I Had an Awakening Experience. Now What?

“Meditation does not create transcendence; it reveals transcendence, it’s revelatory.”

Thom Knoles

There’s no end to the number of ways we can have awakening experiences. It can come as an epiphany, a realization, a side-effect of taking a hallucinogen, a near-death experience, or even just a spontaneous event while sipping a cup of tea.

While reports on such experiences vary dramatically, they consistently feature a high level of contrast between these normal and our regular day-to-day experiences, and a longing to have more of the same.

Thom explains the mechanics of such events in this episode, and how we can cultivate awakening experiences on a more consistent basis. Importantly, he describes awakenings as the enlivening of something that is dormant within us, making such experiences more accessible than most might think.

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Episode Highlights





Bija Mantra: Gateway to Transcendence



Awakening the Unified Field



Breaking Free from the Web of Constant Thought



Bliss is the Product of Supreme Inner Contentedness



Stabilizing the Inner Awakening



Transient Transcendence: Near-Death Experience



Varieties of Awakening



Transcendence in the Junction Points



Transcendence in Consciousness States



Irregular Transcendent Experiences



The Role of Vedic Meditation in Systematic Awakening



The Truth Behind Meditation and Transcendence



From Awakening to Enlightenment: Vedic Meditation’s Promise


Jai Guru Deva


I Had an Awakening Experience. Now What?

[00:45] Realizations

Jai Guru Deva.

I’d like to spend a few minutes talking about a variety of experiences that people may have in life that generically tend to be referred to as an “awakening,” a realization, an epiphany, perhaps even some would call it psychedelic, whether or not assisted by well- known hallucinogens.

And I’d like to contrast these experiences and isolated experiences like this with experiences that are known regularly to occur as a consequence of the regular practice of Vedic Meditation.

So, let me start off by describing the latter. And some potential for experience that is had in Vedic Meditation practice, and then, see if we can contrast this with some experiences that are had in people who have not yet learned Vedic Meditation.

And then the next thing to talk about, I think, is what do we do about such awakening experiences. What’s the next thing to do in order to stabilize the impact of some kind of new experience that is transcendent?

So, let’s go, first of all, into Vedic Meditation and describe what is likely to happen when somebody learns the technique. We teach a simple mental technique that is practiced typically for about 20 minutes twice each day, sometime in the morning before starting the day, and again late afternoon or early evening before the conclusion of the day and the commencement of evening experiences and activities in life.

[02:35] Bija Mantra: Gateway to Transcendence

So about 20 minutes is spent sitting comfortably upright in a comfortable chair with the eyes closed and enjoying the repetition, effortlessly, of a special kind of mantra, bija mantra. A bija mantra is not like the kind of mantras that one learns to chant in a yoga studio or in other kinds of chanting environments.

A Bija Mantra is a mantra, first of all, that has no specific intended meaning. It works on the level of phonics or sonics, that is to say, the sound of it, the sound of the mantra, which is a word. You learn it as a word first, but you learn how to think that word silently in your mind, effortlessly, without having to move the throat or the mouth, and you experience the sound as it repeats spontaneously, becoming subtler, softer, fainter, finer, perhaps vaguer in the mind.

And as the mantra gets softer, and subtler, and fainter, the quality of that sound pulsing in the mind takes on, there’s no other way of putting it, charm. It becomes a fascinating, mellifluous sound, which, with each internal repetition of it, becomes increasingly charming, and increasingly subtle.

By subtle, I mean you begin to feel as though the faintness of it is so great, though the charm of it is also increasingly great, that any moment now, unless you use effort, which you’re given definite instructions by your instructor not to use effort, unless you use effort, the sound will simply evaporate.

[04:25] Awakening the Unified Field

When that sound does evaporate when you forget to think it for a moment, the mind is left in a gap, a junction point, a state where there is no mantra, and there’s no thought immediately replacing it. And that state is referred to in the vernacular of meditators as “Being” or transcendence. We can also give it a little bit more of a descriptive name, pure awareness, pure consciousness.

In the Vedic worldview, that’s the worldview of the body of knowledge that sourced in ancient Bharat, India, which coming down for thousands of years, describing these experiences refers to that ultimate state of transcendence. To transcend means to step beyond everything.

Where there is consciousness standing alone and content to stand alone without thought. Consciousness experiencing consciousness both as the Knower and the Known, and we can add one more, the process of Knowing.

Consciousness as the Knower. Consciousness as the means by which the Knowing is happening, and consciousness is the object. That moment of pure self-referral consciousness is referred to in the ancient Vedic language, when translated into English, as “The Unified Field of Consciousness.”

Now, in a new meditator, the state doesn’t last for very long. One has the experience of that transcendent moment, and then thoughts reappear, and then one has instructions from the teacher what to do when you discover that you’ve come out of that momentary state, thoughts have come again and either the mantra returns by itself but one returns to that impulse of sound, the mantra, to allow the mind once again to move effortlessly in the direction of pure transcendence.

[06:39] Breaking Free from the Web of Constant Thought

And we can attribute something else to the state of pure transcendence simply because of our ability to make inference, and we learn from Socrates and Plato that inference is a very valid means of gaining knowledge. And so, let’s look at the inference of it for a moment.

A mind which is left to its usual devices will naturally have lots of thoughts. “This isn’t done. That’s not done. I’ve got a crazy friend. I have to make a phone call. I have to do things today. I’ve got to show up here. I better deal with this thing in this way. I better deal with that thing in that way.

Here’s the past history of how I’ve dealt with things in the past, which things have worked, which things haven’t. Which of these will I select out and apply to the demands that are coming to me for the future.”

Lots of thinking, thinking, thinking, thinking, and plotting out what kind of actions, or if no action, should be taken in order to keep life, what, happy. We want happiness. The pursuit of happiness seems to be the most common characteristic of every human being, although there are all kinds of conceptions about what happiness means.

For that mind to happily stay in a state of consciousness, standing alone, experiencing itself without the interruption of, “This isn’t done, that’s not done, I’ve got to get this done, I’ve got to go here, I’ve got to go there,” without the interruption of incessant thinking, and that incessant thinking is all thematic, by the way. We’re thinking incessantly about how to get happier. That’s the theme, the overall theme.

[08:23] Bliss is the Product of Supreme Inner Contentedness

For that state to stop, there must be something that explains what it is that stops the process of thinking, stops it right in its tracks. And the only thing that can do that, given the nature of the mind, always to seek greater happiness is B-L-I-S-S. Bliss.

Bliss, in this case, shouldn’t be thought of as being ecstatic. Supreme inner contentedness is the way I describe the bliss that appends the experience of transcendence. Without bliss, the mind would not be able to be silent. And so silence is a product of a bliss state.

All right, so then, with regular practice of Vedic Meditation, one has repeated experiences of this deep inner, silent state, and then the deep inner, silent state begins to, on its own, demonstrate that it’s a layer of your mind. It wasn’t created by meditation.

Meditation simply revealed an underlying layer, a layer of experience that was always there but that was transcendental to the regular thinking mental experiences that we have.

And so with the revelation of the layer of transcendence and with regular experiences of it, eventually, that inner transcendental layer which had been unconscious to us, or subconscious, now becomes a very conscious experience, and one begins to experience it regularly, repeatedly, the layer itself wakes up, and this is what we refer to as an awakening in Vedic Meditation terms. That layer awakens, and one starts to be able to experience it to a certain extent.

[10:19] Stabilizing the Inner Awakening

Maybe we can start off with percentages and say 1 percent of my mental experience is this backdrop of silence that has been awakened by my meditation. Two percent of my everyday active mental experience, it has to include the backdrop of silence, which I’ve awakened through my regular practice of Vedic Meditation.

With practice, 30% of the totality of my inner experience is made up of this backdrop of inner silence, the bliss, that I’ve awakened through my regular practice of Vedic Meditation, 60%, 70%, 80 percent.

When one is able to say a hundred percent of my inner sense of self, a hundred percent of my inner state of Being is a state that includes the awakened inner unboundedness, and it’s experienced as unboundedness, a very expansive state, when a hundred percent of what I am inside is this unboundedness that’s been awakened through regular Vedic Meditation twice each day, then I have the outer world and I have 100 percent of this inner quality of the Unified Field of Consciousness. All right, so this is a pretty magnificent state, and it’s now been stabilized.

So now we have a few key things we need to look at: awakening and the stabilizing of the awakening. The stabilizing of the degree to which it is one’s fundamental inner identity. When we have an experience that is a temporary awakening and transcendence can be triggered by any number of forces.

[12:06] Transient Transcendence: Near-Death Experience

I met a man once who, standing on the roof of his house, adjusting a television antenna, was struck by lightning and thrown from the roof of his house into the grassy lawn about 12 feet below.

And his heart had stopped while he was careening through the air, but when he landed on the grassy lawn, he landed in a very specific way that stimulated through his back. His heart was defibrillated, and was able to start beating again.

Lying in the grass, prior to help arriving, he had a consciousness experience of his individual consciousness expanding and expanding and expanding and taking in everything as he thought of it, everything including the whole universe.

He experienced galaxies winking in and out of existence. He experienced the grass that was tickling the side of his face, he was unable to move, as having a kind of a tickling effect on an underlying transcendental field.

And lying there in the grass, the worst thing that happened was the arrival of family members, followed by the arrival of his rescue emergency team, who took him to the hospital and were able to give him care for the several broken bones in his chest and ribs and so on that had occurred from the fall.

And he could remember that experience, and that experience was a memory for years. He came to one of my lectures on the subject of Vedic Meditation, probably 30 or 40 years ago and described this whole thing to me, and he said, “I’ve been searching my whole life to find what that was and to find somebody who could describe to me what that was that I experienced, and I’ve failed.

[13:58] Varieties of Awakening

I’ve had religious people tell me it was Jesus trying to tell you to accept him as your personal savior. I’ve had people tell me it was Allah trying to tell me to become a Muslim. I’ve had people tell me that it was a hallucination caused by the electrical functioning of the brain being disturbed by a lightning strike, and therefore, as a hallucination, although it must have been very pleasant, you might as well forget about it because you’re not gonna have an experience like that again in your life.”

And he said, “But it was one of the most outstanding memories of my life. I had an awakening, a near-death experience, accompanied by an awakening, lying in the grass with parts of my back and palms and bottoms of my feet completely fried off by the one billion volts of electricity that it was estimated went through my body when I was hit by the lightning.”

And he said, “Clearly, I don’t want to go out into a lightning field and see if I can arrange that experience again.What is it? What can I do?”

And I said to him, “With all sincerity, you simply had a natural experience of transcendence. Your mind, for a moment, was forced not to think by physical constraints. You had an experience of unboundedness and what it might be like to be in Cosmic Consciousness, but it was temporary, and so the temporary experience of transcendence, meaning one steps beyond all the usual constraints of sensory experience.”

[15:40] Transcendence in the Junction Points

I’ve had people who use hallucinogenic drugs on a regular basis.

Sometimes people refer to it as recreational purposes, but I know people who use it for spiritual purposes, hoping to have regular transcendent experiences where they can step beyond mind-body thinking, individuality and experience something larger, to experience the bliss of the reality of the unity of that deep inner self, that Unified Field of Consciousness, and to experience it and understand it and indeed, if it were possible, to normalize it.

I’ve had people describe to me that when they were a child, and being a child is a thing that you can’t go back to, but being a child and having that innocence, lying in bed, perhaps, in the process of falling asleep, not quite asleep, not quite awake, in between the two, or in the process of waking up from sleep, not quite asleep, not quite awake, but in between the two, got into what we call in the Vedic worldview, “the junction point.”

The junction point between any two consciousness states is, in most cases, a second or two at the most but in some cases, longer, elongated experiences of pure transcendence.

Whether or not one has learned formally how to meditate, it is possible to have an experience of pure transcendence in the junction point between waking and sleeping, in the junction point between sleeping and dreaming, the junction point between dreaming and going back to sleep, or the junction point between sleeping and waking.

[17:29] Transcendence in Consciousness States

These junction points all are the revelation of the gap, revelation of the backdrop that lies behind the obscuring states of waking state, of dreaming state, of the thick, syrupy, low consciousness value of sleep state.

Waking, dreaming, and sleeping are like curtains that cover the backdrop, the continuum, and if you had these three curtains hanging in front of a window that had sunshine behind it, and you were to pull apart the gap between the waking curtain and the sleeping curtain, or pull apart the gap between the sleeping curtain and the waking curtain, then it would reveal a backdrop, a continuum, the one same state.

The Unified Field of Consciousness is there in the junction points, the gaps, the interstices that lie between any two consciousness states.

And it is possible, and children frequently do report this, in the process of falling asleep or waking from sleep, there are moments of elongated experience of transcendence, a feeling of, “The I inside is bigger than this body. The I inside is vast. The I inside is unbounded, universal, and I don’t know what that is or what it was,” because the experience is not systematic, regular, and strategic. One has it sporadically.

[19:15] Irregular Transcendent Experiences

So one common theme we’re noticing, and we can go on and on about all kinds of stimuli that may provide the perfect psycho-neuro, psycho mind, neuro brain, physiological, the functioning of the anatomy, physiologically, physiology, psycho-neuro-physiologic conditions that might provide the baseline for an experience of transcendence, or some variant of the experience of pure transcendence.

And that common theme that we’re noticing in all of these different things is the lack of regularity, the lack of it being strategic, the lack of it being regular enough, systematic enough, that a systematic awakening of the underlying field can occur.

So, one has some kind of transcendent experience. Let’s hope that you don’t get struck by lightning too frequently in life. If you take drugs to have this experience, you’ll notice something that many drug users notice, and that is a “psychedelic experience,” means an experience that is not permanent.

In other words, it’s there briefly, and then it’s gone, and that, with regular use of the drugs, one starts to develop a resistance, a natural resistance to the effect of the drug, and one’s exposure to that transcendental state becomes less and less frequent.

And so, one might have to continue to take drugs but have that absolute unboundedness, euphoria, less and less. Have other kinds of experiences that one might enjoy and even some that one might not enjoy.

But getting high in order to have a psychedelic experience, which, to me, is just shorthand for a transcendental experience, something that’s beyond the regular impact of the senses.

It doesn’t present us with a regular, systematic strategy for awakening the underlying field, which is all one is touching upon when one has such experiences.

[21:31] The Role of Vedic Meditation in Systematic Awakening

So then, what to do if you’ve had some kind of awakening experience in life caused by some other form or phenomenon, some kind of deep transcendence provided by the instrumentation of the brain that has been conditioned in a particular way due to a particular incident, due to particular drugs, due to particular waking, dreaming, and sleeping phenomena, and so on.

What to do if you’ve had this revelation inside? Though the memory of it might always remind you of the greater potential of life when it simply recedes into memory, and is no longer the actual experience one is having, then its value continues to fade and fade and fade.

So, a memory is not as powerful as a direct, active experience. So, what I advise is that for those who have had a variety of, let’s call them, “awakening experiences” that may have occurred, transcendental phenomena, transcendental experiences that may have occurred through their life, whatever it was caused by, if you want that back and you’d like that to be systematically established as your own baseline of awareness, as an active, direct experience that doesn’t go away but is there all the time for you to make contact with, then you need to practice the technique par excellence that will provide that experience on a twice-daily basis.

This is why practitioners of Vedic Meditation are able to evolve their experience of being awake inside. They’re able to awaken that layer.

[23:18] The Truth Behind Meditation and Transcendence

And I want to reemphasize that whatever happened, the lightning bolt, the drugs, the ecstasy of a love state, the moving between different states of consciousness, waking, dreaming, and sleeping, and having elongated experiences of transcendence, it wasn’t those phenomena that created the experience of transcendence. This is a very important point to realize and establish. They were revelatory of an existing state.

There is, at all times, in all humans, an existing state that is buried under mental activity or buried under sleep, or buried under dreaming; buried underneath all of these varieties of experiences that normally we have is a transcendental field that is available and occasionally things happen that awaken, remove all of the thinking or the sleeping or the dreaming, and awaken that layer and one has that layer that’s inside permanently revealed to one, but it’s not created by whatever it was that happened that revealed it.

Meditation also does not create transcendence; it reveals transcendence, it’s revelatory. It reveals it. And so then regular revealing of the existing reality, regular revealing of that deep inner quietness, the regular revealing of it is what awakens that layer inside of our brain, and our brain rapidly learns because the state itself is bliss.

The brain rapidly learns what kinds of neurochemical, neuroelectrical styles of functioning need to be adopted in order to maintain the revelation, in order to maintain the awakening of that deep inner Unified Field Consciousness, the unboundedness.

Then, with regular twice-daily practice, one’s experience of that deep inner state grows and grows and grows, and we end up with an increased percentage of it; as I said earlier in this talk, the percentage of what part of me that deep inner silence comprises, the me inside is a me, and it’s a jumble of thoughts mostly, body sensations and thoughts.

“I’m either hungry, or I’m feeling a bit full from the last thing I ate.” There’s a thought. “I’m feeling like being active, or I’m feeling like resting.” There’s a thought. “I have stuff to do because if I don’t do them, there’ll be consequences.” There’s a whole bunch of other thoughts there. Thinking, thinking, thinking, thinking, thinking.

[26:11] From Awakening to Enlightenment: Vedic Meditation’s Promise

Underneath all of that me-ness, and this is lowercase m, me, there is something which is capital M, Me, the transcendental field. If it’s never been awakened at all, we don’t know about it, but if it’s been awakened a bit by various phenomena, we do know about it. It can be awakened purely by just meditating.

Then the capital M, Me, how much of that, how much of you is made up of that deep inner silence? So regular, strategic, systematic experience of it is what awakens it more and more and more until a time comes where it is the predominant sense of Self inside.

Predominantly inside my sense of Self, my sense of being is the capital M, Me. It is no longer an occasional psychedelic experience. It’s no longer a momentary awakening. It’s no longer an “epiphany,” something that happened once but gave you a great realization but then faded off into the realms of memory. It is not something that you have to, or you’re called upon, to try to remember.

It’s there for you. It’s your essence. It’s your Being. It is your inner nature, and it’s permanent. 

This is what we call enlightenment. 

Jai Guru Deva. 

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