Characteristics as determined by Western religious scholars
There were eight characteristics:
the experience of unity between the subject and the universe;
certainty of the knowledge obtained;
transcendence of space and time; a feeling of sacredness;
paradoxically in terms of ordinary thinking;
and lasting positive changes in attitude and behavior as a result of the experience.
Tony Schwartz, What Really Matters
There came an overwhelming sense of a Presence infinitely pure and true and tender, a Presence that broke through all preconceived notions and revealed itself to my consciousness in such beauty and power that after more than twenty five years it seems to me the one real thing in my whole life.
James B. Pratt - Religious Consciousness
I only remember finding myself in the midst of wonderful moments, beholding life for the first time in all its young intoxication of loveliness, in its unspeakable joy, beauty, and importance. . . . My inner vision was cleared to the truth so that I saw the actual loveliness which is always there . . Once out of the gray days of my life I looked into the heart of reality; I witnessed the truth; I have seen life as it really is.
Margret Prescot Montague - Twenty Minutes of Reality
Sitting in the cheapest room I could find in Berkeley, I often concentrated on my heartbeat. When I concentrated on it, the stillness expanded and each beat became a sudden clutching, to keep from slipping away into final stillness. Each beat let me know that my heart still cared enough to clutch for life. As caring withered, the stillness grew and the clutching weakened.
About a month passed. Then, late one night as I sat waiting with indifference for each next beat of my heart, I realized it was slowing much more than ever before, to a stop. The last strands of caring gave way. I let go.
Out of the stillness that I thought was death, love enlivened me - or something like love that doesn't split, the way love does, into loving and being loved.
Jim Corbet - Goatwalking
For several days I was experiencing considerable resistance to India, and quite a bit of doubt and confusion as to what this man teaching. Nothing was happening - at least not in any way that my mind could grasp hold of. And then one morning - WHAMMO!!! We were sitting in his very small room. I was directly across from him. I was speaking to him about something (I don't remember what - the content was irrelevant). He leaned forward intently and I looked into his eyes, feeling considerable fear, as if I was about to be exposed for being a complete fool - when suddenly there was an explosion. Everything I had previously known myself to be fell away - mind, body, time - all were gone.
Language cannot adequately convey the shift which occurred in awareness in that moment and in the unfolding of insight which followed. Put briefly, it was the end of a fictitious "me" seeking and imagined "it". It was the end of the dualistic fixation of mind which had kept me on a path of urgent seeking for many years. With sparkling clarity, the entire path of seeking deconstructed itself in my mind. With rapid-fire insight, that which was essential sorted itself from that which was not. The "jewel in the lotus" revealed itself, and in its radiant light much of the dross of Buddhism as an institution or religion fell away. I saw the brilliant truth of Buddha's teaching as a vehicle or skillful means to bring us to liberating insight.
I now find myself teaching vipassana, with a minimum of emphasis on technique, as a means of helping people re-direct attention from wherever it is bound (mind, body, phenomenal world, and all that is known) to the presence of non-dual awareness, and to the possibilities of living with greater surrender to, and faith in, the unknown.
To be in the company of those who are opening to truth - whether in satsang with a realized Master or on a silent meditation retreat - is an extremely rare and precious event in this world. With heartfelt gratitude, I bow to the excellent company my life has been blessed with - my teachers, family, friends and students! May all beings be so blessed.
Anna Douglas - Inquiring Mind