Don was my pilot during a brief refresher course we took enroute to Vietnam.
One evening, after a medium tough day of training flights, we were sitting
in his room having a beer and just generally unwinding. The conversation
wandered around to religion. Don said he was a practicing Christian, and
he believed that a great deal of Christianity would be meaningless if life
after death is not a fact, but he just couldn't take it on faith. He wanted
to, but he honestly couldn't.
I said I understood that and respected his honesty. Then I told him some of the reasons for my own belief, and wound up by saying I didn't think it is necessary to take a belief in life after death on faith alone--sufficient evidence is available.
He agreed, if life after death is a fact, then evidence should be available--if we only knew how and where to look for it.
I told him about some of the research in psychic phenomena, a little of the history of spiritualism, and some of my own experiences. I said I didn't expect him to take my word for it, because one can testify to his experience, but the experience itself is not transferable, and this type of experience is, at best, difficult to describe.
He said that made sense, and he didn't doubt my word. He just wished he had some experience of his own, on which to base his faith. I summed it up by saying, "For better or worse, we're both built on the model of Doubting Thomas. He, too, had to have evidence before he could believe."
I remembered Don that night as I went to sleep, and thought, "It might help if someone would just drop in on him and show him what a disembodied spirit looks like." I thought I was kidding.
The next thing I remember was a thrilling, rushing, lifting, feather-light feeling, more than a little scary but fiercely joyful, as I whooshed out of my body, landed on my feet below the foot of the bed, and rebounded upward through the ceiling. Okay ... you don't have to believe it either, but that is precisely what I experienced, as accurately as I can describe it.
Offhand, I'd say I was about 150 feet in the air before I looked around. I saw the tops of trees, roads, the parking lot, and, over the tops of other buildings, the hangars along the flight line. I could see quite clearly, although everything seemed to be various shades of gray, like a black-and-white television with the brightness set low. I must have been up to about 400 feet--I could see cars in the parking lot on the other side of Base Operations--when I remembered about Don and started trying to turn back to the building.
It wasn't very hard to turn, but I was sort of sloppy about it. I felt as though I "swooshed" around in a wide arc toward wherever I directed my attention, and that directing my attention was what caused me to turn.
When I got myself headed back in the right general direction, I zeroed in on the far end of the building, because that was where Don was staying. I came down through the roof, through the bedroom on the second floor, and into the end bedroom on the first floor. I could see everything quite well, including the space between the roof and the ceiling of the upper floor, and the little gap between the second floor and the ceiling of the first floor. As I went through that little gap, I hoped I wouldn't scratch myself on the nails.
I landed beside a bed. There he was, sacked out, laying on his stomach, facing away from me. Feeling somewhat mischievous, I went over and shook his shoulder. He spun around, sat bolt upright, and looked me straight in the face.
Only it wasn't Don.
It was another guy from our squadron named Terry. I didn't know him very well, but I recognized him. He also recognized me. He said, "Jeez! ... Swett!" Then he looked me up and down, and asked, "You alright?"
I was embarrassed. "Yeah, sure, Terry. I'm Okay ... I just got in the wrong room, that's all." And I went out through the door.
Once outside the building, I tried to find Don's room, but I didn't know where to look for it because I thought I had been in Don's room. Then I felt a tugging or pulling sensation, of something drawing on me like a rubber band. I remember something like a "ka-zap!" feeling, but I don't recall getting back into my body. The next thing I knew was when the alarm clock rang.
I remembered the experience of the night before, but I had no way of knowing whether or not it was real. While I was shaving, I thought to myself, "One of these days I'm going to have to take something for my insanity."
While standing across the street at the bus stop, I saw why my navigation was so lousy the night before. Our quarters were not in one building, but two--under one roof. Don's room was next to the breezeway between the buildings. From 400 feet in the air, I didn't notice the breezeway and went for the far end of the roof, so I must have wound up ... there ... in the room at the far end of the other building.
Just then, Terry came out of the room I was looking at. He walked straight toward me with a very strange expression on his face--very intense, as though he were boring holes in me with his eyes. When he stopped in front of me, I said, "Good morning," but he just stood there and looked at me. After awhile, I couldn't stand it any more, so I asked, "Did you get a good night's sleep?"
He said, "You sonavabitch, you were in my room last night, weren't you?" And before I could answer, he said, "You better come clean, ol' buddy, `cause I got up and checked, and that door was locked, with a chain on it."
I said, "Okay, I guess I do owe you an explanation. Meet me for supper at the club, and we'll talk." And so we did--and a very interesting conversation it was, too, until a bunch of other guys came in and I changed the subject--but I never did get back to show Don what a disembodied spirit looks like.