Sitting in my chair meditating, I feel like myself, a person isolated in time and space. I have thoughts, each of which takes a tiny amount of time, but every once in a while my mantra fades away and I experience silence. Sometimes this silence grows deep, and I am left in it for moments at a stretch.
When this happens, I do not feel like my finite self anymore. I have entered into the Self. How does this feel, exactly? Think of a man exploring a long, dark hallway with a flashlight. All he sees is the next object that falls within his beam: the rest remains in darkness.
This is like the waking-state mind, which knows its contents one thought at a time. Now suppose that all at once the whole corridor lights up, revealing every object in it. The Self is like that, a total awakening to all that exists in awareness, but unlike the lighted hallway, there are no physical restrictions Ė no objects or walls.
Awareness simply sees itself in pure form. To give another analogy, imagine a genius resting on a couch. He could be thinking any number of brilliant thoughts, but he is not having one right now. He remains a genius nevertheless, because his ability lies in his potential for being brilliant. Similarly, the Self is a state of potentiality, of untold possibilities that unfold one at a time in the manifest world.
Even a quick mind has gaps between thoughts. Each gap is like a tiny window into silence, and through that window one actually contacts the source of the mind. As we talk, there are gaps between our words. When you meditate, you take a vertical dive into that gap.
When you donít have thoughts, there is silence. Silence does not occupy time, and in order to contact the Self, one has to go into the field of the timeless.
Adapted from Unconditional Life: Discovering the Power to Fulfill Your Dreams, by Deepak Chopra (A Bantam Book, 1991).