Ukiah, CA 1970
It was my last day off before I was scheduled to return to work at the residential treatment center and school for pre-teens where I had been working as a child-care counselor. I was tired but happy, and so I spent the day napping and puttering around my place out in the woods. Before I knew it, a gorgeous sunset was filling up the evening sky. The night was going to be lovely – a bit cool but clear and bright. The stars were already dotting the velvet infinity with their crystalline shine, and barely a breeze was stirring. As dusk approached, I sat down on my meditation cushion and, no sooner had I done so than it felt as if “I” had simply disappeared.
What remained was the evening, but it was like no evening I had ever known before. I had spent my fair share of dusks enraptured by the wonder and mystery of the oncoming night, and all the magic contained within its descending blanket of beauty and delight, but this night was somehow appearing in a different realm of cognition than that to which I had become accustomed.
The first thing that became apparent was the synchronicity of sounds. No longer experiencing myself as some kind of matrix of perception in the midst of things, what existed now was just awareness without anchor, encompassing all that arose and dissolved within it. There was an enormous, orchestrated symphony of sound, and it definitely followed a pattern in which everything perfectly participated in the most naturally timed fashion. The sounds of the night creatures rose and fell in utter harmony. The stars, the trees, the window, the room, the crickets, the music, the mood: all inextricably merged in a unified choir of mysterious expression!
I was not separate from any of this, to the point where even the thought of such would never occur to me (except here in retrospect). I had become utterly lost within the broad harmonic expanse of myself, even as the totality of this magnificent universal chant-song unfurled from out of nothing and dissolved there just the same. I am this nothing! Nothing is happening, and it sounds just fine!
Eventually, I realized I could see in the dark, and it seemed as natural as can be! I could see through all eyes, the tree eye, the cat eye, the wind eye, the star eye, the ground eye, the sky eye – Huuuuu! I see! All of creation is only me, I am all of creation! I make this sound, I am that silence, singing, seeing, swirling in a dance of free surrender into the limitless majesty of my own symphonic being!
About 8 hours later, in chronological time, I was ‘nothing but a head, placed upon the ground’, as a gift for the morning light. The light itself revealed that all appearances themselves are like shadows, cartoon-like shape-shifting ephemerals which slide liquidly across the white screen of perception, and just as soon swim off into the vast unknown. There was a grand and benign humor to this which I cannot put into words – the literal “play” of consciousness — but there was also the realization that this transience of appearances included the perceiver too, and though it didn’t really matter, it now felt incumbent upon myself to solidify as form.
This metamorphosis took more effort than one might imagine! In fact, it required every bit of concentration I could bring to bear to retain contact with the life vehicle, but this turned out to be beyond my own efforts, and so I passed away . . . and No, I cannot explain how I returned, or even what returned, though it certainly wasn’t the same as what had begun this little voyage in what now seemed a lifetime ago. Still, it was nearing time for work, so I made some tea, showered and shaved, and off I went on my way.