“O.N.E.,” or Ongoing Non-Symbolic Experience, is a research term that describes a spectrum of experiences. Words and phrases like “enlightenment,” “nondual consciousness,” “persistent mystical experience,” “awakening,” “self-transcendence,” “unity consciousness,” “the peace that passeth understanding,” and many others fit under the umbrella of “Non-Symbolic Experience.”
Although all are rare, there four varieties of O.N.E., which we call “Locations,” that are the most common. People in all Locations report high well-being regardless of life situation, reduced mental chatter and negative emotionality, greater love and compassion, freedom from self-critical thoughts, an increased focus on the present, increased mental capacity and decision making, a deep sense of connectedness, and an ongoing state of flow.
For most people, negative emotions like fear, anxiety and worry form the foundation of the way they experience the world. Evolutionarily, this makes sense. Humans developed in an environment that was hostile, and for most of our existence we were far from the top of the food chain. Today we are the dominant species, and this foundational part of our nervous system is out of date. The transition to Location 1 changes this forever by replacing it a new, modern, foundation centered in a deep and fundamental experience of peace and wellbeing, a sense that you are fundamentally safe, and that everything is ultimately okay.
The constant and underlying sense of well-being at the core of Location 1 becomes even more present at Location 2. As you deepen into it, your emotional state becomes almost always positive. Negative emotions, when they occur, are gone almost as soon as they arrive. The negative self-chatter in your head is dramatically weakened and has much less impact on you. You also experience a beautiful unification with the world at this Location. It feels as if you and it are not separate, that everything is "One." This Location is often referred to as "nonduality."
In Location 3, almost all emotional experience relaxes into a single emotion that feels like a combination of love, gratitude, and compassion. Negative mental and emotional states are extremely rare and an even more complete well-being is revealed as the foreground of your experience. Some people experience a profound unity with the divine in this Location, while others experience a union with a deep sense of consciousness that seems to pervade Life, Nature, the Universe, and so on. This Location is often referred to by saints in religions like Christianity as the ultimate form of human existence.
Location 4 is impossible to understand without experiencing it, as it is even more different than our day-to-day experience. Strangely, the sense of the divine or an all pervasive consciousness vanishes at this point. So does any remaining scrap of need for approval from others, emotions that have been constructed up to this point in your life, and the sense of agency. These are replaced with an experience of freedom that is beyond any ability to imagine or describe. It comes as a surprise, because it doesn't seem like it can get any better than Location 3, and yet this new Location is so far beyond that former level of wellbeing that it's astonishing. Some Eastern religions consider this to be the penultimate form of human experience - though we have cataloged locations beyond even this one…
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