Frightening "Ascension" Experience

Jay Peters, modified 2 Years ago at 4/27/21 12:00 PM
Created 2 Years ago at 4/27/21 11:45 AM

Frightening "Ascension" Experience

Posts: 3 Join Date: 4/27/21 Recent Posts
Hello all,

This is my first post despite lurking a long while. Please bear with me here. 

I have practiced for several years consistently, beginning with a psychedelic-induced state of nonduality that rocketed me into spiritual practice. I've used Daniel's materials and a lot of Dzogchen methods in the intervening time.

The other night, my wife and I were watching television after smoking cannabis (a rare thing for me). I am very aware that drugs can produce strange effects, but this takes the cake. While watching one show in particular, I closed my eyes and thought, for some reason, of the phrase "One hand clapping." I contemplated this koan until it felt like a switch in my mind "flicked." I realized that there were not actually multiple objects surrounding me - there was only appearance itself, and awareness of these appearances. A further switch flicked. I realized there was only awareness. What then happened is hard to describe.

Essentially, I had a thought that centered around trying to describe "it." An unknowable, ineffable "it." I fell into a sort of obsession as I lay there, trying to determine what "it" was. My mind withdrew from the world around me, and I perceived a long tunnel. I stared straight ahead and tried to relax into the experience, only to find that my mind was starting to go bonkers with thoughts related to, "Everything is a dream." "All is appearance." The further I spiraled into this tunnel, the more I became convinced that what was waiting beyond this point was total non-perception. I felt as if I had been here thousands, or millions of times before, never quite reaching "it." 

I also sensed that if I truly merged with the end of this tunnel, I would put a complete end to all perception and abide as total "being," but at the cost of literally "dissolving" my entire life. This is because I had an acute sense that everything had been dreamed into being as a "distraction" from this experience of oneness/nothing. If I let myself go into it, I might never return, nor would the world. There would only be "it." 

While this was happening, I sensed the sounds of the exterior world almost "encouraging" this process. Trying to meld into "it." It felt like I was being pulled into a singularity where nothing, not even a sense of self or awareness, could remain. 

Suddenly a sense of fear arose and I withdrew from it—I had the thought, "what about my wife? My family?" My heart was beating a million miles a minute, though I hadn't realized it until that moment. I came back to standard perception and jotted down a few notes - "We have always been trying to be it, return to it. Nothing goes beyond it." 

The experience filled me with a degree of dread and loneliness. The concept of being a single, dreaming mind for all of eternity is troubling. I am very open to grasping that this was just a deluded experience.

Still, a few days later, I am still feeling rattled by the event. Things feel a bit unreal and detached. It's almost like realizing you're dreaming, but remaining in the dream, conscious of the fact that there is a world (of some kind) beyond the dream of phenomenal reality. 

Can any seasoned practitioners put my mind at ease here? I have chalked it up as a very, very short-term episode case of cannabis-induced psychosis, but I am wondering if others have experienced this or know anything about it. Was there any validity to the experience, or was it all simply a delusion? Thanks for any help. 

EDIT: In case anyone is wondering, or if it's pertinent, I do not use substances frequently (including alcohol), nor have I had any past instances of psychotic episodes or behavior. No family history of mental illness, either. 
Martin, modified 2 Years ago at 4/27/21 2:59 PM
Created 2 Years ago at 4/27/21 2:59 PM

RE: Frightening "Ascension" Experience

Posts: 647 Join Date: 4/25/20 Recent Posts
Hi Jay,

Although I am not an expert or a teacher, I would say that there is nothing that sounds worrying in your description of your experience. I have had experiences like this, particularly the being about to disappear into a singularity thing. And I have heard similar experiences described many times, particularly here on the DhO. Consider, for example, the following fairly recent post, in which, like you, the poster experiences fear, worries about his family and backs off:

It sounds a lot like an A&P experience but I wouldn't want to imply that that means you are at A&P (stage 4) on the Path of Insight, and therefore you will soon be at stage 5. It doesn't necessarily work like that. Which is not to say that it won't work like that this time. I'm just saying that it sounds like an experience of a fairly well-known type. It's doesn't sound like you are crazy or weird. 

If nothing else, it shows you that the mind can do more than work, think, and daydream. It also suggests that one way in which it is possible for you to look at the world is that all separation is an illusion and there is only oneness. I'm not saying that this is always the right way to think of the world, but having more than one way of seeing things is nice. It's like having more than one passport. You never know when it will come in handy. 

Hopefully, other people with more knowledge than me will weigh in too, but even if they don't and you have more questions, just post them. 
Dream Walker, modified 2 Years ago at 4/27/21 3:15 PM
Created 2 Years ago at 4/27/21 3:13 PM

RE: Frightening "Ascension" Experience

Posts: 1610 Join Date: 1/18/12 Recent Posts
Whoo hooo!!!
You got stoned, lol.
Ok, not to discount your experience with drugs, instead I'll do that with with the progress of insight.

You went thru the Arising and Passing away stage.

Experiences are such as they are. Can you get back there? Nope. Nice story? yes. Transformitive? yep. What action might come from it? shrug, dont screw your noodle too much off only one experience.
I, of course, Had THE big experience when I was 18 and set me on this silly path, but now have many many experiences to taper my enthusiasim and realize the profound is great but temporary, If i cant get a perminant shift, IT ain't shit.
Good Luck
Jay Peters, modified 2 Years ago at 4/27/21 7:40 PM
Created 2 Years ago at 4/27/21 7:40 PM

RE: Frightening "Ascension" Experience

Posts: 3 Join Date: 4/27/21 Recent Posts
Hi Martin and Dream,

Thank you for taking the time to reply emoticon 

Your suggestions and takes on this are helpful, especially the links... I contemplated the experience a bit more throughout the day, and have come to a few key conclusions somewhat in line with your thoughts.

1. I don't truly know anything about what happened or why. No use engaging in mental gymnastics to speculate emoticon 

2. Even if this phenomenon has some basis in reality, it is still a point of view subject to clinging, fear, and misperception because of my limited wisdom. 

And 3. I've been projecting far too much selfhood onto whatever "thing" I have termed "it" or "the singularity." Whatever underlies all appearances and individual beings would not be subject to the kind of wishes/needs that I, as a human being, have imputed upon it. 

I suppose overall I was looking for some justification to pull my head out of my rear end and stop circling the idea of "solipsism lite," or, put another way, the fear that "I" have dreamed my own reality and am somehow trapped in an existential prison. The path stretches on.. emoticon 
George S, modified 2 Years ago at 4/27/21 8:13 PM
Created 2 Years ago at 4/27/21 8:13 PM

RE: Frightening "Ascension" Experience

Posts: 2752 Join Date: 2/26/19 Recent Posts
We are definitely all trapped in our own existential prisons XD

Cool experience, thanks for posting :-)
Jay Peters, modified 2 Years ago at 4/28/21 9:50 AM
Created 2 Years ago at 4/28/21 9:50 AM

RE: Frightening "Ascension" Experience

Posts: 3 Join Date: 4/27/21 Recent Posts
Haha, you're very welcome. Very strange experience for sure. It has opened my eyes to the many, many delusions still present in my mind, some of which I was not conscious of emoticon