Terminology and Theory
The author maintains that experiences of all types in which a) consciousness is present and b) sensory information from the physical body is completely lacking but is replaced by realistic sensations from the phantom body are forms of one and the same phenomenon. That is to say, both consciousness while dreaming and experiencing an exit from the body are in this case one and the same, i.e. "out-of-body experience" or "phase state". This view is based on the author’s personal practice, having trained thousands of people, and a number of academic publications on the probable commonality of such phenomena.
Outside of the School of Out-of-Body Travel, a freely-practicing instructor is entitled to use whichever term he wishes to refer to the phenomenon of out-of-body experiences and lucid dreaming in his work. However, it should be kept in mind that propensity to use one term over another can betray the instructor’s point of view on the phenomenon, which might not coincide with the beliefs of his students, which would inevitably have an effect on both the size and composition of the group. It is therefore worth discussing the connotations of each term.
Lucid Dreaming In most cases, this is a pragmatic term that describes the phenomenon as a certain state that the brain enters. This is the term used for the phenomenon in science and academia. However, in certain mystical circles it can also be code for entering parallel worlds and dimensions. In some practices it is also believed that the "dream body" can travel throughout the physical world. This term does little to arouse the average person’s interest due to its unfortunate associations with ordinary dreaming.
Out-of-Body Experience This term usually means the exit of some essence or another (the soul, for example) from the confines of the body into either the physical world or a parallel one. Due to the fact that one’s sensory perception of the phenomenon often seems identical to the sensation of leaving the body, this term is also appropriate from a pragmatic perspective, whatever the real nature of the phenomenon may be.
Astral Projection This term most often implies the ability of some essence (e.g. the soul or astral body) to not only separate from the body and enter the astral plane, but also to enter the physical world or the world of dreams. This term, being the most mystical one, easily attracts people of corresponding views while repelling pragmatists.
out-of-body experience or Phase State This is the term that unites all other names for the phenomenon. This term does not imply a priori support for any theory regarding the phenomenon besides the fact that all of the terms it encompasses refer to one and the same phenomenon, which many people might not agree with, i.e. out-of-body experience = lucid dreaming = out-of-body travel = astral projection. Although out-of-body experience is the ideal term to use when giving lessons, it is ill-suited for advertising since only seasoned practitioners are familiar with it. It also lacks intuitiveness.
Besides being free to come up with his own name for the phenomenon, a freely-practicing instructor is also entitled to create his own terminology regarding all other facets of it. However, he should be aware that using idiosyncratic terminology could cause serious difficulties for his students in their individual practices. Meanwhile, the instructions in this book only use terms that are intuitively clear and non-idiosyncratic.
An instructor is entitled to subscribe to any point-of-view regarding theories on the nature of out-of-body experience phenomenon. Experience shows that such views are best kept to oneself when teaching. The right thing to do is to give people practical experience while leaving it up to them to decide what the true nature of the phenomenon is: a state the brain enters, an exit to a parallel dimension, or something else. Although the final decision is up to you, keep in mind that theorizing during training sessions distracts from real practical experience and constitutes imposition of your own worldview – a worldview which may turn out to be erroneous.
Being neutral when it comes to theories on the nature of out-of-body experience is not only the right approach to take when teaching, but it also allows you to have more students, as you can bring in both mystics and pragmatists. It also allows you to sidestep numerous misunderstandings, disputes, and bad feelings. Following this rule is especially important for those wishing to make it onto the School of Out-of-Body Travel’s list of instructors.
Neutrality regarding theory is especially important when your work is focused solely on this phenomenon. If you are only teaching this practice to supplement your group’s pursuit of other practices, then you might adhere to theories appropriate for those practices.