Ann DeBaldo (real name) has a Ph.D. in Medical Science, specializing in immunopara-sitology, infectious disease and tropical disease. She is a full Professor and Depart-mental Chair at the College of Public Health, University of South Florida, and has re-ceived numerous research grants resulting in many peer-reviewed publications.
This experience happened to Professor DeBaldo in October of 1998 in Tampa, Florida when she was 48 years of age and has been integrated with other important transcendent experiences which may be described in TASTE in the future.
Behind the Mind
Ann C. DeBaldo
Sometimes it is necessary to drop work and leave my busy job as chair of a busy academic department to drive across town and sit for awhile nursing a cup of mocha java, decaf of course, at a shady table on the porch of one of my favorite bookstores! This day was no different from others spent blissfully reading and sipping in the filtered sunlight then as on so many other occasions, the time came to return to work a good twenty minutes’ drive across town.
I sometimes wonder whether the event I am about to describe would have happened had I tarried just seconds longer at my coffee, or if I had gone back inside to purchase an-other book or magazine. Perhaps it would have or perhaps not, who’s to know. Any-way, I pulled into traffic, a major six-lane highway that passes through a semi-residential area. Several blocks later, with lovely music coming from the car’s stereo system, I pulled into the long right hand turn lane to head back to work. The traffic in both directions in all six lanes was at a standstill in obedience to a red light as I slowly glided along to the right in preparation for my turn.
Suddenly, with absolutely no warning whatsoever, the red car’s passenger door was di-rectly in front of me just inches from the front bumper of my car, having come from the left between the three lanes of parked cars…a place where if I had had any time at all to think about it, it would have been impossible for a car to be! Direct impact, no time for any reaction with brake or horn!
Then…a dark place filled with Light, seemingly pure energy beyond interpretation or solidification (by my mind) into gross matter! Nothing and totally empty, yet every-thing was in that “place” which was dimensionless in both time and space. Then, a tiny niggling little thought intruded into the space and began to grow and proliferate as my intellect reasserted itself… “is this all there is? “where is this?” “do I like this or not?” and I became aware of my car quietly rolling to a stop onto the grass at the edge of the road. (Perhaps I should interject here that there was no evidence of any physical trauma to my person nor did I experience any stiffness or pain as a result of the “accident.”) As I climbed out and surveyed the damage, I was in a state of total peace and calm that I can only call Bliss. This unworldly Bliss persisted through the arrival of the police and the ticketing of the young lady whose car was demolished (fortunately neither she nor her passenger were injured), then for several weeks afterwards before it gradually faded. Although the full Blissfulness has abated, I have noticed that deep within a place that had previously felt empty, there is now a center of Peace and Calm, which never seems to waver.
As I look back on my experience, it seems to me that my mind stopped, perhaps due to the sudden shock of sensing (no time for thoughts to be generated!) imminent impact and possible physical annihilation. “Stopping the mind” to allow perception of the real Self, which lies obscured by the intellect with its layers of thoughts, is a common theme underlying most Eastern and Western meditation practices. And although I have regu-larly and joyfully practiced an Eastern form of meditation for years, I had never before personally experienced not just cessation of thought, but the total stopping of the con-stant mind-activity that lies beneath the conscious thought process. Having “seen and experienced” for myself the reality of Total Consciousness (for want of a better word), I seem to have relaxed and much existential anxiety has simply melted away as I remain very open to the transcendental in my life.
Contributor’s Comments on the Experience
This and other experiences have had a major impact upon my views and practice of science. The scientific method is extremely useful as far as it goes, but at this time in history it stops short of being able to expand human knowledge of “non-empirical” events, states, and conditions that occur far too frequently to be dismissed as just products of the human imagination. Thus, I firmly believe that a “new science,” yet to be envisioned, must eventually take over where the old one leaves off. On a more personal note, my own practice of science has taken on a tone of compassion and while I am quite capable of arguing for the many benefits of animal experimentation, I can no longer “sacrifice” experimental animals. Perhaps most importantly, I have become fully aware that there is really no such thing as “scientific objectivity” when a human being is involved as the scientist. At this point in my career I am stepping back to re-examine my role as a scientist.