One of the many miraculous functions of meditation is that it is a portal to a different dimension.
When you go deeply into the meditative state, your awareness detaches itself from the thought-stream. Then your identification with emotion, memory, time and body begins to fall away. You become aware of something very mysterious. Imagine that you had been fast asleep in a small dark chamber and then you suddenly awakened to find yourself floating in the infinite depth of a vast, peaceful ocean. You literally become aware of a new dimension, when moments before you had experienced yourself as being trapped, a prisoner of your body, mind and emotions. When you awaken to this new dimension, all sense of confinement disappears. You feel that you have access to the whole universe and also to that which the universe exists within. You're aware of body, mind, time, and space, but there's another dimension that extends in all directions, unlimited by any of it. Meditation is the portal to this dimension, a door to the realization of limitlessness.
Why is this experience significant? Because the infinite context you awaken to is not just a quiet place inside your own head. It's a deeper dimension of reality itself. Life, death and everything in between, reality as a whole -- the seen and the unseen, the known and the unknown, all that ever was and ever could be -- is made up of both the manifest and the unmanifest. But most of the time, all we are aware of is the manifest dimension, the domain of time and space and becoming. Meditation will give you the direct, conscious experience of the unmanifest dimension, which is the ground of being itself.
The "ground of being" is empty. It is an objectless, timeless, spaceless, thoughtless void. But everything that exists has come from this no-place, including you and me. Paradoxically, while empty, this no-place is pregnant with infinite, unborn potential. It is the ground we all emerge from, the womb of the entire universe. When something came from nothing, 14 billion years ago, the nothing didn't disappear. That unmanifest, unborn dimension is the ever-present ground out of which everything is arising in every moment. And meditation allows you to know this ground within your own experience. Even in the awareness of the body and the movement of thought, beneath it all, in the state of meditation, you become conscious of a current of stillness that is the echo and the reflection of the ground of being. There is a great mystery there. In the infinite depth of that emptiness, there arises a knowing, a pure knowing itself that seems to answer all our questions and relieve us of all our existential doubts.
Whenever we journey far enough beyond the conditioned mind -- beyond thought, beyond form, beyond time -- we will always discover this same mystery. That is why we meditate, so we can awaken to the instantaneously liberating nature of the ground of being. The more profound is our experience of the ground of being, the more we begin to emanate that mysterious knowing which is enlightened consciousness itself.
Andrew Cohen is a spiritual teacher and founder of the award-winning EnlightenNext magazine. His new book is called Evolutionary Enlightenment: A New Path to Spiritual Awakening. Click here to learn more.