Intersubjective Enlightenment: Case No. 3

At approximately 1.30pm on 13th April 2008, travelling south between Kings Cross and London Bridge on the Northen Line of the London Underground, I suddenly found myself experiencing non-duality or emptiness. At first, I thought this was one of the periodic plateau experiences of non-duality characteristic of the grade of Magus, or the Third Path of Theravada known as Anagami, until I began feeling as though I were ‘coming up’ on a strong entheogen. I’ve experienced this twice before, both times in the company of Andrew Cohen. Sat across from me was a small Indian man in an oversized suit, purple tie, with a thick black ‘tache and hair do. He was staring at me. 

He continued to stare at me for a good five minutes, before turning his attention elsewhere – but wherever he looked, he maintained an expression of complete detachment. 

I got off the tube, and before I could tell my girlfriend what had occurred (she had sat a few seats away from me), she said she had noticed a strange Indian man staring at me. The awareness of non-duality began to fade a few minutes later.

This event has led me to reconsider both mine and Duncan’s experiences with Cohen. At the time, I considered the experience a transmission of enlightenment – something passed from one person to another, a bestowing of the same level of development to someone less advanced, through physical proximity.

However, considering both Duncan and myself were not permanently enlightened as a result of our meetings with Cohen, the fact I’ve experienced a number of Fruitions when in Duncan’s company, and in light of the event recorded above, I am now inclined to believe that enlightenment, or non-duality, is experienced intersubjectively between individuals sufficiently advanced within the metaphysical process, through any kind of sensate contact (i.e. by sight, physical proximity, sound, etc).

Rather than positing some absurd ‘field’ or substance that is ‘transmitted’, I prefer to entertain the idea that what happens during intersubjective enlightenment is nothing more than recognition. The Absolute Self within one person recognises itself in the other, and God sees himself in a mirror.

The non-dual is not a unit, nor is it divided; but duality is the illusion that it is so. Hence the manifestation (as a result of the process of enlightenment) of the non-dual through two individuals must necessarily be expressed as a shared experience (the non-dual being undivided) from each individual perspective – in other words, enlightenment becomes intersubjective.

This means that although someone less advanced in the realisation of enlightenment might have a profound experience of inetrsubjective enlightenment due to the presence of a more advanced practitioner; it does not shortcut the metaphysical process, nor does it bestow enlightenment as a permanent adaptation. 

I wonder if Duncan is getting intersubjective at his retreat…