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"The Separation of the Spirit Body" from The Secret of the Golden Flower, a Chinese handbook on alchemy and meditation.

Astral projection is a generic term for an "out of body experience" (OOBE) common to many occult and spiritual disciplines whereby the "consciousness" of a person leaves the physical or corporeal body and apparently travels either within the physical world independent of the corporeal body or to other non-physical realms. Astral Projection as a generic term includes such specific phenomena as lucid dreaming and the mystical exercise referred to as Rising on the Planes.

As a spiritual experience, astral projection may even be referenced in the Christian/Jewish Bible:

"Remember [your Creator] — before the silver cord is severed,or the golden bowl is broken; before the pitcher is shattered at the spring, or the wheel broken at the well, and the dust returns to the ground it came from, and the spirit returns to God who gave it." — Ecclesiastes 12:6.

The verse refers to an observation common to many manifestations of astral projection: that the "astral body" (the part of consciousness that leaves the corporeal body) is connected to the physical body by a silver or golden cord. Some disciplines teach that if this cord is severed, the soul will separate from the body and physical death or coma will result. (more...)