More on transition experiences

I wrote a long post on transition experiences, but decided to make it short and simple. Some details goes out, but the essence is maybe more clear.

Here are a couple of points from the longer post that may be interesting…

  • What we are, is a field of awake emptiness and form, absent of a separate I. This means that what is alive in each of ours awareness here and now, is realized to be nothing other than awake emptiness itself. This room, the cat, the sound of the cars, the lamp, computer, thoughts, sensations, it is all awake emptiness. An awake void, temporarily taking these forms. And it is all without a center, without any trace of a separate self.
  • When we take ourselves to be an object in the world, we filter awareness so it appears to be only here, associated with this human self, and not out there, in the wider world… with the exception of being there, in theory, in other people. We don’t notice emptiness much, everything seems quite substantial and real. And there is certainly a sense of a separate self here, in this human self.
  • So in the transition between the two, what we are breaks through within the context of what we take ourselves to be. There is a growing sense of no separation, glimpses of the wider world as somehow inherently alive and awake, a diminishing sense of the solidity of the boundary between I here and the rest of the world out there, and so on.

As Ken Wilber and others have pointed out, this transition mirrors what we find in nature mysticism (nature, all objects, as alive), deity mysticism (all as God), and finally realized selflessness (one field, absent of center and separate self.)

All of these transition experiences can be experienced and interpreted in different ways. I am sure there are many more than I wrote down here, and each of them will take on different flavors for different people at different times.

One experience I have heard recently, from a friend, is an experience of walking in nature, and everything suddenly appearing aware… the trees, stones, ground, landscape. Another, is of objects smiling back at you (having awareness, being somehow alive, able to make a connection.)

Of course, these are all just experiences and states. Nothing to be too caught up in. Just carrots, and sometimes distractions (!), within our process of exploring what we really are – in our own immediate awareness.

And that is the ground of awake void, and forms as no other than this awake void, all absent of a center and separate self. It is all emptiness dancing. A depth of awake emptiness with a thin surface of form.

3 thoughts to “More on transition experiences”

  1. It seems that I encounter a bit of a problem with the “I” killing route that you take.

    I will happily follow along with ego killing. Murder the bastard, hooray! But “I” killing seems to me to be a denial of the as-important mystery of consciousness, which appears to be impossible to explain in terms of ‘stuff.’

    “I” is a translator and, quite literally, a point of view. I do see it as my job to try to turn off the shields that cause me to react defensively to perceived attacks from others. But some of my defenses are strong and seem very much out of my control. I am defended against death and suffering. There are reactions outside my awareness to preserve my life and well being.

    My perceptions are at best significantly different than the seeming reality that’s out there. [There is nothing truly green coming at me from my perception of seeing a tree.]

    I understand emptiness [I think, sort of], but until my being’s role as a translator of seeming reality is better explained, I don’t see how there is no “I.”

    Mystical experiences are blissful glimpses, but I remain leary of attempts to fashion maps of meaning to them. The God imbued believe they have touched the face of the Lord and are likely to feel that their beliefs going in have been confirmed.

    If we are open such that we approach things with no preconceptions, is that *better*? How did that rule come into being?

    And if emptiness is dancing, why is it doing that? What are all those kazillions of stars all about?

    Everything is all quite spectacularly impossible, you know. And yet, here we are — aren’t we?

  2. Hi Tom,

    I’ll respond to your two first paragraphs first (and then the rest as I have time read it more in detail and see what comes up.)

    I use the terms “sense of separate self” (as they typically do in English language Buddhism) and “separate I” interchangeably.

    So even without a sense of a separate self/I, there is still an “I” there – although a “transcendent” I… An I without an Other.

  3. Here is another, more technical, way to talk about it:

    The word “I” is used to describe a subject, something I identify with 100%. And when we identify with/as a separate self, it appears as a subject… as an “I”.

    That is the main reason why I sometimes use the term “separate I”… it is a little closer to our experience.

    And it invites a shift from seeing it as a first person “I” to a third person he/she/it, or even me or mine (both, really.)

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