Of course, we can only ever speak of our own experiences in states of consciousness. That said, Ramana has a little chart discriminating two levels of nirvikalpa samahdi: Kevala and Sahaja. It's associated with the date 13 March, 1936, and is #187 in Talks
. In Kevala, the mind is "alive, sunk in Light," in Sahaja, the mind is "dead, resolved into the Self." He goes on to say:
The essence of mind is only awareness or consciousness. When the ego, however, dominates it, it functions as the reasoning, thinking or sensing faculty. The cosmic mind being not limited by the ego, has nothing searate from itself and is therefore only aware.
In my experience, thinking or not thinking is an option. Since it is a big ol' habit, it continues to be my default condition. But I experience Presence acting as both a background/foreground ambience. Sometimes it is very dominant and thoughts, sensory input, bodily awareness are either automatic or incidental. Sometimes I appear to be fully consumed by my activity as "little me, Andy." In meditation, my sense of "Andy" goes away, thoughts still surface and sometimes are engaged briefly, but the overall state of consciousness is, as Adya says "emptiness dancing."
But these changes have evolved over about 25 months, and continue to do so.
Gary Weber is a good friend and I do not think he will mind me quoting from a recent email to me:
As i have found there is no "after awakening", but rather as Harada Roshi said (and as quoted in my book), "enlightenment is capable of endless enlargement", will be interesting what Adya says about that in "The End of Your World".
For "me", the next practice emerges from "the Universe", unsought, unpredictably, and dances itself forward, by itself, in a continually evolving exploration and deepening process.
Virtually every day there is a new discovery, a new opening, a new "yes", until that practice completes itself and on "its own", it falls away, and another arises, unsought, to learn within itself, about itself. It is an amazing dance; there is no "after", only "endless enlargement" and more deepening and stilling beyond what was previously imagined possible.
Neither Adya nor Eckhart have betrayed anyone. They write from their own experiences. And they also say that ours will be different. They are in agreement that the progress is irreversible. They may have an intuitive sense of that, even as it applies to you and me. And that assertion seems intuitively correct to me. But egos vary in their strength and resilience. There might be a five-year plateau; there might be a “three-steps-forward, two-steps-back” stage; a person might die before he or she reaches the level of attainment reached by Ramana (pretty likely.)
All, all, all of it is good. Even the periods of anger, stress, confusion, argument and rebuttal and stagnation. After my kensho, I knew that that experience had to deal with the rest of egoic little me. Spiritual development, whether instantaneous or evolutionary is about being. Psychological maturing is about becoming. Even those who “abide” in pure awareness live with unconscious people and real-world responsibilities. Neither are particularly impressed with a blissful stare. The separate self, even while resident in Self, has many affiliates, like time, language, a body, neighbors, books to read, taxes to pay and a thought-stream habit formed in infancy. Expecting all those to vaporize into the magical concept of enlightenment is devotion to an unrealistic ideal, in my experience.
A person is not a thing or a process, but an opening through which the universe manifests. - Martin Heidegger
There is not past, no future; everything flows in an eternal present. - James Joyce