I was chatting with a new co-worker of mine in his office yesterday, and I saw that he had a small Buddha statue on his desk, along with a Zen garden, and seemed to have a bit of an Eastern theme going on in the way he decorated his office. In the course of our chat, he mentioned in passing that he was from Milwaukee. Later I was thinking about a puja that is to be held today at our local Hindu Temple, a puja for interfaith peace and understanding. People of all faiths are invited. It was scheduled in response to the shootings at the Sikh Temple in a suburb of Milwaukee. Thinking that my co-worker was of the Dharma variety, and knowing that all Dharmic faiths share common bonds, I sent him an email inviting him to attend the puja, explaining what it was for. He thanked me, telling me he did not attend any official place of worship, and did not in fact identify as Buddhist. But he expressed genuine gratitude for my having thought of him.
He went on to tell me about an experience he had in meditation which profoundly affected his life. I wish I could recount the experience here but I haven’t the space, nor the eloquence to properly convey what he told me. In short he was an atheist, and this experience showed him that there was Something More. He asked me if I’d had similar experiences. Though nothing came to mind that I could have described as so completely devastating to the Old Me, I had had experiences to share with him. He is looking for books on Yoga that may help him understand what happened during his meditation, and I hope that I can offer him some suggestions even though he leans toward Zen or Tao as a philosophy while I am more of the Vaishnava Hindu variety. Even so, as I told him, there are books I have read that pretty much recounted right back to me experiences that I myself have had. Yoga, and it’s result in the higher forms, are universal, there is no doubt about that.
But I digress.
In the last place I worked I found a very good friend who, even though he was Evangelical Christian and often told me I was wrong on many different points, was a valuable piece in the puzzle of my spiritual understanding. Helped me to fine-tune my perspective, shall we say. My new co-worker has clearly had an experience which I need to know more about. I need to hear his experience and his thoughts on what happened. Hopefully I can pay forward the guidance my Christian friend unwittingly gave me. And I am grateful back to my new co-worker for having shared so much on our first day really talking with each other. A lot of people think that sharing their experiences leave them vulnerable, and in fact this co-worker of mine told me “I know this probably sounds crazy to you”. I assured him that it was not crazy at all. As I have said, I know his experience is universal in yoga. Or at least universally possible in yoga. But that doesn’t make it any less magnificent to me.
Could anyone suggest some really good books on the esoteric experience of meditation that are very un-technical in language?