Epilepsy: On (Un)Consciousness (Who’s Minding the Store?)

Twelve years ago, I fell over. When I woke from unconsciousness, confused and afraid, I was told that I had a seizure. A grand mal seizure. This event set a new chain of events in motion — I would never again look at consciousness the same way. What the hell happened during that time? All I had were some bruises and an extremely weak body. I had fragments of the aftermath — but where did I go? This makes me think of Ram Dass’ freaky question to himself in Be Here Now — who’s minding the store? This, from the inimitable Be Here Now, by Ram Dass:

But who’s minding the store?

When I could finally focus on the question, I realized that although everything by which I knew myself, even my body and this life itself, was gone, still I was fully aware! Not only that, but this aware “I” was watching the entire drama, including the panic, with calm compassion.

Instantly, with this recognition, I felt a new kind of calmness — one of a profundity never experienced before. I had just found that “I”, that scanning device — that point — that essence –that place beyond. A place where “I” existed independent of social and physical identity. That which was I was beyond Life and Death. And something else — that “I” Knew — it really Knew. It was wise, rather than just knowledgeable. It was a voice inside that spoke truth. I recognized it, was one with it, and felt as if my entire life I’d been looking to the outside world for reassurance –

Now I need only look within to that place where I Knew.

(photo: loonylabs.org)

So, those few moments of unconsciousness made me rethink the way I lived my life. I quit smoking, drinking, doing anything that I perceived to make me “less conscious” and started to study the mind-body-brain connection. I stopped making things, dropped out of school, and started to study myself and make changes.


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