The idea of astral travel is rooted in common worldwide religious accounts of the afterlife in which the consciousness' or soul's journey or "ascent" is described in such terms as "an...out-of body experience, wherein the spiritual traveller leaves the physical body and travels in his/her subtle body (or dreambody or astral body) into ‘higher’ realms." It is therefore associated with near death experiences and is also frequently reported as spontaneously experienced in association with sleep and dreams, illness, surgical operations, drug experiences, sleep paralysis and forms of meditation.
It is sometimes attempted out of curiosity, or may be believed to be necessary to, or the result of, some forms of spiritual practice. It may involve "travel to higher realms" called astral planes but is commonly used to describe any sensation of being "out of the body" in the everyday world, even seeing one's body from outside or above. It may be reported in the form of an apparitional experience, a supposed encounter with a doppelgänger, some living person also seen somewhere else at the same time.
Through the 1960s and 70s, surveys reported percentages ranging from 8 percent to as many as 50 percent (in certain groups) of respondents who state they had such an experience. The subjective nature of the experience permits explanations that do not rely on the existence of an "astral" body and plane. There is little beyond anecdotal evidence to support the idea that people can actually "leave the body".
According to classical, medieval and renaissance Neoplatonism, and later Theosophist and Rosicrucian thought, the astral body is an intermediate subtle body linking the rational soul to the physical body while the astral plane is an intermediate subtle world between Heaven and Earth. These astral spheres were held to be populated by angels, demons and spirits.
The subtle bodies, and their associated planes of existence, form an essential part of the esoteric systems that deal with astral phenomena. In the neo-platonism of Plotinus, for example, the individual is a microcosm ("small world") of the universe (the macrocosm or "great world"). "The rational soul...is akin to the great Soul of the World" while "the material universe, like the body, is made as a faded image of the Intelligible". Each succeeding plane of manifestation is causal to the next, a world-view called emanationism; "from the One proceeds Intellect, from Intellect Soul, and from Soul - in its lower phase, or Nature - the material universe".
Often these bodies and their planes of existence are depicted as a series of concentric circles or nested spheres, with a separate body traversing each realm. The idea of the astral figured prominently in the work of the nineteenth-century French occultist Eliphas Levi, whence it was adopted and developed further by Theosophy, and used afterwards by other esoteric movements.
A common belief is that the subtle body is attached to the physical body by means of a psychic silver cord. The final chapter of the Biblical Book of Ecclesiastes is often cited in this respect;
- "before the silver cord be loosed, or the golden bowl be broken, or the pitcher be shattered at the fountain, or the wheel be broken at the cistern"
Paul's second letter to the Corinthians (Chapter 12, verse 2) is more generally agreed to refer to the astral planes;
- "I know a man in Christ, fourteen years ago, (whether in the body I know not, or out of the body I know not, God knows) such a one caught up to the third heaven..."'
There are passages in the Holy Quran that may be intepreted as instances of astral projection, for example Muhammed's night flight to Heaven in sura 17, Isra and Mi'raj. Another is this:
"It is Allah that takes the souls (of men) at death; and those that did not die, during their sleep: those on whom He has passed the decree of death, He keeps back, but the rest He sends (to their bodies) for a term appointed. Verily in this are Signs for those who reflect."
[Holy Quran 39:42]
Similar concepts of "soul" travel appear in various other religious traditions, for example ancient Egyptian teachings present the soul as having the ability to hover outside the physical body in the ka, or subtle body.
Taoist alchemical practice involves creation of an energy body by breathing meditations, drawing energy into a 'pearl' that is then "circulated". "Xiangzi ... with a drum as his pillow fell fast asleep, snoring and motionless. His primordial spirit, however, went straight into the banquet room and said, "My lords, here I am again." ... When Tuizhi walked ... with the officials to take a look, there really was a Daoist sleeping on the ground and snoring like thunder. Yet inside, in the side room, there was another Daoist beating a fisher drum and singing Daoist songs. The officials all said, “Although there are two different people, their faces and clothes are exactly alike. Clearly he is a divine immortal who can divide his body and appear in several places at once. ..." ... At that moment, the Daoist in the side room came walking out, and the Daoist sleeping on the ground woke up. The two merged into one." 
Similar ideas such as the Lin'ga S'ari-ra are found in ancient Hindu scriptures such as the YogaVashishta-Maharamayana of Valmiki. Modern Indians who have vouched for astral projection include Paramahansa Yogananda who witnessed Swami Pranabananda doing a miracle through a possible astral projection and Osho (Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh) who practiced it himself.
The Indian spiritual teacher Meher Baba described one's use of astral projection:
In the advancing stages leading to the beginning of the path, the aspirant becomes spiritually prepared for being entrusted with free use of the forces of the inner world of the astral bodies. He may then undertake astral journeys in his astral body, leaving the physical body in sleep or wakefulness. The astral journeys that are taken unconsciously are much less important than those undertaken with full consciousness and as a result of deliberate volition. This implies conscious use of the astral body. Conscious separation of the astral body from the outer vehicle of the gross body has its own value in making the soul feel its distinction from the gross body and in arriving at fuller control of the gross body. One can, at will, put on and take off the external gross body as if it were a cloak, and use the astral body for experiencing the inner world of the astral and for undertaking journeys through it, if and when necessary....The ability to undertake astral journeys therefore involves considerable expansion of one’s scope for experience. It brings opportunities for promoting one’s own spiritual advancement, which begins with the involution of consciousness.
The Yogic tradition is an elaborate system of meditation and astral projection and most other Chino-Tibetan systems are derived therefrom through Buddhist channels.Template:Citation needed Astral projection is one of the Siddhis considered achievable by yoga practitioners through self-disciplined practice.
In Japanese mythology, an Template:Nihongo (also read shōryō, seirei, or ikisudama) is a manifestation of the soul of a living person separately from their body. Traditionally, if someone holds a sufficient grudge against another person, it is believed that a part or the whole of their soul can temporarily leave their body and appear before the target of their hate in order to curse or otherwise harm them, similar to an evil eye. Souls are also believed to leave a living body when the body is extremely sick or comatose; such ikiryō are not malevolent.
In some Inuit groups people with special capabilities are said to travel to (mythological) remote places, and report their experiences and things important to their fellows or the entire community; how to stop bad luck in hunting, cure a sick person etc., things unavailable to people with normal capabilities.
The yaskomo of the Waiwai is believed to be able to perform a "soul flight" that can serve several functions such as healing, flying to the sky to consult cosmological beings (the moon or the brother of the moon) to get a name for a new-born baby, lying to the cave of peccaries' mountains to ask the father of peccaries for abundance of game or flying deep down in a river to get the help of other beings.
"Astral" and "etheric"Edit
The expression "astral projection" came to be used in two different ways. For the Golden Dawn and some Theosophists it retained the classical and medieval philosophers' meaning of journeying to other worlds, heavens, hells, the astrological spheres and other imaginal landscapes, but outside these circles the term was increasingly applied to non-physical travel around the physical world.
Though this usage continues to be widespread, the term, "etheric travel", used by some later Theosophists, offers a useful distinction. Some experients say they visit different times and/or places: "etheric", then, is used to represent the sense of being "out of the body" in the physical world, whereas "astral" may connote some alteration in time-perception. Robert Monroe describes the former type of projection as "Locale I" or the "Here-Now", involving people and places that actually exist: Robert Bruce calls it the "Real Time Zone" (RTZ) and describes it as the non-physical dimension-level closest to the physical. This etheric body is usually, though not always, invisible but is often perceived by the experient as connected to the physical body during separation by a “silver cord”. Some link "falling" dreams with projection.
According to Max Heindel, the etheric "double" serves as a medium between the astral and physical realms. In his system the ether, also called prana, is the "vital force" that empowers the physical forms to change. From his descriptions it can be inferred that, to him, when one views the physical during an out-of-body experience, one is not technically "in" the astral realm at all.
Other experients may describe a domain that has no parallel to any known physical setting. Environments may be populated or unpopulated, artificial, natural or abstract, and the experience may be beatific, horrific or neutral. A common Theosophical belief is that one may access a compendium of mystical knowledge called the Akashic records. In many accounts the experiencer correlates the astral world with the world of dreams. Some even report seeing other dreamers enacting dream scenarios unaware of their wider environment.
The astral environment may also be divided into levels or sub-planes by theorists, but there are many different views in various traditions concerning the overall structure of the astral planes: they may include heavens and hells and other after-death spheres, transcendent environments or other less-easily characterized states.
Notable practitioners Edit
Emanuel Swedenborg was one of the first practitioners to write extensively about the out-of-body experience, in his Spiritual Diary (1747–65). French philosopher and novelist Honoré de Balzac's fictional work "Louis Lambert" suggests he may have had some astral or out-of-body experience.Template:Citation needed
There are many twentieth century publications on astral projection, although only a few authors remain widely cited. These include Robert Monroe, Oliver Fox, Sylvan Muldoon and Hereward Carrington, and Yram.
Carrington, a psychical researcher, and Muldoon, who professed ease with astral projection, jointly published The Projection of the Astral Body in 1929. Techniques they felt facilitated projection included visualizing flying or ascending in an elevator just before going to sleep and trying to regain waking consciousness while in a dream state (lucid dreaming) by habitually recognizing apparent incongruities in one's dream such as a different pattern of wallpaper in one's home. Such recognition, they said, sometimes resulted in the feeling of being outside the physical body and able to look down on it.
Robert Monroe's accounts of journeys to other realms (1971–1994) popularized the term "OBE" and were translated into a large number of languages. Though his books themselves only placed secondary importance on descriptions of method, Monroe also founded an institute dedicated to research, exploration and non-profit dissemination of auditory technology for assisting others in achieving projection and related altered states of consciousness.
Robert Bruce, William Buhlman and Albert Taylor have discussed their theories and findings on the syndicated show Coast to Coast AM several times. Michael Crichton gives lengthy and detailed explanations and experience of astral projection in his non-fiction book "Travels".
Waldo Vieira, a physician and dentist, claims to have had his first OBE at the age of 9 and has gone on to write numerous articles and over 20 books, including Projectiology. Wagner Alegretti, president of and researcher at International Academy of Consciousness, is another out-of-body experiencer, featured on the Discovery Channel en Espanol and New York's New Realities series.
"Soul Travel", which is widely different from astral projection,Template:Why? is the soul's ability to leave the body(s) consciously, or when sleeping (unconsciously) and seek spiritual lessons in the various planes of heaven. Soul travel is a secret teaching in the religion of Eckankar. Its practitioners attempt to visit temples in higher planes to gain spiritual wisdom and learn the ways of divine love.
In occult traditions, practices range from inducing trance states to the mental construction of a second body, called the Body of Light in Aleister Crowley's writings, through visualization and controlled breathing, followed by the transfer of consciousness to the secondary body by a mental act of will.
Robert Todd Carroll writes that the main evidence to support claims of astral travel is anecdotal and comes "in the form of testimonials of those who claim to have experienced being out of their bodies when they may have been out of their minds."
Author W. Sumner Davis calls astral projection "another myth that despite years of proof to the contrary, refuses to go the way of the lipluradon", and that "like most religions and pseudoscience, proof is seen in the form of anecdotal stories".
According to Bob Bruce of the Queensland Skeptics Association, astral projection is "just imagining", or "a dream state". Bruce writes that the existence of an astral plane is contrary to the limits of science. “We know how many possibilities there are for dimensions and we know what the dimensions do. None of it correlates with things like astral projection.” Bruce attributes astral experiences such as "meetings" alleged by practitioners to confirmation bias and coincidences.
Arthur W. Wiggins, writing in Quantum Leaps in the Wrong Direction : Where Real Science Ends...and Pseudoscience Begins, said that purported evidence of the ability to astral travel great distances and give descriptions of places visited is predominantly anecdotal. In 1978 Ingo Swann provided a test of his alleged ability to astral travel to Jupiter and observe details of the planet. Actual findings and information were later compared to Swann's claimed observations. According to an evaluation by James Randi, Swann's accuracy was "unconvincing and unimpressive" with an overall score of 37 percent. Wiggins considers astral travel an illusion, and looks to neuroanatomy, human belief, imagination and prior knowledge to provide prosaic explanations for those claiming to experience it.
- ↑ astral projection. (n.d.). Webster's New Millennium Dictionary of English, Preview Edition (v 0.9.7). Retrieved June 21, 2008, from Dictionary.com website
- ↑ Suki Miller, After Death: How People around the World Map the Journey after Death (1995)
- ↑ Dr. Roger J. Woolger, Beyond Death: Transition and the Afterlife, accessed online June 2008 at the website of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, http://www.rcpsych.ac.uk/PDF/RWoolgerTransition.pdf.
- ↑ See, for example Sylvan Muldoon's account in; Muldoon, Sylvan J. and Carrington, Hereward - Projection of the Astral Body. ISBN 0766146049
- ↑ Osho, The Transmission of the Lamp, Chapter 3, Rebel Press.
- ↑ Muldoon and Carrington
- ↑ Richard Wilhelm, Cary F. Baines (trans.), The Secret of the Golden Flower, RKP London.
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- ↑ Paramahansa Yogananda, Autobiography of a Yogi, ISBN 978-0-87612-083-5
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- ↑ http://www.skepdic.com/astralpr.html Skeptic's Dictionary by Robert Todd Carroll, article on Astral Projection, retrieved August 24, 2007. "There is scant evidence to support the claim that anyone can project their mind, soul, psyche, spirit, astral body, etheric body, or any other entity to somewhere else on this or any other planet. The main evidence is in the form of testimonials."
- ↑ Hoppál 2005: 15
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- ↑ Chic Cicero, Chic C, Sandra Tabatha Cicero The Essential Golden Dawn, Llewellyn Worldwide, 2003.
- ↑ Arthur A.Powell, THE ASTRAL BODY AND OTHER ASTRAL PHENOMENA, The Theosophical Publishing House, London, England; Wheaton,Ill, U.S.A.; Adyar, Chennai, India, 1927, reprinted in 1954 and 1965, page 7, online June 2008 at http://www.theosophical.ca/AstralBodyByPowell-A.htm
- ↑ Henri Corbin, Creative Imagination in the Sufism of Ibn Arabi, tr. Ralph Mannheim, Bollingen XCI, Princeton U.P., 1969
- ↑ e.g. William Judge, The Ocean of Theosophy 2nd Ed. TPH, 1893, Chapter 5, book online June 2008 at http://www.theosociety.org/pasadena/ocean/oce-hp.htm
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- ↑ 37.0 37.1 Journeys Out of the Body by Robert A. Monroe, p 60. Anchor Press, 1977.
- ↑ Astral Dynamics by Robert Bruce Hampton Roads Publishing Company, Inc, 1999. p 25-27, 30-31
- ↑ 39.0 39.1 Astral Dynamics by Robert Bruce. Hampton Roads Publishing Company, Inc, 1999 ISBN 1-57174-143-7
- ↑ Heindel, Max, The Rosicrucian Mysteries (Chapter IV, The Constitution of Man: Vital Body - Desire Body - Mind), 1911, ISBN 0-911274-86-3
- ↑ 41.0 41.1 Monroe, Robert. Far Journeys. ISBN 0-385-23182-2
- ↑ Substantial bibliography of general OBE and astral projection literature
- ↑ A biography of Robert Monroe by Susan Blackmore
- ↑ A biography of Oliver Fox by Susan Blackmore
- ↑ A biography of Sylvan Muldoon by Susan Blackmore
- ↑ A biography of Yram by Susan Blackmore
- ↑ Coast To Coast archives of shows featuring Robert Bruce
- ↑ Coast To Coast archives of shows featuring William Buhlman
- ↑ Coast To Coast archives of shows featuring Albert Taylor
- ↑ "Projectiology"
- ↑ Discovery Channel en Espanol
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- ↑ http://www.globalhealingexchange.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=75:astra-travel&catid=38:articles-about-spirituality&Itemid=77
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- Barton, Mary E. - Soul Sight: Projections of Consciousness and Out of Body Epiphanies. ISBN 978-0-557-02163-5
- Bruce, Robert (1999) - Astral Dynamics: A NEW Approach to Out-of-Body Experiences. ISBN 1-57174-143-7
- Buhlman, William - Adventures Beyond the Body: How to experience out-of-body travel. ISBN 978-0-06-251371-7
- Leland, Kurt. - Otherwhere: A Field Guide to Nonphysical Reality for the Out-of-Body Traveler. Hampton Roads Publishing (2001). ISBN 978-1571742414
- Monroe, Robert - Journeys Out of the Body Doubleday (1971). reprinted (1989) Souvenir Press Ltd. ISBN 978-0285627536
- Peterson, Robert - Out of Body Experiences. ISBN 1571740570
- Pritchard, Mark H - A Course in Astral Travel and Dreams. Absolute Publishing Press (2005). Second edition. ISBN 0974056030
- Raduga, Michael. (2009). School of Out-of-Body Travel. A Practical Guidebook. ISBN 978-1445766713
- Stack, Rick - Out of Body Adventures. ISBN 0-8092-4560-4
- Wilde, Stuart - Sixth Sense. ISBN 1-56170-501-2
- O'Brien, Nicole - Emerging, Book One, Astral Trilogy. 2011 ISBN 978-1-4276-5164-8