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Was that the Tao? My NDE in the Summer of 2011

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Was that the Tao? My NDE in the Summer of 2011
near-death experience
Answer
9/30/13 1:21 PM
I hope that there is more sense of what can be made of this totally life altering experience. In the Summer of 2011 I was at the end of my psychotropic experimental stage. I had decided to eat an entire ounce of Amanita Muscaria after reading part of "The Sacred Mushroom and The Key to the Door of Eternity" by Andrija Puharich. R. Gordon Wasson also believed that the Amanita Muscaria mushroom is the Indian Vedic Soma. I've done my fair share of psychedelics in my life and I have also done a bit of astral projection, but I never had an experience which was beyond the reach of duality. Until the night of the NDE...

I was in the desert with some friends in Ojai, California. I remembered taking half an ounce of Amanita's with a friend of mine. It was a pleasant and euphoric experience. It seemed that physical limitations concerning strength had really fallen way-side. I understood why the Vikings had taken Amanitas before war. So remembering that I handled half an ounce very well, I decided to take an entire ounce. Before I ingested the Amanitas I held the caps in my hand and asked to be shown what death was. In that moment I had absolutely no idea that death would be a relief compared to the immense and tortuous pain I was about to experience.

At about 8pm I took the Amanitas. About an hour later I began to feel disoriented and off balance. At 10pm disorientation turned into a slight version of the "spins" that occurs from drinking alcohol. When this happened I became drowsy and decided to call it a night. Although I was drowsy I noticed that something unusually radical had shifted in my awareness. I found that I was incapable of becoming distracted. My mind lost the capacity to lose awareness of the present moment or of what is arising in the mind. This was very unusual since I basically lived in distraction in those days. I had laid down to sleep and remembered thinking, "Oh shit my mind isn't wandering, not even for a few seconds at a time, how the hell am I going to fall asleep?". So I laid there waiting and I noticed that my body and mind were beginning to fall asleep. Thoughts had disappeared but awareness remained. I began spinning again and before I knew it I had lost contact with my body.

I found my awareness to be a point in space in a dark void. In this void or dreamless state I was unable to conceive any thoughts or memories. I could experience what I best describe as feeling tones and a knowing beyond thought. I somehow knew that if I didn't make it out of this void and back to my body that I was going to die. I felt great fear because thoughts would fail to occur no matter how hard I tried to think of words and memories. I also existed only as an awareness in space which means I didn't have a sense of a body. As a point in space I began moving forward and a tiny star of light appeared far in the distance and I knew at this moment that I had to go to the light to make it back to my body. So I began moving towards this distance star that seemed to rest on the edge of a vast nothingness. As I got closer and closer the star became brighter and larger. I began spiraling in a fractal type of pattern as I moved further towards the light. At first the spiraling and spinning was slow, then as the experience progressed and I moved closer I began spinning faster. The spinning increased with intensity along with the brightness of the light. When the spinning became intense and fast enough I began to experience pain. It was a pain unlike anything I ever felt before. At first the pain was like a slight prick and eventually it grew to feel as if my entire awareness was engulfed in fire of unbearable tortuous pain. I knew that my body was screaming. In the distance I could hear my friend saying, "Ryan follow the light! Follow the light". Somehow he intuitively knew what I was experiencing. I screamed as loud as I could the pain was too much. I knew that the only way out was either to die or go so far into the sensation and experience of pain that pain is transcended. At that point I was spinning so fast that I felt the fabric of my awareness being twisted and disfigured as if I was in a black hole or a high powered centrifuge. The light was so bright and I knew that if I went far enough I could see what the great sages had experienced in enlightenment. Then my awareness became full of this burning pain and the never ending scream of ,"AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!" I went so deep into pain and spiraling that eventually pain reached it's limit and turned into bliss. The spinning began to slow down and suddenly my awareness felt as if it had come to a clearing. The light was immensely bright and vast. Then duality totally vanished and my awareness merged with an ocean of infinite and boundless light. There was bliss and peace beyond measure. It was the bliss of being everything that has or will ever exist, while simultaneously being nothing at all. This ocean of pure light was brighter than an entire universe full of suns. In such an experience time and subjectivity ceased to exist. There was simply eternity beyond form and thought. It seemed that the light had incinerated my consciousness. Literally vaporizing my awareness as if a high powered beam of light with the brightness equivalent to a million suns was aimed straight to my eyes and then simultaneously was tossed through a centrifugal light-speed fractal, which twisted the very fabric of my being until awareness, pain, and duality collapsed in on themselves. Then there was bliss and I entered the clear light. After what would be a few seconds of time passed in this realm, a thought of Ryan, being a finite entity, arose and immediately I was back in my body. When I came back to my body I still had a horrible case of the spins so I stumbled outside of the tent and vomited.

My friends said that what they saw happen to me was one of the most terrifying scenes they had ever witnessed. According to them after I fell asleep I had woken up about 30 minutes later. While my body is acting this out my awareness is in the dreamless void. I had no perception of my body at the time so this information on what occurred before the screaming is their eye witness account of what happened. I was sweating out an unbelievable amount of water and began mumbling words and sentences that made no sense. My friends said I didn't look like myself. For some reason I tackled one of my friend in the tent and after bringing him to the ground just laid there on top of him. Then I rolled over and a few minutes later began convulsing and having a seizure like tremor on the floor. My friends had no idea what to do. They were wondering whether to call an ambulance or take me to a hospital. It seemed that I was dying. Then I got up into meditation posture and began screamed at my throats full capacity for 10-15 minutes straight. At this point my awareness was spiraling through light and pain.

Was this light the Tao? What happened to me? Has anyone on the DhO experienced anything like this?
If anyone who reads this knows of highly advanced yogis who may have an understanding of this and are willing to comment on it please send it to them or ask them to check this post.

Thank You

RE: Was that the Tao? My NDE in the Summer of 2011
Answer
9/30/13 7:01 PM as a reply to Ryan Jaidsedha Burton.
Ryan Jaidsedha Burton:
I hope that there is more sense of what can be made of this totally life altering experience.

..Then duality totally vanished and my awareness merged with an ocean of infinite and boundless light. There was bliss and peace beyond measure. It was the bliss of being everything that has or will ever exist, while simultaneously being nothing at all. This ocean of pure light was brighter than an entire universe full of suns. In such an experience time and subjectivity ceased to exist. There was simply eternity beyond form and thought.


Yes, this bolded section sounds like you experienced a glimpse of enlightenment, it describes it very well. I have heard the quote; "My mind tells me I am nothing, my heart tells me I am everything". The direct experience of this is the bliss of enlightenment.

I had a somewhat similar experience in high school, before I started on a spiritual path. Not on drugs, just everyday life, I experienced being fully in the present moment without separation for a few seconds. This experienced caused me to begin meditating later, and was responsible for my quick progression on the path.

I believe having an experience such as this is extremely valuable because; 1. Now you know definitively that enlightenment exists, having experienced the state of non-duality, and 2. If you search for it now, i.e. begin on a spiritual path, you know what the true, or ultimate goal is, so you will not stop until you reach that goal, you will not be satisfied with lesser states.

One thing I would say is trust in that experience, trust in its validity, and trust that it can be experienced in your life (naturally). To become enlightened, or even to make progress on the path requires an enormous amount of effort. The reason we put effort into things is because we want to get something out of them. What you can hope to get from the spiritual path is enlightenment. Thus, if you proceed with this experience as your ultimate goal, then you are proceeding correctly, you are heading in the right direction.

The spiritual path is a long one, and there are many steps before complete enlightenment, and the attainment of experience as you have described. If you have correct motivation, you are on the right track, and you can achieve the ultimate goal.

Note, I am saying this as someone who has traveled the full path and reached the enlightenment. There seems to be a lot of doubt on here as to that, but please take my advice not on the basis of whether or not I'm enlightened, but whether or not this advice rings true for you.

RE: Was that the Tao? My NDE in the Summer of 2011
Answer
10/1/13 3:51 AM as a reply to T DC.
T DC:
Note, I am saying this as someone who has traveled the full path and reached the enlightenment. There seems to be a lot of doubt on here as to that, but please take my advice not on the basis of whether or not I'm enlightened, but whether or not this advice rings true for you.


You are definitely correct about the benefits of this experience. Until I return to that ocean of light I'll know I am still unenlightened, despite whatever profound and supra-mundane states or powers I attain.

Your advice definitely rings true for me T DC. Thank you.

RE: Was that the Tao? My NDE in the Summer of 2011
Answer
10/7/13 7:10 AM as a reply to Ryan Jaidsedha Burton.
Howdy Ryan,
excellent descriptions. a question: how has your experience changed your day to day life?

RE: Was that the Tao? My NDE in the Summer of 2011
Answer
10/7/13 11:25 AM as a reply to tom moylan.
tom moylan:
Howdy Ryan,
excellent descriptions. a question: how has your experience changed your day to day life?


Hi Tom,

That's a great question. After that experience I had no doubt that enlightenment existed and was possible to attain. At that time in my life I didn't notice any significant changes in my behavior or meditation practice. It does seem that after this experience the capacity to identify with "Ryan Burton", or to mistake the 5 aggregates to be "self" had vanished. Along with that, the notion of self esteem also ceased to exist, which was quite liberating. Duality is still present and it had absolutely no impact on stability in meditation practice, but a fundamental shift in view definitely did take place.

RE: Was that the Tao? My NDE in the Summer of 2011
Answer
10/8/13 1:53 PM as a reply to Ryan Jaidsedha Burton.
Would you be okay if it was an A&P event? An A&P with visuals/terrors associated with your intention (experiencing death) and the drug?

RE: Was that the Tao? My NDE in the Summer of 2011
Answer
10/8/13 3:34 PM as a reply to Ryan Jaidsedha Burton.
Ryan Jaidsedha Burton:
I had lost contact with my body.

I found my awareness to be a point in space in a dark void. In this void or dreamless state I was unable to conceive any thoughts or memories.

There are lots of possibilities but check this out and see
MCTB Boundless Space, The Fifth Jhana
Ryan Jaidsedha Burton:

Then duality totally vanished and my awareness merged with an ocean of infinite and boundless light. There was bliss and peace beyond measure. It was the bliss of being everything that has or will ever exist, while simultaneously being nothing at all. This ocean of pure light was brighter than an entire universe full of suns. In such an experience time and subjectivity ceased to exist. There was simply eternity beyond form and thought.

MCTB Boundless Consciousness, The Sixth Jhana

Add to that the MCTB 4. The Arising and Passing Away and a heavy dose of tripping balls and I think you may have it...

If you have not read the book MCTB yet I would highly recommend that you do...it's very good and will introduce you to the vocabulary and concepts used heavily on this forum. In fact read it twice....or more....I did and I still get great stuff out of it.

RE: Was that the Tao? My NDE in the Summer of 2011
Answer
10/8/13 11:23 PM as a reply to Dream Walker.
Dream Walker & x x,

It definitely could be any of what has been mentioned above. My only objection to the the culminating state being one of the formless realms is that, according to the description, there is some kind of dualism between awareness and space. At the culmination point of the experience there wasn't an "I" in the form of awareness vs space. There was only light absent of self and other. What I had slipped into after falling asleep was probably the realm of infinite space or the dreamless sleep state which is experienced in Tibetan Dream Yoga. I can also accept that it was an AP event, but I experienced that on a retreat several months later in which my body felt like it exploded into bliss. Then suddenly I was drowned in doubt and I screwed up the rest of the retreat. Wish I had read MCTB back then! With that AP event on the retreat, it felt like duality slipped away for a split second, and then dualism returned, but with the NDE I merged into literal eternity and absolute timelessness then somehow a thought occurred and it was over. They were drastically different experiences. The AP event for that retreat was diagnosed by a teacher of mine about a year and a half later. At the time I had not considered the AP experience on the retreat to be anything important. With the description of the NDE I explained the non dual culmination with certain terms that may have indicated a sense of dualism between awareness, space, light, infinity etc. but when it happened dualism was absent. It also wasn't how some people have described stream entry in which the Yogi dips into emptiness very quickly and afterwards thinks "What was that?" I could say it was a combination of light, bliss and infinite vastness that was without any sense of duality whatsoever. This experience of being an ocean of light was totally different than the void I fell into earlier that night. The formless realm or whatever it was was still bound by dualism. I see the potential for a sense of peace to exist in that formless realm, but this is light years worth of a difference from the unification of bliss and emptiness which I had felt after the disappearance of duality.

RE: Was that the Tao? My NDE in the Summer of 2011
Answer
10/9/13 5:22 AM as a reply to Ryan Jaidsedha Burton.
Thusness wrote in 2008:

AEN posted a great site about what I am trying to convey. Do go through the videos. I will divide what that are being discussed in the videos into the method, the view and the experience for ease of illustration as follows:

1. The method is what that is commonly known as self enquiry.

2. The view currently we have is dualistic. We see things in terms of subject/object division.

3. The experience can be further divided into the followings:

3.1 A strong individual sense of identity

3.2 An oceanic experience free from conceptualization.

This is due to the practitioner freeing himself from conceptuality, from labels and symbols. The mind continuous disassociates itself from all labeling and symbols.

3.3 An oceanic experience dissolving into everything.

The period of non-conceptuality is prolonged. Long enough to dissolve the mind/body ‘symbolic’ bond and therefore inner and outer division is temporarily suspended.


The experience for 3.2 and 3.3 are transcendental and are precious. However these experiences are commonly misinterpreted and distorted by objectifying these experiences into an entity that is “ultimate, changeless and independent”. The objectified experience is known as Atman, God or Buddha Nature by the speaker in the videos. It is known as the experience of “I AM” with differing degree of intensity of non-conceptuality. Usually practitioners that have experienced 3.2 and 3.3 find it difficult to accept the doctrine of Anatta and Emptiness. The experiences are too clear, real and blissful to discard. They are overwhelmed.



Before we go further, why do you think these experiences are distorted?



I'd say what you experienced is an intense peak experience of the I AMness* but not yet self-realization (realization has the quality of having realized, complete certainty of one's Existence).


*http://awakeningtoreality.blogspot.com.au/2007/03/thusnesss-six-stages-of-experience.html

RE: Was that the Tao? My NDE in the Summer of 2011
Answer
10/10/13 6:52 PM as a reply to An Eternal Now.
An Eternal Now:
The experience for 3.2 and 3.3 are transcendental and are precious. However these experiences are commonly misinterpreted and distorted by objectifying these experiences into an entity that is “ultimate, changeless and independent”. The objectified experience is known as Atman, God or Buddha Nature by the speaker in the videos. It is known as the experience of “I AM” with differing degree of intensity of non-conceptuality. Usually practitioners that have experienced 3.2 and 3.3 find it difficult to accept the doctrine of Anatta and Emptiness. The experiences are too clear, real and blissful to discard. They are overwhelmed.

I'd say what you experienced is an intense peak experience of the I AMness* but not yet self-realization (realization has the quality of having realized, complete certainty of one's Existence).l


An Eternal Now,

Yes I definitely felt that what I had experienced was God, but I surely wouldn't define it as independent. Is the realization of emptiness, according to the doctrine of Anatta, void of bliss and all definable characteristics such as light, vastness etc?

The Atiyoga definition of Dharmakaya describes it well with the term Primordial ground.

"Such a mind knows directly the phenomenal reality arising from the primordial ground (pratitya samutpada, tendrel nyingpo) is simply the prior unity of the Two Truths—relative appearance and absolute emptiness—the unelaborated purity (kadag) of the constant state that is the unity of bliss and emptiness. Of course, such wisdom – gnosis, includes the Two Truths of the Vajrayana, namely the primordial purity and the sameness (equality) of phenomena that is the Great Dharmakaya (chos-ku chenpo), beyond mere emptiness (Mipham, 2007).

What is the difference between realization, or Anatta, and this peak experience of I AMness? Is I AMness different from Dharmakaya? If so then are the sages who say the highest realization is Buddha nature, the Self, or Dharmakaya all mistaken?

I can't be completely certain because I don't have access that dimension or realization. If I did then I'd probably believe I had attained enlightenment until something more incredible was stumbled upon or until a master pointed out that there was a higher realization.

That is a great blog. emoticon I subbed to it months ago.