Following my last post The Observer Within, I wondered where I had come across the concept of the observer. I did a Google search and quickly found this talk entitled The Observer by Sri Vasudeva. Here is an excerpt that is very à propos:
In all our activities, if we look carefully, we will see that there is an observer involved. Sometimes we are so identified with the activity that we are not able to experience this observer self as distinct from the activity. In other words, we become the activity. For example, instead of seeing that there is the emotion of anger within us and being able to observe it objectively we become carried away in the feeling ‘I am angry’. If we are really observing we will experience the observer as being separate from the anger and will be able to say ‘There is anger within me’ rather than ‘I am angry’. Do you see the difference? This is extremely important to understand when seeking to experience the full or pure state of the observer. So there is a part of us that can observe the process of thinking, feeling and physical sensation whilst feeling the sense of separateness. Focusing on this observer can lead us to the Source of our being.
Vasudeva goes on to expound the great virtues of meditation in developing our awareness of the observer, since in meditation we practice observing many things – our body, our breath, our thoughts – without attaching to them. The practice of meditation then is an ideal way to get in touch with our centre, our inner, higher self: our observer.
Give attention to the observer within and seek to centre yourself in the seat of the pure observer. It is the seat of the ‘I am’ consciousness. It is the seat of your freedom and joy in the human experience. It is the seat of connectedness with your Source. Seek to live and act from this space.
Sri Vaseduva’s advice to train ourselves to see anger from an observer’s point of view rather than ‘becoming’ the anger reminds me of a Taoist practice expounded by Stephen Russell in his ‘Barefoot Doctor’s Guide to the Tao’ called ‘The Nobody Contemplation’.
Russell asks us to make a list of our possessions and say ‘I am not these possessions. I am not this house. I am not this telephone. I am not this rubber biscuit.’ Then do the same for our hopes and desires: ‘I am not that different house. I am not that personal satellite phone with built-in modem, fax and organizer…’ On to the people in our lives - ‘I am not my mother, I am not my son…’ - to our habits, addictions, aversions and phobias and finally to our body with all its aches and pains: ‘I am not my body’.
Feel it. You’re not your possessions, your desires, your people, your habits, your fears: you’re not even your body. You’re simply nobody. Revel in the freedom of it, then move out onto the street, a busy, grimy street preferably, and be nobody, absolutely no one at all. Being no one at all, you’ve nothing to lose, you’re just atoms moving in the everything, child of the Tao, and everything is yours.