Sunday, May 06, 2007

In a daze

In a daze, Amherst, NH, April 2007, Nikon D40 with 18-200mm VR lens, Focal length 18mm (zooming), Exposure 1/13 sec @ f22, ISO 200, no flash, circular polarizing filter © Steven Crisp [Click on the photo to enlarge]

Have you ever found yourself in a pleasant, mindless daze. Where you look at nothing, yet see everything. Or is it look at everything, and see nothing? I was in that state the other day. I've only really been in it a couple of times -- two other times that I can remember right now (and yes, I wrote about them here and there). It is immensly pleasurable.

Characteristic of these experiences is a knowing smile, and the appreciation of beauty in everything that you see, and gratitude. The state is clearly observable by others -- who tend to think you've gone slightly mad ;-) You are not really looking clearly at any one thing; indeed, you are looking at nothing in particular, but seeing so much. We've all had that experience, right? Usually for just a brief moment, caught staring (but not really looking) at the dinner table candle, or whatever. It's that same experience, but applied to everything.

This particular experience lasted me most of the day. There was a profound sense of peace and calm. Everything was just "right" with the world -- yes, even with all of its faults -- just the way it was. It is a sense of recognizing your place in such a world. Of effortless existence. Not fighting for positions or opinions. Ultimate acceptance of what is.

I don't know what brings on these states. In all three cases, they occured outside, and the weather was nice. But other than that, the conditions were all quite different. One occurred just after I had been all "spun up" after missing my flight -- so my mind was clearly agitated. This one occured the morning after a party, and by any right, I should have been severely hung-over.

No, I don't know why these states appear, or how to "will" them into existence. But I do know that for me, they are glimpses of a state of existence that I wish to spend more time in. They are confirmation to me that I am on the right path, all having occurred within the last year.

Have you ever experienced such states of bliss? If so, do you know what triggered them? Care to share your experience?


Anonymous said...

I have these states frequently. Sometimes I will them, through my Vipasana (Insight Meditation) training. Sometimes they sneak up on me, and then I cultivate them, use them as an opportunity to practice Insight. I believe what you are experiencing is what the Buddha experienced. By practicing simple non-judgemental awareness, without thinking, one can obtain a level of peace.

Vipasana can be practiced anywhere. On a cushion with your eyes closed, focusing on the breath is most common. But walking, or any opportunity like standing in line at the checkout, or waiting in traffic, or even driving are perfect opportunities.

When you are practicing, if thoughts arise, don't try and push them away. Just label them. Oh that is a feeling. Oh that is a thought. Notice what happens to the thought or the feeling. Thich Nhat Hanh advovates smiling while paracticing insight mediation, which I find immensely useful.

I will observe that if you do this in a crowded location, often people do not just think of you as being off your rocker. Often you become their enemy. How can you be just a peaceful Bohdisatva when they are running around in a big rush, very busy-busy, looking and not seeing, hearing without listening, focused on the future an myred in the past. How come you are in the way of theor egos you nutty Buddha man? How can you be so satisfied, experience present moment Joy in the middle of this crowded place?

Steven Crisp said...

Grasshopper, so good to hear from you again.

Yes, it sounds like the same experience -- and it is very encouraging that you say you can will it to occur. It would seem this could be very handy whenever the work-a-day world grabs hold of you to tightly.

Interesting you see a negative reaction from others to your peaceful state. I would have assumed just the opposite. Curiosity perhaps. Or maybe even a resonance with the peacefulness.

So far, I have not had that reaction. But then again, I've been more out in nature, rather than in a city setting.

I like Thich Nhat Hanh's suggestion about smiling. Interstingly, these few times, smiling came without any aciton on my part. As if that is the "natural" state, and we otherwise have to work to wipe off the smile. An interesting thought, anyways.

Thanks again, Grasshopper, for sharing your insights about your insights ;-)

Anonymous said...

Hello Steven and Grasshopper,

I am not sure whether we are talking about the same phenomena,anyhow I will just share my experience and hope you all can advise me.
If I look right infront and focus my eyes widely without a particular point in mind, then I will see something like the photo.Another to explain is to focus the right eye to the right corner and the left eye to the left corner at the same time, you know just like the cock-eye style.
One more way that I have experience is like this.With the eyes closed and concentrating on the third eye area until I can see the colors just infront of the forehead. Maintain this for a few minutes and then open the eyes slowly and look out into the scenery. The third eye colors will superimpose into the scenery for about half a second.At that moment, the colors look as if like a "star gate" type of opening,with shimmering energies emancipating from all matters or things. It is really beautiful.
By vispasana meditations, one can achieve a state of no conditioned thoughts, and feel blissful in mind. This is entirely a mental state.This mental state of no judgement and non duality when expressed into the events, one tend to see things as oneness.In that instance all negativities are taken as trivials and as a part of a perfect wholesome. But this can't last long and the mental state will lapse.I think this is because the mental state and the physical or sensual emotional state are of different subtleness or different vibrations.As Alice Bailey had mentioned...there exist the Astral and Mental Bodies or levels. They are of different vibrations.One cannot exist in both of them a permanent manner.I am actually not sure whether this is correct. Perhaps Steven may be able to assist.
Thank you to both of you.

Steven Crisp said...


As to the image you can create -- no, that is not really what I was getting at. After all, I match the photos and the post somewhat randomly -- just looking to find something that kinda, sorta fits.

But as to your mental state of no judgment and non duality, no that is soundling to me like the same state.

"But this can't last long ..." I wonder why that would be, and if that is really so. Are not yogis and sages able to maintain this state indefinitely? Can it not represent an ever present "ground of being" even to your interactions in the work-a-day world? That would have been my expectation.

As for Astral planes and Mental bodies, I just don't know. I resonate more with the Ken Wilber Integral view, built on his basis of a spectrum of consiousness. Perhaps these are the same.

I try not to "think" about these gradations, and instead, create the conditions in my day-to-day life that gives rise to this more peaceful, more blissful, more fully aware state of being. It just feels natural, and is as if it is calling me to spend more time there.

Thanks very much for your perspectives, Anon

Anonymous said...

Hello Steven,

Yogis and sages are recluse and they are indifferent to sensual and emotional interraction with society.In order to operate at the non-duality state, one has to be at the alpha state of brain frequency permanently...a semi-trance or fully trance state. However when a body is in sensual or emotional state, the brain frequency will automatically rise, following the increase of heart beats. In other words the Yogis can't be aroused or have sensual feelings,unless they give up their non-duality state. In order to interract with society then , one has to get in and out of the trance state, to maintain both sensual feelings and non-duality state as to suit the situations.In this sense, I believe Buddha is a recluse, however Jesus has the in-and-out in the testament, jesus got angry and chase the defaulters out of the church in one occasion.
One don't have to keep in mind about the gradations. It is just there and the body systems are meant to shift in and out of the gradations depending on how we manipulate the elements.The gradations could be felt.However the spectrum of consciousness will not be definable, once the boundaries are penetrated.Consciousness exist only when the boundaries exist...when the boundaries vanish the consciousness vanish as well.
Thank you very much for your perspectives too.

Avantika said...

Hi Steven,
I have found that some simple things trigger this state- for example if I meditate,go for a walk in a quiet place,and eat light food or no food at all it seems to happen naturally. And it also happens when I simply go out thinking I'll do some act of kindness like feed 20 homeless people.I just get filled with this sense of peace and love.It sounds sugary and cliched but watching the smiles in the world grow just makes you that way.
Thanks for this post,

Steven Crisp said...


I'll have to think more about your comment. Yes, I understand your point about yogis and sages being recluse, but I'm not sure that's part and parcel of the state I am talking about.

As for Jesus, let's keep him dealing with the moneychanges and the temple ;-)

And as for consciousness, hmmm, some might say that it is the stuff that the boundaries are made of. But I don't have many thoughts on that.

Thanks much for sharing yours.


Good to hear from you again. Very nice to hear your "simple" triggers. Yes, there was a time when I was fasting and would find it had the most interesting affect on me. Definitely heightened my spiritual side. Explains, I suppose, why the practice is so common in all religious traditions.

As for feeding the homeless -- what a concept. Giving peace and love is how you get peace and love. (DId the Beatles wrie a song about that? If not, they should have ;-)

Seriously, this is an area where I simply have not done my part (yet). It is not a habit or practice that I have taken. But what you say rings true, and I want to figure out how to incorporate such acts of kindness into my life.

Thanks, Avantika, for the visit, and for planting that seed.

Anonymous said...

hello Steven

I very much like your blog. I discovered it trough my favourite blog: "beyond the fields we know".
Speaking about this blissful state, I have had this a few times in my life. I am 29 years old now and it happened always with a rather long time in between.
And actually in almost the same conditions, either after terrible stress or the morning after a very heavy party.
I think this means that the mind is either so over-worked or at the other hand so completely 'out of order' that it gives up thinking and you are in a short, natural state of 'enlightenment'....

That's why God loves his children who wandered, even on the 'wrong' path, the most; you don't have to try to much, just let go.......

Kind regards

Jan (

Steven Crisp said...

Glad you lke the blog, Jan, and glad you happened to find it though a mutual connection. I like how the internet works that way.

Interesting about your thought that it comes about when our minds are kindof on "tilt". A pleasant consequence when it happens out of that otherwise stressful situation.

Yes, letting go seems to be the key. Letting go of our labeling, our conceptualization, our ego-mind. But of course, "actively" letting go is just another thought, so it is more of just being ...

Open, receptive, acutely aware but without focus on any "thing". A worthy intention, I would say, to move in that direction.

Thanks much for the visit. I hope you come back and continue to offer your insights.