Spiritual Experiences of Enlightenment & Self Realization
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 with teachers.
A few things happened that morning.
One, I was waiting to meet with my sculpture teacher, playing hackey-sack with a friend while waiting and heard a big CRASH behind me. My friend said
“wasn’t that your sculpture, Kip?”
And sure enough, while I was there, my wooden sculpture – animal carvings linked together as a mobile, a mobile which had been hanging for months from the ceiling suddenly crashed to little pieces while I was standing there!
Then because I was waiting to meet with my sculpture teacher, I was late to see my Improvisation Tutor, who cancelled the classes because I missed the session. This was all my fault and I knew it.
My girlfriend was also that day accused as being a racist because she said there was no good outcome from any violence (they were talking about the Riots in LA in the early 90s in her poly-sci class) And as many of our music teachers were African-American, it was quite a sting to her, because suddenly she had to defend herself to everyone (we really idolized some of those teachers, she was anything but racist).
None of it being heartbreaking but all of them together plus a couple of other things 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)
It was like things were falling apart around me. (including my sculpture!) I asked my sister if it was allright if I just meditated for half an hour and she said sure, went out in the sunny fields while I put on my headphones in my dark room, sat on the wooden floor and closed my eyes…
There was an instant and complete acceptance and surrender to everything that was happening. I accepted it all and let it go. Not something I really did, it just happened. And in that, this individual form dissolved completely and there was just blackness.
Back then, I knew very little about meditative states so 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. 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 – was a resistance to this state.
Nothing intense, just sweet, mellow bliss moving all through me. 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. I was a drop in the ocean. The drop being absolutely meaningless and the ocean gushing unconditional love, peace and bliss.
I met my sister Kate, 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 state so didn’t really say anything. I just walked her to her car, smoked a cigarrette 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. 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 vegi burger with cheese sauce, I tried to explain to him what had happened to me.
I was trying to explain how nothing mattered, that it was all love and 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. Like an enormous father radiating love. Yet, paradoxically, this tiny “me” was not separate from the Father.
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.
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 The Calling 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 you are concerned with your little life and the next, you are one with the vastness and alive in unconditional love and bliss. And there is no way really to see how you 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 bringing down this awareness, pushing 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 get’s a drink of water.
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 highschool, 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. But it was all really beautiful, everything was opening up. That spring, while my girlfriend frantically worked on her thesis, I lay on her bed smoking cigarrettes and reading “Autobiography of a Yogi” reading parts out loud because I was so amazed that this enlightenment thing had at least existed at some point in time.