Recently I remembered four particular experiences which gave me glimpses of pure consciousness.
: Dubai 2008 – Noise has no sound :
It was Thursday evening, I had left my meditation group in the old part of the city (Bur Dubai) and stopped on the way home (Dubai Marina) in a supermarket of one of the shopping malls. Many professionals were on the way home and must have had the same idea because hordes of people pushed themselves through the aisles of the shop. It was a huge supermarket and apart from the individuals in office wear, there were also couples and families with children. Given the additional non-stop background music and various loudspeaker announcements, it was a vivid scene with a significant noise level. The hubbub continued around the checkout desk, where I was queuing with at least ten other parties in front of me. I withdrew my senses, turned inwards, just wanted to get home. When suddenly something clicked in me, lifting me into another realm. Still seeing what was happening around me and somewhat hearing what was going on, nevertheless the whole noise was empty of sound within a millisecond! There I was, standing in line with the shopping cart in front of me, looking and listening, looking and listening, but I couldn’t hear anything. There was absolute silence in me. Like a vacuum. Without shock, without agitation, without judgement. Just calm, collected beingness. Nothing could have shaken me in this state. I was “alive”, yet outside of it all. It was a deliciously peaceful and noise-free experience, which carried me through the payment process and the traffic back home. I simply was. No more, no less.
: Puttaparthi 2009 – Cold has no temperature :
Sathya Sai Baba was still alive. He seemed quite fragile though and I wanted to meet him before he’d leave his body. So I arrived in the small city of Puttaparthi, North of Bangalore. My original plan was to stay outside Sai Baba’s ashram, “comfortably” in the apartment of a distant acquaintance. This turned out to be inappropriate though and I moved into a hotel right opposite the ashram. Perfect, so I thought. Shortly after my shift, I kept bumping into an Indian lady, a doctor from Canada. We got on really well and one evening after dinner in the ashram she recommended to leave the hotel and stay like her in the ashram. She explained that I could dive much deeper into the protected, dedicated retreat space if I stopped shifting between the worlds (inside and outside the ashram). I loved the atmosphere of Prasanthi Nilayam and said Yes, why not? The next morning I checked out at the hotel. And after my registration at the ashram’s guest house I got “my” room: an 8-bed room with shared bath and running cold water! Sigh. Sharing a room with so many is one thing I was not keen to do, but cold water for two weeks I found really off putting! My mood was down. Especially when I discovered that cold water actually meant ice cold water. Morning, noon and night, when showering, washing hair and brushing teeth. Oh well, I decided to make the best out of it. And then, something quite unexpected happened. One of the following mornings while having a shower something in me switched. All of a sudden my perception was totally intense, present and free of thoughts. And I saw the cold shower only as water, as something wet. I remember well how I stood in the shower and could hardly believe that on the one hand, my temperature sensitivity was off and on the other hand, I was awake and aware. My observation was: cold water is just water. Pure water. There was only the texture, the liquidity and wetness, not the temperature anymore. My mind could hardly grasp the reality of this experience of consciousness. I was in a zero-point field, between or beyond the sensations of hot and cold. This state of beingness kept me under its spell for the rest of the day. During my next shower however, the water was cold again (nothing is permament!).
Prasanthi Nilayam Ashram, Puttaparthi
: Tiruvannamalai 2010 – Stench has no smell :
After my trip in the Himalayas of Northern India I was inexplicably pulled to travel South to Tiruvannamalai. I followed my intuition and amongst wonderful experiences around the sacred mountain of Arunachala, one story stands out. Having completed the Pradakshina (circumbulation) of Mount Arunachala, various temple tours (e.g. Adi Annamalai and Arunachala Temple) and ashram visits (Sri Seshadri Swamigal and Ramana Maharshi Samadhi), I wanted to climb up Arunachala and meditate in Virupaksha Cave (a grotto named after the renowned 13th century saint Virupaksha Deva and the spot where Ramana Maharshi had spent many years). Apart from a breathtaking trek and stunning views from the plateaus of Mount Arunachal, there was another breathtaking experience: when I sat down in Virupaksha Cave, I noticed a nasty, almost disgusting smell. This strong unpleasant odour was super distractive and limited my natural, deep breath considerably. It wasn’t clear to me what caused the stench, but one thing seemed certain: it was anchored in the floor and the walls. I was disappointed and pondered “Have I come here for nothing? Is this smell really going to prevent me from meditating? What do I do now?” My diary entry:
“I sat down in a corner of the little cave, away from the entrance. While directing my awareness towards the actual atmosphere, I entered an inner space in which I felt fire and earth (groundedness) as well as very fresh air space (ether). I can’t describe it. I felt heat and the centre of existence as something very deep, dense and focused and at the same time I sensed the purity and freshness of lofty mountain tops and beyond. Quite a stretch! Nevertheless, it all felt light, serene and somewhat mature (grown up?). And amidst all the odours in the cave I was perceiving a kind of non-smelling purity. An essence which was present as a core (molecule?) within all smells. As pure air or prana. A fresh clean energy extract, which also seemed to defy the bad smell. I marveled at this – moved but unshaken.”
Inspired and grateful I left this special location.
Virupaksha Cave, Mount Arunachala
: Mumbai 2010 – Physical body has no matter :
It happened during the event with an Indian master. Together with a few others, I belonged to his team of initiates, who provided energy transfers to participants of the meditation session. These blessings were always beautiful and enriching experiences for me, as recipient as well as giver. Also this evening in Mumbai: after receiving the energy transfer “my self” had dissolved. As corny as it may sound, divine essence melted into all of my cells. Although it was very powerful – triggering spontaneous tears and hefty heart beats – I was also immediately enveloped by the finest and gentlest energies. I felt as if I had been opened to the universe. In fact, given the infinite amount of serenity and love that streamed through me, I could have embraced the whole universe. In this state, I began the energy transfers with the guests. I experienced absolute timelessness and peace. But also strong energy waves and crystal-clear consciousness when I moved from one person to another. My expanded perception made me realise who had a more receptive constitution and who did not. I was in a glorious, mind-blowing state. When mediation and satsang were over, I was still high on energy. I kind of swam in light to the dinner buffet. While holding a plate with delicacies and popping a piece into my mouth, I suddenly had this flash:
“What am I doing? Why am I feeding this body? This mass of energy. What’s the point in eating, putting food into this body? There is no form. There is no body! There is no direction. There is just infinite space.” I had the impression that food would easily drop to the floor if I placed it in my mouth. “Something is here, but it seems just some kind of cloud, maybe a conglomerate of denser energy of which the “I” believes it is located. Why eating? Why talking? And still, something in this cloud is breathing, looking, laughing, talking. What is it that is existing?” I asked and immediately received the answer: “Pure presence and silence. Presence that is laughing, looking, loving.”
Timeless stillness and infinite consciousness