As I was about to review this book, I saw a statement about its author in an online encyclopedia:
"Opinions about Vieira's work vary greatly -- some see him as the founder of a whole new branch of knowledge, while others see him as a fraud and as a promoter of pseudoscience."
I must say, I was a little taken aback; neither of these two extreme responses is really appropriate.
We do have here a book which is a `scientific' treatment of astral projection, but Vieira is hardly the first to write about OBE systematically. And yes, some who think projection is phony are not going to be interested -- but then, those who do know something of the matter aren't necessarily going to find this book earth-shattering either. In my opinion it is competent piece of work, thorough, opinionated, and not a little eccentric, but overall very valuable.
Vieira's field of 'Projectiology' is perhaps best summed up in the word itself. It's about tying projection into a fully medical-science-style framework, collating all of what has come before it (centuries' worth of recorded OBE experiences) in encyclopedic format, and coining new scientific-sounding terms for everything in the process -- but those terms are, sadly, not always as elegant as they might be. :)
I will deal with the pros and cons of this book in turn, as I see them.
The man is simply a goldmine of good, solid info on projection. This book attempts to classify and name just about every phenomenon ever observed on the subject, and it's not far off succeeding -- the bibliography runs to 2,000-odd volumes, all of which are referenced carefully, and which cover every tradition. If you want to study the OBE literature in depth, go to this book first. It will be your index to all the others, including some you would not otherwise have discovered, no question.
He is an extremely experienced and competent projector himself, and his knowledge on the subject will help any projector (especially, perhaps, those of intermediate skill.)
His views on OBE have much to recommend them. He is one of the few modern writers on this subject to have understood clearly the differences between the mental, astral and etheric bodies, for example, and is very clear and experienced on their actions and interactions. He gives excellent rundowns on the nature of the so-called `silver cord' and its connections and behaviour, more detailed than I have ever seen elsewhere. His treatment of non-physical dimensions is also exemplary, nothing previously unseen perhaps but very well-summarized.
There's fascinating information about reincarnation, and this did include things of which I was not previously aware; he has a great understanding of the various death and rebirth processes, greater perhaps than anyone I've read (although I'm far from learned on the subject). He also has fascinating info on the mental targeting process in projection -- again many considerations that I hadn't run into personally.
There are chapters on just about every `psi' phenomenon you can imagine, however tangentially OBE-related, and many of them are highly useful. His rundowns on OBE sex, zombies, exorcism whilst in a projected state, OBE's interface with yoga or its roles in espionage and in literary works, and so on, are valuable summaries. (I was delighted to re-discover the OBE content in Charriere's `Papillon', for example, a book I loved when I was a kid but had forgotten about. An unconscious motivator for me perhaps?)
Vieira is also, so far as I can recall, one of the few modern writers really to hammer home the importance of ethics to the projector. I find it quite staggering that this subject is more or less completely ignored in most books I've read on OBE, and I like the fact that Vieira is prepared to state outright the necessity for moral maturity in anyone attempting projection. His own ideas on ethics, whilst a little sketchy, are certainly not bad, although his politics (no, he does not resist going there) can be a trifle bizarre for my tastes. I do like the fact that he recommends having fun once per week as necessary for a human being! If only spiritual writers from time immemorial had mentioned this. :)
His treatment of chakras is also very interesting. He recognizes many such energy centres -- at least thirty of significance, he says -- and the ones he considers most important are different from those of other authors, including for instance an off-centre `spleen chakra' on the left side. Some will consider this treatment strange, but I view it as a very good sign that Vieira really has looked at the astral and etheric structures of the human body as carefully as befits a medical man. Comparing his work with that of Robert Bruce, for example (another chakra-based projector) one finds many differences, and this betokens real work being done.
Many westerners think there really are only `seven chakras' in what has become the standard new age layout -- but yoga sources indicate great variation in what centres were used, and it's good to see that variation appearing in these modern western traditions too in my opinion; it shows something real is happening. Many who talk about chakras in the west, in other words, have not actually sensed one. They are going by hearsay; Vieira (and Bruce) by real experience.
Vieira also summarizes all the scientific work that has so far been done on projection, the famous experiments of Charles Tart included. And everything here, as elsewhere, is fully referenced to a large further selection of publications -- the scholarship on display is quite exemplary. You will not find a better research companion.
The first and most important problem with this book is its language. I've talked as if he used the familiar terms (astral, etheric etc.) but to him, every body has to be a `soma'. The astral body is the `psychosoma', the mental body is the `mentalsoma'. (Except, bizarrely, the etheric body is known as the `holochakra'.) Nothing is physical, it is `intraphysical', and the non-physical is `extraphysical'. And so on, and on, and on.
Vieira might maintain that he does this for reasons of clarity; I am not sure how much gain in clarity there is, but there is certainly a loss of readability. And in many cases, the older terms certainly seemed equally clear or clearer. They did not need to be retitled as if they were medical operations! The process of incarnation is called `resoma' -- why? Both words precisely express what happens; there is no need for a new one. Do we need the word `primoprojection' simply to denote the first projection of a given person? I doubt it, since the author himself only seems to use it once. Do we need the term `projective heteroscopy' to describe OB x-ray vision? `Projective parapyrogenesis' or `Projective Pneumatophony'? (And why do we need those when `Projective Poltergeist' remains unscientized?) There are literally *hundreds* of such coinages.
I found sentences and paragraphs as problematic as individual words: the language is clipped, seeking the clarity of science but often obfuscatory instead. Chapter 66, for example, entitled `Exteriorization of Motoricity', begins this way:
Definition. Exteriorization of motoricity: action of the motor force of the individual, who is projected in a parapsychic manner from the periphery (sensitivity) of the human body or soma, whether under the lucid impulsion of the will, in an unconscious manner, or provoked by another consciousness (extraphysical consciousness).
You get the idea. Many entries have the air of being little more than lecture notes.
All this produces a combined effect of there being reams and reams of verbiage in which one must dig for the useful stuff, but at the same time, of each individual section being far too short to inform in real detail! You will not actually be able to learn to project from this book -- you need another book to teach actual techniques, because you won't be able to follow the technical sketches here, and many points are unclear unless you have at least some personal experience with which to compare them.
Underlying these vocabulary and presentation issues are even more interesting ones, though, having to do with Vieira's vision of what he is doing. He believes in science, and he believes what he is doing is scientific -- well and good, and that is why he insists on this particular way of communicating. But he buys completely into an evolutionary teleology about his work which makes it a kind of summit in cultural history, where science and spirituality join and mate in perfection. This, some may feel, takes things a little too far.
To Vieira, it often seems, all that has come before him was a kind of prelude. His view of previous projectors is that their approaches were rather primitive -- shamans, for example, he will characterize as `rustics', whilst esoteric occultism was a kind of `autism' (really? That's a scientific use of the term?) that kept itself apart from society, hoarding secrets in a petty unempathetic manner. Older religions were mystifyingly obsessed with pain and torment, and in a nutshell, he often seems to imply we could all have been living in a projection utopia by now if only things had been done properly, as they are now being done, by him.
I really, really hope that people reading these sections of Vieira's opus are able to think for themselves. All he is trying to do, I'm guessing, is to align his work not merely with science but also with modern techno-industrialization and all its marvels, seeing this western society as `the good'. To him it is clear: originally there were hunter-gatherers and early agrarians, but then there was progress, and now there are astronauts. In the same way, originally there was shamanism and indigenous religion, but then there was progress, and now there is projectiology. And from here, onward and upward.
But such viewpoints, although common, are hardly scientific and certainly not necessarily true - least of all in spiritual terms. In 1986, when the Brazilian editions were first printed, it does not seem to have entered Vieira's head that heavy industry might one day run out of oil, and that, in the process, humanity would begin to learn that its centuries of fossil-fuelled `progress' were ultimately signs of ignorance as much as of knowledge. Has it occurred to him today, I wonder? Has he seen that evolution does not have an endpoint or linearity, but proceeds by adaptation to changing ecological conditions -- and boy, are those conditions changing? On the evidence of this book, there is no sign he has. To him, that which is newer is somehow necessarily better.
There are times, therefore, when he sounds as if he believes he is ahead of every Tibetan Buddhist, Hermetic or Taoist who has walked the earth, more or less by virtue of greater `up to date scientific precision', and through avoidance of `primitive jargon'.
But is he really so objective as all that, himself? I'm not so sure. He's quite happy to spend time analyzing two prophecies of Nostradamus, interpreting them as foretelling his own coming, no less -- and this, you may ask, is `scientific'? Well, says Vieira, science comes in two flavours; one is more materialistic, whilst the other takes account of consciousness; the latter is `more advanced'. The truth is that acres of his work *might* deserve the term `pseudoscience'; when you are interpreting the prophecies of Nostradamus as predicting your arrival (the evidence, to me, is a little thin) you are not *quite* performing science as I understand it. Go ahead and do it, but don't claim objectivity in an area where there can only be subjectivity.
There are many sentences in this book that have me saying to myself, really? You mean you think Plato's `Nous' is the same as Reichenbach's `Od'? You mean you really think there are only four basic variables to be permutated in establishing what makes a successful marriage? And that is `science'? Etc. The bits which are objective aren't differentiated from those which are simple opinion -- all is presented in the same jargon. Heaven help, in other words, anyone who is foolish enough to take this book as some kind of standard of truth, or source of all knowledge on its subject. It is merely one more opinion, albeit an unusually thoroughly-considered one.
There is a great deal missing from it as well. Many types of energy work involving channels, meridians, dan tiens, organs, and so forth, are untouched. He does stress ethics, but has no system in place (unlike Franz Bardon, say) to develop them; nor does he offer real detail on meditation. It comes as no surprise that what he calls a `fully lucid projection' (that is, one in which the projector is conscious and in control throughout) is actually quite a rarity with his methods for most people at the beginning -- plainly, he does not believe in waiting until the projector is able to achieve full control before beginning experimentation, an attitude about which I'm a little doubtful. (Of course, such considerations may be covered in his other books on `conscientiology', which I haven't looked at.)
I hope I haven't been too rough on this huge tome, because I do recommend it highly. It's just very important to be aware of what it is, and of what it isn't. It is a great big book with a lot of good research on its subject matter brilliantly summarized -- but it is not an easy read, nor quite as complete as it thinks, and you can't learn to project from it.
Neither the founder of a `whole new branch of knowledge', nor a fraud of course, Vieira is simply an excellent projector with a great deal to teach, and the usual selection of more `interesting' viewpoints on other subjects that you would find in someone of this type. For those who already have a practice and are looking to expand their knowledge, this book is excellent, and in that capacity I recommend it. It will be particularly helpful for those who wish to research in the literature. But developing one's own philosophy will be essential, and you have to be prepared to slog through that lingo.
EDIT: Further investigation credits the Theosophist C. W. Leadbeater with initial theory of the 'spleen chakra'. Off-centre energy 'centres' seem to have a longer history in the West in general -- see for example Johannes Georg Gicthel.