On January 4, 1972, at 4:00 in the afternoon, on a 9 month long meditation retreat, I went through a spiritual transformation.  Something like a curtain of silence came down behind my mind, and I suddenly became utterly separate from all that I did, said or even thought.  You couldn’t miss it.  And it turned out to be permanent. 

I really didn’t understand what had happened to me.  It would take me some 10 years of regular meditation, graduate work in religion and study of the Hindu and Buddhist scriptures before I came to understand that what had dawned life that afternoon was at least a good chunk of the very enlightenment that the ancient texts had been describing and that I’d been pursuing.

The reason I struggled to understand it, and why I’m telling you this, is that what had happened to me wasn’t at all like what it was cracked up to be.  It didn’t make me happy. It didn’t end the worries and fears that had led me to take up a spiritual path.   An infinite silence at my core, yes, but I wasn’t better off in any obvious way than I might have been. 

Enlightenment just ain’t what we expected, and it’s not what I was after.