Out-of-the-body-experiences (OBEs) are among the most remarkable of psychological phenomena, challenging as they do our fundamental assumptions about reality and consciousness. Following a series of such experiences many years ago, I sought an explanation for them. I found references to them in texts from Plato to Aleister Crowley, but nowhere was there anything approaching a coherent, rational theory. There were – and to a regrettable extent still are – two opposing viewpoints: on the one hand you have the supernaturalists, with talk of "astral projection" and full of sound advice on how to deal with the demons you will encounter on the various "astral plains", and on the other, the orthodox scientific community, who find the whole subject rather embarrassing and would prefer not to be associated with it. I could find no author who understood the importance of OBEs and who approached them in a scientific manner. Until I discovered Blackmore's book. It is without question the definitive work on the subject. It is a model of scientific rigour, and the thoroughness of her research – in psychology, folklore, occult philosophy and more – is astounding.
The supreme philosophical and psychological quest of our time is for an explanation of consciousness. That will not be achieved without taking account of the anomalous ways in which consciousness can sometimes manifest itself, of which OBEs are the most striking examples. If you are lucky enough to have experienced them and you seek an explanation, or if you are just wondering what all the fuss is about, read this book.
on 31 August 2008
I looked forward to this book, hoping for an unbiased investigation of the phenomena of astral projection. Unfortunately I found it to be full of contradictions, leaning towards whichever argument suited the author's purpose. Despite her own startling experiences of astral projection(albeit whilst apparently under the influence of drugs), she seems to have decided from the outset that the phenomena does not exist and proceeds to use whatever arguments are necessary to prove it.