Emily Dickenson. Helen Keller. Emily Bronte. Clare Boothe Luce. Billie Jean King.
What do these women have in common? You might say fame, or talent or creativity, and that is true. But what underlies all of their achievements—the one thread that they all have in common?
They have all had a transcendental experience—at least one, in some cases many—that lifted them up to such heights that they were able to express profound insights in their art or music or literature.
In other words, it was the transcendental experience that illuminated their minds and helped them become the great figures in history that they were.
I’ve been reading about these women in a fascinating new book by Dr. Craig Pearson called The Supreme Awakening:Experiences of Enlightenment throughout Time—and How You Can Cultivate Them.
Full disclosure: Craig is a long-time friend of mine. We both taught the Transcendental Meditation technique in Lombard, Illinois, in the 1970s and later were graduate students at Maharishi University of Management (then MIU) in Fairfield, Iowa.
I remember seeing Craig and his wife, Melissa, sitting in the library with stacks and stacks of books. They were researching transcendental experiences. That research, started in the 1980s, became the seed for this book.
But let’s get back to the great women (and men) that he portrays in his.
Each of these women recounts beautiful inner experiences. For instance, Emily Bronte writes that “a messenger of Hope comes every night to me, and offers, for short life, eternal liberty.”
She elaborates, “But first a hush of peace, a soundless calm descends/The struggle of distress and fierce impatience ends/Mute music soothes my breast — unuttered harmony/That I could never dream till earth was lost to me. Then dawns the invisible, the Unseen its truth reveals/My outward sense is gone, my inward essence feels — its wings are almost free, its home, its harbour found/Measuring the gulf it stoops and dares the final bound!”
Dr. Pearson points out that this is the experience of pure awareness, which is not visible to the eye but is a tangible experience of inner calm, inner peace, is a universal experience, open to everyone.
The only problem is that until recently, there has not been a way to access it systematically. Only those rare individuals who slipped into it by accident were able to experience it. And for many, it was so remarkable that they spent their whole lives trying to repeat the experience.
All that changed when Maharishi Mahesh Yogi brought the Transcendental Meditation technique to the world. Now millions of people are experiencing the beauty and power of the transcendental field that lies within each of us.
I think that everyone who practices the Transcendental Meditation technique can identify with the exalted experience described by Emily Bronte above. In his book, Dr. Pearson shares some of these experiences that everyday people are having in their daily practice of the Transcendental Meditation technique, and it’s remarkable how they parallel the experiences of the great thinkers.
For example, one woman writes: “During the Transcendental Meditation technique my mind settles down, thoughts become less and then suddenly all thought activity ceases and I slip into an unbounded ocean of awareness which is pure, quiet, unexcited and infinitely extended beyond space and time. In this state, I am not aware of any thought or any thing; I am just aware of awareness, you could say, wide-awake inside but not thinking. Simultaneously my body settles down, breathing becomes less, and I feel relaxed.”
Both Emily Bronte and the 21st-century woman who practices the Transcendental Meditation technique describe their experience in similar words: eternal, infinite, calm, peaceful, quiet, unexcited. For both, the experience is a distinctly different state from the waking state.
The book includes hundreds of such exalted experiences, not only of the fourth state of consciousness, which Maharishi called Transcendental Consciousness, but higher states of consciousness as well. It’s inspiring reading, to say the least, and it explains, in concrete terms, the worlds of experience awaiting us all as we grow in enlightenment and self-awareness.
Linda Egenes writes about green and healthy living and is the author of six books, including Super Healthy Kids: A Parent’s Guide to Maharishi Ayurveda, co-authored with Kumuda Reddy, M.D.