Update: If you are able to read Hebrew, forget this post, and go read this. It is a much more useful description of an awakening experience.
I would like to tell you about two unique experiences in my life, unlike everything else I have ever experienced. These, I learned, are called “Satori” experiences.
In the Zen Buddhist tradition, satori refers to the experience of kenshō, “seeing into one’s true nature”. Ken means “seeing,” shō means “nature” or “essence.”
Satori and kenshō are commonly translated as enlightenment, a word that is also used to translate bodhi, prajna and buddhahood.
I don’t know about other people’s experience of satori, I can only tell you about my own. I can’t really describe them, reading about the experience pales in comparison to experiencing them.
My first satori happened about three years ago. It happened several days after my first ever intake of weed. I have no idea if that had anything to do with the experience or not, but I know it was a very small dose, I wasn’t feeling high or anything out of the ordinary in the days between my weed consumption and my satori experience. It felt like it didn’t affect me at all. And then satori happened.
I experienced utter bliss. I knew that my place in the world was right here, right now. Everything I did felt perfect. I could make no mistakes, even if I really tried. In fact, the very concept of mistakes didn’t make sense to me – anything that anyone ever did was perfect. It was what was needed at that time. I knew that I had a role to play in the universe, and I was playing it perfectly. I was doing my important bit to progress the universe to its next, evolved state. I was important, not more than other people, but I was zoomed in on my own importance and felt that my existence mattered. I hardly needed sleep, for almost a week. I was going to sleep at 3 AM and waking up at 5 AM … just because my brain woke up me. I had to go do important work.
I was walking my dog in the garden, and felt how this moment was perfect. I had a headache from hardly sleeping for days, and the pain registered on my senses, but I felt that the pain is just a phenomenon I observed … it didn’t cause me any suffering whatsoever, it was just a signal from my body “I need more sleep”. Just something that was happening to my body, not to “my self”.
My second satori happened a few months ago, in Midburn, the Israeli Burning Man. It was a lot like the first one, with a few differences:
It was definitely unrelated to weed or any other drug. I am actually on a break from weed for the last few months, in order to diagnose my suspected bipolar symptoms, and I was clean when satori happened.
While the experience was similar to the first in that I felt the ultimate acceptance, peace, “All is well with the world and with my life” feeling … an interesting difference was that this time, I felt all kinds of what people usually describe as “negative emotions”. I was dancing alone in a crowded party, and felt alone. I felt afraid. I felt angry. The amazing thing, however, is that throughout feeling these so called “negative emotions”, I simultaneously felt “This is still perfect. I am feeling exactly what I’m supposed to be feeling right now. The world is perfect. My life is perfect. I am supposed to feel alone right now, because I really didn’t connect to anyone in this party. I am supposed to be sad, or angry or whatever other emotion I was having”.
Usually when “negative emotions” arise, they are accompanied with a sense of “damn, why I am feeling this right now. My life sucks”, or “I shouldn’t feel this right now, stop feeling it already!”. This time, my satori stayed through these strong emotions, and I was still feeling bliss coupled with all the other human emotions. Like my first satori, the second one lasted for a few days as well.
At first, after my first satori had ended, I felt quite alone. Nobody could understand what I went through. I failed to reproduce this ultimate high I had reached, and I couldn’t communicate what I felt. This year, something amazing happened. I met someone awesome who told me she’s had the same experience and me and told me the name “Satori” that categorizes this unique experience. She then followed to introduce me to a group of people who have had several different awakening experience, some of them having had dozens or more different satori experiences! I had people to talk to about this, and explore what they mean and how to see past them. I am still exploring this, I don’t have all the answers. But I’m seeking.