The sobering quality of the small interpretation of awakening

What are we in our own first-person experience? Are we most fundamentally this human self? Or are we more fundamentally, in our own experience and to ourselves, something else?

What I find is that my nature is capacity for whatever is in my experience – this human self, the wider world, etc., and I am what my experiences happen within and as. My nature is capacity, oneness, and – from there – love and stillness & silence. (And using the words “I” and “my” is a convention and inherently misleading since any “I” and “me” happens within and as this.)

Since the world, to me, happens within and as what I am, it will inevitably appear as if the world is what I am…. consciousness, a seamless whole, love, and so on. Whether it actually is or not, is not something I easily can say something about.

This is independent of any worldviews or ideologies. It’s just a noticing. And it’s compatible with a range of worldviews.

This is also what I call the small or psychological interpretation of awakening. The essence of what we discover – and what we live from if we chose to – is the essence of what mystics from all the main spiritual traditions have reported, and also those outside of spiritual traditions. And we are cautious about assuming that our own nature is the nature of all of existence.

I like this way of looking at awakening since it’s intellectually honest, and it may make awakening more accessible to those who don’t have a spiritual worldview or inclination.

Already, it’s sobering. We are honest about what we find for ourselves, and hold back from drawing any big conclusions beyond what we can easily say something about.

It’s also sobering in another way.

My life is still the same. I still have a life to live, as best I can. I still have the same challenging situations in life to deal with. I still have to be a good steward for my life. I cannot so easily tell myself otherwise, based on some religious or spiritual idea about karma, fate, that all will be good after I die, that it’s all guided by the divine, and so on. I have to rely on myself and live my life the best I can.

I prefer to have some fluidity and shift between the small (psychological) and big (spiritual) views on awakening. The small keeps me more sober and grounded, and the big opens things up and can be more inspiring.


  • sobering quality
    • small interpretation of awakening
    • to me, this is what I am, don’t assume it says something about the rest of existence
    • doesn’t change my life in any essential way, still have to live my life the best I can

The sobering quality of the small view on awakening
Life is still the same
Just what I am to myself that’s different

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