why have almost all OBE techniques been an exercise of the imagination? Why are there so many visualizations? Why is pretending so important to leaving the body?

Well, first let me make myself perfectly clear: OBEs are a lot more than just pretend; they are real. Absolutely real. If you've had one, there will be no doubt in your mind. During the OBE, you are as wide-awake, alert and conscious as you are while reading this. Sometimes more so. All this pretending is just a stepping-stone to get you out of your body.

Before talking about pretending, I'd like to expose another myth. Some occult books say that children can leave their bodies easily but it's harder for most adults. They therefore conclude that as you get older, you become more cemented in your physical body. They say the older you get, the harder it is to have OBEs, because we become more focused in our body. Well, that just isn't true. People who say that are using an excuse to be lazy and not practice.

Why, then, don't adults have more OBEs? One reason is that adults don't use their imagination as much or as vividly as children. That doesn't mean we can't use our imaginations well, it just means that most people don't.

There's something magical about the imagination. Children know that intuitively. It's a matter of focus. Children use their imagination to unfocus from their daily lives. They know how to daydream and pretend. That's why children are so psychic! And we can become that psychic--that aware--if we start exercising our playful imaginations too.

This exercise isn't just for now, it's an all-day exercise. I want you to make today "Pretend Day." All day today, at every available opportunity, I want you to exercise your playful imagination. These little pretend skits don't have to be long. It's better to be short and frequent, than long and drawn out. I'll give you some examples. Go through your day doing these sorts of things:

The next time you sit down, just pretend for a few short seconds that you fall through your chair (in your astral body) and find yourself on the ground or through the floor. The next time you open a door, playfully pretend that your hand passes through the door knob instead of grabbing it. The next time you walk up a flight of stairs, playfully pretend you glide up it smoothly without walking. Pretend that your astral body glides up the stairs and patiently waits for your physical body to arrive at the top. The next time you look in a mirror, pretend you are looking at your physical body from afar. Pretend you are astral, in as many instances as you can.

Also, it's good to pretend non-OBE things today. For instance, the next time you take a drive in your car, pretend that it lifts off the ground the starts flying over the traffic. The next time you are stopped by a traffic light, pretend that you get out a gun and shoot it!

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