Remembering Bob (not his real name) and his thousand keys

Years ago during one of the new age tidal waves of enthusiasm for all things psychic, spiritual and otherworldly, I took a course in one of the disciplines of the day that promised to show me how to improve my psychic powers. The course did what it said it would do.

oldkeyWhile the course followed a set lesson plan everywhere in the country where it was taught, those of us in Bob’s course probably saw many phenomena and discussed many ideas that weren’t on the agenda elsewhere. Quite simply, the reason was Bob and his enthusiasm for everything that might tangentially be related to the course’s core ideas.

Bob had the kind of vision that would have made a university’s doctoral dissertation committee proud, for he was forever “surveying” the literature and finding new associations to ideas most people would have lost track of in the more obscure footnotes. The downside, however, was that if he were writing a new age doctoral dissertation, he would never finish it because the data about practices, techniques, theories and methods was, of course, open ended and could never be compiled into a definitive research paper.

Keys to Everything

chakraDuring late-night, after class discussions, Bob was forever saying “if we can just find the key, we will finally know how everything in the psychic world works.” This was, of course, what we wanted to hear. But, once again, there was a downside to this approach because it meant that every time Bob came across an ancient (yet newly discover) system/book/method, THAT was suddenly the key to the world–in his view. We went through phases on new keys and newer keys. Certain principles of Yoga became a key, followed by an in-depth study of Huna mysticism, and then some of the deep secrets being channeled by discarnate entities.

Bob’s enthusiasm led us to discover many new ideas (new to us, though often very ancient) and to consider that there are many approaches to new age techniques that, in fact, are more related to each other in substance than might initially be obvious. People talk about the same things with different words and/or enhance what they’re doing with rituals that make the object of their work appear alien when, in fact, it’s similar to something one already knows.

I don’t know if Bob ever found his master key because those of us who were the mainstay members in his courses moved away over time and lost track of each other. In some ways, Bob couldn’t stick with each new thing long enough to totally understand it or to see if it could be totally integrated into the techniques we were already practicing. Sadly, many of us started to become a little jaded about some of the new ideas Bob brought into the classroom because we knew it was a matter of time before they were proclaimed as the new key.

But what about last week’s key and the key from the week before that?

My thoughts in those days–and since–have probably traveled down many roads I never would have seen had it not been for Bob and his preoccupation with keys and the idea that something miraculous was always just around the corner. Then, as now, I believed that we create our own reality and that whatever we perceive as keys and miracles are our own creation. Bob didn’t believe that and we had many debates about whether or not he was creating clues (without consciously knowing it) and throwing them out onto the road ahead for him to find later.

While we never came to a common ground on this subject,  I’ve carried his scatter-shot enthusiasm with me for forty years because it keeps me young, open minded, and willing to look at alternative ideas. Perhaps we all need a Bob in our lives who can’t stick with anything long enough to fully know it but who serves as a catalysts for the rest of us.

Thanks for the ideas, Bob, and for showing me so many real or imagined doorways.


Malcolm R. Campbell is the author of magical realism, fantasy, and paranormal short stories and novels that probably came to mind one way or another because years ago, Bob said, “I’ve found the key that unlocks the world.”

Does anyone remember this astral projection exercise?

When I was in high school, I bought a book that purported to teach a variety of psychic techniques. Unfortunately, I no longer remember the name of the book or what happened to it.

Wikipedia photo
Wikipedia photo

The book included an astral projection exercise far different than the usual ones which suggest lying down, meditating and ultimately visualizing oneself floating above the bed.

Here’s what I remember about it:

  • Sit in a comfortable chair and relax at a time when nobody else is home.
  • Stand up and walk to some other location in the house noting what you see along the way.
  • Return to the chair.
  • Close your eyes and visualize taking that same walk through the house, seeing in your mind’s eye what you saw when you physically walked through the house. Remember any smells, textures, lights and shadows, etc. as specifically as you can.
  • Visualize returning to the chair.
  • Now, open your eyes and physically walk through the house again by the same route and return to the chair.
  • Next, visualize taking that walk through the house.
  • According to the book, you will sooner or later return to the chair and find yourself already sitting there. Supposedly when this happens, you will be in your astral body and can experiment with willing yourself to appear in one room or another and, in time, at other places.

I tried this exercise several times, but never made many physical or mental walks through the house because the longer I did it, the more I began to dread that it would work. Why this exercise bothered me, I’m not sure. Maybe it was the loss of control, the idea that I would just stumble across myself rather than lifting away from myself in a controlled way.

Has anyone ever heard of this, much less tried it? If so, did it work?

This is a curiosity question because something about this exercise has always bothered me. I wish I could track it down and read the instructions and rationale again to see why I felt panic rather than curiosity about it.


MoonLightandGhostsAs you might expect, Malcolm R. Campbell is the author of books and stories in the paranormal, magical realism and fantasy genres, including “Moonlight and Ghosts.”