Notice vs realize

In spirituality, people sometimes talk about realization or realizing our true nature.

I tend to avoid using realize in that sense.

Why? It’s mostly just a personal preference.

The word realization can come with some baggage and misleading associations. It’s a word that can be taken to refer to something we figure out within thought. And although thoughts can play a role, that’s not really what it’s about. For the same reason, we can also take it as something we realize once and for all and then it’s done. Of course, the traditions and teachers who use the word realize point this out as well.

I prefer the word notice, to notice what we are. It suggests it’s immediate, fresh, and direct, and suggests it doesn’t have to do with thoughts. It also seems simpler and more ordinary, which is appropriate since what’s noticed is the most ordinary (no) thing there is. It’s what we are and are the most familiar with, even if we don’t consciously notice it.

At the same time, realize has useful connotations notice doesn’t have. For instance, one definition of realize is to become fully aware of something and understand it clearly. It goes beyond just noticing and suggests that it needs to be seen and understood thoroughly, and even lived thoroughly. This is, of course, something we can clarify when we use the word notice.

I don’t have a strong preference here and I have no trouble with people using realize. It’s just that notice resonates with me more right now, and it may change.

Note: Since I mentioned the role of thoughts earlier, what is the role of thoughts in this context? Thoughts can serve as a pointer for noticing what we are, for instance through guided inquiry. Thoughts can reflect what we notice and find. And thoughts can also serve as a pointer for how to live from it and perhaps avoiding some of the pitfalls (although we often have to get our own experience with those pitfalls).

Recognize vs realize etc.

Here is a very simple way of thinking about this process:

Recognize vs. realize

It’s possible to recognize what’s here, to notice it, to have a glimpse. And it’s possible to realize it, to live it, to deepen in lived familiarity with it.

Nature of reality vs. nature of illusion

What can be recognized and realized is the nature of reality, what we – this field of experience – really are, aka (a) presence, love, awareness, (b) all of this as this field of appearances, and (c) capacity for all of it.

And we can recognize and realize the nature of illusion, how the world of apparent separation etc. is created through taking images and thoughts as true, and all the dynamics around this.

As a whole vs. parts

The nature of reality and the nature of illusion can be recognized and realized globally, as the whole of this field of experience.

And it can be recognized/realized by the different parts of me, the subpersonalities, the different aspects of this psyche. This happens through holding satsang with these parts, as they surface to find their own liberation, to realize the nature of reality and illusion for themselves, to recognize and realize what they really are.

Milestones vs. ongoing

There are some common milestones in recognizing/realizing the nature of reality and illusion, and it’s also ongoing. There is always further to go. Reality keeps opening up to itself. There is (most likely) no end point.

Read More