Self Observation versus Self Watching

pp. 121-129

Self Observation
versus Self-Watching

See the Great Space in Which
Contraction is Occurring

Table – Self
Observation versus Self Watching

“You will simply begin to listen, and you will simply begin
to hear. When you begin to hear, when this process in
consciousness has begun, you will begin to observe yourself,
see yourself under the conditions of life. This process of
self-observation, carried on here in our discussions about
this contraction or avoidance of relationship, and in all
your study, reading and living of this work, at some point
becomes communication received, real observation of how,
yes! this contraction, this avoidance is the quality of your
of The Siddhas – Chapter 8

Observation versus Self Watching

SPIRITUAL MASTER: You are used to considering
self-observation to be a technique or a philosophical idea,
a kind of solution. You analyze your behavior, your
experiences, your circumstances, your thoughts, feelings,
and all the rest. You assume a kind of abstracted “witness”
point of view, stand back, see it all, and then you get
disgusted with yourself or decide to do something about it.
You will notice that whenever this occurs, you become dull,
self fconcerned, very conscious of dilemma, of problem.

Self-observation is that insight whereby what you might
otherwise watch, or notice in yourself, is undone. It cannot
occur as a “method.” True self-observation is not a matter
of putting yourself forward in a witnessing point of view to
see the things that are arising. Self-observation occurs
when you are not present as a self, watching.
Self-observation occurs in natural, functional moments of
self-forgetting in the midst of daily life; in other words,
when you are living the disciplines of practice that the
Spiritual Master has given you, when you are living them in
the spirit of Satsang, in the spirit of the Teaching, simply
practicing in ordinary terms. Thus, when you are seated in
the dimension of consciousness itself, not in the seat of
the brain as a strategic position, you suddenly grasp the
entire play that is your humanity. When you are free of all
manipulative exercise, you are like a mirror to your own
event, and the process of your life shows itself to you in
instant comprehension.

DEVOTEE: The difference between self-observation and self
watching is still not clear to me.

SPIRITUAL MASTER: The difference becomes clear if you
practice. Self-watching, or conventional self-observation,
is itself a technique, a method. It is not necessarily one
that you adopt, that you devote time to, like a yogic
exercise. Some people do it as that kind of technique, but
it is more commonly a natural and common strategy, a part of
the accepted notion of sanity. Everybody is engaged in this
practice of self-watching to one or another degree. Thus,
you find yourself at random moments all day long looking at
yourself, thinking about it all. But self-observation, real
self-observation, is not done methodically as a

DEVOTEE: It just happens?

SPIRITUAL MASTER: In a sense you could say it just
happens. It is not an activity of the ego, of your deciding
to analyze yourself. This practice is not generated by my
prescribing self-observation to you. Rather, it is generated
on the basis of a consideration of the Teaching, a natural
turning to the Spiritual Master, accepting his disciplines
on the basis of understanding, and fulfilling these
disciplines from hour to hour, always making them the form
of your relationship to the Master. This is sacrifice in its
natural form. In the midst of that life there are real
moments of insight from time to time. And when such insight
appears, it is not in the form, “Oh, shucks! Will you look
at that!” That kind of information comes from self-watching.
When you find yourself out, that is self-watching. That is
data. That is images that you capture about yourself. All
that analysis is a natural product of self-watching.

But the natural product or expression of real
self-observation is radical insight. Where there is such
insight, everything that you feel bad about on the basis of
your self-analysis or self-watching is undone. In a moment
of real insight, there is no obstruction, there is no bad
guy. The principle of the ego is not present in the moment
of real self-observation, but it is always there in the
moment of self watching.

Understand that everyone engages in self-watching. You
are not prohibited from self-watching. However, you are not
asked to self-watch. You will simply and randomly notice
yourself self watching, and you will begin to understand
this strategy in yourself. You will see what it represents,
why it is there. You will see what it really is. What is
self-watching? It is self-meditation. What is that? It is
contraction. You will really see it. You will know it to be
that. And in those moments, that is insight. That is
self-observation, that is understanding.


See the Great Space in
Which Contraction Is Occurring

SPIRITUAL MASTER: The process that is understanding
always involves responsibility in consciousness. It is real
comprehension. It is a Siddhi, a real power that you bring
to life, not in order to change the karmas, not to transform
your behavior and your habits, but rather to enable you to
exist happily and freely in the Divine. Whenever you are
happy and free in understanding, karmas fall away, they just
move through by the truckload. Some are fulfilled, some
pass, some are just viewed, life just happens, continues to
make its appearance, it is breathed, and there is no

The process of understanding is all about happiness, not
about heavy things like self-improvement. Self-improvement
is so easy, anyway. To improve yourself is so simple and
matter-of-fact. Anybody can improve himself. You do not
become happier by improving yourself, as we all know. The
process of understanding is not about improving yourself,
nor is it about the happiness that comes from what happens
to you, or what makes you feel good, or the good-happening
things that make you feel good for a long time.
Understanding is about realizing the Principle that is
happiness. It is about realizing that you are happy, that
you are only happy, that you are Happiness, that Happiness
is your Condition and that it is totally independent of any
kind of karmic realization, from the Divine Vision to the
dog shit on the sidewalk. (Laughter.) And you are only
happy. That is what I’m talking about. That is

But how is all this intuited? How does one realize that
one is only happy? That there is only happiness? That
Happiness is the Condition?

Well-now we have to get down to the whole matter of
student practice. Student practice is a very practical
affair. It is a condition that uses behavior for the sake of
the crisis in which there is this kind of enjoyment I am
talking about. Student practice does not involve a method
that you engage because you do not feel good and you want to
feel good, although by tendency you are always trying to do
things that will in fact make you understand and make you
happy or realize the Divine. The whole affair of student
practice is a way of frustrating that intention.

Fundamentally a person comes into The Laughing Man
Institute because he has studied the Teaching to the point
of real sympathy. The student takes on a practical order of
life that is quite a different thing from the life of
seeking. It is essentially an undramatized, ordinary life,
in which the individual is given no merely subjective
techniques, and in which his turning toward subjectivity is
offended and constantly argued against by the Spiritual
Master. All of the life-level things that the student is
asked to do are so normal and so ordinary that they are
offensive. They are all circles, whereas his life was at
least great big ellipses, eccentric circles relative to the
natural or sattwic order of life.

Thus, simply by confining the student to these little
circular, sattwic patterns, he is offended, he is upset.
Whenever his motion toward eccentricity appears, his
reactivity breaks through that circle of mere conditions,
and he sees it. That is self-observation. At random moments
he sees it, and at random moments the pressure of his
eccentricity smacks against his ordinary life of practice,
and he sees it.

In the beginning, he just sees little things; he sees “I
do this now.” He does not intentionally sit around to watch
himself do that. He just simply notices it. It is very
ordinary. Even self-observation in its real form that I am
describing is still very ordinary. He sees things, but the
noticing is not part of a program. These seeings occur in
naked moments when he is not present to analyze, but he
still sees the same thing. It is just that its significance
is of an entirely different order. Then the
self-presentation that is always present in the strategy of
self-watching is relaxed. Ultimately, observation becomes a
summary insight based on a tacit observation of his life
totally – felt, tacit observation that the significance of
his life is this contraction, this avoidance of

When that contraction is seen in the moment of self
observation – not in the moment of self-watching, because
then there is a self and all you do feel is the contraction
– but when the contraction is seen, when it is really
observed, then you not only see the whole life contracting
through all of its mechanisms, but you see what precedes it.
You see contraction relative to the whole pattern of
existence. You do not just feel contracted. You see this
contraction, you see the great space in which it is
occurring, you see it as an event, and thus you realize what
is prior to that event. You become responsible for it when
you know it as an event, and you cannot do it anymore. In
consciousness you live as what precedes that contraction,
and thus through the Siddhi that is Consciousness you may in
every moment undo the limitation of your tendency.

This whole affair of student practice is very specific
and also very simple and very natural. Whenever you arrive
at a moment that seems more or less conclusive to you, when
you think you have seen something and understood something,
what are you always doing when that happens? You are
meditating upon some sort of content. Basically you are
meditating upon some thoughts you have had, because thoughts
are all that are left over. And when meditating upon your
thinking, you are meditating on you. When you think and
define yourself, you naturally start feeling desires of
various kinds, because you escape that trap and expand again
through desire. Therefore, even the moments of accumulated
data about yourself in which you somehow realize a position
that seems to be it, perhaps, even these must be seen. These
then become a condition in which understanding must arise.
You must see how there is only this contraction. There is
only the avoidance of relationship. That is all you are

At this stage your practice may be maturing to the point
of enquiry, and it is at this stage that you must clearly
understand that what you. see yourself doing commonly, which
is self-watching, collecting information and having insight
based upon information and analyzed insights, is not
understanding. You must resort again to the practical form
of your practice, and lessons must appear in your life of
self-discipline that eliminate aspects of your conventional
life from your ideas about understanding. You must cease to
identify the game of self-watching with understanding. And
we should not end this discussion tonight until it is clear
to you, apparent to you, simply obvious to you that
self-watching is not the conscious process.

Observation, or insight, which is fundamentally the same
thing, lasts only when it is perfect, because only when it
is . perfect does it include all other possibilities that
may be observed, and therefore it goes on and on and on. Any
moment of self-observation cannot last, because something
else arises, and you must be present in the next moment. It
is only when the whole affair of self-observation and
insight becomes summary, conclusive, total comprehension of
fundamentally what you are as an activity, only then can it
appear as a real responsibility in consciousness. Although
it appears now at random, you do not forever from that
moment understand, but you have come to the point of
responsibility at that point, and you can enquire, and you
can enquire at random, and you must consciously initiate
enquiry and reinitiate it in random moments from then.

DEVOTEE: Some of us were talking about the relationship
between observation and enquiry, and we could not separate

SPIRITUAL MASTER: Obviously they are two distinct things.
Enquiry is “Avoiding relationship?” Observation is to be
present at random in an uncaused, passive state and to see
suddenly the nature of some condition. Enquiry is a
conscious activity wherein you initiate enquiry in the form
“Avoiding relationship?” It is something you do
deliberately, intentionally, from the point of view of
insight or understanding. But you cannot initiate
self-observation. Anything , you initiate that looks like
self-observation is self-watching.

There is the distinction. Self-observation is essentially
a random and passive moment in which no self is presented in
your fulfilling a natural condition of life in Satsang. The
whole affair of self-observation ultimately becomes summary
and conclusive. It becomes comprehension. Then you may
enquire. And since enquiry is founded in prior insight, this
real process, it can be intentionally initiated at random in
the formal setting of meditation or at any time. You may not
initiate self-observation, however, as a matter of
responsibility. It is a matter of conventional’
responsibility – you must fulfill the conditions in
Satsang-but you cannot responsibly initiate the process of
self-observation itself. You can initiate self watching,
though. You can decide to do it and be responsible for doing
it every five minutes.

You must submit to the process of understanding and put
yourself in a position to see it as it appears in your own
case. True self-observation is really not very significant
until you have realized it. All the conversation about it is
not terribly conclusive. That is why I said a little earlier
that the purpose of our meeting together here today is not
to define and thus strategically orient you towards
something that is self-observation. Our purpose is to give
this lesson about self-watching, something with which you
are already involved, with which you have had experience, to
which you have all confessed.

You tend to describe self-observation in terms of
content, and when you are doing that it is not understanding
that you are realizing, but it is just that that you are
realizing. That affair of self watching in itself must be
understood. On the other hand you will not be told, “Well,
now that you know all this, go home and self observe.” You
are simply returned as before to the natural condition of
your practice, a very practical condition in which you live
Satsang in the form of practical life-disciplines.

In your life of discipline there will be times when you
observe something about yourself and in that moment also
comprehend it. But the other times when you see things and
watch yourself and get data about yourself are a different
matter. There are moments in which you see yourself and also
comprehend yourself. Real self-observation is of that
nature. You not only get information about yourself, but you
comprehend that area of drama in your life and are
fundamentally free of it on the basis of that very
observation or insight.

It is not terribly useful to sit here and analyze the
process of self-observation. See it when it happens. See if
there is a difference. If there is, make note of it, but it
is not all that important. It is an important and
fundamental distinction that you observe at some point, but
do not involve yourself in endless, elaborate descriptions.
The lesson is about self-watching, which is something that
you can know you are doing and that you have called
self-observation. All the rest of it is only discussion that
will not illuminate the process nor make it more practical
for you. If we have said enough on that basic point, then I
think we should just stop talking.

versus Self-Watching

Insight whereby what you might notice in
yourself is undone.

A solution in which you become dull,
self-concerned, and problematic about what you

Not a method of practice

A method of intentional technique of

Occurs when you are not present as a self,

Generated from abstracted “witness” point of

Occurs in natural, functional moments of
self-forgetting when you are living the discipline
in Satsang.

Occurs when you stand back, see yourself, and
become disgusted or decide to do something.

Seated in Consciousness

Seated in the brain-mind

Yields instant comprehension of your activity of

Yields data, information about yourself, and
insight based on analyzing information.

Radical insight into self and the avoidance of

Self Analysis

See the self and the contraction and the “great
space in which contraction occurs.” You realize or
feel what is prior to contraction.

See the self and feel contraction

Become responsible for self contraction.

Remain irresponsible for self contraction.

For a more indept look see
Observation and Self Watching