Thom Hartmann

author of The Prophet’s Way

A Prayer and an Answer

A week or two before Christmas, I was sitting in my meditation chair about 3 a.m. on a snowy night. There was a huge window in front of me, more than six feet square, and it looked out on trees covered with a thick blanket of snow; wet flakes fell to the moonlit ground. The snow was coming and going, clouds breaking, and the moonlight became bright and dim as the clouds moved. I could smell the old house and the clean freshness of air that leaked from outside around the window frame. I'd been meditating for a few hours, and now was just sitting in the chair, looking out at the snow, feeling quite peaceful. I said a prayer of thanks, my favorite prayer.

Then the walls of the room started to shimmer. I could see through the trees in front of me, and for miles around. My consciousness was liquid and filled with light, streaming out of me like light from a star, yet bringing back to my mind everything it touched. My heart was filled with an ecstatic joy, but there was also a small and remote part of my mind that knew that I wasn't breathing.

I wondered if I was having a heart attack, if I was dying. I could feel the snow even though it was outside and I was indoors, could taste its cold moistness, could smell the trees, the distant exhaust of cars. It was as if I was everywhere in the world all at the same moment, with the things closest to me closer than those far away. Most vividly, I could feel the life in everything around me. And that rational part of my mind whispered at me again that my heart wasn’t beating. I turned my attention to my inert body, and suddenly the entire world collapsed into a single bright point, then I was back in my body looking out the window. My heart raced, I gasped for breath, and clutched the arms of the chair.

"What was that?" I asked the air, although I intuitively knew that I’d finally found the answer to my lifelong question about the true nature of consciousness: I had just touched it.

from The Prophet's Way: A Guide to Living in the Now (Inner Traditions/Bear & Co.)