Joel, approx 30-35 yrs ago I was very involved (mostly reading)with the occult, psychic phenomena, astral projection. One night, without attempting, I believe I had my 1st out of body experience, but the paralysis terrified me and I instantly pulled back into my body and awoke. I never experienced it again or even tried. I'm interested into getting involved in astral projection and psychic phenomena, but don't really know where to find groups, resources in Houston, TX. Any tips, thoughts you can give me are appreciated.
Out of the body experiences (OOBE) often happen during meditation, or people have reported them during surgery. Some can be "spontaneous," which means that they weren't "planned." Are you familiar with Eckankar? This is the "ancient science of soul travel." Its methods and teachings were popularized in the 1960s (or earlier) by Paul Twitchell, who was the Living Eck Master. Eck consists of various spiritual exercises, intoning sounds which they believe will lead to a particular spirit state. Eckists commonly intone the sound "hu" because they believe it links them with the spirit, or advanced, realms. The Eck exercises are "coordinated" by the Eck Master (who is now Harold Klemp) and he is said to give guidance in this advanced state. Eckists believe that there are many realms of spirit existence and students (or chelas, as they are called) receive instruction in each of them. Twitchell wrote many books, including THE SPIRITUAL NOTEBOOK, THE TIGERS FANG, and TALONS OF TIME. Brad Steiger wrote a bio of Twitchell called IN MY SOUL, I AM FREE. There are Eck groups in many communities. You can find them through their website, www.eckankar.org.
You might also contact the Theosophical Society in America (www. theosophical.org). They may have some publications on out-of-the-body experiences.
Out-of-the-body experiences are discussed in Scientology. L. Ron Hubbard called it "exteriorization." This is where a person was outside his/her body. "Exteriorization" is promoted by the command, "Be three feet behind your head." OOBE is, in fact, a large part of Scientology. Their word for our spirit nature is "thetan." A spirit person, or one in his/her spirit state, is called a "thetan." Scientology has a training level called "operating thetan," which means that they are aware of themselves as a non-physical being. They have different "levels" of operating thetan (or OT).
OOBEs can take many forms. I have heard Christian evangelists tell about being "in their spirit" and they told about demons and beings that they saw there.
I think that we go to various spirit states while asleep. It has happened to me. In many dreams, I have been at places of learning. I could see cloisters or buildings as at a university. Once, I believe that I experienced something like a ministerial ordination in spirit. I was kneeling before this robed person, who wore a crown that contained a sun-like figure. In one dream, I was with a group of people in a large, cathedral-like room. We were standing in line at the wings of the the room. There was a woman named Gertrude standing behind me. I apparently knew her because I asked, "Gertrude, question: when I am here, what is my body doing?" She looked at me, with a big smile, and said, "Sleeping."
You might want to look at the writings of Emmanuel Swedenborg, especially HEAVEN AND HELL. Swedenborg wrote a great deal about the spirit life. His teachings are taught by churches called the New Church, or the Church of New Jerusalem. It is possible that there is a congregation in Houston. If so, you could talk to its minister. I've been reading some books by Nick Bunick, IN GOD'S TRUTH and TIME FOR TRUTH. He has been largely involved in angelic communication.
In a lot of mystical teaching, there seems to be teachings of masters who lived in both worlds, on earth and in spirit. I think you find this in teachings regarding avatars or the ascended masters. To explore this further, you might want to look at the book ORIGINAL UNVEILED MYSTERIES by Godfre Ray King (Guy Ballard). His books form the basis of the Ascended Master/I Am philosophy. That I recall, in UNVEILED MYSTERIES, Ballard tells how the master Saint-Germain took him in a spirit form to various sacred sanctuaries.
There is an interesting teaching, though not necessarily regarding OOBEs, of people who have gone into spirit without death, as the biblical character Enoch. This view is found in the BOOK OF MORMON concerning the prophet Alma and the Three Nephites.
Hope this helps. Joel