This Month's Contents: 3108 by Jesús Olmo & The Shores of the Cosmic Ocean by Carl Sagan | Can You Simply Observe? by Bob Fergeson | The Sea Within the Mind by Shawn Nevins | Simple Gifts by Elder Joseph Brackett | Humor | Quotes |
So Autumn is upon us, and as the seasons change again I find myself asking, again, what is the part of me that does not change? If I really, really try, can I see that part by simply observing? O paradox! It is never simple!
The Shores of the Cosmic Ocean....
"The surface of the Earth is the shore of the cosmic ocean. On this shore, we've learned most of what we know. Recently, we've waded a little way out, maybe ankle-deep, and the water seems inviting. The ocean calls. Some part of our being knows this is where we came from. We long to return, and we can, because the cosmos is also within us. We're made of star stuff. We are a way for the cosmos to know itself.”
by Bob Fergeson
I've heard it said that all we need to do is observe, and this alone will take us to realization. Let's take a look at this thing called observation and see what is meant.
First, lets break it down into observation, and self-observation. By observation we can take to mean the observing of the view before us, by the ego or individual body/mind. A created thing watching its own creations, then adding to the mess by creating more reactions to that which it just 'observed'. By self-observation we can mean the observing, or listening to, the entire above mentioned process, without identifying with the secondary reaction. We would then take in impressions through an observing 'I", a listening silence, which does not make judgements or assessments of that which it observes. It also has no ulterior motive, such as laziness or pride.
I can't see much use in looking at the first form, observation, if we mean looking outward through the senses at our behavior in the world, and forming opinions about what a good job of observing we're doing, while the business of our life suffers for the effort. This may be good for those who have yet to venture outside their own imaginations, but for most it would be better to take a look within, at the strange and unfamilar workings of the inside of their own head.
A few points are in order here. One is that of honesty. We will not gain much if we twist or ignore certain observed facts to keep our beloved self-image intact. The ego is the enemy here, not our friend. Another is objectivity, and a little compassion. We do not wish to judge, condemn, praise or otherwise color the observations, but to see them and their patterns clearly. Finally, we will need courage and earnestness to take the task to its final conclusion: our own internal death and consequent freedom.
The main point to remember and strive for, is not to get caught in the trick of not observing the present-time observer. Who was looking? What was it that made the observation? We must make complete observations, not just of the action but of the reaction as well. The ego can split itself endlessly and we may get deluded by our growing catalog of observations into thinking we're making headway. Until we catch the devil in the act, we are only spinning about in the personality, endlessly creating more observers.
Let me see if I can illustrate how this trick works. Say you observe something about yourself, a faux pas in respected company, and realize you've been doing this for years, but were blissfully oblivious. You have observed the hereto unknown behavior, in real time, plus perhaps realized how it was a part of a long standing pattern. But did you observe your reaction, in real time, of the self you were observing with? In other words, say you were shocked at seeing this perhaps embarrassing thing about yourself. Did you include this in your observation?
The true observer, or silent witness, sees both the object, or observed behavior, and the corresponding subject, or observer, at the same time. Seeing both of these parts of the ego in real time, as they play their game of observer and observed, subject and object, can give you a taste of a deeper watcher, a seer which lies beyond the ego, on the doorstep of Eternity.
The Sea Within the Mind
'Tis the gift to be simple, 'tis the gift to be free
"Whoever knows that he knows must be amazed. This is both to wonder and to be lost in a maze: to wonder because knowing and being is downright weird, and to be lost in a maze because knowing that one knows generates a confusion of echoes in which the original sound is lost. For when I know that I know, which one is I? The first which knows, the second which knows that I know, or the third which knows that I know that I know?"
~ Alan Watts, from Beyond Theology: The Art of Godmanship
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