How do I come to know when I am really witnessing my body, feelings and thoughts, or when it is only my mind pretending to be a witness?
The question is only intellectual; you have not even tried to pretend. When you are witnessing and you start feeling that it may be just the pretense of the mind, then it is certainly a pretense of the mind… because who is thinking about it as pretense of the mind? – Something behind the pretense.
You can never get confused about witnessing, because behind witnessing there is nothing. You cannot witness witnessing. Anything that you can witness is part of the mind. So if you witness that it is a pretense, it is a pretense. Witness the pretense, don’t get identified with it.
Witnessing has a beauty: it cannot be reduced to an object, you cannot witness it. It is irreducible, it always slips back; it remains only witnessing. So whatever you feel, that means you are getting identified with the mind. You have not tried it – the question is simply intellectual. If you had tried it the question would not have arisen.
I witness my hand: that means I am not the hand. I witness the mind: that means I am not the mind. You go on witnessing anything that comes to you – feelings, moods – you are not it. Finally, there is nothing to witness: this is it!
Only the witness is there, but nothing to witness, just nothingness all around. You have come to the witness. Nobody has ever been deceived about it.
But never make intellectual questions; they won’t solve existential problems. This is something existential – you have to do it. It is like swimming. You cannot be taught swimming on a comfortable mattress in your room. You can be told how to throw your hands and your legs about, and you can do much exercise, but that is not swimming. You have to go in the water.
There was one famous logician in India. Because he was a logician, he said, “I cannot enter the water until I have learned swimming. That is absolutely clear. Without knowing swimming, how can I enter the water?”
His swimming teacher told him, “It is not a question of logic. If you want to learn swimming, you will have to enter water without knowing swimming, because entering the water is the beginning. And that’s the only way to learn it. If you decide that you will enter the water only when you have learned swimming – which is very logical thinking – then it is impossible, you will never enter the water. So either be logical, or be existential.”
And whatever I am telling you has nothing to do with logic. Try witnessing. And whatever you find, it is not the witness. The witness is always standing behind; otherwise, who is finding these things? – the pretense, the mind, anything.
When you cannot find anything, when all is silent, then there is only the witness. It is a very strange situation. When there is nothing to witness, you come to experience the witness in its purity. When there is something to witness, the witness is involved with some object.
It is like the mirror. If you want to know the purity of the mirror, then the mirror should be empty; nobody should be standing in front of the mirror. If somebody is standing in front of the mirror, then the mirror is polluted by the reflection.
Your witness is the ultimate mirror.
Anything that passes pollutes your witness. But if you go on struggling, remembering that whatever you see is not you – just a simple exam: “the object of my knowing is not me” – soon the objects will disappear, because you have broken the identity. And any moment, suddenly out of nowhere, you find yourself absolutely alone without any object. The seer is there, but there is nothing to be seen. Awareness is there, at its very peak, but there is nothing to be aware of. The witness is there, but there is nothing to be a witness of.
So this should be the criterion of whether your witness is a reality or just a projection, just imagination or an authentic reality.
And it is a very simple process, just like swimming. Once you know swimming, you will be surprised that there was nothing to learn. Before knowing swimming, it seems dangerous, difficult – you cannot believe how people are swimming. But have you seen a dead body? The dead body automatically comes up and starts swimming – not even swimming, it simply floats. The dead body knows something which you don’t know. If the dead body can float, why can’t you float? It is so simple that even dead bodies are doing it.
One Japanese scientist has been trying with small children, because his hypothesis is that the child in the mother’s womb remains in liquid, in water for nine months, so swimming must be something very natural. It need not be learned.
The hypothesis seems to be correct. If the child manages in the mother’s womb . . . In the mother’s womb there is exactly the same kind of water as in the ocean, with the same constituents. That’s why, when a woman is pregnant, she starts eating salty things, because the water needs more and more salt. The child is already swimming from the very first day. And in the very beginning the child is just like a fish. Scientists think that man began life as a fish in the ocean. Now, to teach a fish how to swim would be just utter stupidity.
This Japanese scientist started working on six-month-old babies. He would leave them in water in tubs, and he was surprised that they were not afraid – not only that, but they started floating. Then he went down to three-month-old babies. They were even more expert. Then he did his experiment with the newly-born baby: he was the perfect master as far as swimming is concerned – nine months’ training!
That’s why, once you know swimming, you cannot forget it. Everything that you learn you can forget, but something in swimming is so natural, that once you know it you cannot forget it. The same is true about witnessing.
Every child is born a witness.
As he opens his eyes, his first act is witnessing. He cannot think. He sees you, he sees your red clothes, but he cannot think that these are red clothes. He does not know the names of colors, he does not know what color means. He simply reflects like a mirror. He is just a pure witness with no knowledge, with no thought forming in him.
That’s why I say, once you learn witnessing it is so easy, and you cannot forget it. You had already known it – it is a rediscovery.
From Bondage to Freedom, Discourse #39
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