Of Leaving
the Body

Higher Self Soul Apart From  Body Perennialist Seer-Masters
Higher Reason Living in the Supersensible Realm Contact with Higher Beings

"The end for which man was created was to achieve communion with the Higher Powers above the terrestrial realm, through the light and spirit of the Divine, the wings of the soul. That ought to be man's aim in the acquisition of knowledge."


    In this essay, we'll first examine Plato's teaching of leaving the body and attaining union with the Higher Self. We'll then investigate the current counterfeit teachings concerning "out of body experience" (OBE) 1  and astral projection (AP). 2  We'll examine three so-called gurus of these spurious teachings of out of body experiences and astral projection: Robert Monroe, William Buhlman, and Paul Santisi.

    We don't criticize these teachers and teachings of OBE and AP out of a sense of competition, as though Plato's teaching about leaving the body were somehow inviolate. As in other instances, OBE and AP teachings and teachers prove to be counterfeit in the sense that they peddle methodologies that don't work and make claims they can't verify. And, most important, they distract people from genuine teachings concerning achieving a state of higher consciousness and union with one's Higher Self.

    We must distinguish between the teachings concerning out of body incidents and astral projection and the actual experiences to which these two teachings claim to refer. Plato's teaching concerning leaving the body involves the experience of locating one's consciousness and being outside the body and of projecting one's consciousness and being into a higher--not necessarily astral--plane. The difficulty is with the teachers and teachings of OBE and AP.

    It's possible that some persons experience an altered state in which their focus of consciousness is outside their bodies, as is claimed by their being able to recall specific real data, for example, the numbers, images, or letters on top of objects within a surgical operating room, out of sight of ordinary vision. Whether these phenomena are real or not must be proven in specific instances.

    Some aspects of the current OBE and AP teachings have a slight resemblance to Plato's teaching of leaving the body--which he called "dying." For example, in both instances it is said that persons can attain the capability of locating their consciousness outside the physical body. But beyond those few elementary coinciding elements, the teachings are of an entirely different nature.

   As will be evident, the author's rejection of the current teachings and teachers of OBE and AP completely differs from their rejection by, for example, some "born-again Christians" (see video to the left).

   At the same time, the author does not agree with "science worshippers" who delusively believe that such hypotheses (not proven concepts ) as parallel universes and time travel prove the truth of current OBE and AP teachings.

Plato's Teaching On Leaving the Body

    Plato's primary teaching on "leaving the body"occurs in his dialogue Phaedo, in which Socrates explains the nature of philosophy as the practice of dying before we die. This crucial teaching occurs just prior to Socrates drinking the potion which will bring about his physical death.

"If we would have pure knowledge of anything we must be quit of the body--the soul in herself must behold things in themselves; and then we shall attain the wisdom which we desire, and of which we say that we are lovers. . . .

"True philosophers. . . are always occupied in the practice of dying. . . ."

"Do we believe there is such a thing as death? . . .

"Is it not the separation of soul and body? And when the soul exists in herself, and is released from the body and the body is released from the soul--death, surely, is nothing else than this?

"Just so, he replied. . . . "Then must not true existence be revealed to her [the soul] in meditation, if at all?

"And meditation is best when the mind is gathered into herself and none of these things trouble her--neither sounds nor sights nor pain nor any pleasure,--when she takes leave of the body, and has as little as possible to do with it, when she has no bodily sense or desire, but is aspiring after true being?

"He attains to the knowledge of Forms in their purity who goes to each of them with the soul alone, not allowing when in the act of meditation the intrusion or introduction of sight or any other sense in the company of reason, but with the very light of the soul in her clearness penetrates into the very light of truth in each Form. . ."

Plato, Phaedo

    In the Phaedo, Socrates makes it clear that he has engaged in philosophy (the love of and the search for wisdom) throughout his life as the practice of dying--leaving the body and "living and moving and having your being" in the soul (Higher Self). Socrates identifies with his soul and no longer with his body, so he finds it strange that Crito, his friend, continues to believe that the essence of Socrates is his body.

"I cannot make Crito believe that my real essence is the same Socrates who has been talking and conducting the argument; he fancies that I am the other Socrates whom he will soon see, a dead body--and he asks, How shall he bury me? And though I have spoken many words in the endeavor to show that when I have drunk the poison my real essence shall leave you and go to some happy world of the blessed--these words of mine, with which I was comforting you and myself, have had, as I perceive, no effect upon Crito."

"Be of good cheer then, my dear Crito, and say that you are burying my body only. . . ."

"Dialectic is the only philosophical process which seeks for wisdom by anagogically uplifting our Intellectual foundations so that our Higher Self ascends to the Origin."

Plato, The Commonwealth VII, 533d

    Plato's teaching--and that of his Neo-Platonist followers--concerning leaving the body is part of a larger body of teachings about achieving union with one's Higher Self through:

Dialectic "And so with dialectic, when a person starts on the discovery of the absolute by the light of reason only, and without any assistance of sense, and perseveres until by Higher Reason he arrives at the perception of the absolute good, he at last finds himself at the end of the intellectual world, as in the case of sight at the end of the visible."
Theurgy "It is through communicating with higher spiritual beings by means of Theurgical Dialectic that humans come to true realization of what they are in essence: eternal spiritual entities." Iamblicus, On the Mysteries
Meditation In genuine meditation, as Plato explained, the initiate "takes leave of the body," which involves going beyond ordinary thoughts and sensations. Genuine meditation or contemplation involves transcending all ordinary intellectual elements, including commonplace thought and speech.

    The important point is not to locate one's consciousness in some area of the terrestrial domain (as in OBE or AP) but to attain the capability of becoming one with the Origin, the One. The one person who lived in the twentieth century who unmistakably achieved the locating of her consciousness in her Higher Self was Betty White. Her husband, Stewart Edward White, explained that she could "travel" to any location on earth and bring back evidence that she had been in that spot, but they were interested in more important things. In the book which she wrote with her husband, Across the Unknown, she explained what was most important: "I am getting an actual demonstration, proof, of a spiritual existence as it is here, not in a future life. It's a very definite winged consciousness, nothing postponed or impossible of attainment about it. It's absolutely the next step we've got to take."

    What we should be interested in is a higher kind of proof that persons have achieved the ability to leave their body and locate their consciousness in their Higher Self, not some supposedly verified CIA experiment in "remote viewing." The higher type of proof that a person has achieved union with her Higher Self is constituted of:

  • The ability to receive inspiration from a higher source
    Inspiration is a spiritual faculty and power. An act of inspiration occurs when an advanced person allows a known or unknown entity (Form, personality, force, concept, meaning, sensation, image) to flow through her mind and being from a higher source. An inspired idea does not come merely from a rearranging of concepts or words in one's mind, but arises from a deeper organ of apprehension within.

  • A changed being

        This was best explained by Mary Atwood in her 1850 book, Hermetic Philosophy and Alchemy.
    "Despite the soul's fall there lingers in it, although in a condition of atrophy and enchantment, a residual germ of that divine principle which once wholly actuated it; a germ capable of being so stimulated into activity as to raise the personal consciousness even to the point of unity and identity with the Universal Mind and through the healing efficacy of that principle's transmuting potencies, to effect such an organic change in the psychical, and even the physical parts of our present frail and imperfect nature as will bring them into a divinised condition."

   Once a person has entered on the road to achieving a transformed being, she:

  1. Evinces specific moral and intellectual qualities and capabilities:

    • Critical thinking

      "Thinking critically - reflecting on the assumptions underlying our and others' ideas and actions, and contemplating alternative ways of thinking and living - is one of the important ways in which we become adults. When we think critically, we come to our judgments, choices and decisions for ourselves, instead of letting others do this on our behalf. We refuse to relinquish the responsibility for making the choices that determine our individual and collective futures to those who presume to know what is in our best interests. We become actively engaged in creating our personal and social worlds." S.D. Brookfield, Developing Critical Thinkers

    • Self-awareness: awareness of oneself and one's world

    • Critical consciousness

      • Going beyond merely personal development to a genuine concern for human welfare in general

      • Learning to perceive social, political, and economic injustice and learning to take action against the oppressive elements of reality

      • Casting light on social challenges and philosophical themes and developing social infrastructures which allow for greater freedom and creativity.

    • Integrity: adherence to a moral code of honesty and decency

  2. Refuses to be involved in self-serving, greed-driven, capitalist activities: for example, a person who achieved the genuine capability of unity with her Higher Self would never consider creating a corporation or a program through which to pretend to "sell" this capability to those willing to pay exorbitant prices.

  3. Has more respect for Higher Knowledge than to make it available indiscriminately to unprepared or degenerate persons who happen to have the "price of admission."

    The essential difference between higher spiritual powers and black magical forces, or merely imaginary effects such as most OBE and AP practices, is that a person learning to contact and cooperate with higher dynamism must of necessity attain advanced moral understanding and rectitude. It is simply impossible to contact or work with higher spiritual forces unless one has attained a state of high moral purpose and discernment. Higher powers, by their very nature, are indiscernible and incomprehensible to persons who seek to use them for negative purposes.

"The deeper secrets and laws of our being are self-protected; to learn them requires an adaptation of character and purpose, and a humility of mind and spirit, inconsistent with those displayed by the perverse or merely curious enquirer. To understand, let alone practically to explore, the Hermetic Mystery is not for every one--at least, at his present state of evolutional unfolding . . . Only to those whose spiritual destiny has already equipped them with a certain high measure of moral and intellectual fitness will even a rough notional apprehension of it be practicable."

Walter Leslie Wilmhurst, Introduction to M. A. Atwood,
Hermetic Philosophy and Alchemy

Counterfeit Teachings and Teachers of Out of Body Experiences and Astral Projection

     The Binaural Beats technology was discovered in 1839 by the German physicist Heinrich Wilhelm Dove (1803-1879) and tested on the encephalograph by the American biophysicist Gerald Oster (1918-1993) in 1973 at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York. Dove and Oster discovered that pulsations called binaural beats occurred in the brain when tones of different frequency were presented separately to each ear.

     Robert Monroe (1915-1995) claimed to have developed tapes which send signals separately to each ear--signals of 400 and 404 hertz, for example--resulting in the sounds blending inside the brain and setting up a binaural beat frequency of 4 Hz (theta waves), producing a state of brain hemisphere equilibrium and altered states. At his Institute of Applied Sciences in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains of central Virginia, institute employees claim to train people in achieving altered states using Hemi-Sync tapes. Some of the trainees feel they achieve out-of-body experiences, but this is the sheerest fantasy.

    I know two persons personally who worked as trainers in the Monroe techniques--and it's quite evident that neither of them received any lasting beneficial effect from their training and their work with clients. Because of this factor, it's clear that serious seekers waste their money when they purchase Monroe Institute training sessions or products. At present, a week's training session costs $1,995 to $2,295 at the Institute, plus, of course, transportation to the Institute and back.

     A number of brain state researchers have been and continue to be critical of Monroe's methods. Dr. Elmer Green of the Menninger Foundation stated that "it's only when the volition is involved, and you want to do something, either to escape or to accomplish something, that you really learn something." The hypnogogic image states which Green discovered in his research sometime involved extra-sensory perception (ESP) and precognition. It's most likely that these states are those which OBE and AP clients experience, which trainers interpret as out-of-body states but Green interpreted as hypnogogic imagery.

    Most persons at present are so psychologically immature that they're unaware that they can be manipulated by a charlatan through emotional stimuli, causing these persons to believe they have been involved in an out of body or astral projection event when it's nothing more than a heightened, subjective, counterfeit experience.

   It's apparent from viewing and listening to Monroe that he never experienced any improvement or transformation from his presumed "experiences." He admits that his entire motivation for creating the tapes and the programs was merely to make money.

    William Buhlman clearly has experienced no improvement or transformation in his being, following in the capitalist footsteps of Robert Monroe (Buhlman gives "workshops" at the Monroe Institute).

   Paul Santisi is merely one of many charlatans in the Astral Projection scam.

"It is ignorance that causes us to identify ourselves with the body, the ego, the senses, or anything that is not the Higher Self. He is a wise man who overcomes this ignorance by devotion to the Unitary Reality."

Shankara, The Crest Jewel of Wisdom

   Students who are serious about seeking the capability of separating from the body and achieving union with the Higher Self will want to study these essays:

"The One remains, the many change and pass;

Heaven's light for ever shines, Earth's shadows fly;

Life, like a dome of many-colored glass,

Stains the white radiance of eternity,

Until death tramples it to fragments, --Die,

If thou wouldst be with that which thou does seek!

Follow where all is fled!--Rome's azure sky,

Flowers, ruins, statues, music, words, are weak,

The glory they transfuse with fitting truth to speak."

Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792-1822),
Adonais: An Elegy on the Death of John Keats


1 An out-of-body experience (OBE or sometimes OOBE) is an experience that typically involves a sensation of floating outside one's body and, in some cases, perceiving one's physical body from a place outside one's body (autoscopy). From Wikipedia

2 Astral projection (or astral travel) is an interpretation of out-of-body experience (OBE) that assumes the existence of an "astral body" separate from the physical body and capable of traveling outside it. Astral projection or travel denotes the astral body leaving the physical body to travel in the astral plane. From Wikipedia


Near Death Experience

Robert Monroe's work for US military intelligence

Ordinary experience at Monroe Institute