When we notice what we are, and put it into words, it can seem like philosophizing to others.
If they don’t have a reference from their own direct noticing, it looks like words that don’t point to anything. They see it as just words and philosophizing.
If they notice what they are, or even have a memory of it, then it’s different. Then, they recognize what it points to and that it points to a direct noticing and realization.
When realization appears as philosophizing
Say we notice what we are. We find ourselves as capacity for the world, and what our experiences happen within and as. And we put it into words. We talk about it and how it is to live from it, to the best our ability.
To us, these words come from direct noticing and experience. We may try to talk about it as simply, clearly, and directly as possible.
It’s not so easy since words differentiate and this is about something that’s beyond what’s differentiated. And the way we do it will inevitably be colored by our culture, background, and how we have heard others talk about it. We may even slip into a bit of philosophizing if we go beyond direct noticing and experience.
To others who don’t have a reference for this, it easily appears as philosophizing. The words don’t relate to their own noticing or even a memory of past noticing, so the words inevitably appear as words and philosophizing without any real-life reference. It can easily be taken as fantasy and imagination.
To others who have a reference, it’s clear where it comes from. They recognize that it comes from direct noticing and living from it. They recognize it from their own noticing or even a memory of a past noticing.
Why put it into words?
So why even talk about it?
It’s a question I sometimes ask myself. Why do I write here?
I do it mostly for myself. It helps clarify a few things for me, and it helps me further notice and explore.
And I also know that it’s sometimes helpful for me when others put what they notice into words. It’s a reminder to notice. It can be a pointer for noticing different aspects of what I am. It’s a pointer for exploring how to live from it. It encourages me to keep exploring all of this. And it’s interesting to see how others put it into words.
For some, hearing about this may trigger curiosity and an interest in exploring this and finding for themselves what they are. If that happened just once, that in itself would make it worth it.
So although this is perhaps the most personal type of exploration, it’s also shared. We share what we find with others, and that helps all of us in different ways.
And I am sure that in some cases, we notice what we are, explore how to live from it, and don’t see any need for putting it into words. And that’s beautiful too. In a sense, it’s more honest since this cannot really be put into words. We can at most, and imperfectly, point to it and offer some practical guidance.
Some of my own experiences
When the initial awakening happened in my mid-teens, I didn’t know or know about anyone else who had the same realization. I had been an atheist with some interest in parapsychology. I lived in a small town in Norway. And this was in the pre-internet era. So it wasn’t easy to find anyone else.
For several years, I didn’t talk about it because I knew it wouldn’t resonate with those around me. But I did explore books to see if I could find someone who had the same realization and had put it into words.
The first one I found was Meister Eckhart, in a book in the main library in Oslo. I still remember standing in front of the shelf, looking at an old book with blue library-style cover, and realizing that this guy got it too. It was covered up in Christian terminology and ideas, but behind it was clearly a direct noticing.
Later, I went to the Tibetan Buddhist center in Oslo, and noticed that if I spoke from my own direct noticing and experience, it was typically perceived as if I referenced something from a book. Perhaps the ones I talked with didn’t recognize it for themselves, so they automatically thought it was from a book? I had many of that types of interactions in the following years.
There were two I met who got it, and where we immediately recognized it in each other. One was a woman I met in a tai chi class and who is still a friend. The other was the then-wife of Jes Bertelsen when she held a couple of courses in Oslo. I also saw that Jes Bertelsen clearly got it, and loved his books.
When I got to the Zen center in Salt Lake City (Kanzeon Zen Center), I could see that the main teacher got it, and also several of the junior teachers. Here, I felt that the tradition got in the way of a more human-to-human connection. When Genpo Roshi developed the Big Mind process, it all got to be more immediate and more free of tradition, and it was exciting for me to find a way to share the noticing with others through a relatively simple process.
Even some years later, I discovered Adyashanti and Byron Katie, and this was the first time I felt a real kinship. These two clearly got it, and they expressed it in a clear and direct way free of tradition. A few years later, I discovered Douglas Harding and the Headless Way, and that was the same experience.
To this day, these are the ones I feel the most kinship with.
I also saw that many Advaita and Neo-Advaita folks got it, but again it seemed caught up in ideology. I found a lot that was interesting and useful there, but it didn’t resonate as much with me as Adya, Katie, and Douglas Harding. Too often, they seemed to favor the “absolute” at the expense of the wholeness and living from it in the world. That’s completely valid and I am grateful someone is taking this approach, but it doesn’t resonate so much with me personally.
I almost forgot that in my teens, while still in Norway, I discovered Ken Wilber’s “No Boundaries”, and that immediately became one of my favorite books and I read everything I could find by Wilber, including his new books as they came out. I also loved the books by Fritjof Capra. And I completely loved Taoism and read everything I could find – I Ching in the Richard Wilhelm translation, the Taoist classics, Mantak Chia’s books and exercises, and a lot more. In my teens and early twenties, I also got deeply into Christian mysticism and the Christ meditation and Jesus/Heart prayer. And in my early twenties, I discovered the “Overview Effect” by Frank White. Through all of this, I found a virtual community of people with insights and realizations that resonated with me.
If I am honest, it’s been a quite lonely process. When I talked with Adya some years ago – in private for a couple of hours – I realized how much I missed someone who got this. There have been people, but they have often been in a teacher role and not friends. And there have been people who got it but cover themselves up in tradition so there is less of a direct expression and connection. Fortunately, I now have a partner who gets it, and that makes a big difference.
After all, although we are capacity for the world, we are also a human being in the world. And as that human being, we seek companionship and people we resonate with.