What do EBTs say about Astral Travelling?

I had some strange experiences with myself as a child. Though, most people won’t believe me and will probably call me insane. But I know my experiences to be true and don’t need anyone’s certification. As a child, I have went outside of my body and have flied in the air. It was all dark in the room except some dim light coming from a dim bulb. I was afraid that I was away from my physical body. I was also in fear as I saw two elders fighting aggressively. I think this happened due to the aggressive fight between those two elders that I came out of my body.

Does anyone know, that why did this happen? How can I go out of my body once again? Did Buddha preached any doctrine of doing this? What did Buddha had to say about this?

1 Like

Dear Abhinav,

thank you for your courage to share this experience.

It is certainly not a prove of insanity to have experiences like this. I know a few people who could share similar stories. There have even books been written about this phenomenon, it is called out-of-body experience.

I know of some cases where it happened to children who found themselves in extreme and hopeless situations, and it shares some features with near-death experiences. But there are other cases where people seem to have this experience without any traumatic situation.

I know even of one scholar who took his out-of-body experiences as a starting point for his research (Thomas Metzinger: The Ego Tunnel).

To my knowledge there is no explicit description of this phenomenon in the EBTs—but I might have overlooked something.


Powers such as this can happen but usually require advanced concentration practice, and are spoken about in the Pali Canon as incidental to the path. My guess is your childhood experience is probably something else unless you were practicing concentration meditation at that time. The Buddha discouraged seeking supernormal powers for their own ends, and forbade monks from demonstrating them in most circumstances.

In other words, the Buddha would probably dissuade you from seeking out this kind of experience and bring the discussion back to what he taught about-- suffering and the end of suffering.


It’s possible that the EBTs discuss a similar phenomenon when they mention a 'mind made body" (S. manomaya-kāya, C. yisheng shen 意生身).


I don’t know what the Nikāyas or Theravada says to that phenomenon.
Years back I practised Lucid Dreaming for a long time. With one technique I had several of these so-called Out-Of-Body Experiences as a by-product. They are very distinct from the other states I experienced.
I never saw them as something special. The best thing I got from this was - after another also interesting state - I could sometimes directly see how a dream and my dream-body started.


Undoubtedly. I meant in the Pali Canon, phenomena similar to this are termed as Iddhi/Powers if it can be replicated or done at will.


Thank you brethrens for answering me.

Does anyone of you know how to go outside of my body? I have heard Osho (not his fan) speaking about that and I think he was correct.
I just rely on Buddha and not on anyone else. I want to know the Buddhist method particularly in Theravada tradition to perform this supernatural action. Is there any book written by any Buddhist scholar on this subject? Please answer me. I am very curious.

There is research done on rebirth and similar occurrences. I wish I remembered off the top of my head the researchers. Very interesting stuff. One story was that of an individual who was brought back after their heart stopped and they knew there was a coin on top of a shelf or cabinet in the room which they saw when experiencing an out of body moment during the ordeal. This story was verified. Very interesting, indeed.

Dear Abhinav,

I was discussing this recently with a bikkhu, who pointed out the dangers of becoming too involved with these kinds of experiences, they are mind made and linked to conditioned reality, not beyond samsara. and it is possible to get lost in them and be diverted from the path. A perspective I found really useful :slight_smile:



Hi Abhinav,
I also had such experiences as a child. I remember floating down the hallway in our house at night - this happened a number of times. It is actually a common phenomena. A study years ago in Australia estimated that about 25% of the population will have an out of body experience sometime in their life. As to why it happened - my guess is that this is a normal human capability that like other capabilities is more strongly expressed in some than others.
It is definitely a skill that can be cultivated. Current thinking is that this is a close relative of what is called remote viewing - of which there are many examples in the ebt’s. The difference being that the remote viewer does not experience having a non-physical body - the idea being that we create a body to travel around in not because we need to but because we are so used to having a body.
Try searching you tube for “Thomas Campbell out of body” and you will find a number of talks on the practice and his technique - which is essentially a type of concentration practice (which is consistent with Buddhism). Campbell also addresses the issue of fear and in fact the practice can be a way of learning about fear in a safe environment. You might also take a look at the Monroe Institute. If you are interested in other sources let me know.
The practice as presented by Campbell can help you develop concentration and also to step back from thinking we are our physical bodies - a not self practice.

Here’s one article on recent research into OBEs:

1 Like

BTW, this isn’t a Theravada forum, this is a forum for Early Buddhist Textual study and discussion. It so happens that the Theravada has well-preserved the EBT’s, but so have the Northern traditions. Most Theravadins actually favor the Theravada Abhidhamma and later commentaries to the EBT’s on most issues AFAIU.
“Astral travel” is a term associated with medieval European neo-Platonic esotericism (Alchemy, Hermeticism, etc.); the idea is that there are several realms including the Astral which as the name implies goes back to an idea that the stars (astrum) were made of a fifth substance (in a Platonic/Aristotelian elemental theory not unlike the Ancient Indian). There was thought to be some influence from the Astral realm (the stars/heavens and angels in a God-centered metaphysics) and the human, and that in OBE’s you could access this realm. So the whole “Astral” thing has more to do with Astrology and the history of Western Esotericism than Buddhism. Early Buddhism had a different “metaphysics”, if you will.

The Buddha of the EBT’s lists out a few supernormal powers (6 abhiññā in the standard list I think).

When their mind has become immersed in samādhi like this—purified, bright, spotless, rid of taints, pliable, workable, steady, and imperturbable—they extend it and project it toward the creation of a mind-made body. From this body they create another body, physical, mind-made, complete in all its various parts, not deficient in any faculty.

Suppose a person was to draw a reed out from its sheath. They’d think: ‘This is the reed, this is the sheath. The reed and the sheath are different things. The reed has been drawn out from the sheath.’ Or suppose a person was to draw a sword out from its scabbard. They’d think: ‘This is the sword, this is the scabbard. The sword and the scabbard are different things. The sword has been drawn out from the scabbard.’ Or suppose a person was to draw a snake out from its slough. They’d think: ‘This is the snake, this is the slough. The snake and the slough are different things. The snake has been drawn out from the slough.’ In the same way, when their mind has become immersed in samādhi like this—purified, bright, spotless, rid of taints, pliable, workable, steady, and imperturbable—they extend it and project it toward the creation of a mind-made body. From this body they create another body, physical, mind-made, complete in all its various parts, not deficient in any faculty. This too, great king, is a fruit of the ascetic life that’s apparent in the present life which is better and finer than the former ones.

Frequently, when the supernormal powers are listed the Buddha makes the point that full liberation is greater still. (as happens in DN2, linked above)
(As a side note, I remember a friend commenting that the Buddha did praise those who developed the supernormal powers. For instance, Moggallāna who was foremost in such powers is sometimes referred to as Mahāmoggallāna (great Moggallāna) whereas Sariputta who was foremost in wisdom (and didn’t demonstrate such powers (afaiu, could be corrected on this)), was always just “Sariputta”. :cry: )
There’s actually a sutta reference I can’t find at the moment that says something like “all these powers are only experienced by the individual” and so are illusory in a way. However, the way it seems in the EBT’s is that other people experienced these “magics”, such as when the Buddha scolds the monks for showing off their abilities in public (I think this is in the backstory to Parajika 4).
Personally, I’m skeptical that these experiences (although very real for the experiencer) extend into our shared reality (what modern Western people generally mean by “reality”). In other words, I think most of those stories of operating room OBE’s will have mundane scientific explanations. Perhaps some deep part of the brain can be aware, for instance, people in comas that have come back say they remember hearing things and general anaesthesia is just a controlled medically induced coma. So that you could hear a conversation or remember something that you weren’t consciously aware of or know the location of something based on sound.
I don’t think there’s much difference from “lucid dreaming” which is now scientifically demonstrable. It’s just that in OBE/Astral (of the type that people can “do”, not the “operating-room” variety) you go directly into a lucid dream, what a lucid dreamer would call a WILD (wake induced lucid dream), it’s just that because you’ve gone from waking right into a dream your memory of waking life flows right in. So you would get up and you’re in the room you just fell asleep in (unbeknownst to you yet), look around, and there’s you! Asleep! So what body is this? (like a reed and it’s sheath) The only thing it has to do with waking life/reality is your memory/imagination of such.
The US Government actually did some experiments with Remote Viewing (RV) because they had heard Russia was doing all sorts of spooky supernatural experiments, they later abandoned the project as it had failed to provide anything useful.
Many of the spiritual/magical/miraculous imaginings of peoples past have become real. Though technology — not in the way they imagined it! You can have a conversation in real-time with someone halfway around the world (telepathic communication). Disabled people can move objects with their brains through Brain-Computer Interfaces (telekinesis). You can access a good amount of the world’s knowledge through the internet (Akashic records). You can wear an invisibility cloak (US Military has apparently developed an invisibility-granting mirror-like nanomaterial). I could go on, but I think you get the point, all of these things are so readily demonstrable and yet the claims of the paranormalists go unverified.
Nobody has ever claimed James Randi’s “One Million Dollar Paranormal Challenge”.

1 Like

There are many documented medical cases about Near Death Experience ( NDE ), almost all of these experiences shares the same characteristic, namely experiences such as getting out of the physical body and floating. I personally consider this as a ‘super consciousness’ phenomenon, because as far as I know humans have 3 kinds of consciousness, namely :

  1. Subconsciousness
  2. Normal consciousness
  3. Super consciousness

Subconscious phenomenon occur in people who are being hypnotized or dreaming

Normal consciousness is the ordinary consciousness that we feel everyday being aware of everything

This super consciousnes might be the same as this ‘NDE’ or ‘OBE’ ( Out of the Body Experince ) phenomenons.

Is this the same as ‘Jhana’ which mentioned in the Buddhist literatures, I don’t know…

Thank you…


Mind that as per MN38, the Buddha is recorded to have openly rejected a model of a superconscious mind as the one summarized in the graph you share above:

"Is it really true, Sāti, that you have such a harmful misconception: ‘As I understand the Buddha’s teachings, it is this very same consciousness that roams and transmigrates, not another’?”
“Absolutely, sir. As I understand the Buddha’s teachings, it is this very same consciousness that roams and transmigrates, not another.”
“Sāti, what is that consciousness?”
“Sir, it is he who speaks and feels and experiences the results of good and bad deeds in all the different realms.”
“Foolish man, who on earth have you ever known me to teach in that way?
Haven’t I said in many ways that consciousness is dependently originated, since consciousness does not arise without a cause?
But still you misrepresent me by your wrong grasp, harm yourself, and make much bad karma.
This will be for your lasting harm and suffering.”


@Gabriel_L Thank you for your correction, I accepted it. But how do you think we should explain this OBE phenomenon from the perspective of Buddhism ?. This is a sensation that is felt or at least admitted to be feel by many people, especially those related to the phenomenon of NDE, what or who feels out of the physical body and floating.

Thank you.

To me it is related to the concept of manomaya kāya, which is a subtle and possible aspect of experience related to the mind sense base , one of the many modes of proliferation the Buddha told us is inherently suffering and needs to be stilled for cessation of suffering to be realized.

Our friend @jayarava wrote back in 2014 some interesting essays on the topic:

From which I highlight:

“We must be quite careful not to project modern ideas about the mind backwards in time and attribute them to the ancient Buddhists.
Mind was not a function of the brain, but more likely of the heart (which we now know to be a slab of muscle for pumping blood).
No distinction was made between thoughts and emotions (both were lumped into the category citta), but instead experience was understood as having physical (kāyika) and mental (cetasika) aspects depending on how they were presented to awareness, i.e. whether awareness arose in dependence on the five physical senses or the manas.
Mind or consciousness was not a theatre of, or a container for, experience (see The ‘Mind as Container’ Metaphor).
There was no resting-state consciousness waiting for sensory input, but instead we become aware of something when sense object and sense organ overlap and create the conditions for mental activity to arise (if any aspect of this set up is waiting for stimulus it is the organ itself, which is conceived of as being literally struck by sense impressions).
The implication being that when there is no input, or, as in deep sleep, no viññāna to process the input, then we are not aware. Most importantly the ancient Buddhists focussed exclusively on cognition as a process rather than the mind as an entity.
Where we are tempted to translate a Pali word as ‘the mind’, we’ll find that ‘mental activity’ is almost always a better choice in the sense of more accurately conveying the understanding of the authors.
There is no sense of having an organ ‘the mind’, which does the activity of thinking (as we conceptualise it now).
‘The mind’ precisely is the activity of thinking.
Lastly as far as we can make out from their literature, the early Buddhists were not mind-body dualists, which is to say that, though they could make a distinction between mental and physical cognitions, they did not suppose the mind and body to be made of different stuff.
To the extent they thought about ontology (which was seldom if ever) they seem to consider that phenomena were all of one kind no matter to which sense organ they presented themselves.”



I think they did see mind (phassa, vedana, sanna, cetana, manasikara) and matter (patavi, apo, tejo, vayo, and things made from them) as composed of stuff, but that is a digression from the topic.

Maybe Abhidhamma does. To me, suttas don’t. In those, the concept of dhatu is not about elemental and external particles but instead basic aspects or datum of dependently originated experience of suffering.

1 Like


Thanks for this


1 Like

I think people who experience the NDE or OBE phenomenon do not understand deep and complicated philosophical concepts, they only feel that their mind, their mentality, their consciousness or whatever its name can come out of the physical body and float, in certain cases they can even fly far away to visit other places, or pay attention to what others do, then after that they can retell the accuracy that can be tested. I think such experiences are beyond the reach of traditional concepts…