The banality of awakening

There is a certain banality to awakening.


It’s what we are noticing itself. It’s our nature awakening to itself. And our nature is completely ordinary. It’s all we have ever known and all we will ever know.

When our nature recognizes itself and gets used to it, it becomes ordinary. It can even, at times, seem a bit banal. (That’s part of how our human self may relate to it.)

It’s also banal in that it’s not so difficult to notice. Through guidance and pointers, just about anyone can notice it and get a taste of it. The most effective approaches I have found are The Big Mind process and the Headless experiments. These can give a direct taste within minutes or seconds. The Kiloby Inquiries (based on traditional Buddhist inquiry) are also effective, although it’s often a slightly longer process.

So it’s banal in that it’s our nature – what we already are – noticing itself. It’s banal in that this too gets ordinary over time. And it’s banal in that it’s not so difficult to find and notice, with the right guidance.


What’s awakening about?

In a conventional sense, we are this human self living its life in the world. That’s not wrong, and it’s an assumption that works relatively well. It matches reality well enough. And the ways it doesn’t match is where it that assumption creates discomfort and unease and perhaps even suffering.

More fundamentally, we are something else.

In my own immediate experience, I find I am more fundamentally capacity for any and all experience. I am what the whole field of experience, all content of experience, happens within and as. This human self and the wider world happen within and as what I am.

Logically, I find the same. If I “have” consciousness, it means I – to myself – AM consciousness. And it also means that, to me, the world happens within and as what I am. I am this field of consciousness any and all experience happens within and as. Logically, it cannot be any other way.

When we find ourselves as more fundamentally consciousness, we also notice what mystics across time and cultures describe. We find oneness. We find that the world, inevitably, appears as consciousness, and if we are so inclined we may call that the divine, Spirit, God, Brahman, and so on. (The world appears as consciousness to me since, to me, it happens within and as the consciousness I am. That doesn’t necessarily mean that’s the nature of all that exists.) We find a love that’s all-inclusive and doesn’t depend on emotions or shifting content of experience. (And which may be covered up or sidetracked by the hangups and biases of this human self.)

What’s my connection with this human self? There is a special connection with this particular human self. I receive sense information through the physical senses of this human self. It seems that thoughts and emotions are connected with – and perhaps generated by – this human self. This human self is around all the time during (what we call) waking consciousness. This human self is what many others see me as. In a way, it’s my vehicle in the world. And it’s not what I most fundamentally am, in my own experience.


There is also something extraordinary to it.

There is something extraordinary in that anything exists at all. How come there is something rather than nothing? How come there is consciousness? How come there is an apparent world? That’s completely baffling to me and the question stops my mind. (1)

If the oneness we are has taken itself as something in particular within its field of experience (this human self, an observer, a doer, etc.), and it recognizes its nature, then it tends to be experienced as amazing and extraordinary. It’s typically both very familiar and feels like coming home and it’s something we have always, somehow, known, and it also seems completely amazing and extraordinary. And it does become ordinary after a while, which is good since it allows us to focus on something else instead of being distracted by our experience of the extraordinariness of it.

As with just about anything else, there is no end to wrinkles and intricacies of awakening and how to explore and live from it. In that sense, it’s anything but banal.


When the oneness shift happened when I was sixteen, it did seem absolutely amazing. It turned my (experience of) the world and myself inside-out and upside-down. My human self and psyche responded to it by seeing it as amazing and extraordinary for many years, even as I kept exploring it. (My nature, how it interfaces with my human self, how to live from and as it, and so on). It took some years before I found anyone talking about this or describing it, and although what I found at first was filtered through a culture different from my own, I found it fascinating to see how people talked about it.

After a while, it became more ordinary – and sometimes even banal. This took a couple of decades in my case (!), perhaps because this human self tends to be fascinated by the mystery of it all. It’s an ongoing process that’s always new and fresh and keeps revealing new sides of itself.

I am still baffled that anything exists, and I continue to be fascinated by the intricacies and the ongoing exploration process. (Part of that exploration process is to invite more of my human self and psyche to align with the awakening. This too is an ongoing, and sometimes challenging, process.)

(1) Some misunderstand and say: “It’s because it’s created by God”. But God too is something rather than nothing.


The banality og awakening

  • simple, obvious in many ways 
  • Yet not so common 
  • And a lot of wrinkles and intricacies as there is with just about everything in life 

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