If it’s correct that we are so wrapped up in the worldly self and the experience of life, then how do we extricate ourselves from their allure and rest in the true self. One very good way is to observe. While composing this piece, I looked for the earliest example of observation in my writing and found the entry, Silent, Attentive & Aware, which came a week after I had begun my journal. It is a short piece but an excellent description of my early forays into observation and the distinct benefits I gained from it.
To observe oneself is the simplest of exercises. It is liberating, requires no effort, and can be practised at any time. (The hardest part is remembering to do it.) Purposeless observation – without any analysis – means you have no attachment to what you are seeing. You are just looking, without any expectation of what you might find; seeking nothing, and with no obligation to do anything with what you see. Simple. Peaceful. Centred.
It’s like the difference between being in a heated argument, and watching two other people have the same argument. When you’re in the grip of an argument (or life), you’re pulled along by it, driven by your beliefs and dominated by your emotions, doing your best to maintain your balance. When you observe the argument, you are not involved, not emotional, not attached to either side, yet you can interact if you wish. Being less involved, you see things more clearly, and your clarity brings calmness and discernment.
Observe yourself with the same disinterest as you would the argument. Take your mind to your heart and observe yourself from there. With practice you will feel peace, freedom, and clarity. As an added bonus, with such a single-pointed focus you will find yourself inhabiting that elusive present moment, where everything else apart from the subject of your focus dissolves.
The very fact that everything falls away helps to anchor you at that place. The anchoring is important because the pull of the surface-level drama of our worldly existence is incredibly compelling and convincing. It’s interesting, then, that such a pull can be broken simply through observation. In observation we reside with the true self.