Witness – The Beginners Practice

The Witness Position
and Beginner’s Practice

a talk by Da Free John

Originally published in

Crazy Wisdom Magazine, Vol 1, No 12,
March 1983.


December 14, 1982

Since the publication of The
Liberator (Eleutherios) on the Feast of the Master’s Name
last July, many devotees have had occasion both to delight
in the liberating message of its Argument and to recognize
their own disqualification’s for the pristine discipline of
the. Perfect Practice. In the following excerpt from a
recent discourse, Master Da reveals just how consideration
of The Liberator (Eleutherios) and similar portions of his
Teaching Argument can be a very useful practice for
beginners in the Way.


DEVOTEE: Something very
interesting goes on when I am dreaming. I don’t always
observe the dream from the point of view of a particular
sex. When I am having the dream, I am just this entity, this
being, this body-mind, and it is not necessarily either one
sex or the other. I was reminded of this the other night
when you were talking about the “witness” point of view. You
said that when you are the witness, you are not necessarily
either one sex or the other.

MASTER DA: No, you are not
any sex at all. Consciousness has nothing to do with sex.
You do not have anything to do with sex except to the degree
that you are identified with a manifest psycho-physical
entity that has a sexual character of one kind or another.
You are a dynamic personality in your manifest state, but in
your Free state, where you are as you Are, as the
Transcendental Self, you do not have any sexual
characteristics. You do not have any formal characteristics
at all, you do not have mind or body or place or time.
Therefore, you have no sex, no clothing, none of the usual
attributes of the manifest personality.

This same One is the consciousness
at the core of dreaming. In the dream state, then, if you
are particularly immersed in this witnessing orientation,
you may experience images without necessarily experiencing
the usual persona of the waking state as the person as whom
you are functioning in the dream. Very often dreams are just
witnessed. You do not even play a role in them, or at most
you may experience reactions to them, but you do not stand
present as a person with a particular appearance, sex, and
so forth. At other times you are a sexual persona. It
depends on the particular dream.

In the waking state you tend just to
be who you seem to be, with your appearance, your name, your
sex, and so on, but even then you are in precisely the same
Condition as you are in the deep sleep state or in the
dreaming state or in the Ultimate Condition of Samadhi. You
are not identified with this appearance. It is simply
something that you are witnessing, something to which you
are somehow related but not bound in the process of being
related to it. It is just that, by tendency, you
characteristically assume the position of the manifest
persona, the “I.” Whereas if you will only remember that you
are the witness of that persona, then you are doing a kind
of yoga just in that remembrance.

It is for this reason the The
Liberator (Eleutherious) is a useful consideration, even
though you begin to practice its great Yoga only at a
certain point of spiritual maturity. As a consideration, it
is useful for beginners. It is useful just to remember that
you are not the persona who is involved in events as a
manifest character, but rather that you are the one who is
witnessing them, who is related to mental and physical
states just as much as to the relations of the body-mind. If
you will remember that witnessing position and stand as
that, then just that simple consideration gives you a great
deal of distance and establishes equanimity in

This functional truth of our
existence is perfectly obvious. It is simply that we do not
act upon it. We are by tendency being the persona rather
than that witness. To remember that we are the witness is
not in itself perfect Enlightenment, but it is a useful
discipline, a useful understanding that applies even to
beginner’s practice, because it establishes a quality of
equanimity in life even though we are not entirely free of
the ego bond. We are always Enlightened in the ultimate
sense, always just witnessing phenomenal conditions,
witnessing the mind, witnessing thought, witnessing
emotions, witnessing the body, witnessing others. The
relations and states of the body-mind are all our relations.
We presume ourselves to be identical to some of these things
that are our relations: the body-mind, its state of mind,
its emotions, its physical sensations. We arbitrarily
presume ourselves to be identical to those things that we
witness and to be other than the things that are apparently
independent of the body mind. But actually the body-mind, as
well as all of the relations of the body mind, is witnessed
by us.

All of these arising phenomena are
our relations. We arbitrarily or by convention presume
ourselves to be the persona that is the body-mind. This is a
kind of automaticity that we must learn to transcend because
it is never true in any case. You never are that. I am here
talking, but I am not the words. If I sit and have a thought
or become aware of the sensation of the body, I am simply
witnessing that phenomenon as a kind of curious relation of
this consciousness. It is not necessary, not binding to the
consciousness. It is merely arising, just as you all are
merely arising. I witness you from the point of view of this
body mind. You are relations. I am aware of you. Whatever
that which witnesses ultimately is, it is still something
that you can account for even as a beginner in the Way. You
are always that which is witnessing the body-mind and its
relations, always, even now. Isn’t this perfectly


MASTER DA: At another stage
of the Way, perfect Realization of that obviousness is
associated with Perfect Enlightenment. But the consideration
is useful even as a simple understanding, as a practical
matter that changes your position from that of the persona
to that of the witness. For this reason I consider it
useful, therefore, even for beginners to study The Liberator
(Eleutherios) and the teachings relative to the Perfect
Practice, because even beginners are just witnessing these
conditions and are tending to identify with the body-mind
and to feel different from the relations of the body-mind.
But the factual truth of this consideration is obvious: Even
the body-mind or the persona with which you by tendency
identify is something you are aware of, something you are
witnessing. This is self-evident. It is perfectly evident.
It is impossible to it, without really noticing that you are
doing it altogether, you are usually presuming to be the
body-mind. This is the one you call “I,” “I,” “I.” This “I”
is something you witness. Even now, even as a beginner or as
a person in the midst of preparation, you are still in that
witnessing position, whether you have Realized its ultimate
Nature, Condition, and Substance or not. It is still
completely obvious. And to remember that, to remind yourself
that you are in that position rather than the position of
the persona, the “I,” the body-mind, is useful in daily life
as part off the natural discipline even of a beginner’s

You may not be able to account for
it altogether. Even though you are the witness, you can fail
fully to account for it while you are still feeling yourself
to be the consciousness in the body, or the ego. The egoic
interior being may be arising as a result of the mechanics
of Nature. Thus, you can still doubt the ultimate
Significance of the witness position until you have Realized
the Truth of it. But even prior to Realizing the Truth of
it, or the ultimate Significance of this witnessing state,
you are in that state.

Just to remember to stand in the
witnessing position, just that act alone, grants a certain
kind of equanimity to the body-mind. It releases a certain
amount of attention from ordinary existence. Then,
ultimately, you will discover That which is witnessing this.
You will find its Condition, its Source, its Substance. You
will discover What it is, and by discovering That you also
discover the Nature of Nature. You recognize the events
witnessed by this Consciousness. That is

For some unusually prepared
individuals this practice is sufficient sadhana, the first
stage of the Perfect Practice. For such people it is
sufficient sadhana because all of the other disciplines come
about very naturally on its basis. It is a sufficient
Principle by itself. I have discovered, however, that most
people cannot make it a sufficient Principle, because they
cannot remember that position with sufficient strength often
enough for that remembrance to be a sadhana, really. They
can only notice it sometimes, they can only remember it
occasionally. Therefore, they are associated with other
means of practice. They become involved in the Perfect
Practice only when they are ready to enter its second stage.
In place of its first stage, they engage in the various
disciplines of the Way of Faith or the Way of Insight. They
engage in the practice of Remembrance via the Name “Da” and
associated disciplines, or they engage in the practice of
enquiry and re-cognition. All of that has the same force as
this continuous recollection of the Host position. It
involves you in that recognition, the taking up of that
position, through a somewhat different process, the process
of Divine Remembrance or of enquiry.

Therefore, you may become qualified
for any one of these practices – Divine Remembrance,
enquiry, or the first stage of the Perfect Practice
(remembrance of the Host position) – associated with
conductivity and the natural disciplines whereby we submit
ourselves to the Living Current. As beginners, I basically
recommend that you take up the practice of the Way of Divine
Communion, for reasons that I have made very clear in my
essays. The force of that practice is the same as that of
the first stage of the Perfect Practice. It develops
equanimity on the basis of Remembering or Realizing or
Communing with the Transcendental Position, the Host
position, the prior position, the Condition in which and to
which all conditions, including the body-mind, are arising.
Is this clear?