A stroke of insight. | Experiences | Forum
Jill Bolte Taylor is a brain scientist. Many years ago her body modified itself, so to speak.
She had a stroke. That stroke shut down part of her brain, and because her brain wasn't so busy thinking, she came in touch with something that most people need to meditate in order to reach.
This video is Jill speaking at a scientific conference about the incredible spiritual experience that was brought on by this stroke.
I know this isn't exactly a body modification in the traditional sense, but it is so incredibly profound to me that I felt I needed to share it.
I have experienced what she experienced. I know exactly what she means when she describes the life force of the universe. It is what Taoists call the Tao. It is what Native Americans call The Great Spirit. It is what many others call the Presence of God. Whatever it is, it is real, it is pure, it is vast, it is quiet and still. It is absolute peace and serenity.
I taught myself how to meditate about ten years ago. As a child of science, I wondered at first whether the sense of vast, open, empty space that was incredibly full of energy, which I had experienced on several occasions, was some kind of self-induced experience, and not to be taken as real. No one had planted the idea in my head, so I wanted to believe it, but, as any good scientist would do, I continued to doubt my own findings.
Later, I read some of Tao Te Ching, a sacred Taoist text written around the 6th century BCE. There are several different English translations, but in the fourth section, the one I read describes the Tao as follows:
"The Tao is like the emptiness of a vessel"
"How deep and unfathomable it is, as if it were the Honored Ancestor of all things!"
"How pure and still the Tao is, as if it would ever so continue!"
"I do not know whose son it is. It might appear to have been before God."
Before trying meditation, I had heard very little about the experience. Some spoke of energy flowing through different points on the body, but certainly no one had described to me the incredible sense of being beyond my body; of ignoring and letting go of my sensory inputs and what I would be left with. Indeed, what had always been there, but my own busy mind had been unaware of.
This description of the Tao was so exactly like what I experienced I was stunned, and I read it several times, looking for any difference in what it was describing and what I had experienced. I could find none.
Later still, I saw the movie, "What the Bleep Do We Know?" There is a scientist in this film, I regret I cannot recall his name, who describes meditation in a very similar way. He speaks of the sensory inputs being muted, the inner dialogue being silenced, and a sense of peace overtaking the mind.
In my quest for answers in regard to spirituality, I have always taken a scientific approach. That is, anything that is actually true and real can be repeated by anyone who follows the same procedure, and they will see the same results. So, whatever is true about spirituality must exist in some way for all people who pursue spirituality. Whatever is real can be seen by anyone, regardless of their prejudices or preconceived notions.
In recent years I have seen documentaries on many different forms of spirituality, and heard people from every one of them describe the Presence of God, or The Great Spirit, or the Tao, or whatever name they have for it. It all seems very much the same. It is, as Dr. Taylor describes it, the life force of the universe.
All these forms of spirituality vary greatly in their explanation of it, but the deep sense of peace it brings to everyone; the feeling of being in touch with something much more vast than ourselves is the same, no matter who describes it.
And the code of ethics that these spiritualities teach is also essentially the same. It all boils down to respect. Respect yourself. Respect others.
These are the universal truths I have seen in all forms of spirituality. Even in the scientific interpretation of spirituality. This is what I believe now. Meditation for inner peace and Respect for world peace.
January 7, 2011
There is also Mindfulness Meditation, which is not necessarily the seeking out of something greater, but of an inner stillness. The ability to let thoughts flow freely through your mind without focus, but at the same time the ability to be PRESENT, to experience things as they are happening in this moment and no other. I taught quite a few different meditations when I did counseling. Usually we had to call them "exercises", or "relaxation exercises" or something of that sort, to make them more palatable, and I understand that I certainly wouldn't want to go see I counselor and have them ask me to seek out the universe. But my hope was that people would discover these things on their own. And sometimes they would, they would report back to me that the most amazing thing had happened to them, and for the first time in a long time they felt peace.
When I was a child I used to lie on the ground under the stars and I would try to picture the entire Earth below me, and my body facing out into the vastness of the universe. I would imagine the countless miles of nothingness between stars stacked on top of me, and put myself at the center and meditate, using visualization, the energy of the earth flowing up through my body and out my hands, my chest, my head, my feet, and they would go out into that vast expanse of space and connect me with it. Usually in this way, I could find that life force that you describe. And a feeling that I was one with everything, that we are all parts of this huge mechanism, that we are connected, and you can find that center, you can find the life force, and for a moment, you feel your part in everything. Which is why…my back is tattooed with dozens of stars! I felt it only fitting that if I was a part of them, they should become a part of me.
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