Many people have inner experiences using guided meditations and intention-driven meditations, but not all of these experiences are genuine—many are based on fantasy, wishful thinking, and sometimes, outright delusion. This article will show you how to find out what is stable, abiding, and trustworthy in meditation, and what is not.
How You Verify Empirical Experiences
You have a wide variety of methods to verify and validate experiences you have through the senses, which are called empirical experiences.
- Direct sensory prehension – You see, hear, smell, taste, or touch something and you recognize it. You recognize your cell phone when you see it.
- Consensual validation – Other people sense the same thing. You go into a flower shop with three friends: they all smell the bouquet of 12 red roses, and all recognize that they smell roses.
- Testing – You believe something might be true, but you are not sure. You use a scientific testing protocol to test your assumption.
- Technological augmentation of the senses – Use of microscopes, telescopes, or devices that detect wavelengths of light that are beyond your sensory threshold are examples of ways you augment your senses to gather data.
- Investigation – You analyze data and evidence to determine the truth about an event that occurred in the past.
- Logical reasoning – You use the principles of deductive reasoning to think through whether a statement or argument is true.
- Mathematical modeling and proof – You use mathematics to solve problems and to build models that explain the operation of a physical process, or use statistics and probability theory to determine the likelihood of an event occurring.
These methods verify what you experience in the external world; the world that your senses detect and can weigh and measure. But these do not enable you to validate your internal, or subjective experience.
Orders of Subjective Experience
You have seven orders of subjective experiences:
- Witnessing mental or emotional activity arising within the field of awareness – This is the most common inner experience, where you become aware of what you are thinking and what you are feeling. You do not have to enter an altered state of awareness through meditation, prayer, or hypnosis to have this experience.
- Witnessing content at different levels of the mind – In this scenario, your attention moves along the thread of consciousness, and you become aware of the content at different levels of your mind. Each level, which appears as an inner form or vehicle (rupa), has different content. You notice that the content, of which you become aware, is distinctive from any other level.
- Witnessing revealed or communicated content – This type of inner experience arises when you encounter deeper aspects of your mind that communicate information to you, for example, your Soul tells you something. These experiences also occur when you encounter different numinous beings—guides, angels, spirits, Masters, and aspects of the Divine—in meditation. When this information comes from your Soul’s own realization, we call it inspired discourse or satsang. When it comes from other spiritual entities, we call it revelation, channeling, prophecy, or telepathic guidance.
- Identity realization – This occurs when you encounter one of the core essences within you: when you encounter your Self, the integration center of your personality; your attentional principle, the essence of consciousness and intention; your spirit, the essence of love and virtue; a nucleus of identity, an integration center in the Superconscious mind; or your Soul, the Divine Essence within you. You realize that this is the core of who you truly are—that makes you a unique individual.
- Unconscious encounter – This type is an encounter with the material that lies outside of the lighted area of your consciousness. These include non-integrated aspects of your personality, which appear as subpersonalities, archetypes, and fantasy.
- Mnemonic reconstruction – This occurs when you retrieve information or experiences from memory. You are able to recall parts of what you learned or experienced; in some cases, this memory may be contaminated or distorted.
- Liminal or hypnotic experiences – You have these types of subjective experiences when you are in the state of sleep, reverie, hypnosis, somnolent meditative states (Yoganidra), or under the influence of a psychoactive drug. The material arises passively in this state, and you have little ability to influence the experience.
Each of these subjective experiences is mediated through one of your conscious principles: your attention, your attentional principle, your spirit, or your Soul. None of these experiences can be fully empirically verified. They are real to you, however, since you experience them.
Inner experience may be true and accurate, or inaccuracies or fantasy may contaminate it. Your challenge is, as a meditator, is to determine what is reliable and what is subject to error.
How You Verify Inner Experiences
Inner experiences that are accurate, true, and reliable are stable and abiding, and are consistent. They do not change each time you encounter that object of meditation. Their structure and location remains consistent. Elements of the mind that are stable and abiding include:
- The essences of consciousness—attention, attentional principle, spirit, and Soul
- Essences you encounter in identity realization
- The thread of consciousness and focal points along it
- The structures that make up the forms or inner vehicles of consciousness
- The nodal points upon the Path of the Soul
- The corresponding Nadamic tones on the Path of the spirit
- The tracks along which the seed atoms and their inner vehicles unfold
- The origin of the essences of consciousness and the vehicles of consciousness
- The landmarks that demark Subplanes, Planes, and Divisions of the Great Continuum of Consciousness, or of the Domains of the spirit
- The Presence of the Divine in Its many forms at different levels of the Continuum
One of our objectives for the Mudrashram® Correspondence Course was to delineate these abiding structures and essences of the mind. Whereas this framework is consistent, the content arising from these levels of experience varies widely, both in different meditations by the same individual and meditations that other people have.
To verify your inner experiences:
- You need to identify the source of the content that arises – Does it come from your own conscious thinking and emotional processes, your unconscious mind, from one of your essences of consciousness, or is it a numinous encounter with another being?
- You need to determine the truth of what is communicated or shown to you – If a guide reveals to you that, in ancient Atlantis, 42,000 years ago, they were using flying saucers and particle beam weapons, you would have no way to verify the veracity of this statement. Archeological evidence reveals that primitive man at this time was using stone tools and had no written language; you might conclude that it is highly unlikely these primitive people had a highly advanced technological civilization—and your guide has a richly developed imagination.
- You need to assess the motivation for making the communication – This inner assessment filter aims to screen out whether there is any malign or covert attempt to deceive you, mislead you, or manipulate you. These hidden agendas might show up if a member of a religion or cult is attempting to convert you to adopt their religious faith; if you are dealing with a charlatan or con-man, who wants you to buy their questionable services or products; or someone who is genuinely delusional, who wants you to validate their warped perception of the world and reality.
- You need to ascertain whether the object of meditation is stable and abiding – If you are meditating on the focal point of your feeling center, you should find it at the same location on the thread of consciousness, even though the content that arises there may vary in each meditation. You should find that your attentional principle does not vanish out of existence during your meditation, but it demonstrates the same essential characteristics—consciousness, intention, and the abilities for communication, contemplation, suggestion, empathy, and affirmation.
- You need to validate that the object of meditation is consistent – the vehicles and essences of your consciousness do not do things that their nature and structure does not permit them to do. For example, your Soul does not hop around to different tracks on the Continuum; your spirit does not rise in the channel of the Kundalini.
- You need to notice your own projection of your needs and wishes – your unconscious mind can weave fantastic stories and use imagination to create almost anything out of the matter of the astral Plenum—you can conjure wizards, spirits, guides, Ascended Masters, angels, and God with this highly creative aspect of your mind. To find out if this is happening, you have to consciously monitor this aspect of your mind until it settles down and stops projecting. When you reach the stage of inner stillness and silence, you should then notice what you perceive—without the overlay of fantasy and wild imagination.
- You need to determine whether information that is given under authority is legitimate – People representing different metaphysical, religious, and spiritual teachings refer to advanced spiritual beings—Saints, Masters, Gurus, and Sat Gurus—as their ultimate authority; they may also cite esoteric texts or scriptures as conveying the revelations of God. If an authority says something, you should be able to verify it. For example, if an authority says that one of the forms of God is a being of great Love and brilliant Light in the center of a sea of crystal, you should be able to find that location within where this Being exists, and this Being should not vanish from sight when you say, “Boo!”
Unfortunately, much of what is conveyed in New Age teachings, which arise in the Psychic Realm, is contaminated by fantasy and imagination. William Blake referred to this band of the Continuum as the realm of the Divine Imagination. However, other bands of the Continuum are not immune to the fantasy-weaving projections of the unconscious mind, either.
It is your task as an aspirant to sort through this sea of implausible contentions and suppositions, and to verify what is true and abiding—what you can validate—and to suspend or reject the rest. We encourage you to think about the strategies articulated in this article, and adopt them to arrive at a core of truth and accurate knowledge that will form the stable bedrock of your progressively expanding spiritual perception and discernment.