My First Enlightenment

Salt Lake City, UT – 2003

This was one of the most profound and transformative moments of my life. It was the first time that I experienced something more. I had always heard there was more, and I always wanted to believe there was, but on this day I saw it for myself.

I was 23 and working as a security guard. At the time I was assigned to watch the construction of a multi-million-dollar house. In the early stages of its construction, the site had been raided for materials and tools. To prevent this in the future they hired a single overnight security guard – me.

I had the whole place to myself. And after a few more weeks of construction I sat in the comfort of a multi-million dollar home for twelve hours a night. I would bring a bag of books, things to practice and a list of topics to write about. I made excellent use of my time.

During this period I was tirelessly seeking out new things to read and new ideas to digest. My martial arts group read books like Illusions by Richard Bach, No Boundary by Ken Wilber, and Power versus Force by David Hawkins. I had branched out on my own and read the Tao te Ching and the Bhagavad Gita. They were fantastic.

We were extremely fortunate to find a martial arts instructor who had a serious grasp of chi gung and its practice. He gave us energy awareness drills and I spent all the time it took to perfect them. Figuring there was no reason to restrict myself to our teacher’s pace, I actively sought out new practices on my own.

On a whim, I picked up Paramahansa Yogananda’s Autobiography of a Yogi and was immediately captivated. My very next purchase was Man’s Eternal Quest. Then parts two and three. I was in love. I read his books voraciously. They were exactly what I needed. And with the nights at my post, I had all the time I needed to read and digest them thoroughly.

After several hours of reading one night I sat in contemplation. I had never meditated before but Paramahansa had inspired me. He insisted: start right now! Don’t wait any longer! Drop what you are doing and meditate! The more I read the more I felt the urge to put the book down and begin my practice.

Since there’s no time like the present, I figured I’d give it a shot.

I found a spot and got comfortable. With my legs crossed, I folded my hands in my lap and closed my eyes. I didn’t know what to do, but there was no harm in attempting to look inside for a little while. I turned my vision inward and observed my thoughts.

Pictures and images danced in my mind; words and songs repeated without end. My inner narrator narrated every move I made. I looked hard at my thoughts for the very first time. As my mind raced my eyes fluttered behind my eyelids. It was a whole lot of noise. It was all I could manage to sit still and observe.

But I was used to challenging myself. I stared directly into my mind and watched what was happening there. The more I committed to observing, the more centered I felt amidst the noise. My sheer determination to look inside dissolved the most prominent layer of mental fuzz. As though on its own the idea occurred to me, what’s left in here when all of this chatter stops?

I focused intently. It was a new feeling but I was determined to see where it took me. As each thought or word flashed in my mind I acknowledged it. It was like unpacking a giant suitcase that was crammed with crumpled clothes. In the midst of the chaos I grabbed the first thought that caught my attention – a song playing on repeat. “Hello song, I see that you’re in here.” By simply acknowledging it I unpacked it from the suitcase, folded it and put it away.

One by one thoughts arose. Each one I acknowledged and released. Before long they appeared less frequently. After a half hour or more, they were no longer appearing.

I stared into the silence. The only thing that remained was my inner narrator, “Here I am, alone in the quiet of my mind. It sure is quiet in here. Blah blah blah blah.” He knew he was the only one left and wasn’t going to go quietly. I relaxed and focused and for the first time ever silenced my inner narrator. As the dust settled, my mind became crystal clear all the way through.

And in this moment, in a flash, I had the most inexplicable realization: no one was present, but someone was aware of it. If no one is here, but I continue to realize this, then some part of me must remain. Everything that was gone was nonessential to my being. It obscured who I really was. What remained in the absence of thought was me; all the chatter was an illusory self.

I had the distinct sensation of looking behind a curtain and glimpsing the eternal world underneath the noise I mistook for myself. For the first time I peaked behind the veil of thought and saw my true nature. The spell was broken.

The moment it happened I knew I could never go back. I was awakened. I had pierced the illusion. I had touched the infinite.

I didn’t tell anyone; I wouldn’t have known what to say. It was a purely private moment – the hallmark of realization. On that day a light was lit inside me. No matter what challenges I faced in the future, and there would be plenty, I could not ignore the quiet within me. I was permanently reunited with the root of all well being.

I could not reproduce the experience I had, but I didn’t need to; I had been shocked out of my ignorance. This experience spawned a lifelong dedication to meditation and to the pursuit of ultimate self realization.

I have continued to practice to this very day. But in my twelve years of practice, this day stands out in my memory as the most intense moment of realization. I don’t know where, or who I would be today without it.

Not bad for a first try.

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One thought on “My First Enlightenment

  1. Pingback: Autobiography | Matthew J. Summers

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