Have you ever had the experience where you’re sitting somewhere or maybe out walking, and you look up, expecting to see something familiar, and what you see instead startles you?
One day this summer I was sitting in the living room of our townhouse and heard the front door open and close. I knew that my wife, Kate, was due to stop by between meetings. I got up and walked into our hallway and saw her familiar figure. We walked toward each other for a hug and a kiss, but when I met her eye to eye, something unexpected happened. What flashed through this consciousness was, “Oh it’s me!” That which was looking through these eyes saw Itself – no Evan, no Kate, no Other, just Self.
For the hour before Kate arrived home I had moved in and out of meditative states and had settled deeper and deeper into an inner stillness. At one point, lying on the couch, it felt that “I” was slipping out of the body, as though I was falling asleep while still very aware. At that exact moment our cat leapt onto my chest with a yowl, something she never does. I sat up quickly and the cat bolted out of the room. I was recovering from the suddenness of that transition when I heard Kate opening the front door.
After that brief hug in the hallway, Kate kept moving, time-pressed and unaware of what I had just experienced. I was startled into silence. We shared another hug as she headed out the door and I went back upstairs and onto our little sun deck.
To be startled means to be shocked, disturbed, or unsettled, and all three meanings applied to me. I was in an altered state, standing in the sunshine, open, silent, both me as separate self and not me. The presence looking through these eyes saw the trees, the breeze moving the branches, the sky, a butterfly, a crow – and saw everything as Self. “Evan” would ask questions and try to understand, while the Self simply was everything.
The experience continued with some strength for about an hour before fading into the background. What has persisted is this sense of being startled and disturbed. For one thing, the glimpse of everything as oneness has amplified the longing to live as an expression of oneness to a point where it is an ache in my heart center. There’s this feeling of, “I got so close, why can’t I stay there.”
At the same time, I have been shown a TRUTH: that oneness is what is. Oneness is what I am, what we are; the I and the we always express the one. My analytical mind says that truth should put an end to the longing. Instead, I am in an odd kind of limbo. I walk around in the world seeing everything through an interface of separate self, unable to shake that identity.
I can see that the identity is an overlay. I can know intellectually that I am the one, I have these glimpses and these tastes to confirm that truth.
What I want is to live in and from the complete knowing of I AM THAT.
I was going to say that I am impatient and that waiting is hard. What comes, though, is the realization that waiting implies “not now but in some imaginary future.” Everything my monkey mind kicks up brings me back to the question of trust. Do I trust that what I am, the true essential nature of what I am, can never be separate? Do I trust that this essence is the one essence in ALL?
I know that any attempt to hang on to an experience or state is not only futile but an almost sure-fire way to create suffering. Life is change! That is a statement of deep truth. So, do I trust that even though, in this moment, I am not directly experiencing oneness, I am that oneness?
In this moment, I’m going with Yes!