Spiritual travel is a form of out-of-body experience done voluntarily to achieve a spiritual goal. In order to have an out-of-body experience, the soul or consciousness of the individual must temporarily leave the physical body. During out-of-body experience, the physical senses shut down. When this occurs, an entirely new world opens up to the individual. Spiritual travel is a special type of out-of-body experience where the individual's awareness is heightened, and he or she is able to make decisions and direct the experience.
The spectrum of experience afforded by spiritual travel is very broad and can include a wide variety of psychic and spiritual states. In most cases, the spiritual traveler is able to clearly remember the experiences and learn from them.
Spiritual travel is sometimes called transcendent or ecstatic experience because it deals with the "inner" senses rather than the physical senses. It also deals with states of being seemingly independent of the physical world.
The Purpose of Spiritual Travel
The goal of spiritual travel is mystical or transcendent religious experience. The reason for an interest in spiritual travel is that it provides a unique means of approaching these distant and extraordinary states of religious awareness. It does this by exposing the spiritual seeker to a series of lessons about the nature of identity, and the freedom of the soul to travel in various non-physical environments. These lessons gradually introduce the spiritual traveler to a variety of psychic and spiritual states containing increasing degrees of individual freedom, and spiritual awareness. In addition, spiritual travel provides an inner laboratory where the seeker can experiment with techniques and methods of moving through the more limited psychic states of awareness and into these distant spiritual realms.
Near-Death Experience as a Limited Form of Spiritual Travel
One common form of spiritual travel seen in the modern West is near death experience. The concept of near-death experience was developed by Dr. Raymond Moody Jr. in his book Life After Life in 1975. In near death experiences, a person comes close to death due to sickness or injury, and the person's soul temporarily leaves the physical body. In the early stages of a near-death experience, the spiritual traveler usually views his or her lifeless body and the surrounding physical environment from a short distance away. This is usually followed by a shift of awareness to a non-physical environment in the later stages of the experience where the traveler encounters a spiritual guide or "being of light". Near-death experience is a limited form of spiritual travel in three respects.
First, it occurs spontaneously as a result of a medical crisis rather than voluntarily as part of a spiritual search. Second, though the individual seems to exercise some control over out-of-body movements in the physical environment, the more religious and other-worldly elements of the experience are usually controlled by some outside force such as a guide. This guide directs the near-death experience without any request or permission from the traveler who has little power over what occurs. Third, near-death experience while many times uplifting and lifechanging is usually limited to a series of repeating states or stages, and is not as broad or wide-ranging as spiritual travel experience.
Fortunately, it is not necessary for an individual to undergo a near-death experience (medical crisis) to have a spiritual travel experience.
Spiritual travel is a tool for the spiritual seeker. An individual can engage in a spiritual practice designed to induce spiritual travel experiences. It is possible for the advanced spiritual traveler to control the contents of a spiritual travel experience.