Choiceless Observation

Choiceless Observation

6 mins

The observation implies watching an event of choice, either internally or externally, without disturbing the event of observation. The term ‘choicelessly’ gives a significant qualification for the right observation and implies that while observing there is no duality or motive. This means that one may not either justify or condemn or identify oneself with the event of observation. So, there is no choice but to observe an event as it is. Is it a continuous activity with respect to time? No, it need not be continuous since one cannot make it continuous practically. It is a moment to moment observation where one may take notice of other events that might be going on in the surroundings but pay attention to the event of choice. This way such an observation becomes non-exclusive. If one wishes to concentrate on the chosen event or object then one will have to get rid of the other things that might act as a disturbance either by suppressing them or do something else so that the effect of them may get nullified. This means that the effort to concentrate may result in a good amount of attention to be paid for getting rid of the unwanted disturbances and hence there may not be enough energy left to pay attention to the chosen event. The best thing is to simply ignore soon after taking notice of the noises and turn the mind towards the chosen event immediately and casually. So, attention should not be mistaken for concentration because concentration becomes exclusive whereas attention is not. 

Now let us take a close look at the practicality of the choiceless observation. Can we be able to observe our own thought while it is in operation? For example, we know what we may do when we become angry with someone. We may not be aware of our anger when it is in full swing. The anger has its own action and at the end of the action, it may subside thereby awakening us. That is the point when we may become aware of it and its action or consequence. But what is the use of becoming aware of our anger after everything is done? Can we ever become aware of it before the action so that the consequences of the anger may be prevented? This means that there are two possible instances where one may become aware of the anger, one before the action is done and others after the action is done. Though we seem to be very much interested in the former instance we need not reject the latter instance simply. This may require us to not give importance to the action of consequence for the time being. Because not only we do not have any control over the anger we do not have control over the action or consequence too. We also know that if at all we were aware of the anger before it arose we would have been able to prevent the action successfully. But, it is too much to expect just like that. So, let us look at what else we can do while admitting the fact that we are unaware totally of our anger as well as its consequence at the time of their existence. Our ‘self’ would have been absent then. However, after the anger recedes completely, the ‘self’ takes over again and starts analyzing all that has happened as a kind of post mortem. Sometimes, we try to justify the action and hence we may continue the same thing in the future. Sometimes, we may not justify it outright but we may try to pacify ourselves by thinking that we were helpless not to have found any alternative but to act that way only. However, in the second case, we seem to have an element of regret for that action. On some other occasion, we may end up repenting for all that had happened and hence we may curse ourselves for the anger as well as the consequences. In all these cases, there may not be an immediate change in our attitude. 

So, what may be left for us to do now when everything appears to be out of control? The only thing we can do is to observe the whole thing choicelessly. But, can we observe anything before the action is done by the anger? Since our ‘self’ is in abeyance right from the onset of the anger till the action is completed, how can there be an observer in that period? So, what may be practical is to observe anything after the action only. Then, one may ask, “then how can the consequences of the anger be prevented?”. No, we cannot rush towards doing anything for the end result in the beginning since any action taken that way may be the outcome of our thought, which is limited, and hence the outcome also may be limited. Instead, one must observe the end result carefully and see whether it has any positive impact or negative impact. But, can there be a positive outcome from the action done with anger? Not at all. However, one may be able to see some positive results at least momentarily. However, it may not last long. Also, there could be more negative outcomes only. So, one may not be in a position to justify such momentary positive outcomes. So, the observation of the end results has found out that the anger cannot produce positive results. 

Now, can we not observe the whole movement of the anger and its operations in the same way as we can observe the consequences of the action? This must be possible since our brain would have registered the whole episode. Again, without either condemning or justifying when we observe the whole movement it may be possible for us to understand all the deeper layers of the anger one by one and also the root of it. It may also be possible to observe the very operation of the anger where the complete picture of the damage done by it is visible. 

As we develop such an understanding moment by moment when the anger has arisen we may be able to become conscious of the whole movement, which means, we may be conscious of the operation of the anger and then moving further we may become conscious of the anger itself arising. When we become conscious of the anger arising what would be its impact on the anger? Earlier, when the anger had arisen and done its operation we were not conscious of it. But now we have become conscious of the whole thing. This state of consciousness may bring in a radical change such that the anger itself may vanish finally. This implies that the very act of observation of the whole movement of the anger right from its origin to the perception of the consequences of the action by the anger has transformed the psyche. This practicality in the case of anger must apply to jealousy, hatred, rivalry, hurt and many other psychological feelings also. One will then be able to be unperturbed by any event or thing that would have caused anger under normal circumstances. It may imply that the event or thing is not getting registered by our brain but instead, it is just in casual awareness.

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