You Must Come to the Point of Literally Observing the Self-Contraction – a talk by Da Free John

You Must Come to the Point of

Observing the

a talk by Da Free John

November 18, 1982


Beezone note: This is a
shortened version – link to original talk

DEVOTEE: Master, when you speak to us from the
simplicity of your Realization, I feel an affinity with what
you are saying, but it is obvious that that is not my own
Realization. So I keep finding myself involved in different
aspects of the practice in an effort to overcome my doubt,
and I feel like that is exactly what keeps me from really

MASTER DA: Well, that is fine. All of these
reactions are the complications of Narcissus. And if you
experience enough of this nonsense, you may become
sympathetic with listening to me.

Only when you begin to despair of your search and feel
locked into your subjective captivity, only when you cannot
work your way out of the fundamental sense of dis-ease, can
you begin to become capable of seeing yourself most directly
and simply, of recognizing your total character, your total
life cycle. Then you cease to be involved with all of that
in your energy and attention. The drama of your life becomes
superficial, secondary, and you become more and more
profoundly occupied with simply observing yourself. But
first there must be the general observation of yourself in
the context of daily living to the point of recognizing
yourself. This is the first stage of consideration – to see
that you are Narcissus. The
Knee of Listening
is devoted to the development of that
Argument and the demonstration of its development in my own

Thus, this simple capacity for self-observation is what,
must develop first. And it is fundamentally a very simple
matter – What are you doing? What are you always doing in
the event of your struggle, however profound or superficial
it may be? What kind of a character are you? What are you
really about? What are you up to all of the time? This is my
basic question to you, and this is what you must consider
until you come to the point of seeing and accepting the fact
that you are just the self-contraction, always only avoiding

You must come to the point of literally observing the
self-contraction, not merely believing it. But you will not
even bother to consider it until the whole activity of
self-contraction has produced enough force of result, enough
quality of bondage, that you begin to feel too sick of it to
merely live out your ordinary life. You develop a need to
understand something about yourself. When you come to that
point, then I can begin to become useful to you at the level
of the Argument of the Teaching.

I have proposed this Argument again and again and again
in all kinds of ways, but it is always a consideration of
what you are doing. If you are unsympathetic enough with
your neurosis and the ordinary results of your existence,
then you have a little energy and attention left over, free
of that result, to just be able to observe yourself. Most
people do not even have enough reserve energy and attention
to observe themselves. They are too busy being themselves.
They cannot, nor are they even inclined to make use of me or
my Argument.

But when the neurosis or the disease begins to become
evident and you want a cure, or whatever your motivation may
superficially seem to be, then you can begin to make use of
the Wisdom of my Teaching. To use this Wisdom is not a
matter of entering into some sort of complicated analytical
process, full of propositions from the Teaching. Most
basically, it is a matter of becoming sensitive to yourself
in the context of ordinary existence, using the disciplines
to help you to be sensitive to your own activity, studying
the Teaching, and so on. Then, at any moment, the simple or
complicated forms of my Argument will become useful to you.
This practice is always a matter of one basic consideration
– the freeing of energy and attention to recognize and
understand the fundamental activity that is the self, the
living personality.

When you really see that you are literally active as
Narcissus, the self-contraction, then even more energy and
attention are available than were available at the beginning
when you first became a listener. Then the search relaxes –
it does not dominate you anymore, it is only secondarily
present – and you become more profoundly capable of feeling,
observing, recognizing, understanding, and transcending the
activity of Narcissus. You begin to discover it more
fundamentally – not merely in the form of the man or woman
you are in daily life, not merely as the outer theatre of
Narcissus, but you begin to investigate the character of
Narcissus, the mechanism that is Narcissus, and not merely
the play we animate on the basis of it.

Therefore, what must first occur is a dissatisfaction
with the illness, whatever complex sensation of dis-ease may
characterize you as an individual. People must come to the
point of feeling dissatisfied with existence as it is
turning out to be. Then they will resort to their sources,
teachers, traditions, continuing the search, but looking for
some cure, release, or answer. They do not really know what
they are looking for, otherwise they would just say it
straight out, you see, and write their own prescription. But
this dissatisfaction is not merely a something to be
overcome which has not yet been identified. It is

Thus, the first aspect of the process of developing the
Way as a real practice is to listen to the Argument of the
Teaching to the point of hearing. In other words, enter into
the consideration. Do not merely hear the language of the
Argument, but put yourself into conjunction with it so that
you begin to observe yourself. And in observing yourself,
you will see the whole cycle of the self-contraction and its

But what I propose to you most fundamentally is that you
are Narcissus, the self-contraction, active as the avoidance
of relationship. That is basically what I have to say to
you. Everything else I say to you is built upon and
elaborated from that Argument. It depends for its full
revelation on further maturity in practice and therefore is
not really useful to you until you have heard my basic

This is what I have to say to beginners and public
people. Consider this matter of the self-contraction. Bring
yourself into conjunction with it. When you have done that
sufficiently, you will eventually come to a point where you
will really recognize yourself as Narcissus. Then the
search, the whole adventure of life and the avoidance; of
relationship will begin to seem less fruitful and will
become less dominant in your life.

see full orginal talk