nasa earth

The overview effect & Big Mind

There is an interesting parallel between the overview effect as it’s described by astronauts, and what’s described by those among us exploring our more fundamental nature.


Astronauts describe a shift that happens when they see the Earth from space. They see Earth as one seamless whole, without any visible borders. They are struck by the fragility and immense beauty of this living planet. And they experience a sense of awe and a wish to protect life.

This effect seems to be stronger the further out the astronauts were, it seems to bring lasting changes, and happens for many although not all astronauts.


Something similar seems to happen among those who explore their more fundamental nature.

To ourselves, we are consciousness. We are this field of consciousness that any and all experiences happen within and as. And when we find ourselves as that, we view any content of experience more from the “outside”. Identification is released out of any particular content of experience.

Here too, we notice the world as a seamless whole, without any inherent boundaries. We are struck by the immense beauty of it all. And we experience a sense of awe and a wish to protect life.

And as with astronauts, there are some individual differences in how we experience and respond to it.


There is also an important difference between the two.

Astronauts literally leave Earth and see it from a point in space.

When we find our more fundamental nature, we find ourselves as the field that any and all experience happens within and as. It’s more as if space itself notices itself as all and as forming itself into whatever content of experience is here.


When the shift happened for me, in my mid-teens, it was much as I describe it here.

It happened suddenly and “out of the blue”. I found myself as the consciousness everything, to me, happened within and as. (This human self, the wider world, my human responses to this shift, and so on.)

I was struck by the immense beauty of it all. All was a seamless whole without any boundaries. And it brought up deep awe.

In my childhood and teens, I loved space, astronomy, and space exploration, and one reason was for the perspective it gives us on Earth and our life here. I also got into systems theories since they show the seamless whole we are all part of. And I loved Frank White‘s book The Overview Effect when I found it in my early twenties.

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Awe and our nature

A recent study found that most people experience awe twice a week.

I assume this refers to bigger experiences of awe, perhaps triggered by nature, a baby, music, and so on.

For me, I would say that awe is always here. I may be focused on something else. And it may not be a label I consciously put on it. But it’s always here. There is always quiet awe here, and it seems connected with what I more fundamentally am. (And especially noticing what I more fundamentally am.)


If the oneness we are takes itself as primarily a human being, as something particular within the field of experience, then awe for us is likely something that comes and goes. It’s more about the bigger experience of awe, and that comes and goes as any other experience.


If the oneness we are recognizes itself, it seems a bit different.

Here, I find myself as the whole field of experience. I am what it all happens within and as. I am what the world, to me, happens within and as. That opens for a natural receptivity, and also a natural quiet sense of awe. It seems quietly inherent in our nature noticing itself. (Of course, it can be temporarily obscured by human reactivity, hangups, and so on.)


As far as I can tell, the awe is the same in these two instances, it’s more the expression that’s different.

One expression is the awe that comes and goes and is triggered by different things. This awe has a volume button and is connected with certain experiences and situations.

The other is a quiet awe that’s more in the background and always here, and it seems connected with noticing my more fundamental nature.

And both are here at the same time. There is a quiet awe in the background and the awe that has a volume button and becomes stronger in some situations.


There is also a special trigger of awe for me, and that’s the awe of anything existing at all.

How come there is something rather than nothing?

This stops my mind since it cannot find even the beginning of an answer anywhere.

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Each being is a world

After my partner and I became stewards of some beautiful land, this has been more in the foreground of my mind.

Each being is a world.

On that piece of land, millions or billions of beings (depending on whether you want to include microbes), live their whole life or significant parts of their lives (birds, mammals).

In each case, there will never exist a being like that again. Each one is a unique occurrence.

And each of them experiences the world in their own way. They are, quite literally, their own unique world. A world that has never existed before, does not exist anywhere else, and will never exist again.

Remembering this is very moving for me. It fills me with reverence to be a temporary steward of this land and do my part in protecting it and supporting it to regenerate and rewild.

What’s most amazing: That anything exists at all

This life, planet, and universe is pretty amazing. It’s full of wonders.

And yet, what’s more amazing is that anything is at all.

How can it be that there is something rather than nothing?

That seems baffling and beyond understanding.

Note: If we are into non-duality and nitpicking about words, we can say that this something is really no-thing. It happens within and as what we are. It happens within and as what we could call awakeness. It’s not a thing. And yet, it’s still not nothing. And that doesn’t change how baffling it is that anything is at all, even if this anything is not a “thing” the way it appears when we don’t notice it’s all happening within and as awakeness.

The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious

The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and all science.
– Albert Einstein

I have called this blog Mystery of Existence. In what way is existence a mystery, and in what way is it not?

To me, it’s all a mystery. Any image I have of the world is just that, an image. Reality itself is not that. It’s also a profound mystery that anything exists at all, and that I – as awareness, this human self – am.

And some things are – to some extent – less of a mystery. It’s all Spirit (awareness, awareness as form, capacity for all of it). There is identification with an image of me and I, or not. Certain things happens when a thought is taken as true (a sense of separation, fear, contraction etc.), and certain things happens when it’s released from being taken as true (love, kindness is more free to live through this life).

That anything exists at all

Ever since I was a kid, I have been amazed that anything exists at all.

It is completely incomprehensible, whether what we are is awake to itself or not.

How can something come from nothing, even if this something is just the play of nothingness?

Marcel Marceau


It was an unforgettable experience to see Marcel Marceau live a few years back. More than almost anyone I can think of, he was able to remind me of the magic of everyday life, and evoke the wonder and awe of the innocent child that is still here in each of us – revealed when the grip on beliefs and identities are released for a moment.

In the receptive mind and heart is appreciation for life, as it is here and now. And we love those who remind us of that.