The extraordinary and ordinary of awakening

Awakening can be talked about as extraordinary and ordinary, and even extraordinarily ordinary (!), and all of it has some truth to it.


A spiritual opening or awakening can seem special and amazing in contrast to an unawake state. This can last for a while until the awakening becomes more familiar, lived, and – in a sense – ordinary.

Finding what we are gives us what we most deeply long for. When the One takes itself to be something separate within itself, it tends to create neediness, a sense of lack, and longing. And awakening is the solution for that neediness, lack, and longing.

When we notice what we are, we can more easily dissolve any wounds, hangups, and traumas we have as human beings in the world. It’s not an easy process, and it can be messy, but we are coming from the right place to do and allow it. (It partly comes from intention and doing, and partly allowing.)

Presenting it as special and amazing can be used as a strategy to attract people. It appeals to our wishes and dreams when we come from an unawake state. (To me, this seems a bit too deceptive, even if there is a grain of truth to it.)


At the same time, awakening is simple and ordinary, and the essence of it is already familiar to us.

It’s the ordinary consciousness we are all familiar with that wakes up to itself as that which all happens within and as.

What we find we are has always been here. We have just been temporarily transfixed by the assumption that we most fundamentally are something within the content of experience (this human self), and we have taken the rest – consciousness, the rest of the world – as others. When we find what we more fundamentally are, in our own first-person experience, we realize we (also) are what we took to be background or context.

We discover that our world, as it appears to us, happens within and as what we are. This is compatible with just about any worldview, whether it is atheistic or spiritual of some kind.

Since, to us, the world happens within and as awakeness or consciousness, it may seem that all of existence IS awakeness or consciousness. But that’s a step beyond what’s in our immediate experience. It’s good to be honest about this and differentiate what’s our own nature and fits most worldviews, and what’s an assumption about reality itself and fits only more spiritual or religious worldviews.

This is all pragmatic, practical, and something we can explore for ourselves. We can also say it is, in a sense, logical and even inevitable. To ourselves, we most fundamentally have to be what our world happens within and as. We are not, most fundamentally, any particular content of our experience since it all – including this human self – comes and goes and is in constant change.


If we only present awakening as extraordinary, we leave out the inherent ordinariness of it. And if we only present it as amazing and perhaps blissful, we leave out the messiness and challenges of the process. In both cases, we present only part of the picture, it’s misleading, and we are likely doing people a disservice.

If we only talk about the simplicity and ordinariness of it, we leave out how amazing it can seem when we first discover what we are, that it is what we most deeply have been seeking, and the ability of this noticing of what we are to dissolve wounds, hangups, and even – over time – trauma.

Including both gives a slightly fuller picture, and gives people a slightly more accurate idea of what the process may entail.

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Interpreting ordinary human experiences as part of awakening process

Seems that constantly being challenged is part of the awakening process

Someone commenting in a Facebook group

Yes, and it’s also how humans in general experience life. It’s universal. It’s part of life.

It’s tempting to interpret anything as being part of my awakening process. It makes it feel more significant and special. It gives it an extra spark.

And yet, so often, what happens in our life is just ordinarily human. We get sick as all do. We have challenges as we all do. We experience synchronicities, as all humans do now and then.

It’s helpful to be honest about this. What happens in our life is mostly ordinarily human. Even the awakening process and everything part of it is ordinary and universal. It happens to a lot and – most likely – eventually all beings, and the content of process itself is quite universal.

There is an upside to seeing anything happening in our life as part of an awakening process. It may help us make use of it in a more constructive way and see it in a more constructive context.

There is also a downside to it. If we see it in contrast to how most people live their life, we use a story to make our own life seem more special and different. In our mind, we may set us aside from others while we, in reality, are not so different. And we may do it avoid feeling and encountering certain feelings and thoughts in ourselves. That’s OK for a while, but at some point it’s easier and more helpful to meet and befriend it, and recognize that too – the uncomfortable feelings and thoughts – as local expressions of the divine. It’s all happening within the One.

As the awakening process matures and becomes more ordinary, it’s all recognized as the divine. And it’s all recognized as a miracle and ordinary.

It’s a miracle that anything exists at all, and all the amazing ways it exists. It’s ordinary in that it’s all the divine. And it’s ordinary in that all our experiences are ordinarily human, and ordinary parts of an awakening process.

The miracle gives it all a spark. The ordinariness allows us to relax trying to be different, special, and better or worse than others.

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