On every yogic path, we are assigned the task of introspection. Often this takes the form of meditation, but it also means developing a ‘witness.’ This is the part of us that sees all circumstances and people with an absolutely unbiased view. Jana yogis label the Consciously Aware part of us ‘the witness’ also. In Taoist meditation teachings this is called the energy of mindfulness. In yogic circles it is often called simply the Observer.
Swami Satchidananda tells us, “. . . I am not the doer; Nature is doing everything. The body and mind are moving among the objects. I am the silent witness of all that is happening. The work does not bind me, I am free." All of creation is seen as the play of Maya, or illusion. The Jnana Yogi constantly discriminates between the unreal and the Real, the not-Self and the Self. This path requires a sharp and subtle intellect.”
This sharp and subtle intellect is what allows the witness to develop. It is essentially a “persona” within you that does not identify with what is going on in your life. It is the Switzerland of your egoic mind. It just notices what is happening in and around you without placing judgment. It is always simply curious about what you are doing and thinking. It doesn’t label one thing ‘bad’ and another ‘good.’ It is a mental stance so open and allowing that it can observe what other parts of the mind may label with great emotion, but stays completely neutral in its experience of that thing.
As we develop the witness, we can then non-judgmentally observe the world around us for feedback about how we are developing spiritually. We are all electromagnetic beings emitting a frequency. This is not a good or bad frequency, but just a certain station on the radio dial. Only those things that are on the same frequency as the one you are emitting can come into your experience. Every single person, event, and circumstance in your day is telling you what frequency you are on. If your day is not going well, you can stop and deliberately change your frequency. If your day is going splendidly, you can know that you are on a path that works for you and keep doing what you are doing. This is the mirror of the Universe speaking to you about how to evolve. It offers clues in every circumstance in your life, in every relationship. We can only take the hint, though, when we have this highly developed, neutral self that can take everything in without assigning meaning too quickly.
Our subjective experience is just that. The problem is that too often we forget that we are assigning meaning to things. We assign labels to experience and call them ‘good’ or ‘bad’. Language was developed by us to help assign meaning. It has tremendous value, but the true essence of things exists beyond the labels we give them. The great philosopher poet Rumi said, “Stop the words now. Open the window in the center of your chest, and let the spirits fly in and out.” It seems paradoxical, but often times a change in our lives for the better, can actually temporarily cause us to feel worse. The mirror of self as we understand it will tell us that we are small, that we are not ready to inhabit this larger energetic space with all the pleasures and wisdom that come with it. This can show up as resistance. And the mirror of the universe will reflect back to exactly what we are feeling and thinking while we resist change. Often, this resistance to change becomes so intense, that we forget completely that we are helping to create the play unfolding before our eyes. We think we are the actress in the tragedy instead of someone temporarily playing her part. In order to truly bloom, we have to notice the small ‘hints’ that would suggest we are growing (i.e., observe change). In the midst of chaos, what can you see around you, in the form of people, circumstance and experience that shows you a vision of your larger Self?
It takes practice to notice the not-self (the egoic and rigid version we have created as an artifice of identity that we try to uphold with every last ditch and conniving effort possible) and the Self (the ever expanding and changing, Infinite field of possibility that contains all there is in the Universe). If we take Swami Satchidananda’s advice, and realize “I am not the doer; Nature is doing everything.” If we are not the doer, but instead the Observer, we can stop resisting change.
There is a term in Sanskrit, which helps to describe a state of being, of the Self, which is more accurate. It is Satchitananda. It means that we are all things, all knowing, and everywhere present. If we are truly this expansive, what are we fighting against? What really is there to strive for, and where do we need to be that we are not already? Would you travel across the ocean to touch your own hand? Would you strive to have a few thousand dollars more if you were infinitely prosperous? Would you yearn for more love in your life if you were Love itself?
The mirror of the Universe acts as a guide. It shows us when we are holding on to the smaller version of self we have temporarily created to exist in a small world as we have defined it. When we allow our perspective to expand, the Universe will echo this and mirror back an expanded world. The size of our experience is based on being a silent witness to the experience of Maya. All the smoke and mirrors of manifest reality will fade with this practice, and we will see the world with an unbiased view.
About the author:
Christina Sarich runs http://www.yogaforthenewworld.blogspot.com