Astral travelers touch down in Beirut

Top secret art once employed by CIA can maybe even lead to love ­though not in the physical world
The Daily Star (Lebanon), Mar. 21, 2003
Hannah Wettig, Daily Star staff

The CIA supposedly did it, and probably the KGB. Now a small group of Beirutis meets every week to learn how to do it.

Astral traveling, or remote viewing as it is also called, is just one form of spiritual experience, like transcendental meditation and reiki, that is becoming increasingly popular in Lebanon.

According to supporters, a trained remote viewer can make his energy leave his body and use it to go where ever he wants. He can check out his friend’s bedroom, visit outer space or even find hidden nuclear sites, as the CIA attempted to do in the late 1970s.

“It works, everybody can learn how to do it,” says Fouad, a practitioner of astral travel, who doesn’t want his real name mentioned because the practice is controversial in Lebanon’s multi-religious community.

He is leading the weekly session in a private home in a suburb of Beirut. About 10 middle-aged women and one man are gathered in the living room.

Fouad explains terms he has written on a white board ­ Astral Planes: Heaven, Hell, Angels.

“Our consciousness can not only fly to places on earth, but also to heaven,” he says. “But I can tell you, this is really difficult.”

He advises to start slow, to go step by step. Astral energy can make contact with angels or spirits, he explains.

“Many cultures believe in calling spirits, the Chinese, the Indians called spirits of ancestors. Jews, Muslims and Christians believe in angels.”

One woman asks if it is possible to find out about the future from these spirits.

Fouad answers diplomatically: “This is just a belief. Muslims kiss the Kaaba, and think it helps, Christians hold the cross and believe it helps. We don’t exactly know.”

“Astral traveling is no ritual,” he says, “but (about) developing your consciousness.”

He says the Soviet Union and the CIA allegedly used remote viewing for espionage.

“From the USSR we received information how accurate this method is. Almost 99 percent of the information was correct,” Fouad says.

But he also draws on the major religions, Eastern and Western, to prove his point:

“When the Prophet Mohammed traveled miraculously between Mecca to Jerusalem, we can explain this by astral travel.”

He has to be careful, he explains, because religious groups in Lebanon are not fond of these kind of activities.

“They consider it a threat to religious beliefs. That’s why we meet in a private home.”

There wasn’t anything religious about remote viewing when the CIA started its psychic unit in the late 1970’s.

It was the Cold War, and the Americans had found out by conventional spying methods that the Soviet Union was spending a lot of money on experimenting with the paranormal.

At the same time a New York artist, Ingo Swann, was experimenting with out of body experiences, and had made a name for himself with his American Society for Psychical Research.

Fearing that the Soviets could outrace them in the over worldly, the CIA, contacted Swan and began a project called Grill Flame or Stargate.

Some information from the highly secretive logs was disclosed in 1995 after the CIA announced the closure of

the program.

The main activity of the ghost-finders had been to discover the whereabouts of hostages ­ with breathtaking results, claim the supporters of the program. But it never led to the recovery of a single missing person, say critics.

There was the case of Marine Corps Colonel William R. Higgins, who was taken hostage in Lebanon in 1988. Six psychics conducted 113 sessions. They described the building in which Higgins was presumably held, and another hostage later confirmed that this was, indeed, the building Higgins had been in at the time of the session.

“The psychics also accurately said Higgins had been killed at a time when other US intelligence information suggested that he was alive,” reported the Washington Post in 1996.

Many times the psychic unit was able to describe details of buildings and rooms correctly. However, they could not find out crucial information like the street name or house number.

On tracking down Saddam Hussein, the psychics’ hints proved useless all together. And not everyone was able to cope with leaving his body and letting his energy fly around the world.

“One of the remote viewers left the army when he became convinced there was a Martian colony hidden beneath the new Mexico desert,” reported Newsweek in 1995.

Far from Fouad’s claimed 99 percent, the supporters of remote viewing within American intelligence admit that it leads to wrong results about 80 percent of the time, but say the other 20 percent can be helpful.

There are other things the American intelligence officers may have never heard about, like astral love ­ having a rendezvous with your loved one without ever physically meeting.

“Just do the exercise at the same time,” says Fouad, then adds, “Let me tell you a secret, sometimes you can make astral love without his help, without him even knowing.”

This may be due to women being more spiritual, he explains. Therefore, they also have more fun when making astral love.

“Women have a complete experience. We men, let’s say it makes us happy, but not really satisfied.”

But the Beiruti remote viewers are far from reaching such over worldly joys. First, they have to learn how to emit their astral energy.

The lights are turned off. Fouad tells the participants to close their eyes and relax ­ not an entirely easy task in a bending couch chair.

After some breathing exercises, he asks us to collect astral energy in the solar plexus. “Feel it,” he encourages people.

He explains, that once you feel lots of energy collecting in the center of your chest, you can let it out. “It stands in front of you like a cloudy substance,” claims Fouad.

Of course, you can only see that with your inner eye, since your physical eyes remain shut.

“Form a body shape with your energy,” he says. “Give it a nose, a mouth, hair, just like yours.”

The better you manage to make that substance look like yourself, the better you can travel, is Fouad’s prediction.

Now, the participants are told to move across the room and look at themselves from a distance. The session is short. After five or 10 minutes Fouad tells us to let the energy back in.

Omar says, he felt a strong heat in his breast. Giselle says, it felt like having a baby. Another woman is not so happy; she says she fell asleep. But Fouad assures her that she did well: “That is no sleep, it’s the highest form of trance.”

I say, that I only felt a little tickle in my left breast. Everyone bursts out laughing, Fouad comments: “Maybe some spirit was up to something dirty.”

Even though it isn’t clear whether anyone has actually left their body, the participants seem to have enjoyed the exercise.

“I do anything that develops my consciousness,” says Giselle afterward. “But you must find out what works for you.”

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This post was last updated: Monday, November 30, -0001 at 12:00 AM, Central European Time (CET)