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Twentieth Century A.D.


The Purpose of Life is Enlightenment

Last Revised: 10 February 2005

Enlightenment Teachings and Experiences

Details of bibliographic acronyms are available here .

Subject: Annie Besant (born Annie Wood)
Dates: 1847-1933
Tradition: Theosophy

The 'end of knowledge' is to know God -- not only to believe; to become one with God -- not just to worship afar off. Man must know the reality of the Divine Existence, and then know -- not only vaguely believe and hope -- that his own innermost Self is one with God, and that the aim of life is to realize that unity. Unless religion can guide a man to that realization, it is but 'as sounding brass or a tinkling cymbal.' (ESO, 21-2.)

Subject: Sri Yukteswar Giri (born Priya Nath Karar)
Dates: 1855-1896
Tradition: Kriya Yoga.

A master who achieves ... final freedom may elect to return to earth as a prophet to bring other human beings back to God, or like myself he may choose to reside in the astral cosmos. There a saviour assumes some of the burden of the inhabitants' karma, and thus helps them to terminate their cycle of reincarnation in the astral cosmos and go on permanently to the causal spheres. Or a freed soul may enter the causal world to aid its beings to shorten their span in the causal body and thus attain the Absolute Freedom. (AY, 421.)

How could man's limited reasoning powers comprehend the inconceivable motives of the Uncreated Absolute? The rational faculty in man, tethered by the cause-effect principle of the phenomenal world, is baffled before the enigma of God, the Beginningless, the Uncaused. (Sri Yukteswar Giri in AY, 486.)

Subject: Swami Brahmananda (born Rakhal Chandra Ghosh
Dates: 1863-1922
Tradition: Hinduism

"Look," said the Master [Ramakrishna], "there is your Chosen Ideal!" Rakhal in ecstatic vision saw his chosen aspect of the Godhead standing before him -- living and luminous, with a smile playing on his lips. When Rakhal regained his external consciousness and saw Sri Ramakrishna, he prostrated at his feet with loving devotion. He had known and experienced the divine power and grace of his guru. (EC, 25-6.)

Here [at the temple of Omkarnath], amidst charming natural surroundings, [Swami Brahmananda] lived continuously in nirvikalpa samadhi for six days and six nights, completely unconscious of the outside world. When at last he came back to normal consciousness, his face shone with a heavenly joy. He had experienced God in the impersonal, absolute aspect, and had realized the identity of Atman with Brahman. (Prabhavananda of Swami Brahmananda in EC, 37.)

The sins of many births are wiped out in a moment by one glance from the gracious eye of God. (EC, 60-1.)

When through japam and meditation a little awakening comes, do not imagine you have achieved the end. Light! More Light! Onward! Onward! Attain God! Gain his vision! Talk to him! (EC, 61.)

Samadhi is generally classified as of two kinds. In the first, the savikalpa samadhi, one experiences the mystic vision of the spiritual form of God, while the consciousness of individuality remains. In the second, the nirvikalpa samadhi, a man loses his individuality and goes beyond the vision of the form of God. The whole universe disappears. Besides these two there is yet another kind of samadhi called ananda (blissful) samadhi. If an ordinary man attains this experience, his body and brain cannot stand the intense ecstatic joy; he cannot live more than twenty-one days. (EC, 189.)

One day, in the course of his teaching, Sri Ramakrishna spoke about the manifestation of Brahman as sound -- the Logos. Later, when I sat for meditation I took this as my subject, and it was not long before the sound Brahman was revealed to me. (EC, 189.)

Only God can know himself. Be a god, that you may know the infinite God. (EC, 205.)

Subject: Bernard Berenson
Dates: 1865-1959
Tradition: N/A.

Was I five or six? ... Certainly not seven. It was a morning in early summer. A silver haze shimmered and trembled over the lime trees. The air was laden with their fragrance. The temperature was like a caress. ... I climbed up a tree stump and felt suddenly immersed in It-ness. I did not call it by that name. I had no need of words. It and I were one. (CON, 107.)

Subject: Sri Aurobindo (born Aravind Ghosh)
Dates: 1872-1950
Tradition: Hinduism

A supramental realisation [spiritual union] is prepared by mental representations through various mental principles in us and once attained again reflects itself more perfectly in all the members of the being. It is a re-seeing and therefore a remoulding of our whole existence in the light of the Divine and One and Eternal free from subjection to the appearances of things and the externalities of our superficial being.

Such a passage from the human to the divine, from the divided and discordant to the One, from the phenomenon to the eternal Truth, such an entire rebirth or the new birth of the soul must necessarily involve two stages, one of preparation in which the soul and its instruments must become fit and another of actual illumination and realisation in the prepared soul through its fit instruments. There is indeed no rigid line of demarcation in sequence of Time between these two stages; rather they are necessary to each other and continue simultaneously. For in proportion as the soul becomes fit it increases in illumination and rises to higher and higher, completer and completer realisations, and in proportion as these illuminations and these realisations increase, becomes fit and its instruments more adequate to their task: there are soul-seasons of illumined growth and culminating soul-moments more or less prolonged of illumined possession, moments that are transient like the flash of the lightning, yet change the whole spiritual future, moments also that extend over many human hours, days, weeks in a constant light or blaze of the Sun of Truth. And through all these the soul once turned Godward grows towards the permanence and perfection of its new birth and real existence. (SOY, 294-5.)

[From] the absolute and transcendent state of Samadhi [in] which ... it culminates, if it endures, there is, except perhaps for one soul out of many thousands, no return. For by that we go to the "supreme state of the Eternal whence souls revert not" into the cyclic action of Nature; and it is into this Samadhi that the Yogin who aims at release from the world seeks to pass away at the time of leaving his body. (SOY, 304-5.)

It [is] an ineffable "That" of which nothing can be said; for the universe and all that is does not exist in That. (SOY, 350.)

This Self that we are has finally to become to our self-consciousness entirely one with all existences in spite of its exceeding them. We have to see it not only as that which contains and inhabits all, but that which is all, not only as indwelling spirit, but also as the name and form, the movement and the master of the movement, the mind and life and body. It is by this final realisation that we shall resume entirely in the right poise and the vision of the Truth all that we drew back from in the first movement of recoil and withdrawal. (SOY, 356.)

Practically speaking, the sage is not merged in God until the great samadhi, mahasamadhi, or death. The body continues to make demands on his awareness.

One cannot continually remain in this trance; or, even if one could persist in it for an indefinitely long period, it is always likely to be broken in upon by any strong or persistent call on the bodily life. And when one returns to the mental consciousness, one is back again in the lower being. Therefore it has been said that complete liberation from the human birth, complete ascension from the life of the mental being is impossible until the body and the bodily life are finally cast off. (SOY, 379.)

To realise and unite oneself with the active Brahman is to exchange ... the individual for the cosmic consciousness. ... We are aware of an unwounded Delight, a pure and perfect Presence, an infinite and self-contained Power present in ourselves and all things. ... This foundation enables us to possess in the security of the divine existence the whole universe within our own being. ... We are no longer limited and shut in by what we inhabit, but like the Divine contain within ourselves all that for the purpose of the movement of Nature we consent to inhabit. ... Having this, we possess our eternal self-existence at rest in its eternal consciousness and bliss. ... we ... realise this silent Self as the Lord of all the action of universal Nature. (SOY, 392-3.)

That into which we merge ourselves in the cosmic consciousness is Satchidananda. It is one eternal Existence that we ... are, one eternal Consciousness which sees its own works in us and others, one eternal Will or Force of that Consciousness which displays itself in infinite workings, one eternal Delight which has the joy of itself and all its workings, -- itself stable, immutable, timeless, spaceless, supreme and itself still in the infinity of its workings, not changed by their variations, not broken up by their multiplicity, not increased or decreased by their ebbings and flowings in the seas of Time and Space, not confused by their apparent contrarieties or limited by their divinely-willed limitations. Satchidananda is the unity of the many-sidedness of manifested things, the eternal harmony of all their variations and oppositions, the infinite perfection which justifies their limitations and is the goal of their imperfections. (SOY, 395.)

"Nirvikalpa Samadhi" properly means a complete trance in which there is no thought or movement of consciousness or awareness of either inward or outward things -- all is drawn into a supracosmic Beyond. (LOY, 2, 741.)

Subject: Tenko-San
Dates: 1872-1968
Tradition: N/A. Spontaneous illumination.

I shut myself up in a Kyoto hotel without eating for about two days. A serious-minded friend, Sugimoto, brought me Tolstoy's book My Religion. It was exactly the book I needed. I read it at one stretch. Towards the end of the book I saw the words, 'Die if you want to live.'... I was ... struck by the thought, 'To die means to get rid of delusions.' When a man awakens he becomes the whole itself. I said to myself, 'Well, let me die.' I felt no strain, but rather as if I had leaped into the whole world, the Unbroken Self, or as if I has been reduced to the Immortal Reality. It was a breathing in of all Being, or in religious terminology, a rebirth. (NRAT, 49.)

To pray is negate and accept ourselves into nothingness. When we ourselves become nothing,then, we become the whole. (, downloaded 3 January 2005.)

Subject: Ramana Maharshi (born Venkataraman Iyer)
Dates: 1879-1950
Tradition: Spontaneous illumination; subsequently Advaita Vedanta

It was about six weeks before I left Madura for good that the great change in my life took place. It was quite sudden. I was sitting alone in a room on the first floor of my uncle's house ... [and] I just felt "I am going tl die." ... The shock of the fear of death drove my mind inward and I said to myself mentally, without actually framing the words: "Now death has come; what does it mean? What is it that is dying? This body dies." ... But with the death of this body, am I dead? Is the body I? It is silent and inert but I fel the full force of my personality and even the voice of the "I" within me, apart from it. So I am Spirit transcending the body. The body dies but the Spirit that transcends it cannot be touched by death. That means I am the deathless Spirit." All this was not dull thought; it flashed through me vividly as living truth which I perceived directly, almost without thought-process. "I" was something very real, the only real thing about my present state, and all the conscious activity connected with my body was centred on that "I". From that moment onwards the "I" or Self focused attention on itself by a powerful fascination. Fear of death vanished once and for all. Absorption in the Self continued unbroken from that time on. Other thoughts might come and go like the various notes of music, but the "I" continued. (CWRM, 1979 iii.)

Such an experience of Identity does not always, or even normally, result in Liberation. It comes to a seeker but the inherent tendencies of the ego cloud it over again. ... The miracle was that in the Maharshi's case there was no clouding over, no relapse into ignorance: he remained thenceforward in constant awareness of identity with the One Self. (Osborne in CWRM, iii.)

Fear of death vanished once and for all. Absorption in the Self continued unbroken from that time on. (CWRM, 1979 iii.)

The Sahasrara of one who abides in the Self is nothing but pure Light. Any thought that approaches it cannot survive.

The state in which awareness is firm and one-pointed, even when objects are sensed, is called sahaja sthiti. The state in which objects are absent is called nirvikalpa samadhi. (SRG, 27.)

The whole universe is in the body and the whole body is in the Heart. hence all the universe is contained in the Heart.

The universe is nothing but the mind, and the mind is nothing but the Heart. Thus the entire story of the universe culminates in the Heart. (Ramana Maharshi in SRG, 27 and 29.)

The effulgent light of active consciousness starts at a point and gives light to the entire body even as the sun does to the world.

When that light spreads out into the body one gets the experiences in the body. The sages call the original point 'Hridayam' (the Heart).

The flow of the rays of the light is inferred from the play of forces in the nadis. Each of the forces of the body courses along a special nadi.

Active consciousness lies in a distinct and separate Nadi which is called Sushumna. Some call it 'Atma Nadi' and others 'mrita Nadi.'

The individual permates the entire body with that light, becomes ego-centric and thinks that he is the body and that the world is different from himself.

When the discerning one renounces egotism and [the] 'I-am-the-body' idea and carries on one-pointed enquiry (into the Self), movement of life-force starts in the nadis.

This movement of the force separates the Self from the other nadis and the Self then gets confined to the Amrita Nadi alone and shines with clear light.

When the very bright light of that active consciousness shines in the Amrita Nadi alone, nothing else shines forth except the Self. ...

When Atma alone shines, within and without, and everywhere, ... one is said to have severed the knot. ...

Once the knot is cut, one never again gets entangled. In that state lie the highest power and the highest peace. (KOL, 155-6.)

Subject: Franklin Merrell-Wolff
Dates: 1887-1985
Tradition: Advaita Vedanta

It is now more than thirty-six years since the precipitation of the inner events which led to the writing of this volume. It may be said now that the value of this unfoldment is as high as it ever was. It is true that I would place this treasure far above anything which may be obtained in the ordinary world field, in whatever domain, such as achievement in government, in business, in science, philosophy, mathematics or the arts. All these stand as values far inferior to these greater values which come from Fundamental Realization. (PTS, “Preface.”)

This Emptiness is Absolute Fullness but, as such, never can be comprehended from the perspective of egoistic consciousness. (PTS, 12.)

A certain Sage..., speaking of unfolded Conscousness above the level of the highest human Adepts, said: "We attain glimpses of Consciousness so Transcendent, rising level upon level, that the senses fairly reel before the awe-inspiring Grandeur."

Here, certainly, is space for evolution far beyond the highest possibility of man as man. (PTS, 17.)

One day after the evening meal… I passed into a very delightful state of contemplation. … My breath changed, but not in the sense of stopping or becoming extremely slow or rapid. It was, perhaps, just a little slower than normal. The notable change was in a subtle quality associated with the air breathed. Over and above the physical gases of the air there seemed to be an impalpable substance of indescribable sweetness that, in turn, was associated with a general sense of well being, embracing even the physical man. It was like happiness or joy, but these words are inadequate. It was of a very gentle quality yet far transcended the value of the form of any of the more familiar forms of happiness. It was quite independent of the beauty or comfort of the environment. At that time the latter was, to say the least, austere and not in any sense attractive. … the air was far from invigorating due to the period being exceptionally warm. However, introspective analysis revealed the fact that the elixir-like quality was most marked during exhalation, thus indicating that it was not derived from normal air. Further, the exhaled breath was not simply air expelled into the outer atmosphere, but seemed to penetrate down through the whole organism like a gentle caress, leaving throughout a quiet sense of delight. It seemed to me like nectar. Since that time I have learned it is the true Ambrosia. (PTS, 16-7.)

I found myself above the universe not in the sense of having left the physical body and being taken out of space but in the sense of being above space, time, and causality. My karma seemed to drop away from me as an individual responsibility. I felt intangibly, yet wonderfully free. I sustained the universe and was not bound by it… I seemed to comprehend a veritable library of knowledge, all less concrete that the most abstract mathematics. The personality rested in a gentle glow of happiness. (PTS, 19.)

I cannot conceive of anyone who has glimpsed the beauty of the Transcendent Formlessness ever preferring cosmic beauty. (PTS, 28.)

It seems clear that no man can effectively illuminate the Way for all men. There is more than one main Road and a great number of subroads. On all these, men who can serve as beacons are needed. (PTS, 29.)

I found Myself above space, time, and causality, and actually sustaining the whole universe by the Light of Consciousness which I AM. Almost at once, there followed the Nectar-like Current and the gentle, yet so powerful Joy. (PTS, 32.)

There were no words, no ideas, not any other form, yet one might say It was the very essence of Sound and Meaning. It was utterly satisfactory and filling. It was the very Power that makes all things to become clear. Again there flowed the Current of gentle joy that penetrates through and through…. It appears as of the nature of a fluid, for there is this sense of ‘flowing through’. It penetrated all tensions with the effect of physical release. All over and through and through there is a quality that may well be described as physiological happiness. The organism feels no craving for sensuous distraction to find enjoyment. (PTS, 36.)

Beyond [the sage's attainment], whatever it may be, there lie further mysteries awaiting his resolution. In other words, We find no conceivable end to evolution. (PTS, 43.)

I cannot too strongly emphasize the fact that Liberation is no more the end of life than is a college commencement the end of the young man or woman who graduates. It is simply the end of one stage and the beginning of another. The really worth-while Life begins after Liberation. When this new Freedom is attained, a Man may return Home, as it were, and spend a long period enjoying the warmth and comfort of that Home. On the other hand, He may return and continue with his chosen profession on a larger field. Some, who have been highly exhausted by their labors at college, may need a long rest, but obviously Those who are strong should occupy Themselves with the Activities of Real Life. (PTS, 89.)

Subject: Paramahansa Yogananda (Mukunda Lal Ghosh)
Dates: 1893-1952
Tradition: Kriya Yoga.

I killed Yogananda long ago. No one dwells in this temple now but God. (PATH, 219.)

I was never born, I never died. (, downloaded 2 January 2005.)

"What is this wondrous glow?"

"I am Iswara. I am Light." The voice was as murmuring clouds.

"I want to be one with Thee!"

Out of the slow dwindling of my divine ecstacy, I salvaged a permanent legacy of inspiration to seek God. "He is eternal, ever-new Joy!" This memory persisted long after the day of rapture.

... Iswara is a Sanskrit name for the Lord in His aspect as Cosmic Ruler. The Hindu scriptures contain a thousand names for God, each one carrying a different shade of philosophical meaning. The Lord as Iswara is He by whose will all universes, in orderly cycles, are created and dissolved. (AY, 9.)

The torrential bliss is overwhelming, but the yogi learns to control its outward manifestations. (AY, 24n.)

To know God is not the negation of all desire, but instead their complete fulfillment. (SCC, 1, 16.)

In the first (sabikalpa) state of samadhi, the devotee shuts off all sensory testimony of the outer world. He is rewarded then by sounds and scenes of inner realms fairer than the pristine Eden. (AY, 109.)

[Sri Yukteswar Giri] spoke caressingly, comfortingly. His calm gaze was unfathomable. "Your heart's desire shall be fulfilled." ... He struck gently on my chest above the heart.

My body became immoveably rooted; breath was drawn out of my lungs as if by some huge magnet. Soul and mind instantly lost their physical bondage and streamed out like a fluid piercing light from every pore. The flesh was as though dead, yet in my intense awareness I knew that never before had I been fully alive. My sense of identity was no longer narrowly confined to a body but embraced the ... atoms. People on distant streets seemed to be moving gently over my own remote periphery. The roots of plants and trees appeared through a dim transparency of the soil; I discerned the inward flow of their sap.

The whole vicinity lay bare before me. My ordinary frontal vision was now changed to a vast spherical sight, simultaneously all-perceptive. Through the back of my head I saw men strolling far down Rai Ghat Lane, and noticed also a white cow that was leisurely approaching. When she reached the ashram gate, I observed her as though with my two physical eyes. After she had passed behind the brick wall of the courtyard, I saw her clearly still.

All objects within my panoramic gaze trembled and vibrated like quick motion pictures. My body, Master's, the pillared courtyard, the furniture and floor, the trees and sunshine, occasionally became violently agitated, until all melted into a luminescent sea; even as sugar crystals, thrown into a glass of water, dissolve after being shaken. The unifying light alternated with materializations of form, the metamorphoses revealing the law of cause and effect in creation.

An oceanic joy broke upon calm endless shores of my soul. The Spirit of God, I realized, is exhaustless Bliss; His body is countless tissues of light. A swelling glory within me began to envelop towns, continents, the earth, solar and stellar systems, tenuous nebulae, and floating universes. The entire cosmos, gently luminous, like a city seen afar at night, glimmered within the infinitude of my being. The dazzling light beyond the sharply etched global outlines faded slightly at the farthest edges; there I saw a mellow radiance, ever undiminished. It was indescribably subtle; the planetary pictures were formed of a grosser light.

The divine dispersion of rays poured from an Eternal Source, blazing into galaxies, transfigured with ineffable auras. Again and again I saw the creative beams condense into constellations, then resolve into sheets of transparent flame. By rhythmic reversion, sextillion worlds passed into diaphanous lustre, then fire became firmament.

I cognized the centre of the empyrean as a point of intuitive perception in my heart. Irradiating splendour issued from my nucleus to every part of the universal structure. Blissful amrita, nectar of immortality, pulsated through me with a quicksilverlike fluidity. The creative voice of God I heard resounding as Aum, the vibration of the Cosmic Motor.

Suddenly the breath returned to my lungs. With a disappointment almost unbearable, I realized that my infinite immensity was lost. Once more I was limited to the humiliating cage of a body, not easily accommodative to the Spirit. Like a prodigal child, I had run away from my macrocosmic home and had imprisoned myself in a narrow microcosm.

My guru was standing motionless before me; I started to prostrate myself at his holy feet in gratitude for his having bestowed on me the experience in cosmic consciousness that I had long passionately sought. He held me upright and said quietly:

"You must not get overdrunk with ecstasy. Much work yet remains for you in the world. Come, let us sweep the balcony floor; then we shall walk by the Ganges."

I fetched a broom; Master, I knew, was teaching me the secret of balanced living. The soul must stretch over the cosmogonic abysses, while the body performs its daily duties. (AY, 141-3.)

No man hath seen God at any time (no mortal under 'time,' the relativities of maya, can realise the Infinite); the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father (the reflected Christ Consciousness or outwardly projected Perfect Intelligence that, guiding all structural phenomena through Aun [sic] vibration, has issued forth from the 'bosom' or deeps of the Uncreated Divine in order to express the variety of Unity), he hath declared (subjected to form, or manifested) him. (AY, 487.)

The unfailing composure of a saint is impressive beyond any sermon. "He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty; and he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a city." [Proverbs 16:32.] (AY, 132.

Aun [sic] the blissful Comforter is heard in meditation and reveals to the devotee the ultimate Truth, bringing "all things to remembrance." (John 14:26) (AY, 144n.)

The Sanskrit word bikalpa means "difference," "non-identity." Sabikalpa is the state of samadhi "with difference," nirbikalpa is the state "without difference." That is, in sabikalpa samadhi the devotee still retains a slight feeling of separateness from God; in nirbikalpa samadhi he realizes fully his identity with Spirit. (AY, 238.)

Through the divine eye in the forehead (east), the yogi sails his consciousness into omnipresence, hearing the Word or Aum, divine sound of "many waters": the vibrations of light that constitute the sole reality of creation. (AY, 267-8.)

In nirbikalpa samadhi the yogi dissolves the last vestiges of his material or earthly karma. Nevertheless, he may still have certain astral and causal karma to work out, and therefore takes astral and then causal re-embodiments on high-vibrational spheres. (AY, 409n.)

Joyous festivities on high astral [planes] take place when a being is liberated from the astral world through spiritual advancement and is therefore ready to enter the heavens of the causal world. On such occasions the Invisible Heavenly Father, and the saints who are merged in Him, manifest Themselves in exquisite astral bodies and join the celebration. To please His beloved child the Lord assumes the form desired by him. If the devotee worshipped through devotion, he sees God as the Divine Mother. To Jesus, the Father-aspect of the Infinite was appealing beyond other conceptions. The individuality with which the Creator has endowed each of His creatures makes every conceivable and inconceivable demand on the Lord's versatility! (Sri Yukteswar Giri in Paramahansa Yogananda, AY, 413.)

In John 3:5-6, Christ says: "Except a man be born of water (the oceanic vibration of Aum or Amen, the Holy Ghost, the Invisible Force that upholds all creation; God in his immanent aspect of the Creator) and of the Spirit, he cannot enter the Kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is Spirit." These words mean that unless we can transcend the body and realize ourselves as Spirit, we cannot enter into the kingdom or state of that Universal Spirit.

The thought is echoed in a Sanskrit couplet of the Hindu scriptures: "If thou canst transcend the body and perceive thyself as Spirit, thou shalt be eternally blissful, free from all pain." (SR, 51-2.)

By contacting God in the world and in meditation you will find all your heart's desires fulfilled. Then you will be a true man of renunciation, for you will find that nothing is more worth-while, more pleasant or attractive than the all-beautiful, all-satisfying, all-thirst quenching, ever-new, joyous God. (SCC, 1, 17.)

This Holy Ghost is the Great Comforter. Being guided by the universal, reflected, God-Consciousness, it contains the all-coveted bliss of God. ... On the day of Pentecost the disciples were filled with the new wine of joy coming from the touch of Aum, or the comforting Holy Vibration. (SCC, 1, 19.)

This is the way that ordinary consciousness should be baptized or expanded into Christ consciousness, through the expanding power of the Holy Ghost, or the all-spreading "Aum-vibrating-sound" heard in meditation. (SCC, 1, 21.)

All satisfaction comes from Holy Vibration, for it is the sum total of all earthly things looked for. Sense pleasure is evil because it limits the soul, blinds it, and keeps it from seeking the unlimited happiness in the universal sensorium of the Holy Ghost. (SCC, 1, 31.)

In the drama of life and death, when beheld with Divine understanding, there can be no pain in death, but only the showing or stopping of the motion picture of life at will without physical or mental pain. (SCC, 1, 42.)

Subject: Swami Nikhilananda
Dates: 1895-1973
Tradition: Monk, Ramakrishna Order.

In the Vedas, reality experienced at the transcendental level is called Brahman. This term denotes a non-dual pure consciousness which pervades the universe and yet remains outside it. Brahman is described as the first principle; from it all things are derived, by it all are supported, and into it all finally disappear. In Brahman alone the apparent differences of the phenomenal world are unified. According to the non-dualistic Vedanta philosophy, Brahman is identical with the self of man, known as Atman. (Nikhilananda, HIN, 29.)

A relationship can be imagined only between two existing entities; but pure being and the phenomenal are not perceived to coexist. Because when the one is seen the other disappears, the problem of their relationship baffles human reasoning. Any statement about the creation is figurative, and the Vedas give different descriptions of it so that the mind may understand, by easy stages, that in reality there is no creation at all. (Nikhilananda, HIN, 39.)

Maya, which is not essentially different from Brahman, is the material cause, and Brahman, as pure intelligence, is the efficient cause of the universe. After projecting all material forms, Brahman enters into them as life and consciousness and animates them. Thus Brahman, which is transcendental, becomes immanent in the universe. (Nikhilananda, HIN, 45.)

Subject: Jiddu Krishnamurti
Dates: 1895-1986
Tradition: Independent philosopher.

I sat crosslegged in the meditation posture. When I had sat thus for some time, I felt myself going out of my body, I saw myself sitting down with the delicate tender leaves of the tree over me. I was facing the east. In front of me was my body and over my head I saw the Star, bright and clear. ... There was such profound calmness both in the air and within myself, the calmness of the bottom of a deep and unfathomable lake. Like the lake, I felt my physical body, with its mind and emotions, could be ruffled on the surface but nothing, nay nothing, could disturb the calmness of my soul. ... I was supremely happy, for I had seen. Nothing could ever be the same. I have drunk at the clear and pure waters at the source of the fountain of life and my thirst was appeased. Never more could I be thirsty, never more could I be in utter darkness; I have seen the Light. I have touched compassion which heals all sorrow and suffering.... Love in all its glory has intoxicated my heart; my heart can never be closed. I have drunk at the fountain of Joy and eternal Beauty. I am God-intoxicated. (KYA, 171-2.)

Truth comes like a burglar -- when you least expect it. (KYA, 263.)

The Master teaches that it does not matter in the least what happens to a man from the outside; sorrows, troubles, sicknesses, losses -- all these must be as nothing to him, and must not be allowed to affect the calmness of his mind. They are the result of past actions, and when they come you must bear them cheerfully, remembering that all evil is transitory, and that your duty is to remain always joyous and serene. They belong to your previous lives, not to this; you cannot alter them, so it is useless to trouble about them. Think rather of what you are doing now, which will make the events of your next life, for that you can alter. (Krishnamurti, AFM, 48-9.)

The phenomenon of the observer and the observed is not a dual process, but a single one; and only in experiencing the fact of this unitary process is there freedom from desire, from conflict. The question of how to experience this fact should never arise. It must happen; and it happens only when there is alertness and passive awareness. (Krishnamurti, COL, 1, 61.)

You can be converted from one belief to another, from one dogma to another, but you cannot be converted to the understanding of reality. Belief is not reality. You can change your mind, your opinion, but truth of God is not a conviction; it is an experience not based on any belief or dogma, or on any previous experience. (COL, 1, 23.)

Does belief bring clarity? Does the tightly enclosing wall of belief bring understanding? What is the necessity of beliefs, and do they not darken the already crowded mind? The understanding of what is does not demand beliefs, but direct perception, which is to be directly aware without the interference of desire. It is desire that makes for confusion, and belief is the extension of desire. (COL, 1, 56.)

Belief conditions experience, and experience then strengthens belief. What you believe, you experience. ... Belief is another cloak of desire. Knowledge, belief, conviction, conclusion and experience are hindrances to truth; they are the very structure of the self. ... The unknown can never be experienced by the known; the known, the experienced must cease for the unknown to be. (COL, 1, 89.)

The mind was not functioning; it was alert and passive, and though cognizant of the breeze playing among the leaves, there was no movement of any kind within itself. There was no observer who measured and observed. There was only THAT, and THAT was aware of itself without measure. It had no beginning and no word. (COL, 2, 242.)

Subject: Paul Reps
Dates: 1895-1990
Tradition: Zen.

Tokusan was studying Zen under Ryutan. One night he came to Ryutan and asked many questions. The teacher said: "The night is getting old. Why don't you retire?"

So Tokusan bowed and opened the screen to go out, observing: "It is very dark outside."

Ryutan offered Tokusan a lighted candle to find his way. Just as Tokusan received it, Ryutan blew it out. At that moment the mind of Tokusan was opened. (ZFZB, 112.)

Subject: Annamalai Swami
Dates: 1906-1995
Tradition: Advaita Vedanta

If there are breaks in your Self-awareness, it means that you are not a jnani [enlightened sage] yet. Before one becomes established in the Self without any breaks, without any changes, one has to contact and enjoy the Self many times. By steady meditation and the continued practice of self-inquiry, one will finally become permanently established in the Self, without any breaks. (Annamalai Swami in OE, 110.)

Subject: Swami Prabhavananda
Dates: 1914-1976
Tradition: Monk, Ramakrishna Order of India

Even though the aspirant is gazing at his own Self, it is said to look like a light located outside himself. The Upanishads refer to this illusion: "In one's own soul Brahman is realized clearly, as if seen in a mirror." (UPAN, 23fn.)

The first stage of transcendental consciousness, in which the distinction between subject and object persists. In this state the spiritual aspirant may have a mystic vision of the Personal God, with or without form. (EC, 299.)

Subject: Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh (Osho)
Dates: 1931-1990
Tradition: Jainism

I am reminded of the fateful day of twenty-first March, 1953. For many lives I had been working - working upon myself, struggling, doing whatsoever can be done - and nothing was happening. Now I understand why nothing was happening. The effort was the barrier, the very ladder was preventing, the very urge to seek was the obstacle. Not that one can reach without seeking. Seeking is needed, but then comes a point when seeking has to be dropped. The boat is needed to cross the river but then comes a moment when you have to get out of the boat and forget all about it and leave it behind. Effort is needed, without effort nothing is possible. And also only with effort, nothing is possible.

Just before 21st March, 1953, seven days before, I stopped working on myself. A moment comes when you see the whole futility of effort, You have done all that you can do and nothing is happening, You have done all that is humanly possible. Then what else can you do? In sheer helplessness one drops all search. And the day the search stopped, the day I was not seeking for something, the day I was not expecting something to happen, it started happening. A new energy arose - out of nowhere and everywhere. It was in the trees ahd in the rocks and the sky and the sun and the air - it was everywhere. And I was seeking so hard, and I was thinking it is very far away. And it was so near and so close. Just because I was seeking I had become incapable of seeing the near. Seeking is always for the far, seeking is always for the distant - and it was not distant. I had become far-sighted, I had lost the near-sightedness. The eyes had become focussed on the far away, the horizon, and they had lost the quality to see that which is just close, surrounding you. The day effort ceased, I also ceased. Because you cannot exist without effort, and you cannot exist without desire, and you cannot exist without striving.

The phenomenon of the ego, of the self, is not a thing, it is a process. It is not a substance sitting there inside you, you have to create it each moment. It is like pedalling a bicycle. If you pedal it goes on and on, if you don't pedal it stops. It may go a little because of the past momentum, but the moment you stop pedalling, in fact the bicycle starts stopping, It has no more energy, no more power to go any where. It is going to fall and collapse. The ego exists because we go on pedalling desire, because we go on striving to get something, because we go on jumping ahead of ourselves, That is the very phenomenon of the ego - the jump ahead of yourself, the jump in the future, the jump in the tomorrow. The jump in the non-existential creates the ego. Because it comes out of the non-existential it is like a mirage. it consists only of desire and nothing else. It consists only of thirst and nothing else. The ego is not in the present, it is in the future. If you are in the future, then ego seems to be very substantial. If you are in the present the ego is a mirage, it starts disappearing.

The day I stopped seeking... and it is not right to say that I stopped seeking, better will be to say the day seeking stopped. Let me repeat it: the better way to say it is the day the seeking stopped. Because if I stop it then I am there again. Now stopping becomes my effort, now stopping becomes my desire, and desire goes on existing in a very subtle way. You cannot stop desire; you can only understand it. In the very understanding is the stopping of it. Remember, nobody can stop desiring, and the reality happens only when desire stops. So this is the dilemma. What to do? Desire is there and Buddhas go on saying desire has to be stopped, and they go on saying in the next breath that you cannot stop desire. So what to do? You put people in a dilemma. They are in desire, certainly. you say it has to be stopped - okay. And then you say it cannot be stopped. Then what is to be done? The desire has to be understood. You can understand it, you can just see the futility of it. A direct perception is needed, an immediate penetration is needed. Look into desire, just see what it is, and you will see the falsity of it, and you will see it is non-existential. And desire drops and something drops simultaneously within you. Desire and the ego exist in cooperation, they coordinate. The ego cannot exist without desire, the desire cannot exist without the ego. Desire is projected ego, ego is introjected desire. They are together, two aspects of one phenomenon.

The day desiring stopped, I felt very hopeless and helpless. No hope because no future. Nothing to hope because all hoping has proved futile, it leads nowhere. You go in rounds. It goes on dangling in front of you, it goes on creating new mirages, it goes on calling you, 'Come on, run fast, you will reach.' But howsoever fast you run you never reach. That's why Buddha calls it a mirage. It is like the horizon that you see around the earth. It appears but it is not there. If you go it goes on running from you. The faster you run, the faster it moves away. the slower you go, the slower it moves away. But one thing is certain - the distance between you and the horizon remains abdolutely the same. Not even a single inch can you reduce the distance between you and the horizon. You cannot reduce the distance between you and your hope. Hope is horizon. You try to bridge yourself with the horizon, with the hope, with a projected desire. The desire is a bridge, a dream bridge - because the horizon exists not, so you cannot make a bridge towards it, you can only dream about the bridge. You cannot be joined with the non-existential.

The day the desire stopped, the day I looked and realized into it, it simply was futile. I was helpless and hopeless. But that very moment something started happening. The same started happening for which for many lives I was working and it was not happening. In your hopelessness is the only hope, and in your desirelessness is your only fulfillment, and in your tremendous helplessness suddenly the whole existence starts helping you. It is waiting. When it sees that you are working on your own, it does not interfere. It waits, It can wait infinitely because there is no hurry for it. It is eternity. The moment you are not on your own, the moment you drop, the moment you disappear, the whole existence rushes towards uou, enters you. And for the first time things start happening. Seven days I lived in a very hopeless and helpless state, but at the same time something was arising. When I say hopeless I don't mean what you mean by the word hopeless. I simply mean there was no hope in me. Hope was absent. I am not saying that I was hopeless and sad. I was happy in fact, I was very tranquil, calm and collected and centered. Hopeless, but in a totally new meaning. There was no hope, so how could the be hopelessness. Both had disappeared. The hopelessness was absolute and total. Hope had disappeared and with it its counterpart, hopelessness, had also disappeared. It was a totally new experience - of being without hope. It was not a negative state. I have to use words - but it was not a negative state. It was ablolutely positive. It was not just absence, a presence was felt, Something was overflowing in me, overflooding me. And when I say I was helpless, I don't mean the word in the dictionary-sense. I simply say I was selfless. That's what I mean when I say helpless, I have recognized the fact that I am not, so I cannot depend on myself, so I cannot stand on my own ground - there was no ground underneath. I was in an abyss...bottomless abyss. But there was no fear because there was nothing to protect. The was no fear because there was nobody to be afraid.

Those seven days were of tremendous transformation, total transformation. And the last day the presence of a totally new energy, a new light and new delight, became so intense that it was almost unbearable - as if I was exploding, as if I was going mad with blissfulness, The new generation in the West has the right word for it - I was blissed out, stoned. It was impossible to make any sense out of it, what was happening, It was a very non-sense world - difficult to figure it out, difficult to manage in categories, difficult to use words, languages, explanationd, All scriptures appeared dead and all the words that have been used for this experience looked very pale, anaemic. This was so alive, It was like a tidal wave of bliss. The whole day was strange, stunning, and it was a shattering experience. The past was disappearing, as if it had never belonged to me, as if I had read about it somewhere, as if I had dreamed about it, as if it was somebody else's story I have heard and somebody told it to me, I was becoming loose from my past, I was being uprooted from my history, I was losing my autobiography. I was becoming a non-being, what Buddha calls anatta. Boundaries were disappearing, distinctions were disappearing. Mind was disappearing; it was millions of miles away. It was difficult to catch hold of it, it was rushing farther and farther away, and there was no urge to keep it close. I was simply indifferent about it all. It was okay. There was no urge to remain continuous with the past. By the evening it became so difficult to bear it - it was hurting, it was painful. It was like when a woman goes into labour when a child is to be born, and the woman suffers tremendous pain - the birth pangs, I used to go to sleep in those days near about twelve or one in the night, but that day it was impossible to remain awake, My eyes were closing, it was difficult to keep them open. Something was very imminent, something was going to happen. It was difficult to say what it was - maybe it is going to be my death - but there was no fear. I was ready for it.

Those seven days had been so beautiful that I was ready to die, nothing more was needed, They had been so tremendously blissful, I was so contented, that if death was coming, it was welcome. But something was going to happen - something like death, something very drastic, something which will be either be a death or a new birth, a crucifixion or a resurrection - but something of tremendous import was around just by the corner. And it was impossible to keep my eyes open, I was drugged. I went to sleep near about eight. It was not like sleep. Now I can understand what Patanjali means when he says that sleep and samadhi are similar, Only with one difference - that in samadhi you are fully awake and asleep also. Asleep and awake together, the whole body relaxed, every cell of the body totally relaxed, all functioning relaxed, and yet a light of awareness burns within you.. clear, smokeless. You remain alert and yet relaxed, loose but fully awake. The body is in the deepest sleep possible and your consciousness is at its peak. The peak of consciousness and the valley of the body meet.

I went to sleep. It was a very strange sleep. The body was asleep, I was awake. It was so strange - as if one was torn apart into two directions, two dimensions; as if the polarity has become completely focused, as if I was both the polarities together... the positive and the negative were meeting, sleep and awareness were meeting, death and life were meeting. that is the moment when you can say 'the creator and the creation meet.' It was weird. For the first time it shocks you to the very roots, it shakes your foundations. You can never be the same after that experience; it brings a new vision to our life, a new quality. Near about twelve my eyes suddenly opened - I has not opened them. The sleep was broken by something else. I felt a great presence around me in the room. It was a very small room. I felt a throbbing life all around me, a great vibration - almost like a hurricane, a great storm of light, joy, ecstasy. I was drowning in it. It was so tremendously real that everything became unreal. The walls of the room became unreal, the house became unreal, my own body became unreal. Everything was unreal because now there was for the first time reality.

That's why when Buddha and Shankara say the world is maya, a mirage, it is difficult for us to understand. Because we know only this world, we don't have any comparison. This is the only reality we know. What are these people talking about - this is maya, illusion? This is the only reality. Unless you come to know the really real, their words cannot be understood, their words remain theoretical. They look like hypotheses.

That night for the first time I understood the meaning of the word maya. Not that I had not known the word before, not that I was not aware of the meaning of the word. As you are aware, I was also aware of the meaning - but I had never understood it before, How can you understand without experience? That night another reality opened its door, another dimension became available. Suddenly it was there, the othe reality, the separate reality, the really real, or whatsoever you want to call it - call it god, call it truth, call it dhamma, call it tao, or whatsoever you will. It was nameless. But it was there - so opaque, so transparent, and yet so solid one could have touched it. It was almost suffocating me in that room. It was too much and I was not yet capable of absorbing it.

A deep urge arose in me to rush out of the room, to go under the sky - it was suffocating me. It was too much! It will kill me! If I had remained a few moments more, it would have suffocated me - it looked like that. I rushed out of the room, came out in the street. A great urge was there just to be under the sky with the stars, with the trees, with the earth... to be with nature. And immediately as I came out, the feeeling of being suffocated disappeared. It was too small a place for such a big phenomenom. It is bigger than the sky. Even the sky is not the limit for it. But then I felt more at ease. I walked towards the nearest garden, It was a totally new walk, as if gravitation has disappeared, I was walking, or I was rynning, or I was simply flying; it was difficult to decide. There was no gravitation, I was feeling weightless - as if some energy was taking me, I was in the hands of some other energy. For the first time I was not alone, for the first time I was no more an individual, for the first time the drop has come and fallen into the ocean. Now the whole ocean was mine, I was the ocean. There was no limitation. A tremendous power arose as if I could do anything whatsoever. I was not there, only the power was there. I reached to the garden where I used to go every day. The garden was closed, closed for the night. The gardeners were fast asleep. I had to enter the garden like a thief, I had to climb the gate, But something was pu lling me towards the garden, It was not within my capacity to prevent myself. I was just floating. That's what I mean when I say again and again 'float with the river, don't push the river'. I was relaxed, I was in a let-go. I was not there. IT was there, call it god - god was there.

I would like to call it IT, because god is too human a word, and has become too dirty by too much use, has become too pollluted by so many people. Christians, Hindus, Mohammedans, priests and politicians - they all have corrupted the beauty of the word, So let me call it IT. IT was there and I was just carried away...carried by a tidalwave.

The moment I entered the garden everything became luminous, it was all over the place - the benediction, the blessedness. I could see the trees for the first time - their green, their life, their very sap running. The whole garden was asleep, the trees were asleep But I could see the whole garden alive, even the small grass leaves were so beautiful. I looked around. One tree was tremendously luminous - the maulshree tree. It attracted me, it pulled me towards it self. I had not chosen it, god himself has chosen it. I went to the tree, I sat under the tree. As I sat there things started settling. The whole universe became a benediction. It is difficult to say how long I was in that state. When I went back home it was four o'clock in the morning, so I must have been there by clock time at least three hours - but it was infinity. It had nothing to do with clock time. It was timeless. Those three hours became the whole eternity, endless eternity. There was no time, there was no passage of time; it was the virgin reality - uncorrupted, untouchable, unmeasurable.

And that day something happened that has continued - not as a continuity - but it has still continued as an undercurrent. Not as a permanency - each moment it has been happening again and again. It has been a miracle each moment. That night... and since that night I have never been in the body. I am hovering around it. I became tremendously powerful and at the same time very fragile.

I became very strong, but that strength is not the strength of a Mohammed Ali. That strength is not the strength of a rock, that strength is the strength of a rose flower - so fragile in her strength... so fragile, so sensitive, so fragile in his fragile, so sensitive, so delicate. The rock will be there, the flower can go any moment, but still the flower is stronger than the rock because it is more alive. Or, the strength of a dewdrop on a leaf of grass just shining; in the morning sun - so beautiful, so precious, and yet can slip any moment. So incomparable in its grace, but a small breeze can come and the dewdrop can slip and be lost forever. Buddhas have a strength which is not of this world, Their strength is totally of a rose flower or a dewdrop their strength is very fragile, vulnerable. Their strength is the strength of life not of death. Their power is not of that which kills; their power is of that which creates. Their power is not of violence, aggression; their power is that of compassion.

It was said when Jesus was baptised by John the Baptist in the Jordan River, god descended in him, or the holy ghost descended in him like a dove. Yes, that is exactly so, when you are not there peace descends in you...fluttering like a dove...reaches in your heart and abides there forever, and abides there forever.

You are your undoing, you are the barrier. Meditation is when the meditator is not. When the mind ceases with all its activities - seeing that they are futile - then the unknown penetrates you, overwhelms you. The mind must cease for god to be . Knowledge must cease for knowing to be. You must disappear, you must give way. You must become empty, then only you can be full. That night I became empty and became full. I became non-existential and became existence.

That night I died and was reborn. But the one that was reborn has nothing to do with that which died, it is a discontinuous thing. On the surface it looks continuous but it is discontinous. The one who died, died totally; nothing of him has remained. Believe me, nothing of him has remained, not even a shadow. It died totally, utterly. It is not that I am just a modified form, transformed form of the old. No, there has been no continuity.

That day of March twenty-first, the person who had lived for many, many lives, for millennia, simply died. Another being, absolutely new, not connected at all with the old started to exist. Religion just gives you a total death. Maybe that's why the whole day previous to that happening I was feeling some urgency like death, as if I am going to die - and I really died. I have known many other deaths but they were nothing compared to it, they were partial deaths. sometimes the body died, sometimes a part of the mind died, sometimes a part of the ego died, but as far as the person was concerned, it remained. Renovated many times, decorated many times, changed a little bit here and there, but it remained, the comtinuity remained. That night the death was total. It was a date with death and god simultaneously.

Subject: Suzanne Segal
Dates: d 1997.
Tradition: N.A. Spontaneous enlightenment.

Fourteen years ago, when I was four months pregnant with my daughter, I was standing at a bus stop in Paris, France. In one moment, everything that I had ever taken to be my personal self completely disappeared. It was just gone. As I waited for the bus to approach, something in consciousness was loosening somehow. And when it got there--I am sure it had nothing to do with the bus driving up--this reference point of an "I," a someone that everything was about and that everything that occurred in life was structured around, was gone. It was like a switch had been turned off. And it was never to turn on again. The first response that the mind had to this completely ungraspable experience was absolute terror; but that terror never changed the experience for a moment. In other words that terror never got the reference point back again. There was no personal self, but nothing stopped; the functions continued to function just as before. In fact, better than before. Speaking was still speaking and walking was still walking. I even went to graduate school and got a Ph.D. I experienced this fear for ten years. During this time, I consulted a lot of psychotherapists because it seemed like something I needed to be cured of. Every single one of these therapists considered this to be a problem. And they all had a diagnosis for it. They couldn't quite understand how it could be that there was such great functioning occurring, but they took the fact that there was a lot of fear to be a sign that this was a problem. Towards the end of the ten years, there was a clear awareness that this was not something that was going to go away. It was time to start investigating other possible descriptions of what this was. It was time to investigate it with people who maybe knew more about it than Western psychotherapists. I started reading spiritual books and I came across a description of something that was exactly what I had been experiencing. It was an interview with Jean Klein, an Advaita teacher, and he was saying that there is no personal I, that it doesn't exist. He was saying that there is nothing wrong with this; it is the naturally occurring human state. I also found a Zen teacher up in Northern California who told me that I was seeing with the eyes of the ancients; his assurances that the fear reaction was just a season and that spring would come were very helpful. In talking to him, it became very clear that everything is there, too. I saw that the presence of fear meant only one thing--it meant that fear was present. And that was it. Shortly after realizing this, I had the experience while driving that I was driving through myself to get to someplace that I already was, because in fact I was everywhere. I wasn't going any place because I was already everywhere. There was a shift from no personal self, no "me," to seeing that this experience of no personal self was actually the substance of everything. That is when the springtime began with the quality of joyfulness to it. What I can describe about what is being experienced currently, is residing in the Infinite within which the Infinite resides. There is no end point in all this. We are talking about the Vastness. It is very large. It continues to show Itself and show Itself. (Interview with Suzanne Segal on, downloaded 1 Jan. 2005.)

It was in the Spingtime that it happened. I was returning home to my apartment on the Left Bank after attending a class for pregnant women at the clinic across town where I would be having my baby six months from then. It was the first week of my fourth month of pregnancy, and I had just begun to feel the faintest stirring of my daughter's tiny movements, like being brushed by a feather from the inside. The month was May, and the sun felt warm on my head and face as I stood at the bus stop on the Avenue de la Grande Armee. I was in no hurry and had decided to take a bus instead of the metro in order to enjoy the lovely weather.

Several buses came and went before I finally saw the number 37 approaching down the wide avenue. Six or seven of us were waiting together at the stop, exchanging pleasantries about the weather and comments about the new advertising campaign that had been appearing on all the billboards. As the bus approached, we congregated expectantly near the curb. The bus lumbered to a halt, expelling the acrid odor of exhaust fumes and hot rubber into the warm spring air.

As I took my place in line, I suddenly felt my ears stop up like they do when the pressure changes inside an airplane as it makes its descent. I felt cut off from the scene before me, as if I were enclosed in a bubble, unable to act in any but the most mechanical manner. I lifted my right foot to step up into the bus and collided head-on with an invisible force that entered my awareness like a silently exploding stick of dynamite, blowing the door of my usual consciousness open and off its hinges, splitting me in two. In the gaping space that appeared, what I had previously called "me" was forcefully pushed out of its usual location inside me into a new location that was approximately a foot behind and to the left of my head. "I" was now behind my body looking out at the world without using the body's eyes.

From a non-localized position somewhere behind and to the left, I could see my body in front and very far away. All the body's signals seemed to take a long time to be picked up in this non-localized place, as if they were light coming from a distant star. Terrified, I looked around, wondering if anyone else had noticed something. All the other passengers were calmly taking their seats, and the bus driver was motioning me to put my yellow ticket into the machine so we could be off.

I shook my head a few times, hoping to rattle my consciousness back into place, but nothing changed. I felt from afar as my fingers fumbled to insert the ticket into the slot and I walked down the aisle to find a seat. I sat down next to an older woman I had been chatting with at the bus stop, and I tried to continue our conversation. My mind had completely ground to a halt in the shock of the abrupt collision with whatever had dislodged my previous reality.

Although my voice continued speaking coherently, I felt completely disconnected from it. The face of the woman next to me seemed far away, and the air between us seemed foggy, as if filled with a thick, luminous soup. She turned to gaze out the window for a moment, then reached up to pull the cord to signal the driver to let her off at the next stop. When she rose, I slid over into her seat by the window and bid her goodbye with a smile. I could feel sweat rolling down my arms and beading up on my face. I was terrified.

The bus arrived at my stop on the rue Lecourbe, and I got off. As I walked the three blocks home, I attempted to pull myself back into one piece by focusing on my body and willing myself back into it where I thought I belonged in order to regain the previously normal sensation of seeing through the body's eyes, speaking through the body's mouth, and hearing through the body's ears. The force of will failed miserably. Instead of experiencing through the physical senses, I was now bobbing behind the body like a buoy on the sea. Cut loose from sensory solidity, separated from and witnessing the body from a vast distance, I moved down the street like a cloud of awareness following a body that seemed simultaneously familiar and foreign. There was an incomprehensible attachment to that body, although it no longer felt like "mine." It continued to send out signals of its sensory perceptions, yet how or where those signals were being received was beyond comprehension.

Incapable of making sense of this state, the mind alternated between racing wildly in an attempt to put "me" back together and shutting down completely, leaving only the empty humming of space reverberating in the ears. The witness was absolutely distinct from the mind, the body, and the emotions, and the position it held, behind and to the left of the head, remained constant. The profound distance between the witness and the mind, body, and emotions seemed to elicit panic in and of itself, due to the sensation of being so tenuously tethered to physical existence. In this witnessing state, physical existence was experienced to be on the verge of dissolution, and it (the physical) responded by summoning an annihilation fear of monumental proportions.

As I walked into my apartment, Claude looked up from his book to greet me and ask how my day had been. The terror was not immediately apparent to him, which seemed oddly reassuring. I greeted him calmly as if nothing were wrong, telling him about the class at the clinic and showing him the new book I had purchased at the American bookstore on my way home. There was no conceivable way to explain any of this to him, so I didn't even try. The terror was escalating rapidly, and the body was panic stricken, sweat pouring in rivulets down its sides, hands cold and trembling, heart pumping furiously. The mind clicked into survival mode and started looking for distractions. Maybe if I took a bath or a nap, or ate some food, or read a book, or called someone on the phone. (CWI from excerpt on , downloaded on 1 Jan. 2005.)

Subject: Adilakshmi
Dates: Unknown
Tradition: Hinduism

Whatever experience you have had, however extraordinary, remember that there are further and greater experiences. The Divine Life is endless; the being of God is infinite. (MOTH, 89.)

The Purpose of Life is Enlightenment

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