This anonymous scientist has an MSsc in Sociology and Politics and has published one book. He is now a self-employed writer in the U.K.
The experience Sadhaka submitted happened in Delhi, Inida when he was 25. He wonders if it qualifies for TASTE.
“The fact is that I was not a scientist of any description at the time this experience occurred. I have since taken a masters degree in social sciences and published a book on politics. I an aware that that puts me at the fringe of your category. I can’t honestly bring myself any closer to the centre of it. I am a man of 49 looking back with a western educated mind at something which happened and astonished me when I was in my twenties. I have the critical faculties to contend with suggestion and false memory, I think. I do not have the medical knowledge to assess whether epilepsy or dissociation might have been a part of this, but I am being frank and honest about what happened. I lived at that time in a context which was filled with suggestion and self delusion and I have succeeded since then in dealing with that critically, as one might read a diary of dreams years later and see the meanings that were not obvious at the time. This one incident defeats my own efforts to unpick it; that’s why I am sharing it.”
I find his attitude quite consistent with a scientific approach, and so am pleased to publish it here. Although I am not a physician, I think the likelihood that it was an epileptic attack is very low since he does not report since being diagnosed as epileptic, and “dissociation” is too broad a term to be of much use in studying transcendent experiences, as well as carrying unnecessary negative connotations in Western culture.
An Orgasm in the Brain
There was a full moon that night. I sat on my bed facing the wall. It took me about an hour to find peace and then, though conscious, I was as relaxed as if in sleep. And I felt the top of my head pulsing. I was as fully concentrated as I could be and there was very little distraction in my mind.
I began to feel my body drawn taut and erect and it seemed as if my head was being pushed back. My neck hurt because of the weight of my head. The small of my back ached. I felt occasional distensions of the top of the head, as if it was a membrane being inflated by sharp injections of air.
In the third hour of my sitting this feeling grew more frequent and it grew stronger. I can’t imagine that it could have been an hallucination. Of course, it wasn’t the solid bone that was expanding, but it felt as if it was.
Then a clearly palpable something touched my shoulder and moved me into a more erect position. That’s a detail that it would be safer to leave out if everything else is to be plausible, but it happened. I felt as if I was in the presence of someone else and that someone was helping me through these strange events.
The balloon that my head had become expanded and the tension between the inner part of it, myself, and the outer part arrived at an equilibrium in which I felt poised and as light as air and very comfortable, more comfortable than I had ever felt. This placid, enlarged body was now more real to me than my physical body.
Then, after a few moments of this marvelous comfort, my heart started beating wildly, my breathing accelerated and I felt a rapid flickering at my side, under the rib cage on the left. The pitch of my brain intensified as if power was rushing into it. The power had a definite electrical quality to it. It seemed that the electrical nerve impulses had been immensely amplified.
I felt myself rising and I was afraid and terribly alone. My physical body was suddenly clamped rigid so quickly that the bones of my spine were forced into position with an audible crack. My body shook and quivered and the wall of the inflating balloon, extending in sudden pulses, seemed to go beyond palpable awareness. The muscles of my face convulsed. I was breathing heavily and noisily and without control. I was slavering and my heart was beating so hard that I thought it would burst.
I felt as if a murky rag was pulled away from my eyes and now the energy which I had been feeling began to rush through me like the rush of flame in a blow lamp and I began to rise above all physical sensation, transformed into a ball of energy, floating in space, very wide awake, more clearheaded than I had ever been in my life, as if my mind was now free from an awful clogging that comes with its link with the physical body and which is its normal sad state.
I was still conscious of the room, for I heard a mouse on the floor and after some minutes the rushing flow of electric power subsided and I gradually regained physical feeling.
As this subsidence began I saw a very clear white image of my mother in her younger days, as I remembered having seen her in an old photograph, taken perhaps before I was born.
The first part of my body that I became aware of was the spot on the top of my head. I moved from spot to spot, to the top of the brow, the center of the brow and the point between my eyes and slowly recovered feeling in my trunk.
The last part to come back to me was my legs and as soon as I felt them I was astonished by the pain in them and fell back and screamed. I had been too long in an uncomfortable position. I reeled over with the pain and with great effort I managed to straighten out my legs and get the circulation flowing in them again.
In some strange way it seemed as if it was not me to whom this had happened, at least not the embodied and confused I who now retained a memory of having observed rather than taken part in the experience. My brain was buzzing. I shook my head and said nothing.
For months I was unable to describe this experience without the same feeling. The memory of it just didn’t rest easy with any image I could devise for it. Even now, I wonder if my greater ease in describing it is evidence that I have since lost the essence of it.
I didn’t sleep much that night. On the following morning, when I sat for meditation, I was surprised to find that immediately I closed my eyes I became conscious of a strong flow of energy through my body to my head. It wasn’t nearly as strong as the actual eruption of the night before but I felt that if I allowed it to grow it would get that strong.
This was a strong vibrancy of a kind that I was used to working hard to find, and now it was there for me when I turned my attention to it. The energy intensified in my brain and I seemed to be surrounded by a taut aura. It was as if every nerve in my brain was stretching and my skull was expanding to accommodate this energy.
There was a sharp dilation of my sinuses too and they clicked open audibly. Again I was unsteady on my seat, rocking slightly, as if the earth itself was moving. The process I had gone through the night before was starting up again. With the intensification of the energy I was more real, more present than normal. I was also, now, more afraid. I rose without letting things go any further.
All the efforts that I had made in the past to curtail the spontaneous activity of my mind, the chatter and the singing and the daydreaming, had now been made pointless.
My mind had come alive and would not be curtailed and suddenly I was singing to myself all the time, or marveling at my own thoughts, chatting away to myself. Yet, at moments, I would also be overcome by a feeling of indifference to life and I would lie in my bed and feel that vibrant tingle in my brain again. It was as if my brain was overworked with thoughts and anxieties when, at such times, there was no conscious thought in my mind at all.
I felt as if frantic mental activity was going on, but I had no idea of what it was.
Contributor’s Comments on the Experience
I am nearly fifty now. I am writing a book on that period and I have reassessed much of it. I was very impressionable and I was manipulated by the guru who initiated me into meditation. I can see now how many rapturous experiences of meditation actually related to external events, much as I can now see the meaning of old dreams I read in my diaries and wonder how I missed the point of them at the time.
I have, however, never doubted that the this event occurred, and that it was not emotional. It was as real as a car crash.
I have occasionally felt the beginnings of a recurrence, often in sleep, almost as if an electrical motor is starting within my space. It is always dispelled by self consciousness. Indeed, I believe I would have to prepare a very humble self effacing state of mind to allow it to continue.
What my experience gave me was a conviction that consciousness can detach itself from the body and be more clear when it does so. This suggests, but does not prove, survival of consciousness after the death of the body. I have compared the experience to an orgasm, because, like orgasm, when you experience it first, with it comes a realization of a faculty or character to your personal being beyond what you had previously imagined, but which you realize is natural and “programmed in”.
I did not have an insight through the experience, merely a sense of having learnt more about my own organism by virtue of the nature of the experience.
At the time, I was practicing intensive meditation towards an aspiration to receive a beatific vision or an experience of samadhi. In that context, the experience seemed to affirm all that I had been told by my guru, but I am not sure now that it did; it may indeed have been a corrective to the obsessive repression of feeling and desire that I was practicing.
Was it in any sense then a religious or spiritual experience? I think it was, for it was reassuring. I realized through it that the nature of my being is more fascinating than I can understand and that things I know nothing about are already allowed for.
I can understand that, in this sense, it could also be read as a purely physical or natural experience. I have no problem with that, but I do have a sense that nature and the spirit are the same thing and are not divided from each other.