The word awakening

I often feel that words commonly used in spirituality are too much. They can make something sound more special than it is, and – for most of us – they often come with baggage and misleading assumptions.

So also with the word awakening.

What it refers to is noticing what we already are, finding ourselves as capacity for the world, or – more simply – our experiences.

Yes, in a metaphorical sense we awaken from the dream of taking ourselves most fundamentally as this human self and a separate being. There is a kind of metaphorical awakening to noticing what we already are.

And yet, what it refers to is very simple and even a bit mundane.

It’s just finding ourselves as capacity for the content of our experiences. We are what our field of experience – which contains this human self and the wider world – happens within and as.

That’s about it. Nothing more mystical or weird is required.

Of course, the consequences of noticing this – and keeping noticing it, exploring how to live from it, and allowing our human self to transform within this noticing – can be profound.

If we take this seriously, it can be profoundly transforming for our perception, life in the world, and how our human self functions and operates.

So what are the alternatives?

I sometimes use the word awakening as a headline, since it’s a convenient shorthand and most people have a rough (and often misguided!) idea of what it’s about. If I use the word, it’s usually before clarifying and bringing it more down to earth.

Mostly, I talk about noticing what we are. That’s simpler and more to the point.

And I like Douglas Harding’s seeing. That too is simple and to the point, although it makes most sense in the Headless Way context.

What are some other words that seem too much? The word spirituality itself comes with a lot of connotations and misleading associations for most people. It makes it sound special and perhaps disconnected from this world. In reality, the essence of it is about noticing what we are, it’s not reliant on any spiritualty or religion, and it’s hugely practical.

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