A recent article I read in the New York Times which has also been published in the BBC on-line website reports studies from neuroscientists from Zurich Switzerland and Stockholm Sweden regarding the out of body experience. It involves an elaborate set of experiments which purport to explain how individuals who have had had these experiences can perceive their own bodies at a distance.
I would advise the reader to link up and read the article carefully [sorry can’t find a link at the moment]. The experiments involve quite an elaborate set-up with virtual reality goggles and a series of rather complex manipulations. It should be noted that none of this takes place, of course, during spontaneous OOB.
I am the first to welcome any insight into how the amazing brain and the nature of perception works. But I strongly suspect that there is a hidden metaphysical agenda in the promotion of this type of study. I have read the literature on the OOB experience as a part of the NDE [near-death experience]. There is also an extensive amount of writing on spontaneous OOB experiences, also known as astral projection.
What is most impressive about these spontaneous [as opposed to experimental] experiences is not merely the description of an out of body perspective on one’s own body, but the reporting back of events, conversations and information that could not possibly have been perceived by an individual which is, at best, comatose if not near death.
The rather elaborate series of experiments outlined in these recent articles can simulate the perception of being ‘outside of one’s eyes’ but fail to express the deeper more profound aspects of a spontaneous OOB and NDE.
These real ‘life’ examples occur spontaneously, without special goggles to simulate virtual reality and often take place when a patient has suffered an extreme breakdown in normal cardiovascular and circulatory function.
I would refer the reader to the works of Raymond Moody, Kenneth Ring and Peter Fenwick [and a host of other] researchers. Ring has documented the ‘visual’ reports of congenitally blind individuals [never saw anything] who have had extraordinary ‘visual’ perceptions for the first time during a NDE with OOB features.
Reports that I have heard from patients and nurses defy rational explanation. I have included several in my upcoming book. In particular Peter Fenwick PhD has a particularly strong challenge to those who claim that the NDE is a result of hypoxia [lack of oxygen] to the brain which I cannot explore in this blog.
An finally, but most significantly, many of those who have had a full-blown NDE and OOB deeply believe that they have had a profound spiritual experience. They often report contact with deceased relatives, and being in the presence of spiritually enlightened souls. They return to their lives metaphysically transformed: with less interest in their former pursuits of acquiring material possessions or prestige. They are less obsessed over former goals and aspirations. They uniformly report that they are no longer afraid of death.
These changes cannot be easily dismissed as a ‘game of the brain’. These experiences are never regarded by those who have had them as any type of hallucination or dream. As a matter of fact, they regard it as the more ‘real’ experience they have ever had.
We should continue to encourage scientific exploration of each and every aspect of the study of human consciousness. But let’s not be so quick to dismiss these personal experiences as physiological anomalies. And let us remain aware that everyone has an ‘agenda’ that they are promoting when it involves the world of metaphysics.