When apprehended as a point or dot, awareness is infinitely small, with everything else existing outside it.
Let's return to the understanding of I as a vanishingly small dot of awareness, so small that it illuminates everything around it without getting in the way of itself, like a tiny little sun.
Around it appear to revolve all the subjective experiences – feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations – that I typically think of as myself, but which I realize are not really me. Outside of that is the world of things that I typically think of as separate from myself, which are also not me.
This is simply a description in words of a possible way to approach the question Who am I? Like the more conventional materialist description, it has advantages and disadvantages, which we've discussed.
However, any description in words, images, or even mathematics is going to be a simplification of reality, as a map is a simplification of an area of land. In some sense, this particular description is a tool that will ultimately, I hope, allow you to access an understanding of yourself that is free of the limitations of any such description.
But all of us grow up and are, therefore, enculturated in a world where there is wide agreement that the materialist description of reality is reality – or, at least, the best possible description of reality. That's why I start this inquiry by adopting words, images, and other tools that both you and I are likely to share as we set off on this exploration.
Along the way, we lighten the load that we're carrying by dropping those tool that are no longer useful, or even potentially counterproductive. We can always pick them up again or refashion them should we need them.
One such tool that I want to acknowledge on the way to letting it go is this conception of ourselves as a tiny point of awareness at the center of everything it observes. It's a useful description, and can serve you to help unhook you from identifying yourself as thoughts and feelings that can be understood as separate from who you are.
In fact, I hope it has helped you, for example, to turn down the volume on the metaphorical podcast of thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, and intrusions from the outside world that is constantly broadcasting within your awareness.
As long as I have access to an experience of I as separate from all of these things, I can to some extent detach from them.
And this type of detachment is an essential first step to surrender, which in many spiritual and even non-spiritual traditions you may recognize as potentially helpful way to respond to circumstances that appear painful, frightening, enraging, or otherwise emotionally overwhelming.
So, let me ask you officially to sign off on the understanding of yourself as a tiny dot of awareness as not as the only way, but merely as one possible way, to answer the question Who am I?
If that feels doable, skip to Insight 22.