Lucid Dreams and Out of Body Experiences: The Same Thing?

6 Jan

out of body shadow....Inside of a dream, we exist independently of the outer world that our waking consciousness normally perceives.

The localized sense of self that sees, hears, talks, and thinks in my waking life moves inward at night to the dream world. Here, I experience a realm that exists entirely inside the domain of my inner consciousness.

And in this world my dream persona has this same sense of self that I experience in my waking life. What I mean is that I am walking around, doing things, thinking, reacting, making decisions, etc, in the dream world just as if I would if I were awake, except – short of using techniques to become consciously aware of it – I have no idea that I’m in a dream.

So while it lasts, the dream reality is just as real to me and my brain as my waking life is to me right now.

Reflecting on this inevitably leads to speculations on consciousness itself. What exactly is consciousness? Where is located? How is it that you can experience a second localized sense of self in a dream?

Especially vivid lucid dreams push these questions further, until we’re asking the one I want to talk about today:

Is this “other” sense of self interdependent on the physical body or can consciousness actually seperate from the body?

I’ll go ahead put my cards on the table.

Out of Body Experiences- I’m a skeptic. A big skeptic but nevertheless a fascinated skeptic.

Why? Because the implications are big. Not just big but huge.

If OOBE aren’t an illusion of some sort than the fact the there is even something that can leave the body implies all sort of things: something akin to a soul, reincarnation, the possibility of life continuing after the death of the body, and so on. It also means that our current scientific understanding of consciousness and matter is missing something big.

But like I said, I’m a skeptic. I’ve always thought that what people refer to as astral travel or an OOBE is simply an illusion created by an especially vivid and amazing ability to remain lucid and in control of their dreams.

In researching the possiblity of OOBE, I’ve recently read The Holographic Universe by Michael Talbot. This book strings together an interesting explanation for all sorts of strange phenomenom based on quantum physics, and a blend of subjective experiences (sigh) and scientific experiments (yay!).

Let me quote extensively here:

“One of Bohm’s most startling assertions is that the tangible reality of our everyday lives is really a kind of illusion, like a holographic image. Underlying it is a deeper order of existence, a vast and more primary level of reality that gives birth to all the objects and appearances of our physical world in much the same way a piece of holographic film gives birth to a hologram. Bohm calls this deeper level of reality the implicate order (enfolded order) and he refers to our own level of existence as the explicate, or unfolded, order.”

And later on:

“Remember that in a holographic universe, location itself is an illusion. Just as an image of an apple has no specific location on a piece of holographic film, in a universe that is organized holographically things and objects also possess no definitive location; everything is ultimately nonlocal, including consciousness. Thus, although our consciousness appears to be localized in our heads, under certain conditions it can just as easily appear to be localized…(elsewhere, thus explaining the out of body experience.)”

This lays the groundwork for a theoretical explanation, but what about the evidence? And I mean good solid evidence, the kind that would be easy enough to attain if we could travel out of the body and witness the real world.

If this were possible, wouldn’t it be easy enough to build up some proof by reporting back on what you witnessed with information you couldn’t have possibly known otherwise?

Now I understand that many instances of the OOBE are not really under the control of the person who experiences them; they just seem to happen. But what of those who claim to have mastered the skill and can leave the body at will? How hard would it be to then to provide good evidence that you are really leaving your body and travelling out into the real world, witnessing real people and places and events as they happen?

Because of this lack of evidence, I think what is considered to be an OOBE ultimately takes places in our minds. I don’t mean this to degrade the experience; in fact,this accomplishment of the mind is awe-some in its own right!

Think about it; how amazing is it that we can actually project a whole other world inside ourselves, one that contains a depth and a clarify that rivals or even exceeds the reality we normally perceive?

If this experience is so ultra-real that it captivates those in its grasp and propels them to believe they are in fact travelling out of their body and into the real world, than we have found another stunning feature of the mind, one that should leave us in awe of a potential we possess but do not yet understand.

5 Responses to “Lucid Dreams and Out of Body Experiences: The Same Thing?”

  1. Bill February 24, 2007 at 12:20 am #

    I am in agreement. I’m more in line with the “inside our minds” explanation of OOBE, but ultimately, I don’t think it matters either way. Most non-engineers don’t exactly understand how electricity works, but we all know how to USE it.

    I think stuff like OOBE is the same from that respect, who CARES whether there’s actually some sort of soul/energy “stuff” that leaves the body, or if it’s in our minds.

    I think if we could just learn to USE it, the rest takes care of itself.

  2. Ben February 24, 2007 at 12:20 am #

    Bill thanks so much for visitting and taking the time to post your thoughts.

    The value and potential of such experiences cannot simply be dismissed even if the OOBE is an illusion projected in the mind.

  3. Kevin April 13, 2007 at 1:18 am #

    I am not a supporter of the “inside your mind” idea. I am someone who has actually and still does have a lot to do with people who are in all reality true and real men in their traditions. I feel that whatever for a broad term “Shamanism” is, is actually nearly lost. I have read a number of books and articles from people claiming initiation and time spent with Shamans, particularly the South American and African traditions and very little, if anything registers with what I have been introduced to, in fact I would suggest that they have been out and out dishonest or as happens the man and women they have come to try and get information from have feed them what they needed or wanted to hear to make them go away. In saying that, I have been shown and have had the experience of profound differences regarding what lucid dreaming is and what OOBE is. They are indeed different but can lead to each other. I have only had 4-5 controlled OOBE in some 15 years; all others come from becoming lucid in a dream and then leading outward to the OOBE. As I have had it explained to me, in a Lucid Dream you become aware that you are dreaming and gain control of your Dream Self, in the dream self you have the opportunity to greater affect the immediate happenings occurring in and around your physical body, most of what you will encounter are hidden mechanisms you have developed or have agreed to allow to exist around you. In an OOBE you will encounter aspects that are outside yourself, entities with consciousness but not always coming from a living body. In what I have been introduced to, we are all energy first, and THEN physical manifestations, there are indeed places that are right below the surface of our physicality and ability to perceive with such that are populated and alot of action takes place. We exist in theses places as multilayered, but not always aware, and for some never. The dreaming body is the closest body we have to our physical body, lucid dreaming is the first step into awakening the awareness that we have many more bodies holding the template of our physical body, so on and so forth, etc.

  4. Ben April 14, 2007 at 4:11 pm #

    I understand you do not believe an OBE is contained inside your mind, but when you say that “in an OOBE you will encounter aspects that are outside yourself, entities with consciousness but not always coming from a living body” it implies to me that these experiences don’t necessarily take place in the “physical world” either. Can you elaborate on that?

  5. Kevin April 17, 2007 at 9:10 pm #

    No the experiences would take place in another body in another aspect that holds a very fine “template” of the physical world, one of teh layers that helps give the physical world it’s density.

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