This is something I have been curious about since the initial spiritual awakening: an awakening can be interpreted in a psychological or a spiritual way, and most of the data fit either explanation. Which one we chose depends on our inclination, which one seems most helpful to ourselves, and perhaps which one seems more helpful for the reciver if we point to it for someone else’s benefit.
In short, an awakening is typically experienced as a realization that all is awakeness or consciousness. Any apparently separate beings are expressions of this awakeness. They are local and temporary expressions of awakeness or consciousness, as is everything else including what appears as the physical world.
This can be interpreted in a psychological way. This awakeness or consciousness is connected to this human being, and since we are this awakeness we can awaken to ourselves as this awakeness. We – as observer, experiencer, doer, human self – and the world as it appears to us happens within and as this awakeness. This is an explanation that actually would fit within conventional psychology, although not that many talks about it this way. (Yet… I imagine more will in the future.)
This allows us to operate with our immediate experience on the one hand, where everything happens within and as awakeness, and the conventional world on the other hand, that exists and functions as before. Of course, in our immediate experience all of this, including this framework or map, happens within and as awakeness, as everything else does.
It can also be interpreted in a conventional spiritual way. The whole world is the divine, and it temporarily and locally takes itself to be a separate being, and then awakens to itself as awakeness and everything happening within and as this awakeness.
Both the psychological and spiritual interpretations fit most of the data. In the first case, we – naturally – project the awakeness onto the whole world. In the second, everything – the whole world – is this awakeness and awakens to itself as all of it.
So which one do we chose? It depends on our culture, background, and inclination. And it also depends on what is most helpful to ourselves and others. If we talk about this in a conventional psychology setting, we may choose the psychological approach. If we talk about it in a spiritual context, the spiritual interpretation makes more sense.
In either case, it’s good to be aware of these two ways of interpreting awakening, hold both lightly, and see that we can choose to use one or the other depending on what seems most helpful in the setting we are in.
I said that most data fits either interpretation, which means some data fits one better than the other. To me, what’s revealed through parapsychological research – ESP, near-death experiences, reincarnation cases and so on – fits the spiritual interpretation better. As does my own personal experiences of ESP, seeing energies and auras, distance healing, and more.
I also said, “This awakeness or consciousness is connected to this human being”. I use the word “connected” intentionally since it leaves room for both a materialistic interpretation (the mind arises from the brain) and the reverse (the mind and consciousness as primary and using the brain as radio waves uses a radio).
Why is most mainstream psychology is not yet on board with the psychological interpretation? Partly because they are not so interested in awakening, and may assume it’s just a fanciful idea and not something pragmatic and close at hand. Partly because they may not realize or have taken in that we, in our own experience, are awakeness or consciousness, and that all content of experience happens within and as this awakeness. It can’t be any other way. When this awakeness wakes up to itself, and to all its experiences as happening within and as itself, that’s what we call awakening. It’s close at hand and not very mystical or fanciful.
I am including a couple of paragraphs from a recent post that diverged onto this topic:
As a side note, I can mention that I know it’s a projection. In my experience, everything is this awakeness. It can’t be any other way. It’s that way for everyone, although many don’t notice. (They haven’t had it pointed out to them, and haven’t investigated it for themselves.) This is a tricky topic since, yes, it looks like a projection. And yet, the idea of projection and a mind or being projecting it all happens within and as this awakeness.
In my immediate experience, there isn’t really anything that will absolutely determine if (a) I am awakeness (or consciousness) connected with a separate being and projecting this awakeness onto everything so everything appears as awakeness, and this mind then calls it the divine. Or (b) if everything actually is the divine, as it appears.
- psychological and spiritual interpretations of awakening
- experience –
- psychological interpretation
- spiritual interpretation
- the data (mostly) fits both
- depending on own inclination + what’s most helpful for the audience (whether oneself or someone else)
This is something I have been curious about since the initial spiritual awakening. An awakening can be interpreted in a psychological or a spiritual way, and most of the data does fit either explanation. Which one we chose depends on our inclination, which one seems most helpful to ourselves, and perhaps which one seems more helpful for the reciver if we point to it for someone else’s benefit.
In short, when there is an awakening, everything is perceived as awakeness or consciousness. And this can be interpreted as (a)