Instant recap: Robert Monroe made a brave effort to apply the scientific method to his journeys out of the body, and achieved verification of many of his visits to friends & relatives in Locale I, the first layer of supraphysical reality. Then he discovered Locale II, a much vaster region that lay beyond the laws of physics and the faculties of embodied beings.
3. Far Journeys
In Journeys Out of the Body, published in 1971, Monroe told how his search for answers about OOBE led him out of mainstream circles and into what he called “the Underground”. After some elliptical descriptions of the kind of people he met there and what their interests were, we see that he was referring to a subculture that did not have a distinct popular designation in that era of the 1950s and early ’60s, but was sometimes called mystic-occult. He didn’t name any names, but his general remarks show a kind of affectionately critical attitude toward the denizens of the “Underground”: he respected many of the individuals for their contributions to this field on the fringes of human knowledge, but collectively he regarded them as lacking sufficient intelligence, higher education, and scientific discipline to navigate and map the undiscovered countries in a truly effective way. And so he set out to the job himself.
His second book, Far Journeys, tells how he used his considerable economic and technical resources, and his expanding influence among highly-placed professionals, to establish the Monroe Institute in a scenic area of Virginia. It had many of the accoutrements of a sleep laboratory, like equipment to monitor the vital functions of people while they lay on cots in semi-isolated chambers; but here the self-selected subjects of the experiments did their best to stay awake, to move into altered states of consciousness, and ultimately to move out of their physical bodies.
The Monroe Institute opened in 1971, right at that magical cusp when the wave of acid graduates from the ’60s were swelling the ranks of the mystic-occult scene, upgrading it to a New Age ~ and the Institute itself was a major catalyst of the transmutation.
Monroe writes in a somewhat different style in this book, reflecting the change in his social paradigm and his experiences in the far reaches of Locale II. The scientific nexus is still there, but has softened to an undertone. He and his colleagues and fellow voyagers had acquired conclusive empirical knowledge of the reality of the soul, life after death, reincarnation, and a spectacular array of disincarnate beings ~ but they were sophisticated enough to know that the scientific establishment would scorn their findings and reject their discoveries. So Monroe felt free to resort to a mythic-symbolic method of prosody to convey to the reader a sense of the vital essence of adventures which he emphasized were utterly beyond the bounds of language to describe in a straightforward way.
In the immaterial rings surrounding the physical Earth Monroe encountered many beings who were comfortably human, including deceased friends and relatives. Others had distinctly alien characteristics, though he was disappointed in his hope of meeting extraterrestrials who literally hailed from physical planets in other star systems. Instead, the non-human and superhuman intelligences he met seemed to be visitors from a boundless array of worlds that only partially overlapped with hard matter, if at all. Nevertheless, he described all the strange creatures, and the mind-bending realities in general, in a style of casual familiarity which intentionally avoided any terminology that could be used to deify them or to dogmatize his reports. It makes for such easy, compelling reading that we often don’t grasp the bombshell revelations except on further reflection.