From my experience, these dimentions are the same, the difference is the state of mind. When one astral project, this is a a very consious aproach. In a lucid dream, one goes from an unconsious dream-state to a consious dream-state. The surroundings are still made up by your mind, depending on how awake you are, and is hard to change.
One can astral project into a dream also. Actually, I think this happens a lot - you only forget about it when you wake up.
Do you have any experience with the mental dimension? I think I have had this a couple of times. This is very different from the astral. My experience have been with very clear, sharp colors and sounds.
It's still quite possible to be unaware and dream through it.
Human - Thanks for sharing your experience. If I am understanding you correctly, you are saying that the energetic realm that one calls the Astral is a homogeneous but highly plastic realm that reacts in different ways and varying intensities based on one's state of mind. Therefore if your state of mind is more in tune with the physical world you will experience the more classic astral projection where the surrounding appear most similar to the physical world. However, if more of your subconcious is coming through then the OBE will appear more as a lucid dream. I certainly agree that what we perceive (objects presented or manipulated, where we travel, etc.) is affected by our concious thoughts during the OBE. However, I am not convinced that what I am perceiving is totally created by my mind.
A lucid dream that I had back in the early 90's comes to mind as an example: The dream was one of the most vivid dreams that I have experienced spontaneously (without inducing the lucid dream intentionally). The main elements of the dream involved driving up a winding road to the top of a mountain, being stopped by armed military guards at the top, walking along a trail to a series of ladders that when I climbed them allowed me access to a sacred kiva set high up on a cliff. When I woke up I described the dream in great detail to my wife. Six months later we both visited a friend in Santa Fe who was singing opera at the Santa Fe opera house. He recommended that we visit the Puye cliff dwellings. On the drive there as we ascended a mountain, my hands began to shake as I realized that I was physically reexperiencing the dream. At the top of the mountain I found the armed military guards (Los Alamos) and by the end of the afternoon I was standing in the cliff niche that held the sacred kiva. I have left out many details as they are sacred to my own personal journey in this incarnation. But here is an example of conciousness tapping into a potential future event (one might even call this lucid dream the present and the physical experience the objectified past) that later unfolded for that conciousness in this physical realm. I find it hard to explain this lucid dream as being created by my own mental imagery. There must be something outside of my mind that I tapped into (an alignment of energetic vibrations, perhaps) which transended my normal concepts of time and space.
Because there is very little (published and available) documentation of astral travel / lucid dreaming we have not created a universal semantic language to describe the conditions / energetic planes / alternate universes or as you would say: states of mind. I know that "all will be revealed in the course of time" but I also know that many things require effort and others must be stolen (e.g. Prometheus).
Scot, you may want to check the IAC (International Academy of consciousness) in my opinion they have the best research library on the subject of astral travel. Precognitive dreams are not lucid dreams as i remember a lucid dream is your consciousness interacting with your mind (brain). Precognition is the ability of your consciousness to for see scenarios based on energy patterns in your life. Also precognition dreams may be caused by the assistance of a guides or helpers (angels). I have experienced several type of cognitive dreams and i have done a great deal of research, in the end you must always ask your self for the answer.
I am 61 years old and have been Lucid Dreaming and OBE since 1971. I have read all the literature on both with all the so called "experts". Let me just say that in the end who can really say. The experiences yes are different-feel different-look different but in the big cosmic way of things who really knows. Western people are too caught up in trying to "analyze" what it is or what it is not. Who cares! No matter where you go there is an experience or teaching or some type of learning for you in this direct experience. Many writers think they can explain this but who really knows. Just ENJOY the experience!