A BRIEF INCIDENT OF PURIFIED CONSCIOUSNESS
There is the silent `middle', for no creature ever entered there and no image, nor has the soul there either activity or understanding, therefore she is not aware there of any image, whether of herself or of any other creature' (Robert K. Forman, Meister Eckhart: Mystic as Theologian, Rockport, Mass./Shaftesbury, Dorset: Element Books, 1991).
Once after returning from an unexpectedly deep state of meditation, I found that "I" was completely disoriented. I had not set out to meditate deeply, it just happened. I was focused in the breath, with no sense of the rest of the world, when the “I” fell into a deepness. Returning from this, I felt a shock as the physical features of our living room began to break in upon me once again, and I could not make "cogitation" or "noticing" or "focusing" operate in the normal ways I expected. Doing anything mentally required hard concentration, effort, as if the self who needed the consequences of these intended activities was widely distributed, and had to be pulled back together from distant locations and reassembled into a provisional "self". Although there was a feeling of being deeply rested and relaxed, there was a physical shakiness too, vulnerability, and an impression of nakedness or exposure. There was also a great sense of ease and deep happiness, which dwindled somewhat as I attended to the work of getting reseated in the body. My body seemed awkward and odd, and the world felt sticky and dense to get around in (I was in lotus posture and observed this while leaning from side to side to recalibrate my vision, etc.)
As the self became physically re-integrated, which took ten or fifteen minutes perhaps, I could put together a conceptual account of "where I had been." Here is a rough description: A Nameless Place nearly free of form or conditions, unlimited in extent, a space in which everything arises, a permanent home or support of every form. The self and the personal mind could be safely abandoned there, since this was their origin. This space was perfectly familiar, and was known to me from dreams.
I've had a few of these experiences during meditation. Note that this experience is titled "purified consciousness"—my account doesn't measure up to the grand realizations described by others (for example, the non-derivative Pure Consciousness described in Vedanta). It's more of a "waiting in the lobby" event, since its effects were so short-lived, and there were subtle forms involved. It has made nonetheless a permanent impression on my life. Sometime later I remember coming up with this "aha" idea: so this is what deeper meditation is all about...
You'll notice that somehow I was able to produce a description of this "Place" sometime later, and in the paragraph above I've made a respectable list of unpacked descriptions that, at the later remove, seemed to map to the place disclosed in meditation. A caution: In that 10 or 15 minute gap there was plenty of time for the proliferation of "wishful thinking" and stylistic embellishment. Just as when we describe the memory of a dream whose content has disappeared, many moods and images will rush in to fill the "gap," and it is very easy to be distracted into confusion and imprecision. A similar problem occurs when trying to recall the "deep state" of meditation. I can responsibly confirm the existence of this visitable expanse, and it does match many accounts given by others. I'm less satisfied that my list of descriptions accurately reflect this particular experience, given its transcendental and essentially untranslatable essence, and at this remove there's the risk of smeared recall and refurbishment by the memory daemons.