The experiences described by seekers from different traditions and across millennia are stunningly similar. The descriptions are of course couched in the different languages arising from the lenses of the different cultures, traditions and eras of these seekers. That said, the underlying state described by the mystic is spoken of in the same way across the ages. It is remarkably so.

There are three unique markers of a higher state; three tracks in the snow leading back to the source. And these three markers are called out again and again within the literature of the various traditions. The first is the experience of unity. The second is of perfection. The third is the experience of time.

These three characteristics, “tracks in the snow,” are markers for experiences of a higher state. And each of the three markers has three levels. These three levels are not a gradual expansion from one to the next but are markers of three entirely different states, each one a world unto itself, but each higher state containing within it the lower, nested like Russian dolls.

The first characteristic of an authentic spiritual state is the sense of connection. At this first level, that of connection leading in a direction towards unity, the seeker has a perception that she or he is actually the same as what is being observed. Our normal subject/object view collapses into a sense of unity. Then, at a deeper level, a more subtle level, the sense becomes that not only is there no longer a subject and object, but that there never was, nor could there ever be. Finally, at the third level, one seen in the writings of the great mystics, the sense that not only is this the truth, but that any sense at all of separation is simply illusion. And they inform us that this illusion of separation is itself a manifestation of unity.

The second characteristic is the sense of rightness, of quality. At the first level of experience everything seems “just right.” Everything seems to be exactly as it should be. It is perceived by the yoga practitioner when the asana is taken correctly. By the meditator when the breath, body and mind are integrated. By the devotee when he who prays, the prayer itself, and That which is prayed to are integrated. Next, at an intermediate level everything is seen as perfect. More than that, everything is perfect. All the manifestations, objects, forms, thoughts, feelings; all of them are inherently perfect. At the highest level, it is once again revealed to us by those few who know, that the very quality of perfection itself disappears. There is no longer any possibility of comparison with the imperfect, which is not only not present, but not existing. All is as it is, and is exactly as it must be.

The third characteristic is the sense of time. At the first level of a higher state there is a sense that there is no hurry. There is enough time. That there is no need to rush, no need to fret. There is no problem anymore. When we are here there is a sense that somehow time has slowed down. All of us knows of what I write. At an intermediate level it is a sense of time itself standing still. Time stops, as the eternal Now takes the place of time in one’s consciousness.  At the highest level, once again, not likely having this experience ourselves, we are told by those who know that time is no more. Or, perhaps, in the words of one who knew, it is then seen as the “unique subjective” that it actually is.

But, finally, for me, if I am only concerned with identifying tracks in the snow; their spacing, the depth of their imprint, their direction; it becomes another equivocation, another clever delaying action from the actual work itself that must be done. To use the ideas of tracks in the snow may be helpful to identify stages along my way,  but then I must follow the tracks back to the source, and not rest contentedly with my knowledge. Otherwise, it is all words.

“Sir, you don’t see that your house is on fire.”
   — J. Krishnamurti

Your comments are welcome.


  1. This made my day. Thanks Dennis for the manifestation of it all.

  2. Thanks so much, Patti. It is always so good to hear from you. Dennis

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