Being Critical of OBE and Dreaming
By David Worrell

People who claim to have OBEs do believe they see the same world they see when awake exactly as they do when they are awake. But in fact, in my experience, and in Professor Stephen LaBerge's experience, there is always some minute difference there which tips off a careful and sober person to the fact that it is not "the same world." And experiments done on "the creme de la creme" of people who believed they could go OBE at will showed that they too were not really in "the same world."

In my case it is often something very subtle which is the tip. Most commonly, the entire room I'm dreaming in is identical to my real room, but the lights will not turn on. In the example I gave previously, everything was the same except that the stove was a gas stove, instead of an electric. I used to change things within the dream--like knock the screen off a window, or smear a pattern on a fogged window--and then check to see if they were changed when I woke up. The changes were never "real." I also used to try to fully "wake up" in the dreaming scene I was in. A couple of times I really thought I had succeeded in doing so, and everything seemed perfectly stable, and "real" for quite some time. But I'd always get sucked away into the blackness and wake up in my bed. So, while these experiences may be fascinating and valuable in many ways, in every case, in my experience, they are not what are regarded as "true" OBEs, and there were not any cases of actual physical traveling using the dreaming body.

Everything we experience is "real," dreams, optical illusions, visualizations in the air in front of one's face, paranoid delusions--it's all "real" in one sense. But that's so obvious that, in order to say anything meaningful about our experiences we tend to differentiate as carefully as possible between different states of being. . .

The woman who struggles with Satan in her bedroom, the schizo who gets attacked by vampires in Burger King parking lot, the person who seems to experience their horoscope column accurately predicting their day every day . . . they are all having "real" experiences of sorts, but . . . so fucking what?

If I go into dreaming and paint a masterpiece, it doesn't really matter in any ordinary sense, except to me, because when I wake up it won't be there in my living room anymore, and no one else will ever see it. So it is good to differentiate between dreaming and waking, fantasy, imagination, visualization, meditation, etc.

How we categorize our experiences often requires careful analysis.

Take for example, my own attempt to heal myself within a lucid dream. I attempted to do this by using a shrill sound I made with my mouth and directed at a "trouble area." But the question is . . . did it help? And how would I know if it did? Or to what degree it did?

I also find myself wondering . . . what would be the major difference, if any, between trying to heal myself by intending it in dreaming, and trying to do the same thing in waking? I think a scientific study would have to be done to really say anything, or it will just remain on a purely subjective level. It's fine if one really gets healed, of course, and fine as a "phenomenological experience," but it would still be inconclusive as "evidence" of any sort. If one carried out an experiment with controls documenting that people can heal themselves in lucid dreaming better than they can in waking, then that would be a far more valuable result.

The way I see it, phenomenology would say: if feel you got healed, great--while science tries to go much further than that and attempts to describe, if possible: exactly to what extent you were healed, how it happened, and how it compares to other methods.

It is quite possible to go into the REM state directly from waking, and go back and forth between a normal waking state and the REM state. Even I can do this upon occasion. LaBerge is well aware of this type of dreaming, and has included it in his studies. Here's a quote from his web site, taken from an account of one of the studies they did:

"There are two primary types of lucid dream. Dream induced lucid dreams (DILDs) occur when the dreamer becomes lucid while involved in an ongoing dream. Wake induced lucid dreams begin when a person enters directly into the dream (and REM sleep) from the waking state with continuity of awareness. The latter kind of lucid dream shares many features with the phenomenon often referred to as "out of body experiences" (OBEs). Indeed, our theory is that OBEs, like WILDs, most commonly occur during conscious transitions from waking to dreaming. . ."

Another comment from the same study, regarding the "transitions" one experiences when going into dreaming from a waking state:

"One important reason for connecting WILDs and OBEs is that they share phenomenological features. The experience of vibrations, strange noises, electrical sensations, feelings of weight on the chest and difficulty breathing, and floating -- sometimes with the sensation of peeling out of the body are common to both. . ..62 percent of participants experienced at least one of the phenomena on the questionnaire. These were: paralysis, weight on chest, vibrations, buzzing (or other noises), and floating or sinking. The significance of this is that these weird feelings are not rare or anomalous."

Get that, these phenomena are not rare or anomalous.

In general, LaBerge's research indicates that lucid dream events are closely paralleled by brain and body events. LaBerge notes that "this seems to rule out dualistic conceptions of dreaming, such as the traditional favorite of the soul (or 'astral body') flying about the dream world free from brain and body.

And I would tend to agree. That is, in most cases. . .

On the other hand, Castaneda's works describe true "physicality" of the dreaming body and its journeys. To give one example, Elias was allegedly a healer in Northern Mexico and a recluse in southern Mexico at the same time. This clearly implies dealing with actual physical situations in both places. To give another example, Castaneda described physically transporting himself from Central Mexico to Tucson in The Fire From Within.

My comment at this point is that if any of Castaneda's people do have such abilities, then their claim of wanting to acquire "mass" is pure bullshit, because all they would have to do to get more "mass" than one could ever imagine would be to go to the Mind Science Foundation in San Antonio or the American Psychical Research people, or to someone like Bob Jahn at Princeton Anomalies Research, etc. (there are at least a dozen places they could go) and just prove that they can do amazing things like this. This is not the days of the conquest, and people are not burned for being bizarre or sacrilegious anymore. Indeed, there are highly credible researchers at several major universities who have spent their lives trying to provide hard evidence for paranormal events.

LaBerge reported that many times he had the experience of seeing his sleeping body in a lucid dream (oooh, "third gate of dreaming"), but noted that in every case there was some subtle cue or outright distortion or deficiency, which, when carefully examined, led to the conclusion that he was not witnessing his actual sleeping body. He carefully analyzes other accounts of "out of body" experiences, pointing out similar discrepancies in the accounts, and he concludes that such experiences are just another form of lucid dreaming.

Replica Watches  Replica Watches

Something I've often wanted to point out to people who think they "leave their body" is the relatively short duration of such states. If you are "out," then . . . why can't you just stay out? For days! Why do you always wind up back in this body after just a few minutes, or, at most, a few hours?

Replica Watches  Replica Watches

Is there any reality to "being doubled"? So far there is no convincing evidence for it, although, as LaBerge also notes, there are a large number of anecdotes, taken from various traditions--for example, the Sufi tradition. More commonly, we have been told that certain members were totally unavailable because they were gone somewhere in the second attention. In fact, that is what they said about Tiggs at the first workshop I ever attended. But . . . they said lots of things, didn't they?

Obviously, if one is really "out," one is "not one or the other." But the question is: if this actually happens in any sense that is outside of one's own mind. It's especially tough to check, if one can't be sure anything that happens is "outside" of one's own mind. So . . . the only way to get closer to the heart of the issue is to see if this alleged "dreaming body" can acquire real data from remote locations, thus proving it to another mind.

Then there is the additional question: if some of these cases are "real," then what exactly is going on?

In successful cases of "remote viewing": one could be going "out of body" in some kind of abstract way, as in some kind of "vision via the spirit." One could be going "out of body" in some real physical sense. One could be using some kind of "dreaming body," or . . . not. One could be staying "in the body," and telepathically perceiving "through the consciousness of other beings" (for example, the researchers know the target site, so they could just be reading their minds). One could be staying "in the body" and perceiving through some "warp in space-time" or visionary experience like "reading it on the wall." There are many possible explanations. No doubt you will find each metaphysical school claiming that remote viewing supports their model of the universe in some way or another.

Some who have written books on the topic of remote viewing have suggested that it was not that difficult to learn, and that many people could do it if only they would try. But recall, the experiment LaBerge quoted was not one of his own; it was done by the American Psychical Association, and the account is that they took great care in selecting the "creme de la creme" of subjects, most of whom claimed they could go OBE at will. These hundred or so people all believed they were already really good at going OBE. And all but a couple of these "exceptional" people were unable to validate any of their experiences. There may have been a few exceptions, and that IS fascinating, but obviously almost all of the people who think they are going out of body are actually just doing some form of lucid dreaming.