Talks with a seeker who has dived deep into the Teachings – Part 3/9

Question: I have been contemplating witnessing a lot lately, as it seems to be the core of this philosophy. Is witnessing different from mindfulness?



Answer: Have you been contemplating witnessing or have you been witnessing contemplating?


Question: Well, mostly the first. Witnessing only occurs occasionally.


Answer: Witnessing the contemplating is always going on. The Witness cannot leave you.


Question: I understand witnessing to be aware of the content of the mind. We are always aware, that is for sure, but I think we are not always aware of the content of the mind.


Answer: That is because we are involved in the content of the mind. There are various definitions of mindfulness, and a comparison with witnessing depends on the definition. If mindfulness is defined as concentration on one thought, or on one technique, then it is different than witnessing. What is important is how the Witness permeates our daily living. When we are no longer observing and judging people and events in our lives, then witnessing automatically happens. Witnessing is the pure expression of Consciousness, whereas an individual’s thinking mind makes observations that lead to judgments. These judgments are based on “I know better, this is how people/things should be and should not be.” These judgments drop away as we begin to live the Teaching in daily living. When we accept that everything is God’s Will, that we are all instruments through whom the same Consciousness functions, that acceptance leads to the dropping away of the individual who constantly judges people and events that transpire in their lives. The dropping away of the individual with its judgments automatically allows witnessing because observing by the thinking mind happens less and less and witnessing the flow of life happens more and more. This transforms our life.


Question: Is it correct to say that witnessing is an aspect of the sattvic mind, or is it a function of it? So that if there is already a certain stillness, the witnessing will naturally occur and there will be a distance between thoughts and Consciousness?


Answer: That is very true. It is far easier for the sattvic mind to be the Witness. But even for a rajasic mind or tamasic mind, the recognition of the rajas or tamas would be the witnessing. For example, that is why Indian ashrams encourage a very light vegetarian diet of sattvic food, because food impacts the mind. The ashram creates a sattvic environment that is calm, quiet, and offers sattvic food, which makes it easier to slip into meditation and witnessing.


Question: My ego jumps up and takes over whenever somebody tells me what to do. I don’t like it when somebody tells me what I have to do. And then, before I know it, I’ve already said something reactive to that person. There doesn’t seem to be time for witnessing to happen.


Answer: I have given this example many times before in Satsang. One day, a child of wealthy parents who collect and display expensive curios and beautiful porcelain pieces all over their house, is in a playful mood, starts running around, hits a curio, and it falls to the ground and shatters. The immediate reaction of one of the parents is, “Why are you being so careless? Why did you break it? What have you done?” That is how it begins. The child had no clue that it had done something, but now it is accused of having done something that resulted in the destruction of an expensive curio. The parents had invested their sense of self in that expensive piece. Now the child thinks, “I have done something wrong.” The parent warns the child, “Be careful, see that you don’t do it again.”


This sense of doership was not in the child’s control at the time of the accident. The child was going with the playful flow of life, and now it stands accused of the crime of doership. As a result, the child develops the conditioning of what it should do and what it should not do as it grows up. And that is why we rebel when someone tells us to do something or not to do something. This is hardwired into our conditioning, and that is why we don’t like it. It triggers this automatic knee-jerk reaction, which arises even as an adult when someone tells you what to do. There is nothing you can do about this triggered, reactive pattern apart from witnessing that reaction arise and knowing that it is truly not your reaction, but was conditioned from your distant past and your childhood. If it was your reaction, you would be able to control it. The fact is that you are not able to control it, and it has to be allowed because of this play of life, this drama of life. The Teaching shows you how your blueprint plays itself out, and with the acceptance of this reaction and the play of life, there will be a transformation. The understanding will come that even the actions of the person who tells you what to do are not in their control. It can happen that even after the initial reaction, you may end up laughing at the absurdity of the situation. Nothing is taken personally anymore. That is the gift of this Teaching.


Question: I’ve experienced this with a guard at my compound. He became very angry at me for something that was not related to me, but then I felt his fear or insecurity behind his anger. That made it much easier for me to accept, and compassion arose. I think intuition also has a role in this.


Answer: You are absolutely right. In fact, the Teaching lets you witness anger arising in someone, and if the person is really involved in that anger, you understand that the person is suffering from this anger. Although it may be directed at you, now you see that the person who is involved in the anger is suffering because of it, and that suffering is expressed as anger. If this suffering is extended in the duration of time, then compassion arises in you. We had a neighbor on the floor where I live who was single and lived alone. She passed away a few months ago. She was angry with the world, she was angry with all of the neighbors, and she would pick fights. When the realization dawned that no one would do this deliberately, we understood that it was the expression of suffering. About a month before her passing, she lost her ability to care for herself and was helpless. And then, no matter how she had treated the people on our floor, they started giving food to her, dinner, lunch, tea, and coffee, up until her last days. Compassion arose in the neighbors because deep down we all knew that anyone who expresses so much anger, hate, and resentment is truly suffering. In your case, compassion arose for the guard at your compound even though his anger was directed at you. That is the gift of the Teaching.