Around 6 and half years back, in Feb ’04 – I had an intense, life transforming spiritual experience that changed the course of my life. From an atheist, from someone who was never exposed to religious thoughts or books, for someone who mocked religion and spirituality – this experience led to a series of amazing changes and events in my life and had a tremendous impact on my life, thoughts, feelings and my complete existence. The prolonged enlightenment led to some major transformation taking place in my body, in my feelings, heart, mind and thinking, almost a discontinuity from the past.
Was this experience and the subsequent transformation real? Could these be part of a hyper active, overworked mind? Could some scattered reading or hearing added up in the subconscious mind and played a mind game? Never having read religious books, articles or exposed to these subjects – it was surely not an end product of a trend of thought, nor was it an intellectually arrived conclusion. So how credible was this worldview? I was obsessed about finding out. The turmoil within me and the desperation to understand all that was happening within and to validate all that had happened to me and my inner changes was all-consuming. I needed to be sure that this was real.
So, while I was being sucked into a vortex of compulsive meditation, especially during the nights – I consciously tried using the objective process of understanding by reading religious books, autobiographies, experiences and case studies of saints and yogis. Tried to intellectually understand the science and the logic of such experiences using tantra, quantum physics and physiology. I also learnt a few things and tried ayurveda, acupressure, gemmology, meridian and chakra cleaning and marma to play around with my body and to reach out to the occurrence happening within. Unswervingly, all the time, using the blazing searchlight of logic and reason to sift the real from the illusion. It became an obsession and while my meditation kept me awake nights after nights, my reading gave me comfort of precedence and familiarity.
Some of the reading that I found resonance and in a way, solace, were spiritual experiences by saints and yogis of all faiths and god-intoxicated souls. While the hindu spiritual tradition of spiritual awakening is well known and documented in the Ashtavakra Gita, some of the other faiths also mentions these spiritual awakenings eg. the Gnostic Christianity of direct, individual mystical experience of the divine, the Sufi tradition in Islam and many others. The rising spirit that I had experienced had a theoretical echo through a non-intellectual and cognitive process called “kundalini awakening” in hindu world view, the “holy ghost” in the Christian tradition and the “rooh” in Islam.
So, while the scriptures and tradition confirmed the presence of this kind of occurrence, I still needed validation of the experience and impact by reading personal accounts of those who had experienced this awakening. Most of the descriptions that I read, resonated with my experience and the doubts started dispelling and I became convinced that what had transpired was “reality”.
For example, Lahiri Mahasayaji described his first experience” My divine guru approached and passed his hand over my head. I entered the nirbikalpa samadhi state, remaining unbrokenly in its bliss for seven days. Crossing the successive strata of self-knowledge, I penetrated the deathless realms of reality. All delusive limitations dropped away; my soul was fully established on the eternal altar of the Cosmic Spirit “
I empathised as I read Paramhansa Yoganandaji describe his spiritual experience “My body became immovably rooted; breath was drawn out of my lungs as if by some strange magnet. Soul and mind instantly lost their physical bondage and streamed out like a fluid piercing light from my every pore. The flesh was as though dead, yet in my intense awareness, I knew that I had never been so fully alive. My sense of identity was no longer narrowly confined to a body but embraced the circumambient atoms. The roots of plants and trees appeared through a dim transparency of the soil; I discerned the inward flow of their sap. The whole vicinity lay bare before me. My ordinary frontal vision was now changed to a vast spherical sight, simultaneously all-perceptive. My body, Master’s, the pillared courtyard, the furniture and floor, the trees and sunshine, occasionally became violently agitated, until all melted into a luminescent sea; even as sugar crystals, thrown into a glass of water, dissolve after being shaken. The unifying light alternated with materializations of form, the metamorphoses revealing the law of cause and effect in creation. An oceanic joy broke upon calm endless shores of my soul. The Spirit of God, I realized, is exhaustless Bliss; His body is countless tissues of light. A swelling glory within me began to envelop towns, continents, the earth, solar and stellar systems, tenuous nebulae, and floating universes. The entire cosmos, gently luminous, like a city seen afar at night, glimmered within the infinitude of my being. Blissful amrita, the nectar of immortality, pulsed through me with a quicksilverlike fluidity. The creative voice of God I heard resounding as Aum, the vibration of the Cosmic Motor.”
Osho describes his first mystical experience “For the first time I was no more an individual, for the first time the drop had fallen into the ocean. Now the whole ocean was mine, I was the ocean. There was no limitation. A tremendous power arose as if I could do anything whatsoever. I was not there, only the power was there. I was relaxed, I was in a let-go. I was not there, “it” was there, call it God – God was there. I would like to call it “it”, because God is too human a word and has become too dirty by too much use, has become too much polluted by so many people. Christians, Hindus, Mohammedans, priests and politicians – they have all corrupted the beauty of the world. “It” was there and I was just carried away….carried by a tidal wave.”
Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev on his first enlightenment “I was just sitting on this particular rock. I had my eyes open, not even closed. I thought it was about ten minutes, but something began to happen to me. All my life I had thought this is me. Suddenly, I did not know which is me and which is not me. The air that I was breathing, the rock on which I’m sitting, the atmosphere around me, everything had become me. What is me has become so enormous, it is everywhere. I was fully aware, but what I had considered myself until that moment had just disappeared.”
There are many similar descriptions, be it Eknath Easwaran’s description of the spiritual awakening of Mahatma Gandhi in jail, or about Sri Aurobindo’s transformation vide his mystical awakening in the British Jail, or St Francis Assissi and his life-altering spiritual experience which led him to a change of heart and change of life, while being imprisoned after a battle and many, many other – not least Gopi Krishan in the recent past.
So, my doubts assuaged about the “experience” and understanding of the physical and other changes continuously happening within me, I needed to comprehend the science, the logic and the process. The quest to know this became my next obsession.