I had this once in a very powerful way, and once in a not-so powerful way rather recently.
I had been meditating for a while, 8 months or so, and I was sitting on the floor of my bedroom in my home in Florida for a relaxing session of meditation.
Nearly every time I sat to focus on the breath I kept my eyes closed for the duration. On this night I left the light on and just sat on the blue rug in a half-lotus position and alternated closing my eyes and opening them every few minutes. The mind calmed quickly and there was no thought. I don’t know why the eyes kept opening, but I didn’t force them to close or force them open – they were on their own schedule it seemed.
I had been sitting about 10 minutes, and was in and out of a strong jhana 3-4… when the eyes opened and on the rug I saw some fluttering of movement. There was no physical movement of the fibers of the rug, and yet, they moved… they fluttered, and became blurry and turned into numerous patterns. You might have some experience with staring at a tiled floor – especially the tiny tiles – 1 inch or so, on the floor of a restroom. If you stare long enough you can see some strange optical illusions, the lines seem to move and patterns seem to almost form. It’s almost like the floor is alive. This happens over the entire floor – your whole field of view, when it happens.
For me, sitting on the floor, what I was seeing in the fabric of the blue rug was similar – but it was a very small portion of the rug. It happened only where my eyes were directly looking, and the harder I looked with the physical eyes – it didn’t help. I did not see any more clearly.
At the same time as the visual movement was occurring in the field of my vision, there was a change happening in the mind. A movement of the mind, and yet it wasn’t like typical thoughts. It was more of a feeling. There were no thoughts to precede the feeling, the feeling was just there… it was a feeling of love, or caring for the movement on the floor.
When the mind is quiet – absolutely still, the most bizarre things can go on – and yet, the mind remains still. Telling this to you now, I understand it is hard to understand. It’s hard to fathom. It’s hard to believe me. I can only tell you that I have no agenda with you. I have no interest in converting you into a believer in my experiences. I honestly don’t ever expect to affect even one person that hasn’t had a similar experience – and convert someone into a believer in me. I don’t need that. I don’t have anything to gain by that. I am just sharing in the hope that, if you have experienced ANYTHING similar – you can relate in some way, and maybe my telling what happened with me can inspire you to also share with others (hopefully me!) what happened to you…
So, I am there, just sitting on the floor in my house. I don’t know about abhinna. I don’t know about divine eye or divine anything else. I don’t know what is happening during jhana 1, jhana 4, jhana 8. I don’t know that any of it means anything special to millions of Buddhists and other meditators around the world. I just experience what i do, and, when the mood strikes me – i write some of it down in my online journal. Usually the mood did not strike me at all after a certain point.
After a couple months of sitting meditation there was a point where the mind wanted, desired, very, very little. There was no motivation, no desire to write about what was happening. It’s odd because what was happening inside my mind, inside my consciousness, the changes in my entire being, my ego dissolving – was not something that inspired me to write very much at all. I remember having memories that told me – to have these experiences is something very out of the norm… a question was posed – should you write about this? Should you share this with everyone?
The answer was, there was just no motivation to do so. And, i didn’t create a big website about it. I didn’t write a book about it. I didn’t do anything about it at all for a very long time… until the motivation to share, returned.
OK, so back to sitting on the floor. I’m trying to give you some of the background about me so you can get a better sense of the experience from my own point of view. It was odd, but still – the mind was empty and able to go in and out of the jhanas…
Soon i was able to see, the movement in the carpet wasn’t really in the carpet, it was in front of it, between my eyes and the carpet. It was amorphous, and yet there was some substance to it. It was as if it was becoming a shape… it was becoming… that was the feeling from the eyes looking at it. Inside the mind was this caring for it… this love or something positive for it… There was also a knowing about the vision… it was of me… it was of my parents… it was of the same stuff as us… it was part of me and us, in some way…
I didn’t understand anything more about it, i just experienced it. It elicited a feeling from me that it sort of pulled out of me… if that makes any sense. It wasn’t like our normal human emotions that we think come from inside of us and go out to something… if you see a cat hit by a car in the road, you might have an outpouring of emotion toward the cat – a love, a sadness, a desire to see it whole again – unharmed.
This amorphous shape that was of me… was me… it was as if it was pulling love from me, pulling caring from me, and yet it wasn’t that love and caring was leaving me – leaving my body or mind or consciousness – it was like it was connected and i felt some pull in its direction. So hard to describe… words are so futile, but I have to try to say it in a way that helps you see it… feel it. Though i know you cannot, i really wish i could share the feeling with you…
There are tears in my eyes now as i describe this momentous event in my life. You’ll find out why shortly. The experience is so overwhelming, even now, to describe it. Just knowing that this is a possibility – is nothing short of miraculous… and yet i don’t believe in any particular god – there may well be one. This sort of experience has shown me that i know very little of what we are capable of experiencing as human beings…
As usual, i didn’t attach much to the experience. I sat maybe 10-20 minutes as it went on. I didn’t try to figure out what it meant. I was clueless really. I didn’t “know” any meaning for it. I didn’t try hard to figure it out. I did think about the experience for hours afterward, then slept and awoke, went to work and came home that next evening.
My wife and i had just finished eating, and i don’t remember what i was doing – maybe playing with one of the dogs. My wife was showering. I heard her yell something. I said, “What hon?”
She screamed, “COME IN HERE!”
I ran to the restroom and opened it to find her standing at the end of the tub, she had just shut the shower water off.
She said, “look!”.
I looked down and there on the ceramic of the tub was a mass of tissue, no bigger than half a thumb maybe. There was fresh blood still washing away from it and down the drain. My wife couldn’t speak. It was a very small fetus, not in the shape of a human being yet, or even a distinguishable blob, but it was, without a doubt, a spontaneously aborted child that we’d never know.
I rolled off some toilet paper and picked it up off the tub. I held it and looked at it while my wife burst into tears. I asked what to do – she said – put it in the toilet and flush it, which i did. It might sound callous, but there was no real feeling about it as being anything alive. It was obviously dead having not made a healthy baby inside her uterus.
As I flushed the toilet i recalled the meditation experience of the night before and shook with the realization what it meant. I told my wife about the experience in as much detail as I could.
She looked at me as if I was an alien, and maybe we were never quite connected in the same way ever again.
It scared her – very deeply that i was able to see that the night before. The vision on the floor was part of me, it was part of her… it was our unborn baby, unable to continue for whatever reason, that showed itself to me before it died inside her womb.
This experience showed me, was proof to me, that i cannot discount things people say they’ve experienced that i don’t understand, or that sound too farfetched.
I have never believed in anything of the supernatural. The idea that a person could see a vision of their unborn child materializing in the air in front of him – and feel a love for it… a caring, an emotion about it – is so far beyond the reality i once knew and insisted was real.
I can admit now – i know nothing of the possibilities that exist here as a human being. I think there must be many more experiences available to us, but we’re not looking… we’re not putting out minds in the right state to see these things, to experience these things…
I hope more of us do in the near future… and tell me about your experiences if you have also had something odd happen…
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My experiences with abhinna (articles):