Ken Wilber on Who is the Witness
- The Self or the Seer or the Witness is not any
particular thought--I can see that thought as an
object. The Seer is not any particular sensation--
I am aware of that as an object. The observing Self
is not the body, it is not the mind, it is not the ego--
I can see all of those as objects. What is looking
at all those objects? What in you right now is looking
at all these objects--looking at nature and its sights,
look- ing at the body and its sensations, looking at
the mind and its thoughts? What is looking at all that?
Try to feel yourself right now--get a good sense of
being yourself-- and notice, that self is just another
object in awareness. It isn't even a real subject,
a real self, it's just another object in awareness.
This little self and its thoughts parade by in front
of you just like the clouds float by through the sky.
And what is the real you that is witnessing all of that?
Witnessing your little objective self? Who or what is that?
As you push back into this pure Subjectivity, this pure
Seer, you won't see it as an object--you can't see it
as an object, because it's not an object! It is nothing
you can see. Rather, as you calmly rest in this observing
awareness--watching mind and body and nature float by--
you might begin to notice that what you are actually
feeling is simply a sense of freedom, a sense of release,
a sense of not being bound to any of the objects you
are calmly witnessing. You don't see anything, you simply
rest in this vast freedom.
In front of you the clouds parade by, your thoughts parade
by, bodily sensations parade by, and you are none of them.
You are the vast expanse of freedom through which all
these objects come and go. You are an opening, a clearing,
an Emptiness, a vast spaciousness, in which all these objects
come and go. Clouds come and go, sensations come and go,
thoughts come and go--and you are none of them; you are
that vast sense of freedom, that vast Emptiness, that vast
opening, through which manifestation arises, stays a bit, and goes.
So you simply start to notice that the "Seer" in you that is witnessing all these objects is itself just a vast Emptiness.
It is not a thing, not an object, not anything you can see
or grab hold of. It is rather a sense of vast Freedom, because
it is not itself anything that enters the objective world of
time and objects and stress and strain. This pure Witness is
a pure Emptiness in which all these individual subjects and
objects arise, stay a bit, and pass.
So this pure Witness is not anything that can be seen!
The attempt to see the Witness or know it as an object--
that's just more grasping and seeking and clinging in time.
The Witness isn't out there in the stream; it is the vast
expanse of Freedom in which the stream arises. So you can't
get hold of it and say, Aha, I see it! Rather, it is the Seer,
not anything that can be seen. As you rest in this Witnessing,
all that you sense is just a vast Emptiness, a vast Freedom,
a vast Expanse--a transparent opening or clearing in which
all these little subjects and objects arise. Those subjects
and objects can definitely be seen, but the Witness of them
cannot be seen. The Witness of them is an utter release from
them, an utter Freedom not caught in their turmoils, their
desires, their fears, their hopes.
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