Observing the Thinker

dora's picture



Average: 4.6 (28 votes)
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Observing emotions and sensations is relatively easy -

They are lying there in time so you have the option to decide when to observe them. After all, as far as they are concerned, they are here to stay, where do they have to run to?

They inflict so much pain, you can't miss them.

They are in the body, not solely in the head. Believing that you are inside the head, you are less prone to identifying with them. Identification and observation are mutually exclusive.

Emotions and sensations are very concrete and tangible. They have energy, they have footprints, they almost have personality. Something to befriend, or to resent, or both.

Thoughts are a totally different story. Watching them is not advisable for control freaks.

Have you ever tried to watch a passing train from zero distance?

With thoughts, you do not decide the timing of observation as thoughts are rushing points in time, before they appear, they start to disappear. Have you ever tried to watch a passing train from zero distance?

They are bodiless, anonymous, spineless, completely lack any sense of humor. Boring, boring, boring!

And they are the observer. For now.

Oh dear.

Make the watching of your thoughts a first priority, especially if you are a heavy thinker. Be persistent. With time it will become easier. Watch your thoughts whenever you remember. This suggestions will prove to be the most valuable one you have ever got.



divine intervention's picture

So how to overcome these obstacles?

So how can I overcome these obstacles to be able to watch the thoughts efficiently and continuously?

When I watch the thoughts I feel as if there is a background thinking process that is still active and not being watched, rather is part of the watcher (this thinking process says things like "what shall I watch now?", "I can't see any thoughts..." etc.). Very difficult and confusing...

divine intervention | Wed, 01/02/2008 - 11:11
Phroggy's picture

Good observation

That's a good observation. Mind is watching mind, or in the larger context, Awareness is aware of the thoughts, and also aware of the fact that it is watching the thoughts of which is aware, and is also aware that it is generating thoughts about this awareness, positioning itself as an imagined mind in which all this is taking place. A sharp mind can go many levels deep with this, but it is not useful. It's just Awareness aware of it's awareness, aware of its awareness, etc.

Phil

Phroggy | Wed, 07/30/2008 - 02:47
Omkaradatta's picture

Background process is foreground

If you're getting thoughts like "What shall I watch now?" and "I can't see any thoughts" then those thoughts are by definition being witnessed as well - or you would not have known they were there, let alone their content.

Awareness is silent, and isn't a background thought process. However, it may feel like there is one, if you believe your self to be the mind. Awareness is aware of both thoughts and their absence.

http://www.omkaradatta.info

Omkaradatta | Wed, 07/30/2008 - 04:25
santthosh kumaar's picture

OBESRVING THE TRRUTH ON THE BASE OF EGO IS ERRENEOUS

Santthosh
OBSERVING HUMAN EXPERIENCE AS A PERSON IS BASED ON THE EGO. THE EGO WILL NEVER ALLOW THE SEEKER OF TRUTH TO GO BEYOND THE EXPERIENCE OF DUALITY OR MIND.

WHAT YOU ARE GOING TO OBSERVE, WHEN YOU AND YOUR EXPERIENCE OF THE WORLD AND EMOTIONS AND FEELINGS ARE WITHIN THE MIND, HOW CAN YOU OBSERVE THEM AS AN OBJECT.

IF YOU ARE SEEKING TRUTH, THESE TYPE OF OBSERVATION IS NOT OF ANY USE. IF YOU ARE SEEKING SPRITUAL FANTASY THEN IT IS ALLRIGHT.

FIRST UNDERSTAND WHAT MIND AND ITS NATURE IS. IT IS FOOLISH TO TAKE ANY SPIRITUAL ADVENTURE ON THE FALSE IDENTITY OF EGO. THEREFORE FIRST DISCOVER AND IDENTIFY THE TRUE SELF THEN ON THAT TRUE BASE TRAIN THE MIND TO VIEW AND JUDGE THE WORLDVIEW. THEN THE TRUTH WILL START UNFOLDING BY ITSELF.

santthosh kumaar | Mon, 06/30/2008 - 06:19
Phroggy's picture

Nothing else observing

The moment a perspective is taken, this is necessarilly a perspective of an individual mind. The concept of the observer, or the witness, (which does not actually exist), is a trick of the mind. Even within the concept, the witness is not in any way contemplating experience, and so nothing comes of this observation. That which believes it is observing experience or ego, is mind, and it has bifurcated itself into what is believes is ego, and something it believes is not ego. It's just a way of positioning the mind in a detached mode of observation, but it has not distanced itself at all from ego. On the other hand, the only reason thoughts can be observed at all is because 'something' stands apart from those thoughts. This is so whether one imagines oneself to be positioned as an observer, or as ego. They are all mind thoughts.

If you were to "first discover and identify the true self", the Truth has already unfolded. You are cooked, done, stick a fork in it. The fact that you are positioned as your true self, awaiting the unfolding of the Truth of yourself, demonstrates the self deception.

Phil

Phroggy | Wed, 07/30/2008 - 02:37
santthosh kumaar's picture

THE SEER AND THE SEEN

Santthosh
HI DORA,
IT IS NO USE OF OBSERVING ON THE PHYSICAL PLANE. THE MIND HAS TO BE TRAINED TO VIEW AND JUDGE THE WHOLE WORLDVIEW WHICH INCLUDES THE PERCEIVER OF THE WORLD ON THE BASE OF TRUE SELF WHICH IS ATAMAN OR SPIRIT.

WHEN THIS DONE THEN THE SEEKING MIND BECOMES AWARE OF THE FACT THAT THE SEER AND SEEN ARE ONE IN ESSENCE AND THERE IS NO SECOND THING. HENCE IT IS NON DUAL.
WITH RESPECT AND REGARDS
SANTTHOSH.

santthosh kumaar | Tue, 07/01/2008 - 05:05
madan_gautam's picture

Observing the Thinker

Who is Observer & Who is Thinker ?
OM

madan_gautam | Mon, 12/15/2008 - 18:45
doo's picture

semantics

The one who observes and the sack of thoughts.

doo | Thu, 01/08/2009 - 21:22
Phroggy's picture

~

It's not just semantics. It's important to recognize that they are not separate. As such, it might appear that you are thinking, and then observing the thoughts. If you look a little closer, you might see that there is thinking happening without a thinker, and observing happening without an observer. Then you might notice there is no difference between the thought appearing and the observation of the thought. So there is just perception happening, with no distance at all between the perceiver and the perceived. Far from being a game of semantics, it might change everything about what 'you' 'think' 'you' are.

Phroggy | Fri, 01/09/2009 - 09:02
enlight's picture

look closer

In practice it is unfortunately somehow different. If you look really close in a very deep meditation, there is still a sense of observer unless your center has previously completely collapsed (which happens at some advanced point leading to a temporal lose of consciousness). You are just not aware of it, it is very subtle. People mistaken their inability to notice the subtle for its nonexistence like in Vipassana). You are aware (as being not as an object) of that subtle thread of center of perspective for example in advanced stages of self inquiry. A good way for you to notice it is to always check when you practice it, who is it that notices now that there is no observer, who is it that now thinks that there is only thinking etc.

enlight | Fri, 01/09/2009 - 10:00
Phroggy's picture

~

Yep, the looking continues until it doesn't. The point is to look.

Phroggy | Fri, 01/09/2009 - 21:22
mika's picture

Blessed guidance

This is a very important post in the fact that it technically distinguishes between the observation of thoughts and emotions without redundant commentaries.

The observation task is indeed messy, confusing and very tricky. That's why they say that it is the "art of observation".

mika | Fri, 05/15/2009 - 07:43
easy-self's picture

observation is natural

observation is art if subject of observation is thoughts. it is science if the subject is objects. it is natural if the subject is nothing but self.

Be in the remembrance of Easiness.

easy-self | Mon, 06/01/2009 - 05:01
kaput's picture

self

How can you observe the self which by definition is beyond form?

kaput | Mon, 06/01/2009 - 05:28
kalgo's picture

Observing thoughts

Observing the thoughts is one of the hardest task.

No matter how experienced you are, you find yourself at some point identified with certain thoughts.

kalgo | Sat, 08/08/2009 - 07:36
salim's picture

and one of the most rewarding

But also one of the most rewarding.

salim | Sat, 08/08/2009 - 07:46
avi's picture

Indeed

Indeed

avi | Sat, 08/08/2009 - 07:56
gopalakrishnan's picture

Watching thoughts !

Om Lokah: Samastah: Sukhino Bhavantu

Just thinking that I am watching the thoughts is also a thought. watching thought is possible only from complete silence of the mind. Be aware of a thought ! Just experience that flash ! And concentrate on the gaps between the thoughts ! What you call that experience ! that stillness ! Thoughts are just ripples in that silence....
Its not boring. It's bliss.

gopalakrishnan | Sat, 08/08/2009 - 20:00
Quantum's picture

Gaps

But, if I understood my meditation class correctly, "being aware of that Gap is also a thought." Anything that takes place inside the head is a thought. Being aware that there are not thoughts is also a thought. Being without thought and knowing it--is a thought. Which seems to imply that being withought thought...AND not knowing it is really the absence of thought. Therefore, how can one know how long they were without thought? Because top know how long you were without thought implies that you were aware (thinking) of it all the while you thought there were no thoughts.

This is what inspired me to I stop going to my meditation classes.

Quantum | Tue, 09/15/2009 - 02:48
santana's picture

Neverending futile process

This is exactly the trick of the mind to neurotically analyze, rationalize, complicate, confuse in order to avoid meditation, no mind. Every answer yields 10 followup questions and more confusion and you stay at the analytical level - this is the way of the mind.

When you get a medicine from a doctor, you do not get better by analyzing the medicine but by taking it.

In order to taste a cake and find out whether it is tasty or not, you do not analyze the recipe but cook it and eat it.

When you fall in love with someone, you do not analyze theories about the falling in love but follow your love and realize it.

Instead of analyzing meditation do meditation. Leave the explenations and theories aside

santana | Tue, 09/15/2009 - 07:26
Quantum's picture

Never Ending Futire Process

Great post! Thank you.

However, my mind needs to know how to meditate properly, because "we" (me/myself/my mind and I) are/am not doing it properly, it seems. Hence, some degree of study is important. No need to give info on how to meditate properly, we (me/myself/my mind and I) will do our own research, or simply continue meditating and journal the progress.

As for following love to realize it...fine too. But expanding on that analogy, 50% of marriages (or more perhaps), end in divorce.

Enough of that.

Hey, I do like your post. Can you tell me if there is a connection between the "Third Eye Meditation" and "Inner Body Awareness?" Granted, I am a beginner, but in my practice of both, I cannot feel/tell a difference.

Quantum | Tue, 09/15/2009 - 08:31
leo's picture

Meditation is the simplest thing

What is there to know in order to sit, eyes closed, and watch your breath?

Meditation is the simplest thing (not necessarily the easiest thing, especially in the beginning, when the mind is still gives a good fight). If it is not simple then something is wrong and it is probably not a meditation in the purest sense. The more complicated the meditation is, the less meditative it is and the less effective. Stick to the simplest.

Watch you breath. That's it. Sit with eyes closed and watch your breath. When a feeling of boredom, stress, anexiety, pain is arising - watch it also. When you find out that you stopped observing and started unintentially to think, to daydream (and it happens a lot and you somtimes spot it after a long time) don't be angry with yourself, gently let go the thought, do not fight it and return your attention to the breath.

That's it, no anlysis, no inquiry about the meditation, no complicated meditations that just give entertainment of activity to the mind.

You will see by yourself the results. Don't count on stories, promises, expectations, intimidations. Judge the effectivness of meditation solely based on doing the meditation.

leo | Tue, 09/15/2009 - 12:07
Phroggy's picture

Exactly so, Quantum.

Exactly so, Quantum. Meditation is a focusing of the mind rather than a stopping. Instead of many random thoughts, there may be one, and this disciplining of the mind will bring a sensation of being centered. Centered does not mean without thought, it just means focused thought. If there is the intention to create mind states, this can be done also, but mind states are not Truth realization any more than focusing the mind is stopping the thoughts.

If you doubt what you've been taught then look and see if this is true for yourself. Many have become addicted to the temporary centeredness and mind states and will try to get you to ignore this insight so that they don't have to question it themselves.

As you suggest, the goal is not a focus of mind/thought but an absence of thought, or more specifically, the absence of the 'me' involvement in thought. This cannot be caused, but it will be recognized following brief or long periods of this absence, which ironically is being fully Present, and it will be recognized that this is the reason for the Peace and connectedness to everything in your life that will come upon you in the absence of your involvement. This is far more subtle that the meditation games people play, and which only serve to feed the sense of self rather than diminish it.

This 'diminishing' comes about through a series of intuitive realizations as to the nature of mind/ego and the imaginary world it creates within to obscure the natural beauty and wonder of what is always present, and so please ignore the advice that you are not to question any of this. This is simply ego insuring that it's false concepts will not be challenged. The hope is that you too will become addicted to the mind states and cease to question. This injunction to not question is inherent in all religious dogma and it can be extremely effective in keeping us blind to the Truth.

Phroggy | Wed, 09/16/2009 - 19:24
Quantum's picture

To Leo and to Phroggy--Thank you

Thank you both for your replies, Leo you summarized the simplicity of the practice of meditation so well. I've been trying to type a thank you for a fews days now, but am new to this site and each time I tried I end up somewhere else and end up tying other things to other people.

Phroggy, thank you for your statement that meditation practice is narrowing the mind activity down to one thought. That is exactly what I have been suspecting for some time now, but no one has actually said it directly like that. I see it like a dog barking, making a whole of noise, so you give it a bone (i.e. mantra, breath, body part--feet, hands, middle of forehead, physical sensation) to chew on so it stops barking. It may still make some noise chewing (i.e. that one thought), but thank God ;) it's not barking as much. Then when the dog's infernal racket is quited own, you can enjoy that song on the radio (life/present moment) that you were trying to listen to (experience).

So, "think about" if it suggest think about just one thing, means the same as "put your attention on." So, "Mindfulness" boils down to "Thinking about" what i'm currently doing while I'm doing it.

An experience that contributed to the mental idea, if you will, that meditation is think about one thing was how much I realized I enjoyed sanding those five hand made Zen meditation benches I made from scratch this summer. Turns out sanding and resanding was quite enjoyable and relaxing. It was meditative. Transporting, if you will. In any event, simply relaxing. What was going through my mind while sading? Well...I was completely "Thinking about" sanding of course. This then to me now is the same as "putting my attention on."

By the way, didn't jesus same something similar? "Your worried/thinking about too many things. Only one thing (thought, it can by any thought) is necessary."

Thinking about.

One thing.

Namaste

Quantum | Wed, 09/16/2009 - 20:30
Phroggy's picture

The dog/bone simile is a

The dog/bone simile is a good one, and yes, mindfulness may very well be called a meditation integrated into the doingness of life. As you suggest, perhaps, much of our doingness can be done without any of the mental spinning that most find themselves subject to. In this respect, i suggest a continuous meditation in which one is simply attending to what one is doing, and nothing else. I remember a Zen master saying "When I am washing dishes, I am just washing dishes." In your case, it was just sanding. In this, there is the opportunity to be present, which leaves little room for the 'me' to arise, which is the source of our turmoil and suffering. There is no reason to limit such minfullness to a 'meditation period' which often has little or no impact on the rest of one's life, which is what leads to the adiction.

I'm currently also on an Echart Tolle forum, and these folks interest me for the same reason; they are able to experience periods of presence during meditation, but it rarely continues into 'normal life' and so the meditation becomes like a computer registry cleaner. Once in a while, the turmoil of the mind becomes too great and it's time to clean it up with a meditation, but there is no further progress in this. It's just a maintenance program. The goal is to become present always; to live one's life that way.

Phroggy | Wed, 09/16/2009 - 21:05
Quantum's picture

Sitting Meditation & Living Mindfully

Thank you, Proggy!

Dr. John Kabbat Zinn did mention in an Oprah Soul Series interview, that it's not about how long one can sit with one's eyes closed like a statue in a museum. Although it does have a similar benefit to hitting "start/settings/control panel/internet options/delete...cookies, history, etc" to clear the gunk our memories have accumulated from the Universal Mind/web. He also mentioned that meditation accelerates the process of becoming more mindful, or present.

Here are some reasons while I meditate:
1) I enjoy the experience, it's like sitting and relaxing in a hot tube without getting wrinkled. It feels good. It's quiet.
2) Things I need seem to show up when I need them. Not all, but some. Just enough to make me go "wow!"
3) Intuition, and aha moments, come more often, and I like the messages/understanding/clarity they bring about the cryptic things Jesus said.
4) Perhaps my emotions are becoming more under control, or less insidious as they used to be. Not sure about this one, because I am mostly still identified and possesed by my mind and emotions.
5) I'm cleaning out my "attic" (subconscious mind).

Quantum | Wed, 09/16/2009 - 21:39
Phroggy's picture

You're using your

You're using your meditations for intuitive insight. That's great. I found that most intuitive insights require a mental focus. Not thinking, but a focus in which a question arises, a lot like the scientist who works on a problem, then takes a nap and suddenly realizes the answer, and so for me it's more like a contemplation than what I would call meditation. The 'looking' is always happening in that way now, which is why i'm on these forums. Once the mind can remain relatively calm all the time, it can be put on 'pause' at any time so that you can intuitively 'look'.

Phroggy | Fri, 09/18/2009 - 10:13
Quantum's picture

Thank you Phroggy.

I'll be in touch with one outstanding question I have been contemplating on for a long long time--maybe since 2007-- and I think I am scratching the surface. I can relate to your posts, and you seem to speak from personal experience that I can relate to.

Quantum | Fri, 09/18/2009 - 17:44
Phroggy's picture

You appear to be one of the

You appear to be one of the very few people i've met who seems to have direct intuitive access, and it's a genuine pleasure to meet you.

Phroggy | Sat, 09/19/2009 - 09:36
Quantum's picture

Pleased to into you to, Guru.

I have been waiting a long time to meet you.

I have so many questions.

Yet at the same time, there is this quote fromm someone, I'll have to google to find the source:

"I used to have so many questions to ask God, but when I met Him, they didn't seem to matter anymore."

PS: That access you mentioned, I crediit to my Catholic upbrining, in a country where people where very very "religious". Here we might say they were, superstitious, or indoctrinated, or perhaps more nicely "full of faith". Anway...seems Catholism for me made sit easy for me to experience eastern mysticism, because, we light candles, burn incense, use beads in meditation, mumble Haily Mary prayers (i.e. Mantra) 53 times in one sitting. And all the way, as a child, you never question this stuff analye it. Father Sundborg, back in College, called all these external forms, "Superstructures", (sign posts, fingers pointing at the moon), that brings one to the "infrasctructure", the actually "inner experience."

I remember when I was three or somewhere before 5, because it was around 5 that we came to this country, my mom and I would kneel together daily in fromt of the Status of the Infant Jesus of Prague, and pray. I would tell my mom that I could see the chest of Jesus moving as he waas breathing. My mom simply allowed me to say that, instead of chastising me for it. Anway, Ir emember what it was like being a child. I am 45 now. And I have my on 5 year old.

Quantum | Sat, 09/19/2009 - 19:50
madan_gautam's picture

Meditation is a focusing of the mind rather than a stopping

Really Phroggy ?
Meditation is only focusing and concentration ?
Is it not beyond that?
You are confusing between meditation and concentration.
OM

madan_gautam | Sun, 09/20/2009 - 02:52
Phroggy's picture

No, I didn't say meditation

No, I didn't say meditation is only focusing and concentration and nothing beyond that. What I said is what is in the title of your post.

"You are confusing between meditation and concentration."

I wonder if you are foolish enough to believe I am this foolish. I don't think so. I think you are very atached to your meditations and what you think they have done for you, and this is the reason for your perception difficulty.

Quantum: I'll address you here because I keep reaching my posting limit. Thank you very much, but i am not a guru. I'm not the childish fool most here think i am, but I'm not a guru any more than our friend Madan here is a guru. :)

Phroggy | Mon, 09/21/2009 - 04:13
Quantum's picture

Okay, not a guru. if you insist.

Maybe you're a Jesuit Priest.

:)

Quantum | Mon, 09/21/2009 - 05:15
Quantum's picture

Hope no misunderstanding.

Given my respect for the Jesuits, that Sir, was a compliment.

Quantum | Mon, 09/21/2009 - 05:17
Quantum's picture

This time I wasn't thinking.

Professor might be more appropriate. This time I wasn't thinking.

Quantum | Mon, 09/21/2009 - 05:30
madan_gautam's picture

but I'm not a guru any more than our friend Madan here is a guru

but I'm not a guru any more than our friend Madan here is a guru. :)
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
But the work/teaching which you are doing here is the work of a Guide/adviser/guru,if you do not want to accept it and want to name it different,then it is your description.
But Universally it is called Guru.
Do you think a Guru cant not be a friend?
If so,Then Krishna & Arjuna were the best example for this,
though Krishna remained friend through out life with Arjuna ,but at the right time He delivered the message of Gita to him and acted at that time as adviser/guide/master/guru or good friend,call it any thing.
But the fact is fact,name it as per your own values,but truth does not change by it.
You are a Guru as per my customs and to accept it or not is your wish.
OM

madan_gautam | Mon, 09/21/2009 - 05:45
madan_gautam's picture

I wonder if you are foolish enough to believe I am this foolish.

I wonder if you are foolish enough to believe I am this foolish.
+++++++++++++++++++++++++
I never thought that you are foolish,but I am.
I think that I am the most foolish person on this earth.

I think you are very atached to your meditations and......
++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
I am so & not at the same time.
But one can not deny the fruits of meditation.
If one so, then he do not know the true meditation.
meditation shows you the path of right living.
If you do not find anything special in meditation,then either you have not gone through it or you do not know the meditation.
To accept the reality is not a defeat but victory.
OM

madan_gautam | Mon, 09/21/2009 - 05:50
sisi's picture

When you are persistent in watching your thoughts

Most seekers watch thoughts for some time but do not persist in it. Watching thoughts needs time and persistence. One must stick to this practice for long time and overcome possible boredom.

But, when one persists, at some point he is able to watch thoughts before the words. He sees that the wording of the thoughts is only a post processing and unless he needs to communicate with someone else, he can give up the wording. He himself knows the things without needing the wording.

sisi | Wed, 10/14/2009 - 21:08