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What My Honeymoon Taught Me About the Nature of Reality

photo: shazwan on flickr

When you think of a honeymoon, what comes to mind?

Dreamy newlyweds drinking champagne, staring into each other’s eyes?

Or trips to Hawaii and the Bahamas, with long, lazy days spent sleeping and making love?

Or how about mind excursions into the fleeting nature of reality, complete with visual hallucinations and world-shattering paradigm shifts?

No? The last one doesn’t ring a bell?

That’s because you haven’t heard about my honeymoon yet.

Melissa and I got married a few years ago. For our honeymoon, we decided to go to Tassajara Hot Springs. Tassajara is part of the San Francisco Zen Center. Given that we were both in school to become ministers, we thought it was an appropriate ministerial honeymoon spot: a week in the mountains, off the grid, surrounded by meditating monks.

In order to get to Tassajara, you have to drive down a 14-mile dirt road. It takes one hour to drive the 14 miles. Many visitors to Tassajara opt to take a shuttle, so they don’t have to drive the road themselves.

Melissa and I decided to tough it out. We borrowed her mom’s SUV, as we were told that most automatic shifts wouldn’t make it.

It was like Indiana Jones meets the Dalai Lama.

photo of the Dalai Lama: Ted Lipien on flickr

Except the Dalai Lama is a Tibetan Buddhist, not a Zen Buddhist. And Indiana Jones probably would have run down the dirt road, fighting off Nazis along the way. But still.

Melissa and I found the road to be steep and dusty and extremely rocky. We felt like pioneers, adventurers. Sure, we were driving a Lexus SUV, which isn’t exactly roughing it. But the one-hour drive down to Tassajara made us feel like we were entering another world.

And in many ways, we were.

photo: Tassajara Zen Mountain Center

When we arrived on site, my first response was concern. I was surrounded by shaved-headed, robe-clad, mellow-faced monks. My hair is pretty short, and I can be mellow at times, but I’m also a big spaz. How was I going to fit in with the super-chill atmosphere?

As it turned out, I was going to fit in just fine.

Within an hour, Melissa and I had already acclimated to the chillaxed vibe of Tassajara. We settled into our cabin, we ate the first of many beautifully-prepared vegetarian meals, and we went for a soak in the 108-degree natural hot springs.

photo: Tassajara Zen Mountain Center

By the end of the first night, we congratulated each other on picking the perfect honeymoon spot.

But Z, you say. What about the mind excursions into the fleeting nature of reality? Where do those come in?

Oh yes, those. Thanks for reminding me. Here’s what happened:

Our honeymoon happened to coincide with the second week of our summer quarter at Holmes Institute. Melissa refused to bring along any school work. I, on the other hand, am a card-carrying nerd. I find it relaxing and enjoyable to read books about quantum physics and the philosophy of consciousness.

As such, I brought along the texts to our class, Mind in the Cosmos.

photo: tomalen on flickr

So along with sleeping, eating, and soaking in the hot springs, I was reading about the fundamental insubstantiality of material reality and pondering the ultimate nature of existence.

You know, good honeymoon material.

I noticed that my meditation practice deepened considerably at Tassajara. My mind was clear and lucid. My breathing was gentle and relaxed. I felt at peace, inside and out.

And then it happened. The mind excursion.

It was our last night at Tassajara. We had gone for a post-dinner soak in the hot springs. I had finished before Melissa and was sitting outside the bathhouse on a rock, staring at the hillside.

It was dusk. I was thinking about a passage in a book I’d been reading. The book, Radical Knowing by Christian de Quincey, talks about the difference between “daytime” consciousness and “nighttime” consciousness.

“Daytime” consciousness is the prevailing worldview of Western culture. It involves what we perceive with our outer, physical senses.”Nighttime” consciousness, on the other hand, involves information from dreams, visions, and mystical experiences.

While Western culture tends to dismiss “nighttime” consciousness as unreal, this view has much to offer the dominant “daytime” paradigm.

photo: Dimitar Nikolov on flickr

I mean, it makes sense, right? Of course that’s what I’d be thinking about!

So there I was, sitting on my rock, staring into the dusk, contemplating “nighttime” consciousness.

My time at Tassajara had left me steeped in this sort of awareness. I was totally chillaxed. I had been spending long, sweet days with my wife. My meditation practice had deepened. I was high off the natural hot springs and amazing food. I was pondering the ultimate nature of existence.

And then I looked at my foot.

As I stared at my foot, I thought about quantum physics. (I told you I’m a nerd!)

You know how quantum physics says that material reality is primarily energy, as opposed to solid matter? How there’s vast areas of space between atoms, and the appearance of solid matter is an illusion?

So there I was, sitting on my rock, staring at my foot, and I swear to God, my foot disappeared.

Right before my eyes, it turned into a blur of energy. When I focused on the concept of a “solid” foot again, my foot reappeared. This happened several times, back and forth – foot as energy-blur to foot as “solid” foot.

It’s one thing to read in a book that material reality is ultimately an illusion. It’s another thing altogether to actually experience it.

As I watched my foot appear and disappear, I realized that my entire body is like my foot. I realized that I am essentially energy, that the seeming-solidness of my body is an illusion.

I realized that I’m much more than I appear to be, and that I’m intricately connected to the energy of the world around me.

photo: benjgibbs on flickr

It was really cool and really freaky, all at once.

After several minutes of this, Melissa joined me on my rock. Even though it wasn’t really a solid rock but was only an illusion of a solid rock.

I told her what had happened with my foot.

“Cool,” she said.

I love my wife.

So there you have it, my paradigm-shifting honeymoon story.

Yes, we could have gone a more traditional route – Hawaii and beaches and champagne – but how fun would that have been? Okay, it would have been fun, but I wouldn’t trade my rough-roaded, monk-populated, foot-disappearing honeymoon for anything.

And besides, it’s all energy anyway. So whether you appear to be in Hawaii or outside a bathhouse with an invisible foot, it’s all the same.

Wherever we are, we’re much more than we appear to be. And we’re connected to each other and the world around us in a way that transcends the boundaries of our supposedly-solid bodies.

photo: John E. Robertson on flickr

And that’s what I learned on my honeymoon.

What’s your experience with “nighttime” consciousness? What has it taught you?

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23 Responses to What My Honeymoon Taught Me About the Nature of Reality

  1. Simone August 7, 2012 at 9:01 am #

    Great story. You are wonderful. No wonder Melissa loves you.

    • Z Egloff August 7, 2012 at 11:56 am #

      Hi Simone,

      Awwwwwwwww shucks. Thank you! :)

      XOZ

  2. Janet August 7, 2012 at 10:20 am #

    Major guffaws! I loved this…someday I’ll tell you about the time everything disappeared…

    • Z Egloff August 7, 2012 at 12:11 pm #

      Hi Janet,

      Oooooooooh. That sounds good. I look forward to hearing about it. Unless either one of us disappears before then. 😉

      XPZ

  3. Sara August 7, 2012 at 11:41 am #

    Cool! I’ve had that happen too but it was, um, in consciously altered, rather than altared, state. Hey, let’s write a book called “Altared States”!

    • Z Egloff August 7, 2012 at 12:58 pm #

      Hey Sara,

      Altared States – I like it. We could go in so many directions with this one. I see a movie, too. Sci fi? Romantic comedy? Western? 😉

      XOZ

  4. Squirrel August 7, 2012 at 12:24 pm #

    Z!

    fabulous! i love quantum physics! so fascinating! i need to dig out my books again, but that’s neither here nor there.

    the only *sober* experience i remember having that included body parts disappearing was once during a 45 minute prayer. i was in an altered state – like my consciousness was SO expansive – i could literally feel my body dematerialize. my entire body. everything in the room dematerialized. i haven’t replicated that as of yet. actually, there are certain meditations i’ve done that create a similar experience but they haven’t included a complete dematerialization.

    dreams are another place i go to gain great knowledge. or puppies. i love puppy dreams. anyway, i occasionally have dreams that end up being premonitions. they are usually about people with whom i have a strong bond or tend to vibrate on the same frequency. i haven’t explored this much but i may in the future.

    and the list goes on…

    you are such a gift, z! thanks for being your fabulous self!
    xoxos

    • Z Egloff August 8, 2012 at 12:52 pm #

      Hi Squirrel,

      Yes, quantum physics is fascinating. And it’s both here and there! 😉

      I’ve heard of other experiences similar to yours – the meditation/dematerialize kinda thing. Sounds pretty groovy. I’ve only had mild versions of that sort of thing while meditating. Many of my more trippy experiences seem to come when I’m NOT meditating. So there you go.

      I have dreams of cats, not puppies. I’m sure that this says something very profound about me. And you, with the puppies. So there you go again.

      Thank you for stopping by! And for sharing your Squirrel-Self!

      XOZ

  5. Marcy August 7, 2012 at 11:18 pm #

    Loved reading about your monk-y, funky, fab honeymoon!

    Hmmmm….here’s something that might come close to your experience. One night I was laying in bed and I felt an invisible presence touch my arm. I knew I was being visited by some sort of energy. My sense was that it was a dear friend of mine. So I had a conversation with him and shared all the things I needed to say, knowing full well his spirit was hearing me. The next day, I talked to this friend and we discovered that at the time I experienced my energetic visitor, he had been astral projecting throughout the Universe. Part of me felt like it was the most amazing, special, trippy thing ever and loved how connected we were. The other part of me felt like he came into my space uninvited. Regardless, it was perfectly clear to both of us that his spirit had definitely visited me.

    Another example…my friend had her leg amputated from the knee down. Years after the physcial part of her leg was physically gone, she could still energetically “feel” the presence of her leg there. They’re called phantom feelings and speaks to the fact that nothing truly ever goes away – it’s just all energy.

    Groovy stuff my ZZ. And yes, your wife is pretty cool! Thanks for bending our minds…

    • Z Egloff August 8, 2012 at 12:56 pm #

      Hi Marcy,

      Your experience with your friend reminds me of a woman who once told me that she often gets visited by people who have transitioned. Although some people might view this as cool/magical, etc., she said that sometimes it’s just plain annoying. She doesn’t always want to be interrupted by people who are transitioning to the other side. Your story with your friend who passed has those elements – cool and magical, but also maybe slightly annoying/invasive. Interesting.

      Thanks for sharing!! :)

      XOZ

  6. Marcy August 8, 2012 at 5:40 pm #

    Here’s the trippy part Z…the spirit of the friend who visited me was alive and well, just 20 minutes from me. When he sleeps at night, he astral projects. He sort of sends his astral body out surfing the Universe I think. I spoke to him the next day and we put two and two together to figure out what had happened. Like I said, it felt groovy that we were so connected but a little invasive too. The experience taught me that we really are just energy and we can be felt no matter where we physically are. Dude!

    • Z Egloff August 9, 2012 at 10:40 am #

      Interesting. For some reason, I was thinking that this was someone who had passed away. I’ve been pondering the death experience a lot lately (for reasons that will become clear in an upcoming blog), so I just made that assumption about your experience.

      I do love the awareness that you came to as a result of your experience. I’m finding, for myself, that these small moments of awareness beyond the physical can have a huge impact on my life. And I love hearing about other people’s experiences as well!

  7. Angelica August 9, 2012 at 8:26 am #

    I had one of those ‘disappearing’ experiences … way before getting into meditation … I had taken mushrooms and decided to take a shower … During the shower I was spacing out on being one with the water and it felt awesome! When I got out the bathroom was all steamy so i wiped off the mirror .. only to find I had no reflection!! At first I freaked, but then remembered the oneness!

    • Z Egloff August 9, 2012 at 10:37 am #

      Hi Angelica,

      I love hearing about other people’s dematerialization stories. It’s like Star Trek or something.

      Looking in the mirror and seeing no reflection is seriously trippy. I’m glad you remembered the oneness!

      XOZ

  8. Re. Robert Brzezinski August 9, 2012 at 10:54 am #

    Classic,,, You should send this to Christian DeQuincy…He might just give you some extra credit for the class….

    • Z Egloff August 9, 2012 at 11:59 am #

      Hi Robert,

      Yes, I was planning on sending it to him, but I forget. Thanks for the reminder! I just sent him a link. :)

      Thanks for reading, and sharing!

      XOZ

  9. Wayne Haught August 9, 2012 at 11:21 am #

    Lovely story. Made me laugh a bunch. Then go: hmmmm! Could THAT hmmmm be an entry into the night time . . .

    • Z Egloff August 9, 2012 at 12:00 pm #

      Hi Wayne,

      Awesome to see you here. :)

      IMHO, both laughter and the hmmmmmm provide entry into the night time. That’s been my experience. 😉

      XOZ

  10. Susan Tenney August 9, 2012 at 1:44 pm #

    I find it ironic that you saw your foot of all things disappear and become pure light/energy/consciousness. I had recently read your blog post about your relationship to your feet. I’d say you have come full circle to not only acceptance but transcendence. Not a bad way to spend a honeymoon! Congratulations and wishing both you and Melissa the very, very best for many years (lifetimes?) to come!

    • Z Egloff August 10, 2012 at 11:12 am #

      Hi Susan,

      What a great observation. I think it vaguely crossed my mind as I was writing this post that I seem to spend a lot of time on this blog talking about my feet, but your comment is wonderful. Thank you for this perspective. And, yes, it was a wonderful way to spend a honeymoon.

      Sending love to you and yours,

      XOZ

  11. jerrine egloff July 27, 2016 at 9:46 am #

    Once a long time ago I saw it all become the rainbow-ish threads we and everything is made of…not string theory String Fact…it was devastating I wept….I realized we have to see it as firm hard matter “you want the truth, you can’t handle the truth!!” I couldn’t speak ….I was paralyzed by the vast spectacle…I could see the Chakras they were as filiments in a light bulb weaving the force that pulled the transparent energy light into the shape of the humans around me and myself..I would never be able to do ordinary life jobs if I were in that state all the time..I can’t handle the truth…But I know the truth..

    • Z Egloff July 28, 2016 at 1:54 pm #

      Wow!! So cool. Thank you for sharing this. It’s hard to capture this stuff in language, but this allows a glimpse into the amazing nature of life! :)

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. How I Pulled the Curtain on the Law of Attraction | Life in ZD - November 9, 2012

    […] For our honeymoon, Melissa and I went to the Tassajara Zen Mountain Center. While we were there, I had a totally groovy woo-woo experience where I looked at my foot and watched it dissolve into a blur of energy. (If you want to read more about this, go here). […]

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