Location: Boston MA USA
Dear Mr. Lucille, In 2008 I had an experience that I’d like to ask you about. I really need some kind of clarity!!! I don’t want to waist your time with tons of details but prior to this experience, during the second part of 2007, I had a lot of stress. One night I was trying to relax and I ended up going out, getting drunk, and to make a long story short I cheated on my wife. Next morning, when I realized what I did, I told my wife. She forgave me…but I did not forgive myself. The next few months were crazy - the feelings of guilt, dissatisfaction with myself and life overall were huge. Soon after that I got sick and on top of everything I became extremely scared for my life and future. This continued for about a year… And then I came across E. Tolle’s “Power of Now”. I’ve read it over and over again. Something started to shift. It was very powerful. I felt going deeper and deeper into all this stuff: reading, meditating, doing yoga and qigong, even switched my diet to Macrobiotics. Somehow all of it felt right. My illness and depression slowly went away. Soon our 1st child was born. I can’t describe the joy I felt - it was pure heaven… Nevertheless, there was another side to this… I completely lost any interest in my work (I used to be a co-founder/partner of a management and IT consulting firm here in Boston). Basically, I ended up becoming a full-time stay-home dad once my wife went back to work. All of a sudden, in a middle of very busy days and nights, my life became very simple. Everything slowed down. A few months after I became a stay home dad I started to have very strange dreams like getting calls from a vibrating limitless darkness, listening to strange silence and so on. And then I had this (don’t even know what to call it) experience: All of a sudden, as I was falling asleep at night, I felt something in my stomach. It felt like a large ball of air. Condensed hot air… It moved up into my chest and then my throat. All extremely quickly… At that moment I felt great fear that I can’t even begin to describe… It was as if I was literally dying… Every memory, everything I know, and even single sensation in my body was getting erased one by one all extremely quickly. The last thing I felt was this ball of air moving from my throat up to the top of my head somewhere. Then, there was some kind of explosion in the head and everything stopped. All fear also stopped. This body’s eyes physically opened. It was very very strange. But here is the description of what was experienced after that, which is even stranger. There was no sense of “Paul”. No Paul or anyone else, no individuality, no thoughts, no emotions, no memories, total absence of all physical sensations except for vision… But something or someone was looking through this body’s eyes! Whatever or whoever was looking through Paul’s eyes was not anywhere in one particular place but was everywhere at the same time - all space in the room and outside, all objects, the night sky in the window… everything! This non-personal I looked around and did not know what it was seeing, it did not know anything, it was like seeing everything for the very first time. That I had no idea that wall was a wall, bed was bed, this body was body… For that I there was no difference in seeing a wall or this body for example… And as this I was seeing all of it it was seeing itself meaning the wall was this I, bed was I, body - I, sky -I… It was completely unlimited, non-localized, timeless… There was only this I and nothing or nobody else. I don’t know how long it lasted. May be a few hours clock time…This body did stuff… Walked around, etc. At some point there was like a registering of some movement… There was a thought what is this movement? It seemed like this I studied this movement for some time… Then, again all of a sudden, Paul with his identity, memories, sensations and everything else was back. I found myself sitting on the edge of our bed in total darkness… This movement was my right hand moving… That’s what this I studied all this time. My wife was peacefully sleeping next to me… Up to a year ago I would tell you a lot about this experience: pure awareness awakening to itself, spirit, etc. Now all I can say is I really don’t know. I have all kinds of doubts…and it really kills me…I can’t find rest. My main question is this: How do we know it was not just some event in my brain that stopped everything except for the part of the brain responsible for generating a sense of I? Is it possible that a complete loss of memory, thoughts, emotions and all sensations except for visual made me perceive myself as this non-localized and unlimited I …but really it was all in the brain and I am this brain and this body after all!?!?!? I mean, how do we really know that this I-Awareness-Presence is not something created in/by the brain!?!?!? Sincerely, Paul
The real question is not “of what is this presence aware?” but rather “who is aware as this presence?” The brain and the body may be necessary to supply and process the stuff consciousness is aware of, thoughts, sounds, tactile sensations, etc… but this doesn’t imply they are the reality that perceives, that which truly perceives, the perceiver in chief. That which is perceived can tell us nothing about that which perceives.
I had an experience similar to yours many years ago, with perhaps the only difference that the sense of being a separate, limited consciousness and the fear of death, of absolute disappearance, disappeared and haven’t resurfaced since. This experience was also accompanied by absolute bliss, love, splendor, eternity, but all of this, except the presence itself, faded away within a few days. Gradually, thanks to the help of my teacher, the relaxation, fearlessness, and peace of mind that were revealed during this experience became permanent, paving the way for causeless joy, for a life in which the permanent miracle of creation and celebration ceaselessly reveals itself.
And that brings me to your question: “How do we know it was not just some event in my brain that stopped everything except for the part of the brain responsible for generating a sense of I?”
The brain cannot conceivably generate serendipitous events and miracles in the physical world. As a result of our letting go of being a separate entity, and of the merging together of inside and outside, we experience peace and happiness inwardly, and the unfolding of the permanent miracle outwardly.
The proof is in the pudding. There is no room left for ignorance when it is squeezed between happiness and miracle.