I did not take this beautiful photograph, but purchased it off of one of the stock photo websites. However, last weekend I witnessed a similar view on a farm in central Kentucky. I lay on the grass, barefoot, gazing up through and over a beautiful maple tree, focusing on the enormity of the Milky Way. Shooting stars flickered, and with every breath, I became increasingly drawn into this cosmic spectacle.
I relaxed more, letting my breath settle into my body. I focused on the silhouette of the maple tree, halfway closing my eyes, inviting a meditative state to envelop me. After what I experienced as a short period, but later discovered it must have been a few hours, I could feel my brain slowing down, the random thoughts spinning out less frequently, and I began to notice a faint web reaching up from the maple into the sky. The more I relaxed and slowed my breath, the more the web grew until it covered the entire tree, my body, the countryside around the tree, the Milky Way and far, far beyond into the universe.
Through years of hatha yoga practice and more recently acupuncture, I have attained many different meditative states, but none so overwhelming as this. I am not certain I can adequately describe the experience in words, but I will try. I felt as if my self-awareness—my ego—simply evaporated into the night air and my entire being became absorbed into this cosmic web. It did not feel so much a web of life as it did a web of existence. I felt as if I were connected to everything in the universe.
Deepak Chopra says that people are spiritual beings having a human experience, a rather abstract belief that has now become as palpable as the soft, caressing, feel of one of my favorite, old tee-shirts.
In the days after my experience, one that some Buddhist, Hindu, and yogic doctrines describe as a form of heightened meditation or Samadhi, I have developed a feeling of sadness. This sadness is tightly coupled with yearning that every person on Earth quickly get to that state I experienced. In my naïve dream of Shangra-La, we would all understand that we are truly brothers and sisters, given the divine responsibility of taking care of one another and our beautiful planet as we ourselves journey through this dimension.
I encourage everyone to take your shoes off, put your feet on the ground, lie on your back, and gaze up at the night sky.