Bilocation, Astral Projection and Subjective Experience
It is widely claimed that the human person is composed of two bodies, one of which is the thick shell of the other: the physical body, and the spirit body. The spirit body is invisible and ethereal, made of a substance not perceptible to matter or to the senses, and interpenetrates the physical body in a unity of matter and spirit. It is sometimes thought that in dreams the subconscious mind can project the spirit body into other realms or universes of existence, or other physical locations.
The idea that the spirit body can leave the physical body and either penetrate other worlds of existence, or travel to other physical locations, is called astral projection. Some think of it as the experience of mind separating from the parameters of its bodily existence, usually linked by a long umbilical thread that keeps body and mind connected. The unconscious mind, it is thought by others, is familiar with the spirit body, and the body already roams spiritual realms through lucid dreaming.
Bilocation is another experience altogether, one of mind over matter. There are variations of thought about what occurs during bilocation, but the most common notion is that the physical body itself inhabits two separate spaces, often great distances apart, at the same time. There are reported events of people, often mystics or regarded as saints, being at two places at once. This is also thought to be an innate quality of the unconscious mind, perhaps suppressed into the subconscious mind through conventional concepts of logic, order and reality.
Skeptics claim that both astral travel and bilocation is bunk. The experience of mind over matter could be attributed to desires of the subconscious mind, operating in the same manner as do dreams that actually only take place in the mind, perhaps symbolic of repressed feelings of entrapment brought on by general malaise or difficult circumstances – the common desire to be somewhere else other than where one is. The unconscious mind might also play a role in originating such an experience as the desire to connect with other people in other places, as well.
Others who are usually associated with fundamentalist western religious sects – Jewish, Christian and Muslim – are more likely to interpret experiences of astral mind travel or mind over matter via bilocation as having a demonic origin, malevolent forces playing upon the frailties of the subconscious mind by convincing the practitioner that their spirit bodies are traveling elsewhere when in fact they are not.
The noted psychiatrist, Carl Jung, however claimed that the experiences of the astral body were archetypical symbols in the collective unconscious mind of man’s search for a soul. He did not view the subject as purely subjective and experienced only in the individual mind, but like an astral plane considered the collective unconscious to be an objective reality that manifest mind over matter and bridged actual distances. Whatever the case may be, the phenomena are real to the participants, and open to various modes of interpretation.