|Of all the implications of the phenomenon of astral projection, surely the most profound is that we have an existence??"a conscious existence, with intelligence, feeling, memory and perception??"that is able to operate outside the physical body. If this consciousness can separate from the body while the body is living, why can it not survive when the body is dead?
The great novelist Louisa May Alcott recorded the following incident in her Journal, describing "a curious thing" that happened when her sister Betty died: "I will tell it here, for Dr. G said it was a fact. A few moments after the last breath came. . . I saw a light mist rise from her body, and float up and vanish in the air. Mother’s eyes followed mine, and when I said, ‘What did you see?’, she described the same light mist. Dr. G said it was life departing visibly."
More specifically, it was the astral body leaving the physical body behind as it headed for the great spiritual adventure that awaits us on the other side of death. Contrary to widespread belief in our culture, the afterlife is not an unknowable mystery to the living??"because living persons have been there and come back to tell us what it is like.
For the last hundred years psychical researchers have been collecting accounts of near-death experiences (NDEs). In the last decade or so physicians and psychologists have also become interested in the phenomenon.
NDEs are a special kind of out-of-body experience, in which consciousness is projected outside the body during life-threatening situations, such as a serious illness, a near-fatal accident or a suicide attempt. The NDE has a number of consistent elements, one, several or all of which the percipient will experience. The one nearly universal feature, however, is the sensation of separation from the body.
During this separation, the astral body may remain near the physical body and do little more than observe it and the activity around it. But in the most dramatic accounts the astral body travels far, far from this world and enters, if only for a short time, another dimension of existence entirely: the astral world.