What is involved in being an observer of the stillness?
When we sit in silence what do we do? We sit and observe the voluntary and involuntary activities of the body and mind. Slowly the voluntary activities come to an end, but the involuntary activities we have inherited from birth, from our family, religion, race, nationality -which fill the mind – go on, and we sit and observe their unfoldment.
Since we are used to working all the time we may find it difficult at first to sit quiet, or the body may fall asleep due to accumulated fatigue. If it happens it is desirable to rest the body for a few days till it is fresh again. While you sit in silence, thoughts will arise, as the mind has been working for 24 hours. The thoughts cannot be suppressed nor can they be thrown away anywhere, you can only watch them, not naming them as good or bad. Then you are free from the roles of an experiencer and an actor, you enter into the state of an observer of non-reactional attention.
As soon as the mind begins moving and says: “I like” or “I dislike” what it sees, there is a disturbance, a burdening of the mind and the role of the observer is lost and you are once more immersed into the roles of an experiencer and actor. If you do not react to the thoughts you are observing, if they no longer have the power to elicit any reaction from you then they will subside of their own accord.
Effects of observation in relationships
We have to extend this attitude of observation in relationships. Once the observer state is awakened it changes relationships. It is a tremendous energy that is awakened. When observation becomes a continuous state throughout the day, then:
(1) There is no self-deception. We do not hide anything from ourselves. There is nothing left as subconscious or unconscious it being all revealed in observation. There is now only the conscious level.
(2) We stop deceiving others or presenting a different image of ourselves to others. The seeing of what is, without justification or condemnation shatters the image. We now have the courage to live and be what we are.
(3) We become aware of all that is happening within us, of the different emotions arising within us, for example if we begin to get angry we are aware of it and so the grip of anger loosens its hold over us.
(4) We recognise and admit our mistakes; asking for forgiveness immediately, thus freeing the mind from the burden of residue.
(5) Through observation thoughts subside, hence the strain and pressure they cause on the neurological and chemical systems is also lifted. It is this tension that brings about anti-social behaviour.
(6) Pain and pleasure are not taken further then the present moment; thus no grudges or attachments are formed. The art of living is to live completely in the moment, not carrying any residue over to next incident, person or day.
First we sat to observe our thoughts, which not being unlimited subside after some time. When they subside there is an awareness of the emptiness within. There is a dimension of emptiness, like there is a dimension of time and space. When we touch the dimension of emptiness and stay steady in it, nothing happens, there is only emptiness. The mind is then afraid, for it has not been educated to live in that motionlessness. When there is functionlessness of the “I consciousness”, the “I” feels as if it is dying, there is fear and one wants to return to the mind, to more familiar grounds. The first touch of emptiness is like death but there is not an experiencing of emptiness, there is no one to experience it; the “I” and its functional roles not being there any more, even the observer is not necessary any more. There is only a consciousness that this is emptiness and after some time even that goes.
To surrender all activity to the emptiness requires courage. Man must be able to stick it out and not to run away from this state, he must be able to digest it. After all, what is there to be afraid of? It is a fact of the organic Reality of Life. It is a phase that does not last but it comes in life and if man stays patiently with it, it will leave him as it arose.
We are in the dimension of silence, of space. In this state there is nothing to experience, nothing to gain, nothing to see, there is only emptiness. Whenever there is work to do, you do it, when someone comes before you, you respond, and when there is no need to act then the emptiness within becomes the abode of the “I consciousness”. The home is no longer the mind but silence. One lives in silence all the time. One remains steady in the emptiness.
From the attitude of an actor, of an experiencer we moved into the attitude of an observer. From the state of observation we moved into the dimension of silence. And from silence we move into the dimension of dhyan. We shall see what dhyan is and what dhyan is not.
The light or energy within us works in many different ways and can be utilised in many different ways. Some people develop this energy by developing the powers of the mind, or the powers of concentration or psychic powers, but all these are activities and not dhyan. You can awaken energies in the body but those who want to know what Reality is are not attracted or interested in such powers.
Dhyan is not an activity but a state of being, a dimension of being. It is a state of motionlessness where the ego is dissolved and you have let it be dissolved, where there is no experiencing but only a state of non-knowing, non-doing. Some have described it as the dark night of the soul. There is no tension at all in this state; the space within is being activated. It is a very delicate state that has to be looked after. You need to be alone then and need time to adjust to it.
In the dimension of dhyan you have let the activities of the mind come to an end. The conditioned energy of the mind is quiet. The unconditioned part of the energy, which is within and without, now begins to work. There is an awakening of the Perceptive Intelligence. There is a new freshness and ecstasy. Universal Consciousness has taken over. The mystics have called it the marriage of the individual and the cosmic consciousness and in India it is described as the union of Shiva and Shakti.
This is a new dimension and in this state it is difficult to function in society for some time but after a period of adjustment the individual can live in society, the difference will be that he will live in a state of egolessness. He does not want or expect anything from others or from society. There is a divine indifference, there is so much joy within that he needs nothing from outside or from anyone. Living is its own fulfilment.
There is no centre or circumference of the mind ever to come back. Since there is no centre or ego that desires things, there are no reactions of likes and dislikes but only a response to need. Nobody can make him unhappy though he will be affected by the unhappiness of others. There is a difference between suffering and sorrow. Suffering is a reaction of the ego, which is always fragmentary. In sorrow events are seen in the context of whole humanity and the response is to the totality of life.
One of the by-products of the state of dhyan is that fearlessness is awakened. Fearlessness is very different from bravery. Bravery is an attribute of the mind, which can be and has been cultivated by the state, religion and family for their own purpose, but it is an attribute that can also be lost. Once fearlessness is awakened it can never be extinguished, fear no longer enters the mind. Fearlessness is awakened when man has faith either in his own understanding or has faith in the Universal Intelligence.
The mind obtains knowledge by grasping ideas. If this knowledge is not lived it becomes a burden. But if it is lived in relationship then the knowledge gets converted into understanding. Knowledge can be forgotten but not understanding. Nothing is as sacred as your own understanding. You should start walking in the light of your understanding no matter how small it may be. Faith in one’s own understanding awakens fearlessness and it brings about choiceless action.
This post was first seen at: http://www.ul.ie/~sextonb/vt/Observation.htm
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