These two quotes from John Wren-Lewis is an example of how an early awakening can be filtered...
I feel as if the back of my head has been sawn off so that it is no longer the 60-year-old John who looks out at the world, but the shining dark infinite void that in some extraordinary way is also "I." [...]What is happening is that Big Mind awakens to itself, but can't quite believe it. So as an intermediary step, it filters itself in a different way, as a stepping stone into a more full and clear awakening.
Thus, in one sense, I feel as if I am infinitely far back in sensing the world, yet at the same time I feel the very opposite, as if my consciousness is no longer inside my head at all, but out there in the things I am experiencing . . .
What is always and already here, for all of us, is the field of seeing & seen which is inherently absent of I. And for most of us, it is filtered through a sense of I and Other. The seeing is interpreted as right here, in or around this human self, and the seen is outside and inside of this human self.
When there is an early awakening into Big Mind, when this field catches a glimpse of itself as a field, it may be too radical, too different from what it is used to. It cannot find itself comfortable with the field of awake emptiness and form, as a field with no center, with no separate I anywhere, with no I and Other.
So it filters its experience of itself in a slightly different way, for instance as the back of the head sawn off, or as a sense of I somewhere behind the human self, or as a sense of I infinitely far back and also out there in the seen, or as a subtle I here not separate from anything, or a subtle I here yet also out there.
Eventually, as it gets more comfortable with this, and catches more glimpses of itself in a more unfiltered way, it may be ready to let go of even these filters, and awaken to itself as a field with no center and no I anywhere.
This can initially be experienced as a free fall, as having no anchors anywhere, no fixed identity and nowhere to anchor any identity. And then this too becomes familiar.
Unfamiliar and familiar
In my experience, there is an experience of unfamiliarity and familiarity at each of these shifts. It is radically unfamiliar, new, completely different from how any previous identity, and can be scary in that way. At the same time, what opens up is strangely familiar, nothing new, known at some level.
And this is really what we would expect. For each shift, there is a stepping outside of old identities and into something that seems unfamiliar and maybe even frightening. And for each shift, what we already and always are awakens a little more to itself, with a few less filters.
Most unfamiliar, and most familiar
There is an irony in this, and especially in the final shedding of filters.
Shedding filters into the field awakening to itself as a centerless and selfless field, is often perceived as most frightening, as loosing all ground, any fixed identity, anything familiar.
Yet at the same time, it is the most profound homecoming, a relaxation into what we always and already are. A letting go of all the filters of I and Other and any fixed identity, which it takes so much energy to uphold.
We find ourselves as the Ground of everything, of seeing and seen, of awake emptiness and form. There is nothing to resist anymore. No need to filter through a sense of I and Other. All as the I that has no Other. It is the home free from, behind and within any more conventional sense of home and homelessness.
In terms of our old identity, as a separate I with a (more or less) fixed identity, it is the most unfamiliar. And in terms of what we already are, it is the most familiar.