Moments of Transcendence

I was reading the book, Ordinary People as Monks & Mystics, and one line on p. 97 struck me:

“During peak moments we come ‘out’ of ourselves and connect with something infinite, beyond self.”

In my meditation practice, I’ve had some peak moments, or moments of transcendence.

If I think about what transcendence means and compare that with the line quoted above, I would say that I’ve definitely had at least a couple peak experiences in my life.

The two most profound examples that I can recall happened either during or right after the meditation retreat I attended in the summer of 2016.

The First Transcendence

The first experience was late in the evening on the third or fourth the day that we had been steadily meditating and the meditation hall was dark except for a few lit candles. I remember going deep into meditation, deeper than I had ever experienced before. I felt a certain stillness come over me. It is difficult to put into words quite what was happening.

As I felt my mind descend deeper into the dark but serene silence, my mind’s chatterings completely ceased. Spontaneous visions of tunnels with colorful light emerged on the screen of my mind.

The first visions were of a blue swirling spiral that seemed to go on to infinity as I progressed through the dark tunnel. The spiral turned into a winding blue brick road and then switched back to a spiral, only this time it was pink.

This new spiral turned into a pink brick road and finally I “arrived” – I got to the pinhole of white light that I had seen as I traversed. When I emerged into this light, it was just nothingness. However, it felt like peace and love had fused all around and within me. There was no beginning and there was no end, just infinite light.

A Gift, From Meditation

Later when I talked to the Buddhist monk leading the retreat, she said that this was a little gift along my meditation path, that I should not try to re-create or to pursue this experience again.

I understood what she meant, with visions dancing in my mind of a pot of gold at the end of the proverbial rainbow relentlessly pursued by a leprechaun, and never quite reaching it. However, I remember thinking that that experience was so incredibly peaceful that should I ever have another, or even if I didn’t, the whole journey would’ve been worth it, just for that.

moments of transcendence

The Second Transcendence

Yet, I had another moment of transcendence not long after. As I left the meditation center a few days later, I emerged from this secluded area tucked back in the mountains and onto the paved winding roads towards home.

I was struck by a very bittersweet feeling. I at once noticed the immense beauty of my natural surroundings and felt a bit of melancholy in my heart at having to leave such an incredible place. That sad feeling was short-lived.

I discovered that in the golden afternoon sun, rays of light seemed to stick to everything they touched, coating everything in my vision with a golden aura. Click To Tweet

Another sense of calm washed over me as if I, too, were bathed in these same golden rays. Whether or not I had that same golden aura surrounding me I could not tell.

Wave After Wave of Peace

But in that moment, it didn’t matter. I just remember feeling wave after wave of peace and bliss caressing my heart and mind, thinking that everything would be all right – that whatever happened in my life, it all paled in comparison to the normal workings of the infinite universe.

That feeling stayed with me for hours. Even after I returned home, for the next couple of days, I still felt residual peace and bliss from the entire experience.

I may have had other peak experiences in my life. But maybe not. If I have, they compare in no way to these occurrences I had on that retreat.

Sure, I recall moments of bliss while out in nature. There were other moments of extraordinary reverence as I prayed rosaries or sang songs in the choir at church when I was growing up. But again, nothing compared to those moments of infinite peace and bliss that I witnessed at the retreat center.

Have you ever had moments of transcendence? I would love to know!

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