There are many ways of knowing in general.
And there are many ways of knowing our nature.
WHAT IS MY NATURE?
What is my nature?
Are I this human self? To others, in my passport, and to myself when I take on that identity, that’s true enough. It’s an identity that works well. (Although it comes with some inherent stress since it’s not completely aligned with the reality as it appears to me.)
And when I take a closer look in my own first-person experience, I find I am more fundamentally somehting else.
I am more fundamentally capacity for my experiences – for the world as it appears to me and any content of experience.
And I am more fundamentally what the content of my experience happens within and as. What the world as it appears to me – including this human self, others, the wider world, and any states and experiences – happen within and as.
I am the oneness the world, to me, happens within and as.
This is a direct noticing. It’s not primarily a philosophy, although it will inevitably appear that way when reflected in words. It’s not a “mystical” view since it doesn’t require any adherence to any religion or form of spirituality or anything else. It just requires noticing.
It also doesn’t suppose anything divine, any God or Spirit or anything of that sort. All I can say about it is that there are experiences here. That points to consciousness. No matter what that consciousness rest on in some third-person or objective sense – whether it’s created by this human body and nervous system or whether it’s a part of a divine reality or God or Brahman – to myself I am this consciousness. And to me, the world happens within and as what I am, and I am capacity for the world as it appears to me.
To myself, I am inevitably consciousness, the world happens within and as what I am, I am capacity for the world as it appears to me, and I am the oneness the world to me happens within and as.
WAYS OF KNOWING MY NATURE
So what are some ways I can know my nature?
I can have mental concepts – ideas, maps – about it. Whether I notice my nature or not, and no matter where my visceral “center of gravity” is, I can have these concepts.
And no matter what, it’s helpful to identify, explore, and question these concepts. They may be more or less accurate in a conventional sense, and they are ultimately all wrong and somewhat misleading. Reality is always more than and different from our ideas about it, and ultimately – to us – also simpler. And so also with our nature.
This investigation also helps me differentiate noticing ideas versus noticing what the ideas point to, which are two very different things and sometimes – when it comes to apparently ephemeral things like our nature – it can be easy to mix the two up.
I can notice my nature more directly. Popular misconceptions says this is very difficult, can take lifetimes of practice, and so on. And, in reality, it can be sinple and quick – especially if we are guided by someone familiar with the terrain, familiar with guiding others in noticing their nature, and who is using effective structured pointers – for instance Headless experiments and the Big Mind process.
Noticing once is helpful. And in terms of transformation – of our perception, sense of what we most fundamentally are, and of our human self and life in the world – keeping noticing is where it’s at. This requires a deep interest which helps us prioritize it over most or all else, and which keeps us coming back to it through the day.
This ongoing noticing helps me be more familiar with the terrain – the terrain of what I am, the transformations that happen through this ongoing noticing, and how it is for this human self to live in the context of this noticing in daily life and through different situations.
The more we actively investigate and explore these different parts of the process, the more familiar with will be with this terrain. And we’ll have different fascinations and ways to explore it that gives us all different levels of familiarity with different parts of this vast and infinite terrain of who and what we are and the process of noticing our nature and living from it.
Through this process, the center of gravity of what we take ourselves to be will shift. What we viscerally experience ourselves as, without having to shift our attention anywhere, will shift.
An initial noticing of our nature may or may not shift our visceral experience of what we more fundamentally are. If the noticing comes through guided inquiry, it may not shift too much at first. The shifts happen over time as we keep noticing and exploring.
If the noticing comes more spontaneouslly, or following long practice and exploration, the shift may be more dramatic and immediate.
And, in most cases, there are many shifts like this. Our nature keeps revealing new layers of itself to itself.
So we have a conceptual knowing. We have the knowing that comes from direct noticing. We have the knowing that comes from exploring and becomning more familiar with the terrain over time. And we have the knowing that comes from viscerally finding ourselves as capacity, oneness, love, and so on.
IN MY CASE
This is not always sequential.
In my case, the initial noticing and shift of center of gravity happened at the same time and without any apparent warning or preparation.
I was a nerdy and angsty teeanger, walking down a path at night with a big wind blowing through the landscape and the night sky littered with stars above me. And from one second to the next, my visceral sense of identity went from this awkward human being with social anxiety to the oneness all of existence happens within and as. The consciousness that all happens within and as.
Previous to this, I had less than no interest in relgion or spirituality. I had decided I was an atheist in elementary school since religion seemed mostly absurd to me and a crutch.
This was a visceral shift that never went away. And most of the insights I write about here came immediately or over the first short period after this shift.
At the same time, it has taken a long time to get more familiar with the landscape and how to live from it. My human self continued to have many of the same issues, and it takes time – at least in my case – to find healing for these.
And it also took a bit of time to reflect the noticng and my experiences in some preliminary and provisional maps. For instance, I loved Ken Wilber’s integral model when I discovered it later in my teens.
And there has been several shifts since. For instance, some years ago, there was a much stronger shift into the oneness and “no self” aspect of my nature which helped me viscerally differentiate my nature versus shifting experiences more clearly.
And there has been shifts into what can be called the divine feminine or a kind of soft fertile darkness aspect of my nature.
This is all an ongoing process and exploration.
- Ways of knowing
- Eg knowing or nature
- story, map, ideas
- Familiar with the terrain
- Visceral, living it, shift of center of gravity