I started with meditation when I was 20 years old. Originally I tried to use visualization of an object as a means of focus, as explained in the books I was reading. But after months of practice, I was still not able to visualize. So I just left visualization behind, and decided to remove thoughts. At that time I did not know, but this is a common practice in Buddhism. I discovered that there are several thought-layers, which I was able to stop one by one. After many months of practice, I arrived at a state of rest, without any thought, although this would only last for about 5 or 10 minutes. But in that state I was just myself, no sense of the outer world, no sense of my body. Just me, by myself, wherever that was, clear and conscious. This state was very pleasant. It also showed me that one can be without the need for a body. At the same time it resulted in a relaxing influence on my daily life.
On three or four occasions I had the following experience. Taking a time line into account, when I had reached that pure, no-thought state, being by myself, at point X in time to point Y in time I would not have any recollection afterward. At point Y in time I became conscious again. Now I have to explain what that means. At that point there was only awareness (=being), nothing else, there was not even the concept of an “I” present. It was not “I am aware”, no, there was only awareness. After some powerful effort “awareness of I” arose. So now, I was aware that “I am”, but nothing else, just I am. After another powerful effort I started to remember that I am a personality, and that personality is called Dirk. Again, at this point I was only aware of myself as a personality, there is no awareness of anything outside of it. Another powerful effort and I remembered where I was. First I was asking myself where I was. Then after an effort I remembered that I was in my bedroom. Then I became aware of my body again and started feeling it. Another powerful effort was necessary to remember what I was doing, ah, I was meditating. Finally, I became my normal daily self.
Because I could not remember anything between time period X and Y, I didn’t see any use or advantage of it, so I stopped my meditation sessions.
I have asked several spiritual people and people engaged in yoga and meditation, if they were familiar with this kind of experience or if they had experienced it themselves. But none did. After about 25 years, I found a similar experience by a Russian medical doctor, Igor Kungurtsev, after injection of Ketamine (in low doses), a substance normally used to anesthetize people before surgery. He tells us: “At this point, I undertook a series of self-administrations which completely changed my conception of the ketamine experience. I tried various dosages in order to choose the level most appropriate for our patients. Three or four minutes after the first injection, I felt this world begin to disappear, and I experienced myself as a point of consciousness which was floating in strange worlds. The most unusual feeling was that I had no body, yet somehow “I” existed. The next development was indescribable. During the first stage, I seemed to exist only as a point of consciousness, but still, “I” existed. Then there was a stage where even this disembodied sense of self began to disappear, and I felt a real terror of dying. At that moment I managed to surrender and let go. All that remained was awareness; there was no “I” as me, as an individual point of consciousness. It was as if there existed only that which was aware of itself.” (source)