You are here: Real Spiritual Experiences :: Oneness / Enlightenment / Universal Love :: First Enlightenment Experience

Real Spiritual Experiences

First Enlightenment Experience


On the morning of March 5, 1984, I woke up feeling good, surprisingly good. For three nights in a row, I had stayed up late, meditating into the early hours of the morning. With so little sleep I should have been dead tired, but instead, I was full of energy. After eating breakfast, I went to work, and at mid-morning I arrived at the office of a business associate. We talked for about fifteen minutes, and then I glanced down at my watch. It was exactly ten o'clock. At that precise moment, the telephone on the desk beside me rang. Suddenly, a peculiar ripple of energy passed through my body as if I had touched a faint electric current. Startled, I looked back at my friend, but the features of his face were now strangely unstable. His eyes, mouth, and nose seemed to be floating, or shimmering, as if on a fluid substrate, and I had to concentrate strongly to hold my perception of his face intact. It seemed as if the features of his face would drift apart if I did not consciously make an effort to hold them together. Certain that my own face must betray my astonishment and bewilderment, I was surprised that my friend did not seem to notice anything unusual about the way that I was staring at him.

After another moment, an enormous upwelling of emotion began rising from the center of my body. This frightened me because it wasn't clear whether I was going to start laughing or crying. I only knew that something incredibly powerful was surging toward the surface from within me. Holding down the internal emotional pressure through an act of will, I told my friend, who was now talking on the phone, that some men on a nearby construction project needed to see me. I then rushed out of his office and into the parking lot where I got into my car. I grabbed the steering wheel of the car with both hands and held on. Everything in my visual field was coming loose and in some strange way coming to life.

In my mind a fleeting thought appeared, "Maybe reality isn't what we think it is." With that thought, the emotion that was expanding within me suddenly broke to the surface, and I exploded with laughter. Wave upon wave of wild and uncontrollable laughter swept through me, and for several minutes I could not stop laughing.

Finally, the force of the eruption subsided, but I continued chuckling and giggling while starting the car. The same thought kept repeating itself in my head, "Maybe reality isn't what we think it is." I pulled out of the parking lot and drove toward one of our construction sites located about a mile away. As I did so, the world grew increasingly alive, and any desire to understand what was happening disappeared in a state of euphoric joy.

Arriving at the nearby project, I stepped out of the car. The trees along the driveway looked almost iridescent and seemed to be vibrantly shimmering. I turned around, and as my foot touched the steps leading to the house under construction, my mind suddenly split open and my body totally disintegrated. At least, I was no longer inhabiting a body in any usual sense. The point from which the world was being witnessed was slightly above and in front of my head but neither inside nor outside of a body. There simply was no inside or outside in the usual sense.

Frozen in astonishment, I looked around, but could not comprehend anything. The world had changed. Now, everything had an extreme sort of clarity and immediacy - an incredible three-dimensional quality of being. The joy that surged through me at that point was so powerful that I again laughed out loud. Everything, from the ground beneath me to the sky above, was somehow alive and present. All of my cares vanished, and a question appeared out of nowhere, "Who is perceiving this?" I had no idea. It felt as if I ought to know my own name, but try as hard as I could, I simply couldn't remember who I was. Failing to remember my name seemed extraordinarily funny, and I felt like an enormous burden had been lifted from my shoulders. Without the weight of identity there was only joy and freedom! I giggled over the fact that I had forgotten who I was. Looking around, I discovered that I was no longer fixed in time and space. There was only pure consciousness free of any hindrance.

The experience at this point was not visionary or hallucinatory in quality; it had a crystalline kind of purity and concreteness. It felt more real than any experience in my entire life. It also felt good. It felt as if the body had been injected with every mood-elevating drug in existence. I felt better than I had ever thought it was possible for a human being to feel.

My intense euphoria and joy soon turned to awe as I sensed, for the first time, an overwhelmingly vast Presence. This Presence was alive, intimate, and personal, but it was not localized. It seemed to come from everywhere at once. It was a complete harmony of Being. Everything was in its place, everything was operating perfectly, and everything was as it should be. This Presence was intelligent, conscious, and infinite, and it radiated pure love beyond the power of the mind to imagine. It cared intimately about everything, down to the smallest blade of grass. My awareness and knowledge of this Presence, however, did not arrive through a process of thought; it occurred directly through some unknown source of perception. During these moments no words entered my mind, perhaps because no words could capture what I was experiencing. This Presence was so far beyond words or ideas that the mind simply fell mute in the face of it. It would be several more days before it dawned on me that during this experience I had come face to face with what the word "God" feebly attempts to denote.

Stunned, I walked across the entrance deck of the home and followed the sounds of distant voices down to the basement. There, I found the project superintendent, two masons, and a carpenter who began asking me questions about a brick fireplace that they were working on. Effortlessly I explained what to do, and was surprised that they did not seem to notice anything unusual about me.

After giving instructions about the brickwork and framing details, I thought to myself, "This is incredible. They think I'm a sensible and logical businessman, but I can't even remember my name." This thought was so funny that it caused me to cover my mouth with my hand in order to simulate a reflective pose, like Rodin's sculpture, "The Thinker." This pose prevented anyone from seeing the huge grin on my face and stifled the laughter that was threatening to emerge. I didn't want to have to explain to anyone what was so funny because I was sure they'd think that I had lost my mind.

A few moments later, while showing the men where to install a gas pipe beside the hearth, part of the superintendent's body disappeared even though I was looking straight at it. The center of his body simply dissolved, and there was only a grayish featureless void in its place. It was as if I were looking through his body and through the wall behind him at some featureless background, or, as if he and the wall behind him were composed of the same featureless substance beneath the surface. By strongly concentrating, I could bring the missing part of his body back into focus and make it appear normal, but I sensed that if my concentration relaxed, even slightly, his image would immediately begin to dissolve. For the first time, I became frightened by what was happening. It seemed possible that I could totally lose touch with reality. I therefore told the men that another construction project needed my attention, and I quickly ran up the stairs and out of the house.

After getting into my car and exiting the driveway, I suddenly remembered my name and thought, "Oh, I'm Bob H., the builder." I was still in a state of considerable psychological shock, but it seemed that I had come back to a state of mind that I had previously regarded as "normal." After a few minutes, however, it became apparent that things were not totally back to normal. The perceptual instability and visual shimmering were now gone, but the world remained vivid, immediate, intimate, and intense; I was connected to the world in a different way than before.

Driving along, I marveled at what had just happened. It had been the most powerful event of my life, indescribable and wonderful beyond imagining, but what was it? It was clearly a gift, and one that I had not deserved. No one could deserve such a thing. Nevertheless, it had happened, and I felt unspeakable gratitude for it. Something had been given to me worth more than all the riches in the world. I had been given a brief glimpse of what lay behind the images of the ordinary world, and I now knew that reality was not what I had previously imagined. During the following days many incredible things happened, but that is another story.

Prior to that first enlightenment experience I had been consumed with a wide range of existential questions, but after twenty years of thinking and reading, I had never found a single answer. After that first experience, however, I discovered that seven of my questions had been answered. During the following fifteen years I would continue to meditate, go on silent retreats, have more unity-conscious experiences, and find the answers to all of my remaining questions.

On August 17, 1999, after a strange experience on a mountain in Colorado, the answer to my last question appeared, and my long spiritual search finally came to an end. I was free.

Inspiring stories with similar titles

Comments about this spiritual experience

The following comments are submitted by users of this site and are not official positions by Please read our guidelines and the previous posts before posting. The author, Zendancer, has the following expectation about your feedback: I will read the comments and participate in the discussion.

Search for the real Truth (guest)
6 years ago (2018-04-21)
Jesus loves you all and desires a personal relationship with you. Just ask Him and He will reveal Himself to you.
Zendancer (1 stories) (27 posts)
11 years ago (2013-02-14)
I apologize for not checking this website for comments more often. Two people recently contacted me via email (bobh [at] with questions based upon this account. There are several good books available for people who are interested in learning more about the path of non-duality. Any books by Eckhart Tolle, Adyashanti, Byron Katie, Ramesh Balsekar, or Gangaji are excellent. Books about Ramana Maharshi, Nisargadatta, and a wide range of Zen Masters, Advaita Vedanta Masters, and other similar sages are easily found on Amazon. The humorous story of my own search for truth is included in "Pouring Concrete, A Zen Path to the Kingdom of God" (also listed on Amazon). Serious seekers will probably find it educational as well as a source of many laughs.
tspa (1 posts)
12 years ago (2012-08-29)
Hello Zen Dancer...
I must confess I am reading your expereinces at my office hours.
I have been a seeker for a long time now... I have been watching my thoughts and my ego in action all the time for almost 4 to 5 years now... All these began around 10 years ago while I read a book called tantra by Osho... Since then I have been on a spiritual journey... Been to ISKON... Was chanting the Krishna mantra for atleast 1 hour in a day... I must say that I have had some positive impact on my general behaviour... After this I read a book by Nisargatta maharaj "I am that"...The statements in the book are extraordinary and has possibilities of sudden enlightenment... I must say that I have never had any spiritual experience so far... But I know I am missing something... I have reached until stage where I always think " Like who is this person thinking... Thats it I am unable to reach further "...I must confess that reading so many books I have kind of developed a kind of spiritual ego. Or should I say I find it very difficult to mingle with my old freinds and find their discussion and thought patterns very mundane and futile... At times I forget to bring in compassion to calm myself down when I am with freinds... I try not to react... But deep inside me I find it very mundane to speak to my freinds adn family... I still love them the most... Even though I try to see them through the prism of love... There times I forget and would be impromtptu and speak the truth which might shatter their thinking. Well that's about my freinds...
Coming back to me I try to remember Oshos words "being a Watcher on the Hill" try not to resist anything that appears in my mind... While doing this there is sudden rush in thoughts sometimes very negative thoughts of which I feel sometimes guilty that I carry such thoughts... I hope and pray that I will be able to overcome my current difficulties and arrive at your place... I think I am now yearning to be in direct contact with an enlightened being,, Hope you will offer your grace on me with some suggestions or pointers on what I might be missing.
Zendancer (1 stories) (27 posts)
13 years ago (2011-05-24)
Morton: Your desire to love and be loved is not "your" desire because there is no "you" separate from the unified field of all being. Your sense of selfhood is an illusion created by thought structures and habits of mind. Someone recently claimed that the average adult thinks 60, 000 thoughts each day. Most of those thoughts revolve around the idea of selfhood and the personal story that people associate with their sense of selfhood.

What would happen if you stopped thinking about yourself? What would happen if the mind became mentally silent? What would happen if you spent several hours each day simply looking and listening without naming, reflecting, fantasizing, judging, cognizing, distinguishing, imagining, evaluating, calculating, etc? What would happen if all self-referentiality ceased? What would happen if, each time you found yourself thinking, you shifted your attention to what you could see or hear? What would happen if you attended the actual rather than spent your time attending thoughts?

If you did this, you would gradually become free of thought and no longer abide in the mind. In the process your entire world view would disintegrate and you would discover the truth of who you are. Who you are is not "Morton." "Morton" is a figment of imagination that has been imagined for so long that it now seems real. Fortunately, it is possible to wake up from the dream of selfhood. Cheers.
Zendancer (1 stories) (27 posts)
13 years ago (2011-05-24)
Enlightened: Yes, I am very familiar with Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh. Although I have never met him, I have read many of his books and know people who have gone on retreat with him. I can recommend his teachings and retreats.
Zendancer (1 stories) (27 posts)
13 years ago (2011-05-24)
SilentOne: Feel free to write me at bobh [at] You can also join the conversations about non-duality on the website
NaturalScience (3 stories) (110 posts)
14 years ago (2010-11-14)
Hi all, I too just called THAT what I met with, and though I use ANY name of God for "it", I know "it" has no name of its OWN.
The Great Mystery is given names by humans. We mortal "cells of awareness" need those names for purposes of discussion, ceremony and meditation. By itself THAT does not need a name - as you needed none and thus forgot "your" name when you first time were One with That, dear Brother Zendancer whom I envy!
All who have met with a glimpse of the Formless Divinity do read "Engineman" of Eric Brown, it is not just sci-fi, it is the best illustration of Buddhist and/or Advaita conceptions of the Soul and the Beyond that ever was in Western literature.
enlightened (3 posts)
14 years ago (2010-11-13)
oh and I now feel a bit of a con calling myself Enlightened = I'm clearly not - it's something I wish to be though
enlightened (3 posts)
14 years ago (2010-11-13)
thank you for sharing this wonderful story - I've only just got into Zen Buddhism and went to an amazing retreat this summer led by Tich Nat Hanh - have you heard of him? It was only 5 days - not long enough for me - you have inspired me to go to his monastry each year for at least two weeks in France - I believe every word you say - but I'm not ready to get rid of the concept of I'm not I - I'm we - it's my ego
SilentOne (1 posts)
14 years ago (2010-11-12)
Hello ZenDancer,

Thank-you for this attempt to speak the unspeakable. Your description of kensho corroborates my experience. I will be writing about mine soon. For now, I knew then that all was well and nothing of this world truly matters, not even the explosive, life-altering experience of kensho, and so I just left it at that. It seems perhaps worthwhile to continue with it/this though and I will look again. I would love to be able to write to you personally. With appreciation, SilentOne
Morton (4 posts)
14 years ago (2010-08-04)
How would you explain my desire to be loved and my desire to love? Is there a state of being that supersedes the need for relating? I have trouble comprehending fulfillment with out the reality of someone or something separate from me caring or being interested in me. I have a yearn inside to be loved and to love... Is this just a lack that I'm interpreting wrong or is there more to the puzzle I'm missing?
Zendancer (1 stories) (27 posts)
14 years ago (2010-06-01)
Ryochan: Why wouldn't I still be here? How could I go anywhere? LOL.
ryochan (1 posts)
14 years ago (2010-05-30)
"...and my long spiritual search finally came to an end. I was free"
And then you are here again... 😕
Zendancer (1 stories) (27 posts)
14 years ago (2010-05-02)

I looked up "dai kensho," and that was NOT what occurred through the experience I described in my account on this website. Dai kensho occurred fifteen years later while hiking up a mountain in Colorado. It was only then, after forty-five years of searching for the truth, that I saw through the illusion of personal selfhood completely and discovered that I am "what is." That ended my spiritual search, freed me, and allowed this body/mind to relax and live an ordinary life. The process of realization, however, never ends, because there is no limit to the depth of what can be discovered. Cheers.
Zendancer (1 stories) (27 posts)
14 years ago (2010-04-26)

It was definitely a kensho experience, but I don't know what "dai" means. If you can explain that, then I'll know how to answer your question. Cheers.
Jim (guest)
14 years ago (2010-04-23)
Can you describe your experience in 1999 you reference in your story? Was it a dai kensho? Thanks and peace.
Zendancer (1 stories) (27 posts)
14 years ago (2010-03-01)
Herenow: There are very few people who can summon such unfettered experiences of pure awareness at will, but what you are describing is what many people call "silent presence." The mind becomes silent (no thoughts, images, symbols, or internal speech), and there is only non-conceptual awareness. There is the direct perception of what is always here and now, beyond space and time. It is the direct experience of who and what we are beyond the story of a personal self. By shifting awareness away from thoughts to what we can see and hear, we leave the intellect behind and enter a timeless world--the reality that underlies the consensual meta-reality of things and events.

Out of curiosity, what did you type into your computer that led you to this site and these accounts of oneness?

I enjoyed reading about your experiences in the woods near your home. I, also, regularly hike some trails in a wilderness area, so I can appreciate the unusual nature of what you wrote about. Cheers.
herenow (guest)
14 years ago (2010-03-01)
I just wrote the message below about an intense feeling of awareness, but I forgot to mention how I came across this posting. I was searching for info on "shadow people" and "the woods" and "Buddha" because I found a Buddhist amulet in the woods... Weird, yes.
Here's the story:

herenow (guest)
14 years ago (2010-03-01)
Over the years I've tried to learn about this feeling of intense awareness I've been able 'get' since I was a kid. It sounds similar to what has been described here.

It is an intense feeling of consciousness, I guess. In fact it is like really waking up, even though I'm already awake.
I can be anywhere, and if I'm relaxed and not having to interact with anyone and not distracted, I can get this intense awareness, and I find myself thinking "I'm here, right now". And every time I do that, time slows down more and more. I get an intense awareness or realization and it kind of accelerates.
It is like I had been in a dream but I am now awake. It only lasts a few seconds at a time, but it is an awesome, exciting feeling.
Zendancer (1 stories) (27 posts)
14 years ago (2010-02-03)
Bright Sun: I overlooked your earlier post. No, I did not read into it any negative connotation. In fact, quite the opposite. I often enjoy entertaining myself in this way. Cheers.
Brandon (guest)
14 years ago (2010-02-03)
Thank you for sharing your experience. I recently had a similar experience during which I repeatedly began to say "everything is one" over and over again and it was as if time and space just melted away while euphoria and imagery beyond belief set in. The next day while I was praying/meditating, my third eye opened (didn't even know such a thing existed prior to this) and ever since I have been able to see auras (including my own) and many more truly beautiful things. We are extremely blessed to be among the few who are aware of the FACT that life is so much more and different than most people think. I wish these types of experiences for everyone.
megh (1 stories) (2 posts)
14 years ago (2010-02-02)
Yes I got the questions you were seeking and their answers in your posts written above. Thank you.
megh (1 stories) (2 posts)
14 years ago (2010-02-02)
Thanks for sharing your story. I know such kind of experiences are really rare. And you have had tremendously tansformative one.I'll request you to share the questions you were seeking and the answers got.I'll also suggest you to read the book "I AM THAT" by Nisargadutta Maharaj. Peace to all!
mark (guest)
14 years ago (2010-01-28)
thanks,i shall look it up. The experience I had happened as I was reading a newspaper, suddenly I was elsewhere. And instantly I new everything, it was all so simple and obvious at the same time mind blowing. It left me in a state of euphoria. But ultimately frustrated, even to this day. Because I can't remember nothing tangible. The elderly lady from vietnam explained she was a student of vipassanah; indeed a teacher. And explained the concept of enlightenment through meditation. Of which I'm useless. All I can say is, by nature,
sceptics didn't come any bigger than me, but what I had is fact. What it is, I've yet to determine. Thanks again.
Zendancer (1 stories) (27 posts)
14 years ago (2010-01-27)
Mark: If you are interested in this path, then check out the website and review some of the ongoing discussions that explain much more about this.
Zendancer (1 stories) (27 posts)
14 years ago (2010-01-27)
Mark: Yes, what you had was what many people call a "kensho" experience, a direct seeing of one's true nature. Some people have many of these types of experiences, and anyone who has one never again thinks of the universe in the same way. A kensho experience is a variety, albeit a very powerful one, of unity-consciousness. In this experience the observer and the observed become one. If one pursues this path of non-duality, one may eventually have an experience of "satori," an experience which ends the illusion of selfhood completely and permanently. Most people who experience satori find that this is the end of their spiritual search, as an active endeavor. They are then free, unified in body and mind, and they are no longer seeking anything. They may have further deep spiritual experiences, but those only confirm what is already obvious, that there is only oneness manifesting in infinite perfection. About this final state nothing can be said or even thought. It is utterly beyond the intellect's power of comprehension or any kind of verbal description. Namaste.
mark (guest)
14 years ago (2010-01-27)
20years or so ago, out of nowhere I experienced what I believe to be enlightenment. The answer to everything... Within a millisecond the answer had gone from my mind, the only thing that stayed with me,,[bar the aboslute wonder] was the impression that the answer lay in front of ones eyes. This monumental experience never left me. Last year on holiday, an elderly vietnamese woman came right up to me and said you have met the buddah. That brought it all back. Hence hear I am looking for answers. Of which you, ve explained many.
Bright Sun (guest)
14 years ago (2010-01-16)
I thank myself, Zen. I truly have created an inspirational, eye-opening experience. I'm actually surprised with myself the degree of skill I am able to produce such a profound piece of literary work.
From time to time I find myself drawn to this website whenever I'm in a spiritual/questioning mood, and this is was the first article I clicked on when I came on here. I'm glad I did. Best wishes and all that other gentlemanly things one is supposed to do at the end of a letter ~BS

P.S. Please do not take this with a negative connotation, I merely put myself in a dandy mood.
Zendancer (1 stories) (27 posts)
14 years ago (2010-01-06)
Marcus: No, I have never used LSD. I was stone cold sober when the experience happened. These kinds of experiences are fairly common in world spiritual literature. In the Zen tradition they are called "kensho experiences." In Christianity they are called "mystical experiences."

R.M. Bucke, a Canadian physician, wrote a book, titled "Cosmic Consciousness," after he himself had such an experience in London in 1899. He thought that such experiences represented a future advance in human evolution, but he was wrong. If he had studied spiritual literature from other cultures, he would have discovered that these kinds of experiences have been reported regularly for thousands of years of recorded history.

Every religion contains a wide range of experience ranging from extreme fundamentalism on one end of the spectrum to mysticism on the other end. The fundamentalists disagree with everyone who is not a member of their own religion, but the mystics of every religion all agree on the following things:

1. Personal selfhood is an illusion
2. There is only Oneness/God/Allah/Brahman/Tao/the Absolute
3. Everyone is one-with THAT
4. The universe is perfect just as it is
5. Anyone can access and verify these truths by becoming sufficiently still

The oldest spiritual literature in the world begins, "The wise will surrender speech in mind." Psalm 46:10 is pointing to the same thing when it says, "Be still and know that I am God." Most peoples' minds are too busy and too talkative to perceive what these verses are pointing to.

Kabir, a fifteenth century Hindu/Muslim mystic wrote, "I saw the truth for fifteen seconds, and I became a servant for life." Al Hallaj, a Sufi mystic, was executed by Islamic fundamentalists because he said, "I am the truth." After meditating for six days, the Buddha had the same kind of experience when he saw Venus rise in the morning sky. The space between what he saw in the sky and who he thought he was collapsed, and he woke up. Afterwards, he said, "In all the universe there is only One." Jesus Christ said, "I and my Father are one," and "Before Abraham was, I am." Same realization. Same truth. Cheers.
Marcus (guest)
14 years ago (2010-01-06)
Did someone slip LSD into your breakfast? ^^
I had a similar experince while trippin on acid once. I got a complete ego death and it was so beautiful but the acid made me lose my mind so I also became very delusional.

Read previous comments

You are posting as a guest. To reserve your own user name, sign up!

Search this site: