I mentioned to someone the experience of no self/I, and her response was a reminder of the wide range of experiences available to us. She connected my words with shamanic/drug induced experiences of hers, which she described as very unpleasant and as dissasociation. Of course, I don’t know exactly what she described, but it did trigger some curiosity for me.
It also reminded me of how I initially experienced the awakening as formless awareness – as groundless ground, space & awareness and so on. For me, it happened out of the blue and with no conscious preparation. I was a die-hard atheist at the time and had no previous interest or experience in those areas, as had no-one I knew (or knew about for that matter).
For a while, it was indeed quite unpleasant and I went to a large number of doctors and healers of various sorts to see if they could help me. I experiences myself as just space & awareness, distinct and somehow separate from the world of form – including my human self. In my view, and in the view of those around me, something was seriously and perplexingly wrong.
This lasted for a while (several months) until I awakened as Big Mind, as that which is beyond and embraces all polarities, including that of the ground (space & awareness) and form. Now, rather than experiencing disassociation, there was a profound sense of intimacy with all there is.
Everything – the whole universe, the stars and galaxies, the earth, the wind, the soil, the trees, all beings and so on – happened within me. It was all me. And beyond that, everything was consciousness, and I was that consciousness. It was a profound sense of coming home, of belonging, of finding the ground of all there is. Of finding God, and all as God. And a deep sense of recognition as well. This is all there every was, all there is, all there ever will be.
This lasted for a long time as well – for several years – gradually deepening and clarifying. Until it fell away and then gradually returned in a new way, but that is another story.
So in this one case, there was an initial sense of exclusive identification as formless awareness, and with it a sense of disassociation. This was experienced as unpleasant, partly because I was not prepared for it and had no context for making sense of it, and partly because I resisted it – I saw it as an “other”. Then, as it popped into Big Mind, the disassociation shifted into a deep sense of intimacy, recognition and belonging.