When studying the phenomenon of astral projection there are two perspectives to keep in mind. One perspective is ancient and treats the out-of-body experience as a real phenomenon that argues that the mind literally leaves the body and experiences a spiritual realm. A more modern perspective sees astral projection as nothing more than a form of lucid dreaming. In this article, we will take a look at these twin perspectives.
The literal interpretation posits the existence of real worlds that exist beyond the physical world. This world is described by certain mystics and shamans as a world of the spirit. In yoga and the Western mystery tradition, there is more than one spiritual world. These different worlds stem from divinity itself and ultimately manifests as the physical world. The modern mystical perspective sees these spiritual worlds as woven into the very fabric of physical reality and forms the foundation of matter. Every atom and every elementary particle are composed of energy flowing from the spiritual worlds. Modern mystics argue that matter is condensed energy, but according to the modern spiritual perspective, energy is condensed spirit.
This higher spiritual world is the soul and spirit of the material world, and the material world is the body of the spiritual realm The human body has the same relationship to these realms. The human mind manifests physically as the brain, and the mind is the spiritual counterpart of the body. These spiritual worlds flow gradually from a spiritual divine existence and condense into matter, in the human body they manifest as different spiritual bodies of which the astral body is one. These different bodies ‘live’ in these worlds and by attuning to them through altered states of consciousness we can experience those worlds. Collectively these worlds are referred to as the planes of consciousness and the astral plane is the world very close to our own. This is the plane of dreams and the imagination before it manifests as the physical plane.
The Western materialist perspective sees the more traditional perspective as unproven. The only proof we have is the existence of the physical world and the physical body. All mental processes are physical in nature, there are no planes, only the illusions created by the brain. Some, like Michael Raduga, argue that the out-of-body experience is an illusion caused by the overlapping of REM sleep with waking consciousness. This overlap causes the existence of phenomena like out-of-body experiences, lucid dreaming, sleep paralysis and various other hallucinations such as alien abduction. Scientists have tried to test the phenomenon of out-of-body-experiences, but the results are inconclusive and offer no proof that this phenomenon is real. Furthermore, due to the inconsistencies of different cultural descriptions of out-of-body experiences, the planes must be a mental construct created by the brain and influenced by the individual’s cultural upbringing. Out-of-body experiences are, therefore, nothing more than a type of lucid dream.
These two perspectives are the dominant paradigms that describe the out-of-body experience. So which perspective is true? This is a very difficult question to answer because currently, we don’t really understand the relationship between the body and mind. Furthermore, we don’t even know the true nature of consciousness itself. Some argue that the mind is purely a brain process, but this is not exactly conclusive due to the mysterious nature of consciousness. Both paradigms have their advantages and disadvantages. In further articles, we will take a closer look at these perspectives.