Bob Monroe’s ‘Far Journeys’

Nancy Penn Monroe, much more than a wife,
whose constant and consistent love, support,
sharing, and understanding were the indispensable
elements in the writing and completion of this
The literally hundreds of others over the past
fifteen years who freely gave their time, energy, and
interest in so many different ways and without
whom very little would have been accomplished.

While studying these books in depth, and Robert’s life, I have noted that in 1971, not only did he get his first book published, but he also married Nancy Penn Honeycutt. After three brief, unsuccessful marriages, this one was the right one, and lasted ‘until death did them part’, twenty-three years later.
This means that for all those years from 1971 on, Bob was basically a happy man, in love and loved. This mutual love no doubt provided him with a safe emotional atmosphere that helped him to open up to the inner dimension of true love deep in himself and in the Universe as well. It was thanks to his wife that a process of change and healing in his own nature began, so important in his own eyes that he mentions it now and then in this second book, published in 1985 and record of the results achieved through what he still called ‘OOBEs’, during all the intervening years. Following a Prologue, this is how Bob starts the first chapter of his new book:

1. Old Local Traffic

If there is a first and obvious point to be made, I can report that I am still
alive physically after twenty-five years of exploring personally the out-of-body
experience. A little timeworn, but still more or less operational.
There were several moments when I was not so sure. However, some of
the best medical authorities have assured me that the physical problems I
have encountered have been simple cause-and-effect of living in the culture/
civilization of mid-twentieth century America. Some take another
position. I am still alive as a result of such OOBE activity. Take your pick.
So it would seem that one can practice “going out of the body” regularly
and survive. Also, after having been tested periodically by experts, I
can still make the statement that I am reasonably sane in a not so reasonably
sane world. There are many people who do strange things and get
away with it. A century ago, it might have been going over Niagara Falls
in a barrel.
What is the out-of-body experience? For those who have not encountered
the subject as yet, an out-of-body experience (OOBE) is a condition
where you find yourself outside of your physical body, fully conscious and
able to perceive and act as if you were functioning physically—with several
exceptions. You can move through space (and time?) slowly or apparently
somewhere beyond the speed of light. You can observe, participate
in events, make willful decisions based upon what you perceive and do.
You can move through physical matter such as walls, steel plates, concrete,
earth, oceans, air, even atomic radiation without effort or effect.
You can go into an adjoining room without bothering to open the door.
You can visit a friend three thousand miles away. You can explore the
moon, the solar system, and the galaxy if these interest you. Or—you can
enter other reality systems only dimly perceived and theorized by our
time/space consciousness.
It is not a new phenomenon. Recent surveys indicate some 25 percent
of our population remembers having at least one such experience. Man’s
history is full of reports of such events. In earlier literature, it was commonly
labeled “astral projection.” I began by refusing to use this term, as
it had an occult connotation and was certainly nonscientific by our standards.
Charles Tart, a psychologist friend, popularized the term “out-of-body
experience” when we were working together in the sixties. In the
past twenty years, it has become the accepted Western generic term for
this particular state of being. (…)

That the out-of-body experience frightened me then is a quantum understatement.
(…) I stubbornly began a search and research into the phenomenon
out of self-preservation and, as the fear and panic subsided, out of growing
curiosity. (…)
One thing is certain. The purpose of the previous book was many times
fulfilled. It brought thousands of letters from all parts of the world and
among them many hundreds of people wrote their personal thanks for a
reassurance that they were not mentally deranged, were not so much alone
after all with their “closet” secret experience that they could not explain,
and, most important, that they were not necessarily candidates for the
psychiatric couch or mental hospital. That was the stated purpose of the
original book: to help just one person avoid such needless incarceration.
I personally am bemused at the changes in these twenty-five years. In
most academic and intellectual societies, it is now quite acceptable to talk
about OOBEs. However, I’m sure that the great majority of people in our
culture are still unaware of this facet of their lives. In 1959 or 1960, I
certainly would have derided the idea that I might give a talk on OOBEs
at the Smithsonian Institution. Or papers on the subject would be presented
before the American Psychiatric Association. But they happened. (…)

Beginning in the seventies, I began to experience a frustration, a limitation in
my out-of-body activities. It is hard for some people to believe, I suppose,
but such travels actually became boring. The early excitement had long
passed. It became an effort to participate in controlled tests, and because
it was an effort, I began to sense that the particular theme of “proof” was
not part of my mode of operation. Moreover, when free of such testing
limitations, there didn’t seem to be anything exciting to do.
My deliberate inducement of the second state also became tedious because
I had found a simpler way to achieve it. I would wake up after two
or possibly three sleep cycles, or approximately after three or four hours,
and find myself already relaxed physically, rested, and completely wide
awake. In that state, I found it ridiculously easy to “unhook” and flow
freely out of the body. This, of course, posed the question of what to do.
Everyone else was asleep at three or four-thirty in the morning. There
seemed nothing to be gained by going and meeting people while they
were asleep, not any easy prospect for validation because of the hour. So
with no particular goal or attraction, I usually would drift around a bit,
then slip back in, turn on the light, read until I was sleepy again, and that
was it.
This compounded the frustration, as there was still the compulsion. All
of the effort to work in the out-of-body state had to have some meaning or
importance beyond what my conscious mind (or those of others) thought
to be important.
In the spring of 1972, a decision was made that provided the answer.
The limiting factor was my conscious mind. Therefore, if OOBE decisions
were left up to that part of me, as they had been, I would remain just
as I was. I was too much in control—this left-brain “I.” What would
happen if I turned this decision-making process over to my total self
(soul?), who was purportedly conversant with such activities.
Believing this, I then put it into practice. The following night, I went
to sleep, went through two sleep cycles (about three hours), woke up, and
remembered the decision. I detached from the physical and floated free. I
said in my conscious mind that the decision to do is to be made by my
entire self. After waiting for what seemed only a few seconds, there was a
tremendous surge, a movement, an energy in that familiar spatial blackness,
and there began for me an entire new era in my out-of-body activities.
Since that night, my nonphysical experiences have been almost totally
due to this procedure.
The results have been of a nature so far removed from anything my
conscious mind could conceive of that a new problem arose. Although my
physical here-now consciousness is always a participant, better than 90
percent of such events seemed to me impossible to translate into the time-space
medium. It is as if one were to try to describe music, such as a
symphony orchestra with choir, and do it in words without the use of such
technical descriptions as notation, instruments, intervals, tonalities, and so
on. One can use such words as “nice,” “compelling,” “frightening,” “awe inspiring,”
“warm,” “loving,” “beautiful”—and be nowhere remotely near the actual description.
You do the best you can. (…)

One can see how determinant this remarkable inner choice has been, to turn over the guidance and decision-making to his soul. Far from being insignificant, this choice is symptomatic actually of the same thing being done, deep down, with his life-process in its entirety too. An altogether spiritual turning-point at the individual level. A collective one was imminent as well:

3. The Gateway Program

In the mid-seventies, a development took place that changed drastically
much of our activities. Only in retrospect did it become discernible.
Esalen at Big Sur in California invited us to conduct a weekend workshop
using our new methods and techniques. In a way, we took it to be
somewhat of a recognition of what we were doing. Esalen was then known
as a beginning source for many new types of psychological theory and
practice, and somewhat a fountainhead of intellectual approaches to the
human mind. (…)
Because we were dealing with unknown subjects, we brought with us an
affirmation for all of the participants to memorize before they started the
” I am more than my physical body. Because I am more than physical
matter, I can perceive that which is greater than the physical world.
Therefore, I deeply desire to expand, to experience: to know, to understand,
to control, to use such greater energies and energy systems as may
be beneficial and constructive to me and to those who follow me.
Also, I deeply desire the help and cooperation, the assistance, the
understanding of those individuals whose wisdom, development, and experience
are equal to or greater than my own. I ask their guidance and
protection from any influence or any source that might provide me with
less than my stated desires.”
Not long thereafter, we began to get requests from individuals and
other organizations to conduct more such sessions. After reviewing our
results, we decided that this would be a very productive way to conduct
experiments on such a broad scale that we could certainly not afford to do
otherwise. (…) We also began to recognize that we were creating for the participant a doorway,
a window, a gap through which he could achieve other states of
consciousness. Thus it became known as the Gateway Program. (…)

Because the Gateway Program is so difficult to produce and conduct
properly, each year we question the value of continuing it. All things
considered, it is certainly not a financial success, although supposedly we
are the only research facility that charges for the privilege of being a
volunteer. Each time we consider closing it down, we receive just coincidentally
another report from a graduate who states how meaningful and
how constructive have been the results of his attendance.
So we schedule another year of Gateways.

4. Explorer Team

Amid the diversion of Gateway sessions, visitors ranging from psychologists
and electronics engineers to ex-flower children with backpacks, mail
response to the original Journeys, we continued our research program with
our volunteer group in the laboratory. The group became consistently
more proficient in achieving other forms of consciousness, including the
out-of-body state. (…)
One of the most peculiar aspects was that their experiences paralleled
my own only in the preliminary stages. They could and did replicate my
own near out-of-body experiences but from that point on there seemed
little similarity. Possibly because of the confidence factor of a monitor
with whom to communicate, in some respects they had freedoms that I
had never experienced. (…)
Here is a typical “entry” report, the beginning of an OOBE, transcribed
from an early file recording during an experiment:

“I am going rapidly now through a tunnel—I was standing straight up
and now I am just sort of sucked up through this tunnel. It is very narrow
and I am rapidly shooting through this tunnel. Now I can see a point of
light at the other end. I am traveling rapidly to this point of light. It is
like I am on some type of light beam that is helping to propel me. I am
coming out. I am going into a different dimension and I have just completely
slowed down. And I am right at the opening of this point. And
now I am gently coming through and everything is green. It is so bright
that it is almost blinding because of coming out of a dark tunnel. It is a
different feeling. Now it is a real strong energy that seems to be pressing
against me. It is a great feeling now. This is a new energy level. I feel a
strong—everything around me is green. It is so bright that it is taking me
a minute to adjust and to absorb where I am.”

There was one “small” problem. Once our subjects passed through the
light or achieved the out-of-body state, they were not particularly interested
in hour after hour of dull searching for new effective sound frequency
patterns. They would still perform the tasks, but beyond the tunnel
and into the light was Paris! Keeping them on the farm was certainly
no trivial problem. So we had to play a little.
And play we did. We sent our subjects to explore the moon, which they
found a very dull place. We went to other parts of the solar system, the
other planets, and found them, as far as we could determine, nothing but
mile after mile of craters and mountains or simply layers of turbulent
matter—no vegetation, no sign of life, nothing to truly attract our human
attention. We did find that in such a state as the OOBE, a different kind
of consciousness seemed to exist. The overview of the subject was different.
For example, what to us in the control room was a minute could
become hours or timeless to the volunteer in the booth. It was at this
point that we began to call them our Explorer team.
Like most humans, we were possessed with the idea or hope that there
had to be intelligent life somewhere among the billions of stars that we
could perceive physically. So in our play we took to sending our Explorers
out beyond the solar system at what appeared a near-instantaneous change
of locale. The instruction was to keep going until he or she perceived
something worthwhile. They passed by the other suns, found other planets,
but no intelligent life. It seemed to us a sterile universe.
The change came in 1974. It took place in all of our Explorers within
several weeks. Some had never met one another, so there was no cross-communication.
In looking back to examine the reason for this massive
change, the only thing that we could find was: we had inserted the affirmation
developed for the Gateway Program at the beginning of each experimental
session in the lab. Other than that, we made no significant changes
in Hemi-Sync frequencies, basic environment, or methods of presentation.
It may have been the second part that was the catalyst:
“. . . Also, I deeply desire the help and cooperation, the assistance, the
understanding of those individuals whose wisdom, development, and experience
are equal to or greater than my own. I ask their guidance and
protection from any influence or any source that might provide me with
less than my stated desires.”
It was suddenly as if a curtain had been lifted. Almost every time one of
our Explorers went into the out-of-body state or simply into an advanced
Focus 12, they encountered intelligent beings who were more or less willing
to communicate—and could do so. After several years of finding only
barrenness, the effect upon us was overwhelming.

Again, this second paragraph was actually a direct call, sent with trust, to all entities acting for good in All There Is, for their assistance and protection, and such a call could come only from the Psychic Being’s innate trust in the Divine, whether the mind of the person concerned is aware of it or not. What we are witnessing that gradually took place in Robert Monroe and by extension also in at least a few of his fellow ‘Explorers’ is not just a development of knowledge through OBEs, but in fact at the same time a spiritual adventure, and this is why I will give it much importance on this blog, just as I do in my own life of Conscious Evolution.

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