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The Observer Prevents Observation

The observer is the original separation in the human mind. From this existential mistake all division originates, ending in the war between “my country and your country,” “my religion and your religion.”

Is the brain capable of observing without the observer? This is a crucial question, not only for awakening the meditative state, but also for psychological health and healing, as well as ending the division between people.

Psychological (as opposed to functional) thought operates in division and dualism. And as long as psychological thought dominates the brain and human life, there will be war, poverty and ecological destruction.

The machinery of psychological separation is fabricated by so-called higher thought. In doing so, it becomes lower thought. Thought cannot be intelligent; there is only intelligence when thought is silent and still.

The observer, self and ego are comprised of prior experience, memory, and conditioning orbiting around a fictitious center. The observer is a systematized filter of memory, born of the prevailing illusion of a separate, permanent self.

If one alertly and playfully asks oneself, ‘what is the observer?’ one sees that at bottom it is actually nothing but thought continually separating itself from itself.

The observer, like the self, is inextricably part of the entire movement of thought, though the observer/self is experienced as separate from that which it is observing, in oneself, in nature, and in the world.

Consider this standard definition: “Observation in philosophical terms is the process of filtering sensory information through the thought process.” That is the definition of the observer, not observation! The underlying assumption is that the observer and observation are the same thing, when in fact the observer prevents observation.

The unseen, automatic operation of the separating mechanism within us —the observer–is the primary impediment to direct perception. Observing only occurs when the observer ends.

In actuality, the observer is an infinite regress. It never sees itself because it is always removing itself from the field of observation. Thought continually separates itself from itself, which is what allows the observer to be experienced as an entity apart.

With passive observation however, awareness grows quicker than thought, and the brain catches the mind in the act of separation. One has the transformative insight that the observer is inextricably part of thought.

At that moment the separative trick of the mind ends, and one’s basic perceptual process radically changes. The division between the watcher and the watched suddenly dissolves.

In gathering attention, one doesn’t do anything. The ‘I’ is the observer; effort and will from the ‘me’ is inherently divisive, the root cause of the fragmentation of the Earth and humanity.

Inclusive, undirected attention to the entire movement of thought, along with gently questioning the workings of one’s mind, ends the rule of divisiveness of the human mind.

Passive observation produces an intense, effortless attention. The fire of attention in turn burns away the extraneous material of memory and emotion, releasing energy. It takes energy to release energy, but once released, latent capacities for awareness are liberated in brain.

Cleansing the mind and heart cannot occur without ending the observer. When one ends the mechanism of the illusory, separate observer in the action of passive observation, there is nothing to sustain the noise of thought, and the mind grows deeply quiet. The brain then shares in the silence that pervades the universe.

Instead of scaring up a couple of ducks as I ride the bike down the dirt path to the creek, I surprise a man standing in the middle of the stream. He is foraging for something in the hip deep water, but I don’t ask what. We say hello and I sit a little way upstream to watch the sunset.

Swallows are playing on the air and skimming the surface of the water. As the sun nears the horizon, quail cavort in the bushes along the stream, and pheasant squawk in the fields.

Passive observation goes on along with insistent questions in the mind. But after a while even the questions, which produce some new insights, give way to silence and deep reverence. Standing up after an hour, one feels something beyond words and all description. One is empty, and in that emptiness there is impersonal love.

Life is exploding around and within one. There is no division, and the duality of ‘outside and inside’ evaporates.

Martin LeFevre

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