The Depth of Witnessing

The Depth of Witnessing

Kamal Gad
CC photo in Kamal Gad in India by Binary Half

In previous articles on witnessing, I’ve explored how a sense of detached observer can arise. This may come before awakening, with awakening, or even develop post-awakening as it becomes more established. The degree of sattva v.s. rajas can also influence how distinctive it is and how separate we feel.

But we can also look at witnessing from another angle – it’s depth. Witnessing can come on fully with a bang but it also may arise more slowly. It can also come and go until the kundalini stabilizes at makara.

If it’s coming on gradually, we may first witness the body. Here and there, we watch the body move and do things without our volition. This can be a distinctive change from an ego perspective of being the doer and in control.

In a further step back, we also witness the emotions playing out without getting caught in their drama. This greatly improves our ability to just allow them to complete. Often this dramatically reduces the time emotions spend making a fuss. They arise and complete in a few minutes.

Still further back, we witness the mind. We see thoughts arising and falling without our involvement. We see the stories that are running more clearly and may be appalled by a few of the programs we’d not recognized before. Again, this makes it much easier to let go and resolve the worries, stories, and so on that arise.

As we wind down the emotions and mind, our inner life settles considerably. If we have moments of clear samadhi where the breath stops, thoughts are then much less inclined to break the samadhi. We can sit in clear peace while thoughts and emotions roll on by.

Deeper still, we observe the intellect making choices, judging, and so forth. This allows us to get much clearer about the dynamics in play. Our discriminative abilities improve. This level also relates to our intuitive abilities. Greater clarity enhances that.

We can also come to witness the bliss body but as that’s universal and not entrapped, there is little to disentangle from here.

Finally we come to the level of perception. Witnessing perception disentangles us from the binding influence of the senses. We continue to perceive but it becomes the play on the screen of consciousness rather than “mine”.

All of this is much easier to see in retrospect if your process is following this path.

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  1. Jean

    Thanks again David for such a clear description which matches also my experience. There is an inner silence present now which replaced the ongoing thought stream. I can now clearly see when the mind starts forming a story around an “I”. But as soon as it is recognized it fades away quickly.

    1. Hi Geoff
      In the context of this article, seeing the seeing is witnessing the perception. We can also say observing the process of experience in consciousness. This is quite subtle and relates to the process of becoming, how everything is created.

      Prior to this, we’re identified with perception. We’re in it. We might call this being the seeing.

      However Being capitalized is conscious existence. The first stage of enlightenment is Self Realization, when the Self wakes up to itself. Put another way, when the witness wakes up to itself. We’re Being the Being.

      In the next stage (Unity), we wake up to the Self underlying all experience, the objects. Being the world.

      And then later in Unity, we wake up to the process of experience, the relationship between subject and object. This is Being the seeing.

      So seeing the seeing is recognizing the process of experience. Being the seeing is becoming it, merging it into one wholeness.

    1. Hi Geoff
      Assuming there isn’t something in your life triggering the emotion – we’re dealing with something old rising up to be resolved – a repeater indicates you’ve not gotten to the core yet.

      This means either a deeper letting go is needed to go deeper. Or this ones a large one with with many layers.

      The big stuff is often multi-layered. We have an unresolved experience, then we suppress it, then we mask it, and so forth. Resolving this can be like peeling an onion, working down to the core. In this case though, the different layers can have somewhat different qualities.

      Sometimes, the repeater is not stored on the emotional level. We may notice a physical sensation when the emotion comes up. If that’s the case, allow the attention to go to the sensation and just let it rest there. This will facilitate the release.

      It can also just be a kind of raw energy of resistance, an inner No! rather than a typical emotion. Bringing neutral awareness to that will help it’s release similarly.

      We may find a need to rest after a big release. Take it if you can. But when we clear this stuff, the energy it took to sustain them is released and our load is lightened. It’s well worth the exercise.

    1. The big ones can take time. You may also find it useful to work with an energy healer that can help with some of it. There’s some recommendations on the Recommended tab.

      The current jyotish is also more intense. This may aggravate certain emotions.

  2. It’s worth mentioning to the broader audience that once we deal with a good hunk of our own baggage that we start working on the collective.

    I’ve found we tend to resonate with the style of collective baggage that we’re most familiar with from our own history. So, for example, if we’ve processed a lot of grief, we’ll resonate with collective grief and have skills to process it.

    This doesn’t mean we’re endlessly burdened – only that we have skills to help. This stuff will feel less personal. And because it’s not local, we’re not going to be able to clear all of it, just the overflow in the collective. People will still need to clean up their own stuff.

    But this kind of group clearing does help raise clarity for everyone and reduce collective issues.

    This is moreso when someone is functioning from the cosmic body as they’re living in the whole rather than the individual. Thus their “internal” processing is of the whole.

  3. Reggie

    I’ve been having witnessing experiences for a while. I was a bit confused in the beginning when it happened all dialogue in my head went silent for a period of time and ever since then I notice a silence that is always present with me 24/7. At first this would shut off at night and I’d just have a lot of lucid dreams that I remembered, now I fall asleep and there are moments where I witness a bright light and I slowing merge and sleep in it, this has been happening more and more lately along with seeing auras or sensing energy. I meditate twice and day and it seems like each day a little more is revealed. Not sure if there’s a question in there just curious about your thoughts.

    1. Hi Reggie
      Yes, it can first start when the mind is silent. We are in a state of Yoga with the eyes open. As the attachment to the mind softens, it can then be maintained even when the mind is active. Thoughts don’t disturb the silence.

      And yes, at first transcendence is dark and unknown but in time clarity increases and then we discover consciousness is effulgent, lit up. At some point we shift from witnessing the content to the witness waking up to itself.

      It sounds like great progress. Don’t try to hang on to any of it and don’t be concerned if life events disrupt it a bit.

      You may find it valuable to spend time with awake people such as in satsang. The awakeness here doesn’t know how to wake up but being with people awake can help stir it alive.

  4. Nima

    Hi Davidya,

    As a newbie, I can drag my attention to inner silence and stay in that for most of the time during. Mind is less active and I can notice when stories come and go. When I am in the silence I have a kind of loud tinnitus (continuous ear ringing). I even sometimes try to find it or use it as a hint to know I am still in silence and not in the mind. But is this something common? Should I ignore it, focus on it or try to go over it? Don’t want develop a bad habit or even get lost in an illusion.
    Thank you.

    1. Hi Nima

      Firstly, it is common for certain kinds of sounds to be heard at various points. Barring anything like ear damage or purification, there is a form of refined perception where we begin to hear the sound of the world becoming around us. It is constantly being created in every moment. There are several ways it may be heard but the most common is a high pitched tone similar to tinnitus.

      In other words, it can be a sign of some refinement taking place but I wouldn’t put any weight on it in itself. Allow it to come if it does and allow it to go when it does, as all experiences will.

      Note that any sensory perception is a function of the mind. While you may associate the sound with silence, its operating on a coarser level. Just as it’s possible to experience thoughts with silence, it’s possible to experience sounds with silence.

      If you’re looking for a sound or sitting on the sound, you’re in the mind. A subtler aspect of it, but still mind.

      You may find that putting your attention on a finer sound brings you deeper. But just as in some meditation practices, see the sound as a way to go deeper before letting it go, don’t try to hang on to the sound.

      You don’t want to just notice the silence, you want to immerse yourself in it, beyond all thoughts and sounds.

      Personally, i prefer an effortless meditation, not one where I have to drag my attention somewhere. 🙂

  5. Rucha

    Hi David,

    Thank you so much for sharing your wisdom. I saw both of your BATGAP interviews. They are incredible and so is your blog. You are so down to earth and humble. Thanks a lot for your service in helping us elevate our consciousness.

    I practice self abidance as suggested by Ramana Maharishi. I have to practice being the witness conciously. Witness stays for moments and I am back in the thoughts and experiences and I get reminded again throughout the day to practice. I also meditate twice a day which is helping a lot to get to a state of no thoughts.

    How do a stabilise this witness to be there 24/7?


    1. Hi Rucha
      Well, being more conscious also means being more conscious of what’s less conscious. 🙂 That helps keep you humble.

      What I describe is witnessing that arises naturally as the Self wakes up within. While it can be cultured, Yoga tells us the key is samadhi. By transcending the body & mind and experiencing our inner nature. Then we have more presence available to be cultured.

      For the most reliable samadhi, I recommend an effortless meditation. This cultures presence and makes it more available for other practices like mindfulness or noticing the witness. It also helps clear what may be in the way of Self recognition. I explain more here:

      So – samadhi (state of no thoughts) is the key to culture the presence which wakes up to become the witness and into Self Realization. And an effortless meditation is the best way to culture samadhi, in my experience.

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