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Record Type: Review   ID: 577

Out of This World: Otherworldly Journeys From Gilgamesh to Albert Einstein

Couliano, I.P.

 Multicultural anthology of writings on out-of-body and ecstatic visionary experiences from earliest recorded times to date. Thus, Couliano is concerned with several types of exceptional experience and connects the literature of the past with experiential accounts of today. Couliano taught religion at the University of Chicago until he was murdered a few years ago. The cultures and schools represented are shamanism world-wide, Mesopotamia, Ancient Egypt, Taoist China, Buddhism, Ancient Iran, Ancient Greece, Jewish mysticism, Gnosticism, Platonism and Neoplotinism, Early Christianity, and Muslimism, and early modern Europe. Three of the most interesting parts of the book are the Introduction, Chapter 1, and the Conclusion. In the first, he provides a multidisciplinary approach to otherworldly visions and other consciousness states, looking at them from the viewpoints of the historian, the epistemologist, the psychologist, the ethnosemiotician, and of course, the religionist. The first chapter is entitled "A Historian's Kit for the Fourth Dimension," and assesses the "extent to which otherworldly visions still seem to be current in the life of many modern men and women" (p. 32), largely through a survey of the literature of higher dimensions. In his Conclusion, Couliano extracts the common core of the experiences revealed in his survey of "otherworldly journeys according to space and time" (p. 232) and relates it to religious cultures. He proposes that "other worlds without limit will continue to be multiplied by our minds, which in so doing will be exploring their own limitless possibilities" (p. 235).
Publisher Information:Boston, MA: Shambhala, 1991. 287p. Chap. notes: 236-265; Name Index: 269-277; Place Index: 267-269; Subject Index: 277-287
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