Instant recap: Robert A. Monroe’s friend ‘BB’ is so alien that he knows nothing of human life or Earthly existence, so ‘RAM’ is in the process of guiding him on a tour. In the last chapter BB got his first glimpse of such rudimentary realities as food and shelter, gender and sexual intercourse, work and money, and the challenges of physical survival in face of the relentless threat of death.
4. Exploring the Rings
Once again Monroe had to suddenly depart from BB to tend to the needs of his physical body, and he was concerned about having left him in the middle of New York City. In an effort to get out-of-body again as quickly and easily as possible, he went to the Monroe Institute and availed himself of one of the booths set up with a waterbed and headphones for brain-synchronizing sound effects. As soon as he rolled out of his body, there was BB waiting for him. He said, “Hey, RAM ~ your survival must be going strong. You got more than one hut.”
Monroe explained that this was his workplace, and then BB mentioned that while he was waiting, he had encountered some of the other people engaged in the Institute’s organized OOBE program. He said that he had given them some “rote” ~ condensed information ~ and they were glad to get it. Gathering such rote from disembodied beings was a big feature of the program.
For the next stage of the tour RAM took BB back to New York, but this time in “the lowest of the cycling rings”, the first numenal layer which was “just out of phase with the physical”. This is called the etheric in the Western occult tradition; another postmodern OOBE adept calls it the real-time zone, to distinguish it from the farther zones where time is out of joint. BB’s first impression of it is very informative: he saw “no difference, except a big mass more of humans.” The “big mass” was comprised of souls of the dead, which BB was seeing superimposed on the street scene. They were people who did not yet realize they were dead, and were reflexively going through the actions they had performed in life. Most of them were confused because they passed through physical objects and could not be seen or heard by the people on the street. Many of them were trying to get physical satisfaction in their accustomed ways, like by smoking or drinking or sex, and were supremely frustrated to find out that they could no longer do it.
Now RAM took BB to a special location a short ways beyond the overlap with the material world, to show him “an extreme distortion of the survival drive”. Monroe had seen it before; he called it the “sexual pile”. It was a huge writhing heap of discarnate people engaged in what looked like an orgy, except that they weren’t getting any pleasure from it. He explained that these souls knew they were dead, or at least that their situation had changed in a way that they could do whatever they wanted ~ it seemed like they were no longer held accountable for their actions. Since they had been fixated on sex in life, they now compulsively followed this drive, and couldn’t break free of it, even though their activity in the sex pile just produced unending frustration. The nature of the energy generated by the mass was so repulsive that even the alien BB couldn’t stand it for long. He had gotten a mind-blowing rote on the human condition.
Next they ascended through zones holding souls at gradual stages of awakening from the dream of life and the shock of death. First there were “still gray forms” who were “barely conscious and waiting for something to happen”. In the next layer the forms had stirred to activity, each in a tight little sphere of their own, unaware of the other souls all around them. Monroe quoted samples of the thoughts they were broadcasting: there was a mother distressed by having been torn away from her child, swearing she would get back somehow; a man who had been about to retire with a lot of money, and was angry that now his wife would get all of it; a man overwhelmed by regret for having abused his wife; a teenage girl thinking cynically: “Shit, is that all there is to dying? I don’t see any God or angels. I knew it, I knew it! Shit!”
All this made a deep impact on BB, though he was very puzzled by it. Now they ventured to a farther ring to meet a man named Charlie whom Monroe had been friends with on Earth. In a previous visit, reported in Journeys Out of the Body, we learned that Charlie was very happy in his afterdeath niche, and had acquired the knack of creating extremely realistic simulations of beautiful earthly scenes. The two travelers came to the house he had created on the beach of a white-capped ocean with waves rolling in on a rocky shore. Charlie came out and greeted Monroe, who noticed that he still looked the same as he had in life, except for a change in the color and texture of his hair. Charlie said that he now had a girlfriend living with him, and she liked it better that way.
Charlie could barely see BB, but after a little mutual attunement he was able to hear him okay. He flatly refused to believe Monroe’s assertion that BB was from another non-physical world and wasn’t human; when BB assured him it was true, he decided that the two were colluding on a practical joke. Charlie said that the only extraterrestrials he could accept as real would be from other physical planets. But he invited BB to come back and visit him again any time.