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Maggie E's Experience

Experience description:   

I was sitting on the porch steps outside my house on a pleasant morning waiting for a co worker to come pick me up for a meeting across town.  I zoned out, staring off into space, not deliberately meditating, although the effect was similar.  At the time I had no formal training in meditation. 

Suddenly, for no reason, I had a drastic internal shift in perspective.  I perceived myself as being equally a part of, and connected to, everything in the universe (words really aren't doing this justice, or even coming close). I realized that my self existed, and everything in the universe existed, but that my self perception was an illusion. For a moment I could see this with total clarity, and understood it completely.  I was not separate from anything.   

Later I explained it to a friend like this:  Here's your soul.  Your soul is inside a glass mason jar.  Everything inside the glass you consider to be YOU, and everything outside the mason jar (trees, cows, galaxies, light, energy) is NOT YOU.  Now imagine all that, without the glass jar.  There is no jar. (I think there was a similar analogy used in The Matrix or some other SF movie, but still, this is the best I can do.)  

This only lasted a fraction of a second.  I started to form a thought  about what that meant for the concept of distance:  that anything a billion miles away was really part of my fingertip, and that unnerved me so deeply that I snapped back to my usual frame of reference.   

Then the thought appeared in my mind:  "That's what the Buddhists are getting at." 

I've done some study of Buddhism and practiced meditation since then, but nothing remotely like it has occurred again.  I doubt I could reproduce the experience deliberately, and I haven't tried.

Any associated medications or substances with the potential to affect the experience?     No      


Was the kind of experience difficult to express in words? Yes     I could not hold onto the full scope of the experience for very long, and there are no words to adequately describe it anyway.  Our language, and I think maybe our physical brains, are too limited.

At the time of this experience, was there an associated life threatening event?          No      

What was your level of consciousness and alertness during the experience?           It was different and hugely expanded.

            Was the experience dream like in any way?   No

Did you experience a separation of your consciousness from your body?     Uncertain      Both Yes and No are correct.

What emotions did you feel during the experience?            As soon as I realized how profoundly different this perspective was, I was afraid.

Did you hear any unusual sounds or noises?           No.

LOCATION DESCRIPTION:  Did you recognize any familiar locations or any locations from familiar religious teachings or encounter any locations inhabited by incredible or amazing creatures?            Yes     It was as the concept of Nirvana was described to me:  a state without boundaries or identity.  Except I wasn't exactly free of identity... I was free of self perception, which is different.

Did you see a light?           No      

Did you meet or see any other beings?           No      

Did you experiment while out of the body or in another, altered state? No      

Did you observe or hear anything regarding people or events during your experience that could be verified later?          No      

Did you notice how your 5 senses were working, and if so, how were they different?          No      

Did you have any sense of altered space or time?          Yes     Space, as distance, wasn't there anymore.

Did you have a sense of knowing, special knowledge, universal order and/or purpose?    Yes     Our concept of ourselves as discrete, self contained entities interacting with an outside world is illusory.  I can't retain real understanding of what that means, but I accept it.

Did you reach a boundary or limiting physical structure?             No       The opposite occurred:  boundaries all disappeared.

Did you become aware of future events?       No      

Were you involved in or aware of a decision regarding your return to the body?       Uncertain      I never exactly left it, although I went beyond it, in a sense.

Did you have any psychic, paranormal or other special gifts following the experience that you did not have prior to the experience?         No      

Did you have any changes of attitudes or beliefs following the experience?   Yes     It did affect my ideas regarding what constitutes soul or identity. I had been interested in Buddhism prior to this experience, but I had a vague fear that the goal of Buddhism was to lose one's self entirely.  This experience showed me both my misunderstanding, and the limitations of language when used to describe spiritual concepts. 

Also, I think that whatever that state was that I visited, I'm there all the time, even though my consciousness is too limited to pick up on it.

How has the experience affected your relationships? Daily life? Religious practices? Career choices?       I did do some research into Buddhism and have practiced meditation a bit.  It hasn't affected my life directly.

Has your life changed specifically as a result of your experience?         No      

Have you shared this experience with others?         Yes     Shared once with a friend who is a student of Buddhism.  He took me at face value and was pretty positive about it.

What emotions did you experience following your experience?  Fear, then excitement.

What was the best and worst part of your experience?      The worst part is that if it was a lesson, it was too advanced! I wasn't ready. I have had other spiritual experiences that have changed my life, but they were simpler and more accessible.  

The best part is that it was just handed to me.  I got a glimpse into the  limitations of human perception without any effort on my part.

Following the experience, have you had any other events in your life, medications or substances which reproduced any part of the experience?         No      

Did the questions asked and information you provided accurately and comprehensively describe your experience?               Uncertain      Not really, but there aren't any words for it.  "I was sitting there minding my own business and then suddenly I was a part of everything, everywhere" covers it, but at the same time is totally inadequate.

Please offer any suggestions you may have to improve this questionnaire.    None, thanks for giving me the opportunity to share.