I have never been one who is given to superstitions, more to reason. However, by the time I reached my 30s, I had had some very unreasonable personal experiences–the effects of which far outreached what most would consider common causality. I began to recognize that beyond ordinary physicality was an intriguing meta-physicality. (‘Meta’ means beyond.)
One of those experiences occurred when I was playing on the bed with my young daughter. We were tickling and squirming and laughing when she accidentally slipped off the bedside, just beyond my grasp. I helplessly watched as she bumped her mouth on the bed-frame. Instead of screaming, she just looked up at me, as if startled but not hurt. Immediately, my lip began to swell. The swelling lasted for hours, and the bruise that appeared lasted for days.
Numerous movies of late have been made about people trading places with others: an investor and a con artist, a parent and child, an unattractive young man becomes a beautiful cheerleader, etc. A character in each movie has a wish that somehow defies impossibility, and comes true. On that day, my wish to take back the consequences of my daughter’s fall came true. It was as if our lips traded places; her lip was absolutely fine, and mine sustained the injury. How could that be explained by physical causality? I wanted to know the reason for this seeming impossibility.
Something very strange like that happened to me too. I guess it must have been around 1979. It was late evening at home; the kids had gone to bed; my wife too and had already fallen asleep.
I needed to wake her, but gently so as not to startle her. I wasn’t sure how to do that. I supposed that if I just touched her, she would sense it on some level and wake up. So I laid my finger tip on her shoulder, without pressure, just barely touching. I imagined that she could feel it somehow. I wondered what my touch felt like to her, sleeping. Without intending or realizing it, my attention became keenly attuned to whatever she might be feeling.
That’s when it happened. Suddenly I felt confused about who I was. It was like, “Am I me or am I her?” I couldn’t actually tell. My analytical mind was saying, “This is not something about which one can be confused. There is a very clear distinction between who is who here.” But even holding that idea, the reality of my felt experience was profound confusion about who I was. I could easily feel myself as her, even though part of me “knew” I couldn’t be.
I flopped down on my back, mind reeling. Even though the confusion soon faded, the consternation it caused did not. I searched for some explanation of what had happened but found nothing. It was beyond my comprehension, and that itself was disconcerting enough.
Over time, I continued to turn the experience over in my mind, searching for its meaning, but never made sense of it. Years later, I happened onto a discussion of non-duality (advaita in Sanskrit)—the idea that things may seem separate but are actually only aspects of a single, pervasive wholeness—that the appearance of separation comes from our limited perception. Though the idea seemed bizarre, there were apparently many who had experienced a reality of oneness. I knew I had, and that awareness became a doorway into a wonderland I hadn’t known existed.
Thanks Robert for sharing your story! I invite all readers to share their stories too. Many keep their stories to themselves, thinking they are too strange to be believed. Not so on this platform!