Peter F's Experience
I regret the length of my writing. 7 years after 2 atypical life experiences, I attempted to draw closure by writing to myself having been unsuccessful in my attempts to access wisdom and understanding that would have been interpretative or served to guide me. A tad bewildering is knowing that you have experienced a moment or two of life-changing profundity and yet attempts to share it, or derive learning from it, simply does not compute with others who so notably are completely disinterested by it of its content leaving one feeling unusually isolated.
My 2 experiences followed closely behind my attending a weekend retreat ostensibly entitled 'Buddhism and the Environment". The relevant Buddhist mentor was a somewhat ego-centric and hard drinking fellow so it wasn't too deep or meaningful. Anyway it proved to be a good thing and I remember driving home with internal dialogue going something like this..,
OK I am never going to kill anything ever again. (I try to avoid injurious acts but it was simple defined statement of intention)
Righto what about a snake? ( I am not real fussed about reptiles)
No, not even a snake.
What about a brown snake?
No, not even a brown.
What if he is in your house?
I’ll do whatever but I won’t kill him (or her).
What about a mosquito?
I submit, they don’t count anyway.., yet. I felt as though I had some directionality.
The weeks passed with haphazard contemplation but it was just life rolling on. But then one night ‘I had a dream’ or a dream like occurrence. If dream sleep occupies 2/24 of one’s every day, then I have had a large library of past dreams but only a handful have stayed with me. Let me tell you about the two that remain very clear.
Like most dreams, there was no trailer or intro but suddenly I’m into it. I am moving and towards a light. The visual detail was missing but prominent was the serene feeling I harbored. It felt so special in this beautiful state. I was moving but it had a kind of slow mo feel to it and as never before, my perception felt so tinklingly, crystal clear. My head was definitely in a tangible space and whether I was sleeping, dreaming or awake, still seems quite irrelevant. I was strongly drawn to this white light and wanted to run to it and I was. At first I thought slow motion was slowing but then I realize my longer steps were higher bounds and gravity was retreating. The light became stronger as I got closer. I was then in homogenous bright light. It wasn’t just brilliant light, it was, that it was so perfectly white. Intrinsically I knew every step was taking me closer to take off and my heart was so bursting with desire. The process created its own graphical representation of kinetics and the math processor in my head extrapolated the point to be.., 3 steps away and I held my breath and reveled in the most beautiful, powerful force drawing at my heart. I so wanted it to take me. The next step was another level of intense crescendo, going higher, more beautiful and my last step vaporized with the most gentle landing, in a flexed upright position in bed. Somewhere I had stepped away from the brink of an extraordinary travel orgasm of sorts and whilst denied, I was left with the softest of feelings and I was so grateful. I lay awake for a long time savoring this occurrence. I worked the next day but my head kept returning to one thing. Whatever it was, felt fairly real.
I am a nocturnal creature and the first of life’s subsequent changes came at 9.15pm that night as I retire in a way atypical enough for my wife, Clare, to ask me if I am unwell. “Just a bit tired” my subterfuge replies. I’m ‘hot- to- trot’ on the next episode and hoped a longer sleep might help make contact. Morning time comes and somehow the non event of my slumber was still dwarfed by the intense memory of the dream and yes, I felt different. I am a normally energized kind of guy, but I had fresh vitality, subtle but different. So the days rolled by and a fortnight latter, I met the sequel and finale.
It was simply an exacting re-run of the original only the final step came with a metamorphosis of sorts and mortal words can’t cut the mustard. I will fail, but it was the kinetics that was a mind-blow. The force that drew me toward the light was experienced at the level of the heart and so naturally with my last step I recall leading with my chest, arching my back letting my head and limbs trail and having this feeling of complete release as I rocketed vertically. It was an intense blur but without doubt, I remember exhaling. It was as though I was exhaling diving into water with bubbles pouring out of my mouth and trailing behind. It was the dominant part of the submission or transcendence and it was long, savored and when so complete, things just became stationary and I was just.., somewhere, taking it all in, witnessing. A description of perhaps floating implies both buoyancy and gravity. I love physics and see it in my every day. No forces were active here. Lucidity was striking. I had so fully exhaled and I was cognizant that musculo-skeletally, it is not a comfortable position to hold even without ‘air hunger’ that should follow. I was observing the space in time waiting for the physiological trigger to initiate inhalation. It was not there, it wasn’t coming and it felt so perfectly comfortable. I paused to be sure, there was simply no air- hunger, final pause of clinical observation, then.., clearly I am not breathing. I remember thinking slowly and precisely, ‘that., is really definitive”. For a mortal instant I had a distant and indistinct visual of myself in a sleeping position and I wondered if my body was breathing. I knew I was not of physical presence at this time and I wondered if perhaps my body had died; nothing threatening or intrinsically personal, just a chance curiosity, gone without connection in a flicker.
In hindsight, what I can appreciate is the complete shift of centrality. My perception had a quality of exquisite clarity. There was absolutely no ambiguity that I was anywhere but, where my cognition was taking place. There was no loose, hazy, dissociative wobbly story line that I know of, as dreams. The clarity was stunning. It was as though I had stepped out of the fog of mortal perception into a very clear reality. There was no emotional attachment to my fleeting distant body image. The indistinct nature of my body form I see as symbolic now. The profundity of the moment was so absorbing that nothing else could be relevant.
There was nothing meaningful ascribable to ocular vision as I know it, but also, no sense of visual deprivation. Very odd but so comfortable. Nothing crazier than a doctor lost in space. I had proprioceptive awareness and I could feel where my arms were and I could wriggle any finger on demand but there was nothing to see when I spread my hands in front of me.
So naturally, it was as though I was over the shock of relocation and I got the urge to take myself for a spin. As a boy gymnast and part time trampolinist, I know of elaborate tumbling moves embracing forward / backward rolling in different formats and number of rotations with and without axial rotation. I played with it and marveled at the lack of boundary, the limitlessness of it. Despite the speed and recklessness of an outrageous maneuver, there was never over-steer or fleeting loss of position in space or imperfection of dynamic. I was without body but more specifically, I was without mass. I could travel like, in fact be, anything and everything. I remember concluding with ‘spinning bullet’ and finally ‘jelly fish’. The latter was a much quieter dynamic and flowed into a state where my boy curiosity settled and so naturally, all became calm. It was as though as I settled into this state, immersing with a feeling of my sense of self, slowly dissipating.
Next thing all was very still. I could hear with extraordinary acuteness, the clarity of absolute silence. That was a mind-blow. It was pervading as I have chronic tinnitus. Crickets have stolen my experience of true silence for decades. Without a body and without the distraction of movement, it was as though I was merely a focus of cognizance. So I was nothing, sitting nowhere with and in, perfect stillness and silence, seemingly beyond time and it felt like 0+0+0+0 = infinity.
It was as though the toy of unrestricted ‘flight’ was a celebratory, champagne-popping bit of the excitement, albeit totally ‘out there’. Intrinsic to my dynamic play was the notion that my presence was moving through space. When my ‘consciousness’ became stationary, there was no distinction between self and space. It was very special wherever I was and I remember thinking,’ I am here now and I won’t need that toy or.., anything, ever again’. Then I stopped analyzing, I rested and stopped everything. My consciousness then was held in a state of beautiful, suspended animation. It was bliss. There is more but mortal words just seem to trivialize.
My experience was truly de novo predating my learning of the existence of other states of mind in any real sense. It doesn’t surprise me that despite having good recall, I am amnesic of the return voyage and that is great kindness. I could not ‘consciously’ have left that space such was it’s perfection.
I could comfortably accept that my life is without real purpose other than as a fleeting and
miniscule component of the continuance of Life on our planet. In the big picture, I am as important as a water molecule is to the next wave that washes itself ashore. One’s notion of ‘Life’ is completely experiential and perceptual. On a handful of occasions as a student, I experienced the crazy journey that powerful hallucinogens take you on. The images were extraordinary but it was as though a zany, Hollywood ‘effects’ creator was tinkering with my visual cortex. On one occasion at the tail end of such a ‘recreational diversion’, I recall watching a sunrise. I experienced profound serenity for the first time and I recall wondering, how magical it would be if one could capture this feeling forever.
The ‘dream trip’ was not a synthetic reality with me a carried passenger on its journey. It was clear and present actuality. It was completeness, serenity, clarity, lucidity and the profundity of stillness and universality. The experience was exquisitely euphoric; life alteringly so.
In a small way I have since read of Buddhism and less so Hinduism. Eastern religions project a similar life ethic to the Bible as I know it but through meditation or contemplation, they treasure some simple, non-theistic words; bliss, calmness, silence and oneness etc. I have since read of meditation and single words fill my day. ‘Stillness’ is just the noun of an adjective with 15 contexts in my dictionary. The 16th context is where you have experienced being the word and it becomes a simple profundity.
In truth, this experience inverted my understanding of reality. Nothing that is real has changed but I know there is a place where there is but one’s consciousness and it too, is a reality. The profundity of existence in this place makes terrestrial reality, with its endless complexity, nothing more than a sophisticated Matrix where the conduit of our consciousness is a physical form in a physical world. After 53 years of mortal experience and a fleeting visit to ‘life as consciousness’, it is very clear which is the ‘true reality’.
And there’s more..,
At Ian’s retreat I met some very interesting people. A quiet friend of Ian’s was ‘cattleman up the gulf’ and he was one of two particular people who left me contemplative after the weekend faded. Ian is open minded but no fool. On the quiet, he said that his cattleman friend from youth, had bovine telepathy. In an area where mustering is done by helicopter, Ian’s friend sits in the corner of paddocks presumably the size of cities and the cattle roll in over the day and he closes the yard gates when all are present. I observe that this man’s gift resides in such a quiet and undemonstrative person. I ruminated over this concept of connecting with animals. The paranormal quality of this left me pondering my version of reality. My interest is consistently tickled by the edge of beliefs and I recalled feeling this hunger for the void of knowledge I didn’t hold but intuitively knew was there. I felt like Neo did before he met the Matrix.
At that, one-of gathering, I happened to meet a bovine whisperer, as you do…,not! It is all in the perception. It could be a completely random phenomena like a chance intersection of comets in space but regardless of origin, to me, subsequent events inferred a connectedness that was unequivocal. So Part 1 was a freaky dream of transcendence. Part 2 was a reality or at least a non-dream and there is now cow or bull in it.
So 3 months after my hoodoo guru retreat. I haven’t killed anything and specifically not a snake. We are soon to head south to the not so mighty Murray River to share a house boat rendezvous with extended family, early 2003. It had been dry and I was completing major rain harvesting modifications at home. I was on a time line to complete the job before we headed south. It was 3am and I was near a large Ajax pump under our house. I was working at the connection between tank float-valve mechanics and pump-activation electronics. I was gazing at a pulley fixation point I had just improvised above the pump and gently I become aware that I had company. Its head resided at knee height and was also fixated at the pulley, perfectly still and silent and I wondered how long it had been there. It was a snake. I was hunched over and at close range to my left, the side profile was seriously big. I reflexly stood up saying ‘Whoa’. The snake remained motionless. I had no inclination to move my feet or back away and what was atypical, was my extraordinary sense of relaxed but curious calm. l simply looked down at this amazing python and savored the paradoxical serenity of the moment. The python and I remained motionless. I remember just admiring it and feeling like it was all too bloody amazing the way it was happy to hang out beside me, so close, looking ahead, frozen motionless.
It was all in the moment and I just continued to observe the amazing nature of my frozen company for what seemed a long time. After possibly 5-7 minutes, I pondered ‘well where to next?’. I blipped the trigger of the drill driver in my right hand twice in quick succession. No response to the whir and I thought to myself , ‘doey snake eh!’. On random impulse, my next silent communiqué was ‘well gidday old mate’. The response to my welcome was slow, but the moment of initiating movement was instantaneous, exactly, with my greeting. It slightly startled me.
It slowly twisted its neck and commenced looking directly at me. I was transfixed by the visual. Where it would be so normal to find the head-on look at a big snake at close range so formidable, I just marveled at it. I got lost scrutinizing its face, scale by scale and then I dared to hold my direct gaze at its right eye. It was almost too much to bear and I held as long as I could, only seconds. When my focal point escaped to again embrace the whole front-on appearance of this astounding creature, there was a moment of indefiniteness, followed by a growing incredulity. I suddenly realized my perception had shifted. What I had perceived as strikingly intense although not threatening, was now so soft and friendly as it looked at me. I remember thinking “Holy shit.., its…, its smiling at me”. I was thinking this is beyond anything that I can imagine, so some self disbelief and I have a blink or two and I take a fresh gaze. I had so closely examined its lip profile and so I re-check and I could not document any change but there was no doubt it.., ‘no, no, that’s definitely a smile’. I repeat the process, again. I can’t force my perception to forge the absence of its smile. What is inconceivable and actual, I accept with great reluctance and joy.
The snake’s smile might have been my illusion but it was as convincing to me, as my smile was real. It was just so plumb amazing to have a sustained, scrutinizable unreality and feel so happy about it. We just smiled at each other for ages, possibly 10 minutes. I couldn’t stop smiling delightedly at it. Finally, I noted some soft aching of facial muscle fatigue and another wave of intense pleasure arrived and my smile re-intensified as a ripple of warmth slowly descended from top to toe. In a way so natural, the experience seemed to reach its completion and I recall thinking to my self, ‘well I suppose that is about all’. Without hurry, but again with exactitude of synchronicity, the snake unfroze, straightened its neck releasing its gaze away from me and lowered its head.
So slowly, it commenced moving forward directly toward the angulated sleeper wall ahead and had to veer left or take a hard right U-turn and retrace its steps. It had emerged from behind me on my right and had circled around with its head, 750- 800mm lateral to my left knee. A feeding snake looking for smells would naturally take the gentle left turn heading into the direction of natural air flow and that is where it appeared to be going at the outset of our meeting. Out of nowhere I just know it will take the less likely, radical right option, doing a U turn and slowly it does. I was stunned. It seemed to silently glide like a curving arrow with no visible trace of trunk / skin axial slide or the lateral bulging of serpentine movement. Every tummy scale I looked at was slowly moving relative to the ground and I can’t see a part of this snake that has the stationary ground contact necessary to exert locomotive force. I could doubt this last observation because snakes have a natural movement that is somewhat illusionary.
The snake started to turn around me. I was being surrounded by something that was seriously big. Only now as I write do I contemplate that there was potential risk. Armed with drill drivers, 3 of me wouldn’t have had a chance against it.
The snake was more than surrounding me. Out of the ether, I suddenly had absolute cognizance that this snake would now form a circle around me, specifically, that as the centre and would be encircled by it. I gazed to the right behind me and noted more of the snake still appearing from the crevice between the retaining wall and a large sheet of ply leaning against it. The emerging body of the snake joining the circle approached radially to an unseen fixed point like an invisible small pulley, where it almost turns on itself to join the circumference profile. I am fascinated by the way the point of entry to the circle remains so perfectly fixed. The circle had a diameter of ~2 meters so the snake was approximately 6 meters long. I knew what was going to happen. I could feel my breathing restricted as I watched the head and the tip of its tail approach equidistant from the invisible pulley. The perfect fluidity of the snake’s forward movement shifted from slow mo to ultra slow mo. The last 150mm of the encirclement was so intense. I was just gob-smacked fixated. Inches became centimeters became the last 5mm. I was holding my breath in anticipation and so like my last pre-flight step of my weird dream, it was so extraordinarily stimulating. The exact moment the tip of the snake’s head covered the tip of its tail, the circle was symmetrical and there was a distinct, momentary cessation of all forward movement, a definite pause, mm perfect in position.., and then its leisurely departure. I was spell bound.
As a bushwalking, nature lover, I have some idea of animal tracks and even a modest sized snake on soft ground is a cinch. I have been standing on a loose mix of dry sand and small aggregate. How much does a U-Turn Python weigh? I see only my footprints whilst looking for a dry moat. The dogs have a nose for snake. They spend their hot nights under the house. They are always with me if I am working outside. They hang locally and punctuate progress periodically with a nudge to get a pat and a soft word. I can’t reason why they are not in the story.
I have known of horse whispering and met a bovine equivalent whose peaceful silence was curiously validating. Telepathy aside, unequivocally, I knew I would become the centre of the snake’s encirclement as it started to turn. To have unambiguous cognizance that the impossible was about to happen, and then watch it so slowly unfold and be so definitive in its endpoint, does not mean nothing.
A long time ago, I would contemplate human characteristics as a Bell curve. As time past, I came to perceive that most things have an inverse, so appraisal of a human quality was not just to an end point absence of the primary quality but its measure continued toward the endpoint of its opposite. I believe to be clever, you must look for and contemplate your moments of stupidity, ditto strength and weakness, wisdom and foolishness, self and non-self and selfishness and generosity etc. It is the notion of dualism and conceptually, it is like a measuring stick with either end marking the endpoint of opposing polarity and a reducing sliding scale of differential in between.
On matters of substantial consideration, there are many issues and the complexity lies in the varying consonance and interposition of the axis of its composite dualities. I have a construct that every bit of data on a subject of consideration, is like a reflective tile on a mirror ball. The tiles are modeled as the ends of the rods of its relevant dualities. As you assemble more data, the more numerous the mirrors and the more perfect the finish contour of reflection. The relative positioning of every facet, or more specifically, the interrelation of the axis of each duality, is what transforms a lost of random or undisciplined data into a well rounded sphere of perfectly balanced, understanding. If one could have perfect understanding, one’s knowledge would be of polished sphericality without facet blemish.
Relevant to me is that the image of a sphere or its 2D version, the circle, has long been my symbol of understanding and my version of the Christian cross or fat Buddha etc. In this way, the snake’s exacting encirclement of me and its pausing upon completion, was not seen as unusual reptile behavior, but poignantly symbolic.
sequence, these two life occurrences completely inverted my understanding of 53
years of fairly ‘grounded’ life experience. Unambiguously, I can see that our
terrestrial life form is but a pedestrian stepping stone. Sure it feels very
real but it is as real as much as our individual singularity is imperfect and
non-universal. We are the miniscule, fleeting rearrangement of dust, hydrated
and energized by the continuance of parental life-forces to provide a transient
conduit for one’s soul. We are not without reason but it is the path we forge
and not ourselves per se, that is important. I believe I know this, but as a
mortal, it is safer to say, I believe.., that’s all.
Was the kind of experience difficult to express in words? Uncertain Mortal words are derived from terrestrial experience. Uncertainly relates to defining supra-mortal phenomena using mortal wordage
At the time of this experience, was there an associated life threatening event? No
At what time during the experience were you at your highest level of consciousness and alertness? Towards the completion of the 'dream' experience, I recall a sense of slow dissipation from singular and active consciousness with a feeling as though I was being absorbed into a state without boundary and loosing all sense of singularity. At this time, it was though I was held in a state of suspended animation and it was blissful, all knowing and of exquisite clarity.
How did your highest level of consciousness and alertness during the experience compare to your normal every day consciousness and alertness? More consciousness and alertness than normal
If your highest level of consciousness and alertness during the experience was different from your normal every day consciousness and alertness, please explain: Towards the completion of the 'dream' experience, I recall a sense of slow dissipation from singular and active consciousness with a feeling as though I was being absorbed into a state without boundary and loosing all sense of singularity. At this time, it was though I was held in a state of suspended animation and it was blissful, all knowing and of exquisite clarity.
Did your vision differ in any way from your normal, everyday vision (in any aspect, such as clarity, field of vision, colors, brightness, depth perception degree of solidness/transparency of objects, etc.)? Uncertain It was as though the sensorium was normal but my experience was one of consciousness and not notably a visual experience
Did your hearing differ in any way from your normal, everyday hearing (in any aspect, such as clarity, ability to recognize source of sound, pitch, loudness, etc.)?
Yes as above. Not hearing 'anything' can be quite normal. Hearing with 'breath-taking' perceptivity, the sound of perfect silence only seems paradoxical to mortal cognizance.
Did you experience a separation of your consciousness from your body? Yes
What emotions did you feel during the experience? mystical perception witnessed with a sense of extraordinary clarity. I recall clearly feeling as though I had finally woken up and I finally knew that which was 'the truth' and it was blissful.
Did you pass into or through a tunnel or enclosure? No
Did you see a light? Yes as described
Did you meet or see any other beings? No
Did you experience a review of past events in your life? No
Did you observe or hear anything regarding people or events during your experience that could be verified later? No
Did you see or visit any beautiful or otherwise distinctive locations, levels or dimensions? Yes I believe my experience was that of heaven or nirvana
Did you have any sense of altered space or time? Yes timelessness and spaciousness without boundary
Did you have a sense of knowing special knowledge, universal order and/or purpose? Yes Probably the single dominant feature was a sense of all knowing and peacefulness
Did you reach a boundary or limiting physical structure? No
Did you become aware of future events? No
Did you have any psychic, paranormal or other special gifts following the experience you did not have prior to the experience? No
Have you shared this experience with others? Yes Notable was the life changing profundity of the experience and seemingly, a surprising lack of enquiry or interest from others I have shared it with
Did you have any knowledge of near death experience (NDE) prior to your experience? Uncertain As a doctor I observed unusual fluctuations of consciousness of those approaching death. Notable was the frequency with which those close to death and seemingly unconscious, would surface for a few hours and say goodbye before sliding back into a brief period of consciousness prior to death
How did you view the reality of your experience shortly (days to weeks) after it happened: Experience was definitely real After 54 years of fairly grounded and well rounded life-experience, there is no doubt in my mind that our biological life form is merely 'life in a convincing and seemingly very real Matrix' and that the true reality, is beyond our mortal form.
Were there one or several parts of the experience especially meaningful or significant to you? No part was anything short of extraordinary
How do you currently view the reality of your experience: Experience was definitely real It is the superfluousness of the pleasant but comparatively mundane nature of 'terrestrial reality' that has changed.
Have your relationships changed specifically as a result of your experience? Yes My mortality is no longer of concern to me. I see my life experience is but a conduit and the way I row my boat on this little stream must be the important part and it can only link to the 'real' reality I have been offered a glimpse of. Nothing is important to me except my expression of Love and specifically, it needs to be offered to all, not just those special to me.
Have your religious beliefs/practices changed specifically as a result of your experience? Yes as above
Following the experience, have you had any other events in your life, medications or substances which reproduced any part of the experience? Yes I believe I follow or am more sensitive to knowledge that has an intuitive origin in preference to that which is scientifically derived
Is there anything else you would like to add concerning the experience? I am a happy chappy blessed in marriage and family life. My professional mission statement was 'to serve' but I observe many who have much less and proportionally offer more generous heartedness. Why would someone so blessed with so much be given messaging that only serves to offer me more when so many seem to need it.
Did the questions asked and information you provided so far accurately and comprehensively describe your experience? Uncertain I regret that I take up your time with an experience that has the mystical profundity of a NDE without the ND part. I wonder if my medical understanding offers a slightly different take on that which is seems otherwise experienced widely by others.
Are there any other questions we could ask to help you communicate your experience? nil