What insights come with awakening?

Awakening means to notice what we are.

We find ourselves as capacity for the world, and what our field of experience happens within and as. So for us, our field of experience – this human self and the wider world and any experience at all – happens within and as us, and as oneness. Any distinctions are recognized as coming from an overlay of thought.

That’s the one essential insight in awakening. And whatever words we use to point to it varies, obviously, with culture, spiritual traditions, and personal inclinations.

From this, there is no end to possible insights. It all depends on whether we keep noticing what we are, whether we keep exploring how to live from it, whatever our culture and spiritual tradition encourages us to explore, and perhaps our general orientation, receptivity, and curiosity.

EXAMPLES OF POSSIBLE INSIGHTS

Here are some insights that may come from an awakening, and from keeping noticing it and exploring how to live from it. I’ll start with insights that require awakening, and then include some that don’t necessarily require awakening but tend to become more clear when we notice what we are.

To us, all phenomena have the same true nature as our own. They all happen within and as what we are, so they have the same true nature as us. This includes the experiences we find most uncomfortable and difficult. And noticing this helps us meet these experiences and find more peace with them.

Conventional love is not only dependent on a feeling or state but is a feeling or state. The love that comes from noticing what we are is different. It comes from noticing oneness, it’s the love of the left hand removing a splinter from the right, and it’s not dependent on a state or feeling. (Although it can certainly be covered up by remaining hangups, beliefs, identifications, emotional issues, and trauma.)

The world is like a dream. A night dream happens within and as consciousness, and so do all our experiences. To us, all our experiences – this human self and the wider world – happen within and as consciousness.

Any pointer or spiritual practice is medicine for a particular condition. There is no final or absolute truth in any pointer, and spiritual practices are more or less universally helpful. Some practices may be helpful for most people through most of the awakening process, and some may be useful in very specific situations and phases of the process.

There is a fluidity in who and what we are. As who we are, as this human self, we are as rich and varied as what we see in the world. We are aware of just some of these, we relate to all these parts in different ways, and different parts come out depending on what the situation calls for and what’s activated in us. The same goes for what we are. Here too, we have innumerable aspects and facets, and these come to the surface and are more easily noticed at different times and at different phases of the process.

Any differentiation comes from an overlay of thought. When we recognize this, we tend to hold these differentiations – and any story we have about something – more lightly. It comes from an overlay, not anything inherent in the world.

We can identify with or as something within the content of our experience – usually this human self – and that means we are less available to notice what we are. We already assume we know what we are, so why even look? What’s happening here is that we hold a thought as true, and identify with the viewpoint of the thought, and that creates a sense of a separate I, an I with an other.

Thoughts are questions about the world. They help us orient and navigate. That’s their function. They cannot hold any final or absolute truth. That’s not their function.

Moving away from my experience is inherently uncomfortable. When I move away from an experience that’s here, I move away from what I already am, and that’s uncomfortable.

At a human level, the world is my mirror. Whatever stories I have about others or anything in the world or my imagination reflects something in me. I can turn the story around to myself, and find concrete examples of how and when it was or is true.

CULTURAL AND PERSONAL ORIENTATIONS AND LIMITATIONS

The examples above are the ones that came to mind as I wrote it, partly because I recently have written about them here. They reflect my own biases and limitations, the culture I live in, and – to some extent – what the spiritual traditions I am familiar with tend to emphasize.

Any set of examples will be more or less universal and dependent on our culture and whatever traditions we are familiar with. The possibility to discover them are here, but whether we do and how we talk about it will differ. That also means that there will be many – infinitely many – potential insights that I haven’t discovered since my background, orientation, culture, and traditions may not have emphasized them.

This is in addition to the innumerable potential insights I haven’t discovered yet because of where I am in the process, and my own personal biases and limitations.

The limits of culture and traditions create a richness in our collective exploration, and the possibility of learning a great deal from each other. And our personal limitations allow for an ongoing adventure and exploration process. These temporary and moving limits create an endlessly fascinating richness.

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