Today’s first sutra says: “You are the one observer of all, and in reality always free.”
The individual is the observer, not the observed.
There are three types of people. Those who have become objects to be seen, performers – they are in the deepest darkness…. Second are those who have become spectators. They are a little better than the first, but there is not much difference. Third are those who have become the observer. It is good to understand these three distinctly.
When you become the observed, you become a thing; you have lost your soul. It is difficult to find a soul in a political leader. It is difficult to find a soul in an actor. He has become an object to be seen, he lives to be an object to be seen. His whole effort is to impress people: how to look good, how to look beautiful, how to look the best. It is not an effort to be the best, but an effort to appear the best. One who becomes the observed becomes a hypocrite. He covers his face with a mask. He presents a good outward show but is rotting inside.
Second are those who have become spectators. They are the vast crowd. Naturally the first type of people needs the second type; otherwise, how can people become performers? Someone becomes a politician; he gets a crowd to clap for him. There is great harmony between them. A leader needs followers. If someone is dancing, spectators are needed. If someone sings, listeners are needed; hence some busy themselves as performers and some remain spectators. Spectators are the vast crowd.
Western psychologists are very worried because people are becoming mere spectators. They go to the movies, switch on the radio, or sit in front of the television for hours. In America the average person spends about six hours a day watching television. If there is a football game, they watch it; a wrestling match, they watch it; a baseball game or the Olympics, they watch that. Now they have become mere spectators, spectators standing at the side of the road: the procession of life passes and you go on watching.
There are some who have joined the procession. That is harder. There is much competition. To join the procession is not so easy. A lot of fighting and aggression are required. But spectators are also needed to watch the procession. They stand on the sides and watch. If they are not there, the procession too will disappear.
Imagine, if followers did not come, what would happen to the leaders? Alone shouting, “Let our flag fly high!” they would look like great idiots, they would look insane. But spectators are needed, a crowd is needed; then even madness looks right. Imagine a cricket match is going on and no one comes to watch it. The match will be dead. The juice in the match is not in the match itself, it is in the thousands of people who gather to watch it.
Man is wonderful! He even goes to see horse races. The whole of Koregaon Park is full of horserace enthusiasts. It is very strange – no horse would go to watch men run. Horses run and men come to see it. Man has fallen even below horses.
Life is spent watching, just watching. Spectators…. You do not love, you watch love-making in films. You do not dance, you watch someone else dance. You do not sing, you listen to someone else sing. Is it surprising if your life becomes impotent, if all life-energy is lost? There is no movement, no flow of energy in your life. You sit like a corpse. Your sole function is to go on watching. Someone goes on showing, you go on watching. These two types are abundant in the world, one bound to the other.
Psychologists say there are two poles to each illness. There are people psychologists call masochists; they torture themselves. And there is another type which psychologists call sadists; they take delight in torturing others. Both are needed. So, when these two get together, it becomes a scene of great merriment.
Psychologists say you can’t find a better couple than where the husband is a sadist and the wife a masochist. The woman enjoys torturing herself, the husband enjoys torturing others – a wedding made in heaven! One is blind, the other a leper – well suited, a perfect fit. Every illness has two polarities. The performer and the spectator are two poles of the same disease. Usually women like to be watched and men like to be spectators. In the language of psychology women are exhibitionists. Their whole interest is in ostentatious display.
Once Mulla Nasruddin was swatting flies. There were too many around and his wife had asked him to get rid of them. He was standing near the mirror swatting them. He said, “Look at these two she-flies sitting here.”
The wife remarked, “This is too much! – how do you know whether they are male or female?”
He replied, “They have been on the mirror for the last hour – they must be female. What would a male do on the mirror?”
Women cannot live without a mirror. When they see a mirror it pulls them like a magnet. Their whole life is spent in front of it: trying on clothes and dresses, trying on jewelry and adorning themselves. And the surprising thing is that when the woman goes out, totally dressed up, if someone pinches her she becomes angry! If no one harasses her then too she is unhappy – because so much preparation was made to be provocative, to provoke harassment. Otherwise, what was the need? Women do not bother to dress up in front their husbands. They remain perfect hags in front of their husbands because with him, chasing and seduction have long stopped. But if she has to go out, she will take a lot of time to prepare. She will have spectators, she will be on stage.
Psychologists say man is a voyeur. His whole focus is in viewing; his whole interest is to see.
Woman is not interested in seeing, she is interested in exhibiting herself. That is why a man-woman pair fit each other. Both sides of the illness are there simultaneously. And both states are unhealthy.
Ashtavakra says man’s nature is to be a seer, an observer; it is neither to be a performer nor a spectator.
Never confuse these two again. Many times I have seen people make this mistake: they think they have become the observer when they have become a spectator. There is a very fundamental distinction between these two words. The dictionary may not show the difference. There spectator and observer may have the same meaning. But in the dictionary of life there is a great difference.
A spectator is one whose eyes are on others.
And the observer is one whose eyes are on himself.
When the eyes are on the object you are a spectator, when the eyes are on the seer you are an observer. It is a revolutionary distinction, very fundamental. When your eyes stop on the object and you forget yourself, then you are a spectator. When all objects of vision have departed, when you, and only you, are there – only awakening remains, only alertness remains – then you are an observer.
When you are a spectator, you become completely oblivious. You forget yourself completely; your attention gets stuck there. You go to the movies and for three hours you forget yourself, you don’t even remember who you are. You forget all worries and anxieties. This is why crowds rush there. There is so much worry, anxiety, trouble in living – a method of forgetting is needed. People become completely one pointed. Only at the movies is their total attention is focused. They see… actually there is nothing on the screen, just shadows go on flickering, but people are all attention. They forget their illness, their anxieties, their old age, and even if death comes they will forget that.
But remember, you have not become an observer in the theater; you have become a spectator.
You have forgotten yourself; you have no memory of who you are. You have lost all memory of the energy of seeing which is within you. You have stopped at the object in front of you, you are totally drowned in it.
To be a spectator is a kind of self-forgetting. And to be an observer means now all objects of observation have disappeared. The screen is empty, now no film moves on it. No thoughts remain, no words remain; the screen becomes absolutely empty, blank and shining, white. Nothing left to see, only the seer remains. And now you take a plunge into the seer. You become the observer.
Performers and spectators: humanity is divided between these two. Very rarely an observer is born – an Ashtavakra, a Krishna, a Mahavir, a Buddha…. Very rarely someone is awakened and becomes the observer.
“You are the one observer of all….”
And the beauty of this sutra is that no sooner do you become an observer than you know that the observer is only one, not many. Objects are many, spectators are many. It is the nature of objects and spectators to be many: it is a web of lies. The observer is only one. For instance the moon is out, a full moon. In rivers and puddles, in pools and ponds, in the ocean, in streams – everywhere it is reflected. If you wander the earth counting all the reflections there will be trillions. The moon is one, reflections innumerable. The observer is one, performers are many, spectators are many. They are only reflections, they are shadows.
When a person becomes free from being a performer or a spectator, has no desire to exhibit and be seen, and has no desire to see, when he knows that the trap of seeing and showing is false – no longer interested he attains nonattachment, freedom from desire. Now there is no desire for anyone to say you are beautiful, you are good, you are virtuous. Even if you inwardly wish people to think you virtuous, then know that you are still caught in the same old web. If you wish in your heart that people know you are religious, then you are still caught in the same web. The world is still with you. It has assumed another shape, taken a new mode, but the same old trap continues. The same old pattern continues.
What will you get by seeing? You have seen so much. What did you get? What will you get by exhibiting? Who can give you something real for your display?
Putting aside these two, putting aside this duality and plunging into the observer, one finds that there is only one. This full moon is only one. In these pools, puddles, ponds, lakes it looked numerous. They were separate mirrors, so there seemed to be many moons.
I have heard that a king built a whole palace with mirrors. He put mirror after mirror inside and it became a looking-glass palace. Once, a dog – the king’s own dog – was shut in at night. He was left inside by mistake. You can understand that dog’s condition – it is the same as man’s condition. He looked all around and saw nothing but dogs. A dog in every mirror. He barked – he freaked out!
When a man is afraid he wants to make others afraid. He thinks perhaps his fear will be less if others are also frightened.
The dog barked, but naturally as there were only mirrors there, in mirror after mirror dogs barked back. The sound returned to him – it was his own echo. He barked all night, ran, charged the mirrors, and became covered in his own blood. No one else was there, he was alone. He was found dead in the morning. There were blood stains all over the place. His story is the story of man.
There is no other here. The other does not exist.
Whoever is is unique.
Here one is. But this will not be understood until you have caught hold of that one within you.
“You are the one observer of all, and in reality you are always free.” Ashtavakra says: “… in reality free.” Do not think this just a fantasy. Man is very strange: he thinks the world is real and these statements of truth, just fantasies. He considers unhappiness to be real, and if a ray of happiness descends he considers it a dream, a deception.
People come to me and they say, “We feel great joy, but the doubt arises that perhaps it is an illusion.” They have lived in misery for so many lives that they have lost the confidence that there can also be joy. Joy begins to seem impossible. They are so used to weeping, so used to unhappiness, so familiar with the thorns of life that they do not trust their eyes when they see flowers. They think, “This must be a dream – an unreal sky flower; it cannot be, it should not exist.”
That is why Ashtavakra says: “… in reality free.” One is not bound. Bondage is impossible, because only God is, only one is. There is nothing that binds, nor anything to be bound. “… In reality always free.” This is why a man like Ashtavakra says, if you wish you can be free this very moment – because you are already free. There is nothing preventing freedom, there was never any bondage – you only believed you were bound.
Excerpt from Enlightenment: The Only Revolution, Chapter Three
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