AN UNDERSTANDING

It took about five years before I understood the event I had experienced coming out of the dream I described earlier. I can even put a label on it now, for what that is worth. I experienced samadhi.

In his Yoga Sutras, Patanjali goes to some length describing the various states of samadhi. It makes for very interesting reading. But when I say I finally came to understand, I mean much more than simply being able to affix a label or give a technical description of my experience.

Having read extensively before and after that experience I had arrived at several misunderstandings about it. First, I thought it had been some kind of "psychic" experience. The voice sidetracked me into that one. Second, I thought I had entered the "ultimate" state of disembodied and spiritual being. James Pryse led me into that error.

I came to think that I had tasted the ultimate fruit of human life. Like many others before and since, I came to believe that the final goal of human life was to enter into the state of samadhi and remain there forever. I was haunted by the memory of the experience. I longed to have it again. I tried over and over to repeat it, but failed.

This was when I got into out of body experiences in a big way. I was attempting to repeat the experience of samadhi from the waking state. Out of body experiences were the common result. Once in a while I was able to get into a sort of low level state of samadhi, but never again anything approaching the intensity of that primary experience. I was greatly disappointed.

I could not understand why I had been given such an experience, and then apparently forbidden to repeat it. It was as if something or someone had been teasing me. I even came to think that the universe itself, or God, had a sadistic sense of humour. I no longer accepted the concept of God in any shape, but at times I wondered if I was wrong and that this was my punishment for my lack of belief.

The actual problem was that I was still thoroughly immersed in monistic and dualistic comprehension. I was still thinking that samadhi was something I had to attain. I was still thinking of it as a sort of reward for good behaviour. I had learned a trick and managed to do it right. So I got my reward! If I did it again I would get my reward again.

The real burr under my saddle was my belief that if I could not repeat the experience and then train myself to stay in it, I was doomed. You see, in the understanding expressed by Pryse in the Apocalypse Unsealed, the goal of human life is to escape from physical existence. This is also the goal of most of oriental mysticism as well. Attaining samadhi and staying in it permanently is the only way you can achieve this goal. Death is not liberation. Only samadhi is.

Dying only condemns you to another turn of the wheel of karma. Dying only leads to another rebirth in this vale of tears. So death is not the way out. Only samadhi truly liberates.

I began to feel that I had been given only a fleeting glimpse of this liberation to let me know that I still had some lifetimes to go. I still had lots of karma to burn off in the physical world before I could leave it for good. This was a rationalization for coping. I needed to cope with the horrendous sense of loss I felt. I felt like I had seen the sun and then been blinded.

But sometime during this period I began to change my thinking. I guess I was waking up a bit more. I began to understand samadhi in a different light. I began to understand samadhi as a different manner of perception rather than as simply a different state or level of awareness. I began to think of samadhi as akin to the other four types of psychic activity described in psychological literature. These are thinking, feeling, sensation and intuition.

Also, I had long been disenchanted with the negation of sexuality that I continually read about in so-called "spiritual" literature, both of the orient and occident. It seemed as though spiritual commentators of both east and west had it in for sex and the flesh. I just could not accept the denigration of sex, from whatever source. Something about all that negation of sex just did not add up for me. My disenchantment continued to grow and rankle.

I eventually became convinced that all of those who viewed human sex in a negative manner were wrong. I could not figure out just why they were all wrong or in just what manner. But I knew they were wrong. I was not about to claim that there were no problems associated with sexuality. That would be silly. But the commentators were all wrong to condemn sex because we sometimes have difficulties with it.

If they were wrong about something as commonplace as the experience of sexual love, I suspected that they might be wrong about other more subtle matters as well. With an experience as rare as samadhi, I suspected there might be a wide margin of possible error in understanding.

I do not wish to belabour the issue here. I did not read all of the available literature dealing with experiences of samadhi and then come to a logical and calculated decision. I instead trusted my own feelings and intuition. My feelings and my intuition told me that samadhi was not an exotic and elevated state of existence beyond the mundane. It was not something that could only be experienced by means of esoteric physio-psychic meditations designed to alter your state of consciousness.

My feelings and intuition told me that samadhi was part of the human being's standard equipment. It was part of standard psychic functioning, like thinking, feeling, sensation and intuition. Samadhi was just more subtle and thus little noticed. In the way that intuition is subtle and little noticed by most people.

Sensation is so obvious because it is primarily physical. We can hardly ignore it. Feeling, too, is as nearly obvious. Thinking is more subtle, but everyone is aware of it at least some of the time. Intuition is yet more subtle and many people have trouble recognizing it. In fact, many people question its very existence.

Samadhi is the most subtle of all and least noticeable. Hardly anyone becomes consciously aware of it. And when someone does, it is rather like my experience: it is mindblowing.

I came up with the analogy of the blackboard. Consciousness is like a big school backboard with interesting stuff written all over it. We do not see it all at once, however, because the room is dark and we have only a small flashlight which can illuminate only small parts of the blackboard at any one time. So we shine our flashlight on one spot at a time.

In the middle of the blackboard sit sensation and feeling. They are quite close together. They usually work in close conjunction, so we can expect to find them associated. The beam of our flashlight can illuminate most of sensation and feeling at one time. Not all, but most. That is why we are so aware of them most of the time.

A little farther out we encounter thinking. Beyond thinking we find intuition. And farther yet samadhi.

Because the flashlight beam is so small we are only aware of relatively small portions of the blackboard at a time. Because most of us are rather timid, we spend most of our awareness in the center of the blackboard. We hardly even imagine that the board is as expansive as it is.

We jump around between sensation and feeling for the most part. Sure, sometimes we get into thinking. The braver ones even get to intuition at times. Hardly anyone ever discovers samadhi or whatever else might lie on the outer edges of the blackboard of consciousness.

This analogy was all well and good for what it was worth. It helped me to fit samadhi into a cohesive view of consciousness. It helped me to understand how it is that awareness seems so fragmented all the time.

Then one day I got an intuitive flash. I imagined that my flashlight beam suddenly expanded revealing the entire blackboard. What I saw in that sudden flash put it all together for me.

What I saw were concentric circles expanding from the center. Sensation and feeling were in the innermost of the circles. Surrounding sensation and feeling was thinking. Surrounding thinking was intuition. Surrounding intuition was samadhi.

Each successive circle surrounded and included the ones within it. So that sensation and feeling were a subset of thinking. Then feeling, sensation and thinking were a subset of intuition. These four were in turn a subset of samadhi.

These five modes and powers of expressing and experiencing were in turn a subset of self consciousness.

Encompassing all was Consciousness itself. It was coming into existence at the center like a fountain of red radiating fire. The fire changed its colors like a turning crystal. Red, yellow, green, blue, indigo.

I saw that each color was a chakra in the rainbow of consciousness. The entire vision revealed itself to me as a dynamic whole, with each portion complementing and fulfilling the rest in a stunning beauty.

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