What we are to ourselves vs what reality is

If we find our “true nature” and what we are to ourselves, is that nature also the nature of all of existence?


What are we to ourselves?

We may assume we are this human self living in the world. And yet, this human self and the world happen within content of experience and it always changes. Nothing about it stays the same. The only thing that seems to stay the same may be the assumption that we are this human self, although that assumption is new each moment so that too is never the same.

When we look more closely, we may find that in our own first-person experience, we are capacity for all our content of experience, whether it’s of this human self or the wider world. What we more fundamentally are, to ourselves, is this capacity. We are what this human self, the wider world, and any content of experience happen within and as.

When we notice this, we may also notice that all content of experience is similar to a dream to us. Our nightly dreams happen within and as what we are, and we can – very imperfectly – say they happen within and as consciousness. And that’s the same with any content of experience, whether it happens during dreams or our waking life. It all happens within and as what we are, and what a thought may label consciousness.

To us, it inevitably appears that the world IS consciousness since, to us, it happens within and as consciousness.


But is that what reality or existence really is?

The short answer is that we cannot know. It’s good to be honest about this and differentiate (a) what we are to ourselves, (b) how the world appears to us, and (c) what the world, reality, or existence inherently is.

Through science, we see that the universe and the world of matter is overwhelmingly space, and that fits – to some extent – our own direct experience. It has a dreamlike quality as if we can put our hand through it.


As I have mentioned in other articles, there are many benefits to making this differentiation.

It’s honest.

It fits our own immediate experience.

It means that awakening – and oneness and so on – doesn’t require a particularly spiritual or religious worldview.

It gets to the essence of awakening as it is described in many traditions while being free of much of the terminology and the baggage.

It allows for a more pragmatic and grounded approach to awakening. It demystifies awakening.

Awakening, in this view, is compatible with a range of different worldviews including atheism and agnosticism and even softer forms of materialism.

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