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Our email address is editor @realization.org.

Copyright 2001 Realization.org.






What does it feel like to meditate? To know God? To get enlightened?

Although these experiences are hard to put into words, many people have tried, and some have succeeded brilliantly.

Some authors have written books and articles that describe their experience so well, you can almost feel it happening to you.

We've located as many books and articles of that kind as we can. This page provides links to them.

Photo courtesy Sweet Home Ranger District, U.S. Forest Service.




My Awakening
An extraordinary description of what it's like to become enlightened. The author, also known as Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, lived in the second half of the twentieth century.

Nothing Existed Except the Eyes of the Maharshi

by N.R. Krishnamurti Aiyer
Ramana Maharshi's gaze ignited a college professor's Kundalini and caused his heart center to open. Nine years later, his mind subsided permanently.

How Depression Helped Me Break Through
By Jim Dreaver
Jim Dreaver, a student of Jean Klein's Advaitan teachings, describes how an episode of depression led to his self-realization.

What Ramana's I-I Feels Like
By Anonymous
One of Ramana's devotees describes what it felt like to experience the Self for the first time.

When Kundalini Breaks the Last Block
by A.D.
Kundalini activity made the author happy and healthy for over a year -- until the night it broke through the last block and entered his head, causing a devastating neurological illness.

Radical Gradualism: Journal of Awakening
Phil Servedio
This is the best long account we've ever read of what it's like to become enlightened. Impatient readers might want to start with Chapter 5. The author is alive and well in California.

Grand Central Station
Greg Goode, Ph.D.
A splendid short account of awakening. The author is alive and well in New York.

The Day My Kundalini Woke Up
by Freddie Yam
A kundalini explosion -- a perception of blinding light and thundering noise entering the head from the lower body -- is one of the most dramatic experiences in Yoga. One of our contributing editors describes in detail how he deliberately provoked this experience and what it felt like. The event left him in an elevated spiritual state for three days, and he concludes (without making any special claims for himself) that Yoga is a technology for turning people into saints. This article includes a good phenomenological description of apana.

Killing the Ego: Does It Hurt?

by Laura Olshansky
There's a macho streak in some traditions that makes them say killing your ego is a terrifying ordeal, a kind of suicide. But our editor in chief's ego is slipping away after years of meditation, and she says it feels absolutely great. Nothing she wants is being lost. Here she describes what it feels like and how it affects her life, including her relationship with her husband.

My Life With a Contemporary Master
By Alan Scherr
After practicing Transcendental Meditation for 25 years, this former college professor met Master Charles, a contemporary Western disciple of Swami Muktananda, and was plunged into an extraordinary state of blissful awareness beyond anything he had known before. This experience was the catalyst for a remarkable journey of surrender; the author soon learned he had been found by something he hadn't searched for; and two years later he and his family moved permanently to Virginia to live and work with Master Charles. This autobiographical article describes these experiences in detail.

How Master Charles Met Swami Muktananda
by Master Charles
At the age of 24, Master Charles looked at a photograph of Swami Muktananda and experienced an extraordinary state of consciousness that brought him face to face with the divine. In this excerpt from his autobiography, he describes the experience.

The Yoga of Three Enlightenments
Petri Einiö
According to Petri Einiö, there are three different types of enlightenment: witness-consciousness, Brahma-awareness, and awakened kundalini. He describes in unusually concrete (and difficult) language how he accomplished these tasks.

U.G. Krishnamurti's Meeting With Ramana Maharshi
by U.G. Krishnamurti
Krishnamurti describes the impression that India's most famous sage, Ramana Maharshi, made on him: not much.

The Mystique of Enlightenment: Part One
by U.G. Krishnamurti
U.G. Krishnamurti's autobiography, in which he describes his awakening.




Experiments in Insight Meditation
by Rod Bucknell

After two months of formal training in vipassana, the author (a professor at an Australian university) spent several years developing a method of mindfulness meditation that could be practiced continuously during ordinary activities. He noticed that two mental states alternated: either he was aware of his thoughts or he was lost in them, and only in the latter case did they affect him emotionally. To help himself remain in the aware state as much as possible, he invented a technique of retracing trains of thoughts backwards and forwards. From the website of the Chieng Mai Dhamma Study Group in Thailand.

The Experience of God-Realization
by John White
The author describes what it feels like to have surrendered his ego to God. A wonderfully straightforward, plainspoken account.. From Noumenon.

Remarks on Enlightenment: for Douglas Harding

by José LeRoy
Phenomenological description of enlightenment with particular emphasis on what it feels like to lose the self. Extremely clear. From Noumenon.

My Experience of Cosmic Consciousness
by Allan Smith
A wonderfully sober and precise account of an uninvited experience of cosmic consciousness. As the author, a 38-year-old doctor, watched a sunset, his mood became ecstatic, the world became for him an undifferentiated field of light, and time seemed to stop. He merged into the light and felt an absolute ineffable oneness and knowingness. After this experience his life changed. From the website of TASTE.

Experiences in Meditation
by Chris Kang
An account of one person's experience with Theravada mindfulness-of-breathing and loving-kindness meditations. From the website of the Chieng Mai Dhamma Study Group in Thailand.

Initial Meditative Experiences
by Roger Walsh
The author describes his experiences with vipassana meditation. From the website of the Chieng Mai Dhamma Study Group in Thailand.

At That Time, I Was Light: Attainment of Kundalini Yoga
by Khema-Taishi
An intensive meditation retreat, conducted in isolation for nine days, culminates in an ecstatic Kundalini experience. The meditator is subjected to sleep deprivation and a semi-starvation diet based on a beverage that induces vomiting. This first-person account by a young Japanese woman is from the website of Aum Shinrikyo, the cult that carried out numerous murders including a poison gas massacre in the Tokyo subway in 1995. The "Master" referred to in the article is Shoko Asahara, the cult leader, who is now in prison. For more information about the cult, see this interview with Robert Jay Lifton from Tricycle here. For more information about the sort of isolation cell in which this retreat probably took place, see here. For some interesting snippets about the cult, including the fact that members were allowed to drink only the leader's used bathwater unless they paid money to drink his blood or semen (the semen cost $10,000 a shot), see here.

The Challenge: My Experiences With Famous Gurus
by Shunya Muni

An Australian seeker describes his experiences with Muktananda and Mataji Nirmala Devi, and expresses interesting opinions about several others.

Naxos Night: An Encounter With A Ghost Who Wants a Body
by Laurie Gough

Alone on a beach at night, a traveler meets a ghost or spirit who wants to invade her body. Later she obtains confirming evidence that the encounter really happened from another person. This article is exceptionally well written. On the website of Salon.com.




An online journal that publishes first-person accounts by scientists of transcendent (mystical, psychic or paranormal) experiences. Edited by Dr. Charles T. Tart. The acronym stands for "The Archives of Scientists' Transcendent Experiences."

Nonduality Salon
A sort of combined clearinghouse and coffeehouse for practioners of Advaita Vedanta (Jnana Yoga) and other people who are drawn to a nondual perspective. Numerous links of various kinds. Two especially interesting features are a list of 200 "confessors" and an excellent (extraordinary, really) mailing list whose participants include several of the confessors. It's our impression that this list has more realized participants than any other list or electronic forum we've found. The list is very friendly and beginners feel welcome.




Order from Blue Dove


By Shri Purohit Swami

This wonderful book is the first autobiography of a yogi ever written. After a university education and years of wandering as a renunciant in his native India, Purohit Swami came to England in 1930 where he became friends with the great Irish poet W.B. Yeats, who encouraged him to write this book. (The two men also collaborated on a translation of the principal Upanishads.) With artful prose and intriguing stories, Purohit does a remarkable job of communicating the experience of becoming a yogi. He also provides vivid glimpses of aspects of Indian culture (such as renunciation) that are particularly valuable for Western students of yoga.


PLAY OF CONSCIOUSNESS: A Spiritual Autobiography
by Swami Muktananda

Did you ever wish for a book that tells what it feels like to become a yogi at the highest level of attainment? The author would need a rare combination of qualities: first-hand knowledge of high yogic states, a modern empirical sensibility, a willingness to divulge information that has traditionally been guarded, and an ability to describe subjective phenomena. Swami Muktananda had those qualities and wrote such a book. He practiced Siddha Yoga, a form of Kundalini Yoga in which the classical asanas, mudras, and bandhas of Hatha Yoga occur spontaneously, without instruction, after transmission of energy by a guru. This is an excellent English translation of a work written in Hindi. Read more about it here on Amazon.com. (For a less enthusiastic appraisal of Swami Muktananda, see LeavingSiddhaYoga.org.)


Collision with the Infinite
By Suzanne Segal
· · · · · · · · · · · ·
Fascinating autobiographical account by a twentieth-century American psychologist who was miserable and frightened for twelve years after losing her sense of self. Eventually she realized that she had become enlightened and found bliss. She describes her experience extraordinarily well and succeeds to a surprising extent in conveying what it felt like.
Where to order it
· · · · · · · · · · · ·
Collision with the Infinite:
A Life Beyond the Personal Self

By Suzanne Segal
· · · · · · · · · · · ·
177 pages.
Published by Blue Dove Press (1996).
ISBN 1884997279


By Paul Brunton

A famous modern classic that has sold more than a quarter million copies, this book describes an English doctor's search for a guru in India in the early part of the twentieth century. After meeting many acclaimed yogis, he decides his true guru is Sri Ramana Maharshi and returns to Arunchala for several weeks of intensive instruction. The final chapters describe the oral teachings given to Brunton by Ramana and the subjective experience of practicing Ramana's method, including the first sudden experience of the true Self.


I Am That
By Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj
· · · · · · · · · · · ·
More than five hundred pages of transcribed conversations allow you to eavesdrop on Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj, the most famous teacher of Advaita since Ramana Maharshi, as he sits in his living room and answers questions from visitors who have come to ask what they should do to become enlightened. Sri Nisargadatta described what it felt like to be in his state at considerable length, and he did so with a prodigiously intelligent, uncannily articulate modern vocabulary. The force of the language makes this is a unique and astonishing work. Sri Nisargadatta's talks were given in Marathi and translated into English by Maurice Frydman, who had been a devotee of Ramana Maharshi. An American book dealer who carries many books about meditation and Advaita has told us that this book is his number-one seller.
Where to order it

In the U.S.:
Blue Dove
Books Beyond Words
In Europe:
· · · · · · · · · · · ·
I Am That:
Talks with Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj
By Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj
Translated by Maurice Frydman
Edited by Sudhakar S. Dikshit
· · · · · · · · · · · ·
550 pages.
Published by Acorn Press (1973).
ISBN 0893860220

LIVING WITH KUNDALINI: The Autobiography of Gopi Krishna
by Gopi Krishna
This is probably the most famous account of a Kundalini explosion, a dramatic event that sometimes occurs to people who practice certain kinds of Yoga. Gopi Krishna was a middle-class Indian who, while meditating in 1937 at the age of 34, suddenly perceived a roaring stream of light rising into his head from his spine. For months afterward he suffered a variety of painful physical and mental symptoms, including some that seem akin to psychosis. These symptoms gradually subsided into a condition which he regarded as higher consciousness. The work is particularly fascinating because Gopi Krishna was a modern, skeptical, secular man who described his experiences with the skill of a novelist and without mysticism. For more info, see here on Amazon.com. For a first-person account of a similar experience which was inspired by this book, see this article by one of our contributing editors; he explains how he made it happen.

THE EXPERIENCE OF NO-SELF: A Contemplative Journey
by Bernadette Roberts
The first sentence says: "This is the personal account of a two-year journey during which I experienced the falling away of everything I can call a self." In addition to describing what it feels like, the author also reflects on the process and its significance. Perhaps because she writes from a Christian contemplative perspective, which provides fewer ready-made explanations of such experiences than Hinduism and Buddhism do, the author's views are unusually thoughtful and original. For more info, see here on Amazon.com.

by Henry James
One of the most famous works of western psychology, written about a hundred years ago. James is particularly interested in the phenomenology of high spiritual states. On the web here; buy it here on Amazon.com.

by Paramahansa Yogananda
This is probably the most widely-read yoga book of modern times. Since its first publication in 1946 it has sold over a million copies in 19 languages. Full of miracles and heartwarming sentimentality, it often seems more like first-person fiction than autobiography. The author was an Indian swami who moved to California in the early twentieth century to start the Self-Realization Fellowship, a monastic order which is still going strong 80 years later. Crystal Clarity Publishers, the publisher of the print edition, recently put it on the web for free here.


This page was published on February 28, 2000 and last revised on October 29, 2001.

Copyright 2001 Realization.org. All rights reserved.