Right from the start, I should make it perfectly clear that I’m not going to say there is no God. I’ll simply be discussing specific individual cases in which a misinterpretation of events has possibly occurred, and nothing more. I would have written a different article if I had wanted to discuss the existence of God.
I first read the Bible when I was 9 years old out of sheer curiosity and personal desire. Even back then, a natural question occurred to me: don’t the protagonists of biblical stories very often if not almost always encounter higher beings while dreaming or when in states close to that of sleep?
(Second Book of Samuel, Chapter 7)
4 And it came to pass that night, that the word of the LORD came unto Nathan, saying,
(Acts of the Apostles, Chapter 16)
9 And a vision appeared to Paul in the night; There stood a man of Macedonia, and prayed him, saying, Come over into Macedonia, and help us.
(Acts of the Apostles, Chapter 18)
9 Then spake the Lord to Paul in the night by a vision, Be not afraid, but speak, and hold not thy peace:
(First Book of the Torah: Genesis, Chapter 46)
2 And God spake unto Israel in the visions of the night, Jacob, Jacob. And he said, Here [am] I.
(First Book of Chronicles, Chapter 17)
3 And it came to pass the same night, that the word of God came to Nathan, saying,
I haven’t even bothered to list examples where it was written out in black and white — The Lord appeared to him in a dream and said… There are multitudes of such passages. I would just leave it at that, but for the fact that my students and I already use techniques for leaving the body upon falling asleep and awakening, as well as becoming conscious while dreaming.
…This night it finally happened consciously!…
…I was awakening at night in my bedroom. It was dark. I tried to turn on the lights, but the light-switch wasn’t in its usual place, and I realized that I was dreaming. It was so dark that I started to get really scared…
I was unable to do astral projection for over a year, until I started doing indirect techniques more often and more intensely. It happened this morning at 9 AM…
But that’s just the beginning. Most interestingly, I have found at least four clear descriptions of spontaneous exits from the body upon falling asleep or waking up in the Bible. Meanwhile, there are clearly more of them, but the rest are only described in brief and are thus less obvious examples. The four passages we will look at simply contain the most detail, and everything adds up in them.
(First Book of Kings, Chapter 19)
4 But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a juniper tree: and he requested for himself that he might die; and said, It is enough; now, O LORD, take away my life; for I [am] not better than my fathers.
5 And as he lay and slept under a juniper tree, behold, then an angel touched him, and said unto him, Arise [and] eat.
6 And he looked, and, behold, [there was] a cake baken on the coals, and a cruse of water at his head. And he did eat and drink, and laid him down again.
And the angel of the LORD came again the second time, and touched him, and said, Arise [and] eat; because the journey [is] too great for thee.
Sound familiar? Do you remember your parents ever waking you up to go to school, and then having dressed and gotten your books together, only to have your parents wake you up again? This may have happened to you several times. Or do you remember ever having turned off the alarm clock, only to have it buzz once again and wake you up? That’s a typical false awakening. You encounter false awakenings nearly every day, but they are far from always vivid. This lack of vividness is why people often do not recognize that a false awakening has occurred. Up to one-third of all sensations and movements that occur upon awakening do not happen in the real world, they just seem to be.
…I was somewhere between 8 and 10 years old. The alarm clock went off, I was having a hard time getting out of bed. I thought for a few moments about how it was time to go to school… Then I got up out of bed, already wide awake, and went to the bathroom… All of the sudden mom came into the room and asked me to wake up and go to school… And this happened more than once…
Let’s imagine that Elijah fell asleep not under a juniper tree, but in a comfortable apartment, and that his thoughts upon falling asleep had turned not to God, but to the fact that he had to go to school the next day. Would an angel have visited Elijah in that case? Or imagine Edgaras in Elijah’s place. Thinking about leaving the body while falling asleep is one of the key secrets to having an out-of-body experience upon later awakening. Meanwhile, you can think not only about leaving the body, but also about what you want to obtain from the experience itself… That’s why it is not at all surprising that the angel came to Elijah – who had been pondering his relationship with God – not during an afternoon walk, but just after he had fallen asleep. But Elijah did not recognize that his subsequent awakenings were false, because an out-of-body experience can outmatch waking life in terms of vividness of sensation.
(First Book of Samuel, Chapter 3)
1 And the child Samuel ministered unto the LORD before Eli. And the word of the LORD was precious in those days; [there was] no open vision.
2 And it came to pass at that time, when Eli [was] laid down in his place, and his eyes began to wax dim, [that] he could not see;
3 And ere the lamp of God went out in the temple of the LORD, where the ark of God [was], and Samuel was laid down [to sleep];
4 That the LORD called Samuel: and he answered, Here [am] I.
5 And he ran unto Eli, and said, Here [am] I; for thou calledst me. And he said, I called not; lie down again. And he went and lay down.
6 And the LORD called yet again, Samuel. And Samuel arose and went to Eli, and said, Here [am] I; for thou didst call me. And he answered, I called not, my son; lie down again.
7 Now Samuel did not yet know the LORD, neither was the word of the LORD yet revealed unto him.
8 And the LORD called Samuel again the third time. And he arose and went to Eli, and said, Here [am] I; for thou didst call me. And Eli perceived that the LORD had called the child.
9 Therefore Eli said unto Samuel, Go, lie down: and it shall be, if he call thee, that thou shalt say, Speak, LORD; for thy servant heareth. So Samuel went and lay down in his place.
10 And the LORD came, and stood, and called as at other times, Samuel, Samuel. Then Samuel answered, Speak; for thy servant heareth.
11 And the LORD said to Samuel, Behold, I will do a thing in Israel, at which both the ears of every one that heareth it shall tingle.
According to my research, no less than 50% of those surveyed have reported hearing similar voices at least once in their lives when falling asleep. Moreover, they remember hearing recognizable albeit imaginary voices. We’re not even taking into account that all of you have heard unreal sounds hundreds of times when falling asleep and upon awakening, but thought nothing of them, as you thought that they were real (assuming them to be neighbors talking or sounds from outside the window). This is all normal for when consciousness is fading out or coming back on again.
…I decided to lie down at about 2PM. About 2 minutes later, after I had just started lying in bed, I heard a voice. I somehow sensed that someone was sitting on the chair next to the couch…
…Literally just seconds before I fell asleep, it was as if someone was calling me… Please note that I was not yet asleep. At first it was a normal “voice”… then it got bossier, and then it started ordering me about. And then it was as if something was pulling me into the bed…
There is even a special technique for inducing such sounds and using them to exit the body. It is called the technique of listening in. There are many variations to it. They include trying to hear someone calling your name when you are falling asleep, and especially upon waking up. If you hear your name called, you can separate from the body. Practitioners usually set themselves goals other than meeting God. On the other hand Samuel received a clear order from his mentor to do just that: (“Go, lie down: and it shall be, if he call thee, that thou shalt say, Speak, LORD; for thy servant heareth.”)
Now it’s time for the next two biblical passages. They are both very similar. For no less than a third of us they recall a completely familiar situation that we have found ourselves in at one time or another: sleep paralysis (sleep stupor, catalepsy), which is nearly always accompanied by a wild terror and often occurs when falling asleep or waking up.
(Book of Job, Chapter 4)
12 Now a thing was secretly brought to me, and mine ear received a little thereof.
13 In thoughts from the visions of the night, when deep sleep falleth on men,
14 Fear came upon me, and trembling, which made all my bones to shake.
15 Then a spirit passed before my face; the hair of my flesh stood up:
16 It stood still, but I could not discern the form thereof: an image [was] before mine eyes, [there was] silence, and I heard a voice, [saying],
(First book of the Torah: Genesis, Chapter 15)
12 And when the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell upon Abram; and, lo, an horror of great darkness fell upon him.
13 And he said unto Abram, Know of a surety that thy seed shall be a stranger in a land [that is] not theirs, and shall serve them; and they shall afflict them four hundred years;
We’ll examine a select few modern accounts out of hundreds that I have. They will surely strike you as quite similar to the Bible passages cited above, especially in terms of the emotions felt.
….There was a sharp crack, and the feeling of falling down. Someone’s unintelligible whisper in my right ear changed into a scream, which died down for a second, only to blast in again from all sides. I was panicking in mortal fear.
…I was being awoken by an acute fright that had begun while I was dreaming… A wild terror suddenly overcame me. Something started to make a lot of noise in the distance…
….Last time, having been struck by sleep paralysis together with an awful fear, I rolled out of bed…
Fear and darkness upon awakening or falling asleep… These are all completely typical things for the practice of out-of-body travel. Novices report experiencing them in a third of all cases! Meanwhile, they rarely expect an encounter with God afterwards, which is why he usually doesn’t appear to them.
This gets right to the essence of the phenomenon. During a spontaneous and uncontrolled out-of-body experience, you get exactly what you fear or expect at the moment. This will be demonstrated again and again below. Meanwhile, in the bible excerpts above, the reason why the protagonists met the Lord is completely clear and understandable – if they but only think of God, they cannot but meet him. It was completely normal for them to have seen God.
And here’s what’s most important – this all may seem to be empty talk or senseless theory, but hear me out: not only biblical characters have had encounters with God. How many similar stories are there in other sources? Tons. And they all contain the same telltale characteristics – lying down, falling asleep, waking up, and so on. Moreover, one can meet God each and every time one engages in the practice of leaving the body. The procedure is simple: use techniques to go out-of-body, and then use techniques to find the objects that you are looking for. That’s all there is to it… Back in my youth when I was first getting into out-of-body travel, I met God several times out of sheer curiosity. I’ve met scores of practitioners who have done the same. You can even try it yourself.
But who or what is being encountered? Is it really God? That’s for you to decide. Some practitioners would say that it is a simulation generated by the subconscious mind, which controls everything during the out-of-body experience. Others maintain that they visit a parallel world inhabited by many Gods. Yet others say that the same God that everyone talks about is encountered during all of these experiences. Here everyone interprets what occurs as they see fit. The most likely explanation is that no real god is at play in such phenomena. God may very well exist, but in these cases something a little different is going on.
Conclusion: at least a portion of the accounts of the Lord appearing in the Bible were hardly visitations by the creator himself. The most likely explanation is that they were spontaneous and unrecognized experiences of the out-of-body state, with ensuing numinous episodes induced by faith in and expectation of the Almighty. The weightiest argument supporting this stance is the fact that anyone can reproduce such experiences himself. Who knows, were it not for spontaneous out-of-body experiences, perhaps the Bible itself would never have been written.
And isn’t the Bible itself a hint at our possessing latent abilities? Abilities so important and special that we cannot but associate them with the divine.