My First Satori -
Temporary State of Enlightenment
It was my sophomore year at Bennington College in Vermont. My sister had come
to visit from Maine. Her last day visiting, I was very busy with classes, and meetings
A few disappointing things happened that morning. None of them being heartbreaking
but all of them together left me quite frazzled, as though I was being pushed beyond
my limits of what I could handle at once. (I could be quite anxious to begin with in
I asked my sister if it was all right if I meditated by myself for half an hour and she said
sure, went out in the sunny fields while I put on my headphones in my dark dorm room,
sat on the wooden floor and closed my eyes...
There was an instant and complete acceptance and surrender to everything that had
happened that day. I accepted it all and let it go. Not something I really did, it just
happened. And in that surrender, this individual form dissolved completely and there was just blackness.
Back then, I knew very little about meditative states so I had no idea what was happening.
I didn't care, because in the absence of me, in the absence of mind or body, there was just blackness. The complete absence of any stress at any level. There was just awakeness, consciousness, though I knew nothing of these terms back then.
In slowly coming out of this blackness, there was such peace and bliss, so pleasurable yet so natural. It was like I was experiencing my natural state for the first time. Like everything before this was not natural at all but a resistance to what was natural. It wasn't like I "got into a state" but rather, I had shed this "me" with all of it's worries and problems and realized my natural state. It was a sense of freedom from myself. Like that sense of being a separate me was removed and all that was left was this natural state of being.
Nothing intense at all, just a sweet, mellow bliss moving through me. But it was completly void of any sense of stress or separation. There was the feeling this body was so tiny and meaningless and the universe so huge and vast. And at the same time, a deep connection with everything. The universe, all and everything was not separate from me. This was not a thought in my mind but a feeling. I had no knowledge of enlightenment when this happened, I just knew the basics of meditation and that was it.
I felt I was just a raindrop in the ocean. I still experienced myself as the drop, but not separate from the ocean. The drop itself was unimportant as I was part of this ocean. An ocean of infinite peace and joy.
I met my sister, she was laying out on the lawn. I was giggling like a little boy. She poked fun at me and I giggled more, there was no way I could explain my experience so didn't really say anything. I just walked her to her car, smoked a cigarette and said goodbye as she was driving back to Maine.
My whole world had changed. Suddenly, nothing mattered, it was all love, peace and bliss. It was all pure contentment. That was the joke of it. Not some concept, but that was the truth of it, beyond words, beyond perception or understanding.
I walked over to the dining hall, got my lunch and found my roommate at a table. Before I ate my veggie burger, I tried to explain to him what had happened to me.
I was trying to explain how nothing mattered, that it was all love, peace and bliss. That this tiny little self that we all get so worked up about was meaningless, was tiny compared to the vastness of what we truly are.. And because we made this tiny thing important, we could not experience the bigger picture: the huge vastness of everything that was taking care of everything. Which very nature was peace, bliss and love.
My words fell on deaf ears. My roommate was in deep suffering over his infatuation with a beautiful woman (usually my suffering not his!) In speaking to him, I had assumed that just in explaining the truth to him, he would also experience it and come out of his suffering. But it was as though what I was saying bounced off of him like rain on an umbrella.
It was quite beautiful because it was quite innocent. I had no knowledge of enlightenment or spiritual awakening. I had never even heard the word Satori before. So it was all new to me. And I assumed just by pointing to what I was experiencing others could experience it too. But it was like a wall of stress that was between me and everyone else in the room.
I realized that then and there that I was alone in that room. That no one could hear what I was saying. It was quite an epiphany to realize that, and probably one of the factors why I emphasize CDs like Pure and Infinite Sky that can energetically put you into a state like I was in because words by themselves can be pretty useless.
Because everyone is in their own reality, stuck in their individual prison and unable to even realize that there is this vastness of consciousness which they are a part of. That this little reality that they deem so important, is so unimportant. A big cosmic joke.
All of this being said, the words don't touch it. To know it intellectually is meaningless. But to experience it, as truth, takes the whole weight off of your life, and then you are weightless. That is how I felt - weightless.
It wasn't me that shifted my awareness into truth, it was something that cannot be defined, call it grace. This is the big mystery. Because one moment I was concerned with my little life and the next, that one who had concerned was no more, I was one with the vastness and alive in unconditional love and bliss. And there is no way really to see how I got there.
My other epiphany sitting at that lunch table was that unfortunately, this new found truth was only temporary. And the combined stress from everyone around me at an energetic level was pulling at this awareness, pulling me more and more back into the individual self. I was watching this happen. Yet, there was the acceptance of it and I ate my lunch. Within a few hours, I gradually became this small self again.
I guess on some level, I thought this state would come back later on, maybe in a few hours. But the hours turned to days, days to weeks. Weeks to months...
It was some time after that that I found in the school library a book called "Autobiography of a Yogi" by Paramahansa Yogananda. And in the book it talked about this thing called enlightenment. And I drank every word like a man dying of thirst opens his mouth to the rain.
School didn't seem so important anymore. I wondered if there were any of these people who were "enlightened" today, if it still existed. And I planned to fly to India upon graduation and just walk around and ask people if they knew anyone that had this "enlightenment" thing and where I could find them. It was all totally new to me.
It was as though since puberty, I was seeking something more, that there had to be something more. My shrink in High School said that college was the answer. And although college was better than high school, it still left me searching. But suddenly I found what I was searching for. I hadn't found it, but realized at least WHAT I was seaching for! And this was a big relief.
I am not sure if I related my experience above to what Paramahansa Yogananda spoke about in his book or not. I don't think I did. The experience I had was so fresh and innocent, I could not relate it to anything. But it was all really beautiful, everything was opening up. That spring, while my girlfriend frantically worked on her senior thesis, I lay on her bed smoking cigarettes and reading "Autobiography of a Yogi" reading parts out loud to her because I was so amazed that this enlightenment thing had at least existed at some point in time.
One thing I highly recommend, as Parmahanso Yogananda recommends is Shakti, the transmission of enlightenment.
Back in to Yogananda's day, the only real way to receive Shakti was from an enlightened Guru, but now there are ways of transmitting it through sound.
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Satori: experience of enlightenment