Bob Rame, a New York businessman of forty-four, is persecuted by frequent, violent migraines. One day when he is in his firm’s laboratory, he accidentally breathes ether. This makes him a bit drowsy but also relieves the pain. As his migraines also prevent him from sleeping, he gets into the habit of taking a little dose of ether each evening.
Soon, however, reports his doctor, the famous Doctor Puharich, his sleep is accompanied by strange phenomena. He has the very clear sensation of leaving his body, rising above himself and seeing himself in the position that he was at the moment of going to sleep… a bit like standing on your balcony and watching yourself pass by in the street, which is what the positivist philosopher Auguste Comte had already decreed was impossible.
Our man at first thinks that he is dreaming. He attributes to the ether the fact that his dreams allow him to traverse walls and rise to float above the roof of his house.
He is not at all troubled by the fact that during all of these exercises he has the impression of being perfectly lucid.
For nine months, Bob Rame continues using this far from banal therapy: a whiff of ether, sleep, then the liberation of his body and wandering weightless in the air. Finally waking, with the slightly disappointing sensation of being obliged to dress again in his garment of flesh.
And then one day, he has his liberating “hallucination” without the help of ether.
And it’s a lot better.
Now he can rise into the air until he no longer distinguishes the rooves of houses, and then plunge into the depths, still keeping the same impression of lucidity and control over all his faculties.
One day, after a voyage which appears to him to be unusually long, he finds himself in a dark place with several unknown faces bending over him. In his head, astonishment is replaced by horror when he sees that these people appear to be very happy to see him wake up… As if they had helped a dying man recover consciousness… At the same time, he feels strong pain in his body. He tries to cry out: “I’m not who you think I am”, but he can’t.
Another time, he wakes up in the body of a drunkard whom his drinking companions are taking back home.
The very serious Doctor Puharich then proposes an experiment to him.
Boris, a friend of Rame, has fallen seriously ill. Doctor Puharich suggests that Rame attempt to fly towards Boris, towards his villa, surrounded by a garden and situated on a neighbouring hill. One afternoon, after having assured himself that Boris is in his bed, watched by his wife Lomar, Rame attempts the experiment.
He enters fairly rapidly into a trance, and at twenty-five past four exactly, he is above the villa.
Surprise: Lomar comes out followed by her husband. Still very conscious, Rame tells himself that has just proven the mistaken inconsistency of his dream. Boris is in his bed. He reports later:
“As they were coming towards me, I tried to draw their attention by some sign, but with no result”.
He has plenty of time to see that Boris is wearing an overcoat and a hat and that Lomar is dressed in a black skirt and jacket and a red jumper. Before waking, Rame also sees Lomar open the garage door and the couple’s car leave.
Later, when he recounts it, Rame’s entourage is of course disappointed.
However, Puharich proposes telephoning Boris to make an exact comparison between the dream and reality.
Lomar answers and Rame asks her what she was doing between four and five. She replies that she had gone to the Post Office. On foot? By car. What time? Around twenty or twenty-five past four. Boris was in bed? Not at all. As it was a fine day, he had wanted to go out for a while. Lomar had made him put on an overcoat and hat, but the little trip had tired him out. How was Lomar dressed? In a black suit with a red jumper, why?
All the primitive cultures in Africa, Polynesia, northern Asia are founded on the existence of the “shaman”, this man, who is a sorcerer, a priest and a doctor, all at the same time, and who has the faculty of leaving his body and sending his “double”, his “soul”, or “spirit” to great distances.
It is true that drugs can play a role. The Mongols and the Ancient Egyptians used a poisonous mushroom, the fly agaric, to translate to prophetic hallucination, and peyote, a poison drawn from a cactus, still serves the same purpose among certain Mexican Indians.
In Christian tradition, Christ was transported onto a high mountain on the Devil’s wings, but does without him for other “apparitions” in unexpected places. Drugs do not appear anywhere in Christian tradition or practice.
On the other hand, strange manifestations of mysticism do. On this subject, Catherine of Sienna’s powers are often cited, or the more recent case of Padre Pio, the Italian monk, who died in 1968. Very numerous witness statements indicate that Padre Pio “travelled” outside his body and that he sent his “double” or something like it, to people who distinctly saw it. Very serious accounts abound: those of the Archbishop of Salto, Monsignor Barbieri, those of General Cadorna who, in 1917, lost the Battle of Caporetto against the Austro-Germans.
Victor Hugo was once seen by several honorable people walking for a long time in a Jersey square while other equally serious witnesses assure that he had never left his desk. It is true that Hugo was an enlightened spiritist.
Let us go back to the three cases presented. All three show striking similarity: the three people appear to be in perfect control of their intellectual capacities. In any case, none of them is “mad” or dishonest.
Parsus insists on the extraordinary appearance of reality in his dream. Pat remains perfectly lucid the whole time of her “voyage” in Germany and even shows criticism of her own comportment.
As for Rame, all through his voyages, he has the impression of always remaining perfectly conscious and attentive. He is capable of thinking, of being surprised, of asking questions and, apart from the “illusion” that he is moving in the air, he is the victim of no fantasmagory, no deformation of facts or things…
To be continued.