Does "observer is the observed" count outside phenomena?

Here is one I’ve been thinking about, when K asks if the observer is the observed, does this mean the tree, the river, the star I observe is me?

Or is it in regard to inward psychological processes and the assumed ownership of, or not?

Or both?

I’m familiar with K stating that the observer is the observed, but not ever asking if it is, although he may have.

What it means to me is that as long as the brain holds the psychological content that creates the illusion of I, me, mine, it is “the observer”, which is incapable of “observation”, i.e., selfless, seeing things for what they actually are instead of what they mean to me, the illusory self.

Straight in with K’s best koan - kudos!
Spoiler alert : my preferred answer is a snappy one liner based on neuroscience.

But first : what do you mean by “count outside phenomena” in your question? If you could please say a bit more - it may be helpful for our inquiry into your question.

secondly, I am not a tree, you are not a tree (nb. when we observe trees). Hopefully thats sorted.

I do not own the tree (whether I assume I do or not is besides the point) - the observer is the observed (not “the observed belongs to the observer”)

Yes, we should probably start here. Although I’d like to point out that the frontier between inward me, my outward actions and my experience of the world, is fuzzy.

“Outside phenomena” like the tree, the mountain, the TV screen. You answer it by saying you are not the tree, which I’d agree, but I’ve had people tell me I am. They ask me if I haven’t heard of nonduality and look at me funny when I say I’m not the tree. I don’t think that is what this means and wanted to look.

Then theres parts where K describes an ancient artist looking at a tree so long he becomes the tree. Theres also some this from young K 1922

“There was a man mending the road; that man was myself; the pickaxe he held was myself; the very stone which he was breaking up was a part of me; the tender blade of grass was my very being, and the tree beside the man was myself. I almost could feel and think like the roadmender, and I could feel the wind passing through the tree, and the little ant on the blade of grass I could feel. The buds, the dust, and the very noise were a part of me. Just then there was a car passing by at some distance; I was the driver, the engine, and the tyres; as the car went further away from me, I was going away from myself. I was in everything, or rather everything was in me, inanimate and animate, the mountains, the worm, and all breathing things.”

But in these instances, a certain mystical experience (??) is described wherein with “observer is the observed” we are speaking of the inward psychology right? That is really my question. The thinker is the thought. The doer is the doing.

With ownership I should have made my point more clear, in our normal condition we believe we own observation, we own intelligence, we own this or that.

I like how you end on the frontier of those things and their border as fuzzy. I think it is fuzzy, but normally we go about it in all sorts of black and white assertions don’t we?

Let’s say we have agreed that I am not a tree. But what about the tree that I am experiencing/observing? Where is the frontier between me and my experience? Or is my experience one/non-dual?

Am I perceiving truth? Or (same question) am I detecting reality as it actually is? Am I directly perceiving “outside objects”? Or is my human experience an interface between me and the world?

PS. I think I get what you are saying about our imagined relationship between thinker and thought (or me and my knowledge/intelligence etc)
PPS. also lets leave young K and his memories of his mental states out of this particular discussion?

We want to look at whether “the observer is the observed” is a simple description of fact, or mystical mumbo jumbo.

This experience seemed to establish the foundation for K’s teachings. Some may call it non-duality, others call it “dissociative”. It has happened to many, pushing the boundaries of time and space. When there is no border, there is no center.Another case for non-duality: The organism cannot be separate from its environment.

Yes. The self-centered brain perceives everything as subordinate to its (imagined) self.

Thank you for the serious replies.

Is it too simple to say as it relates here, we are talking about the miminal interference of interface where as now its running haywire on its programming?

“What about tree am I experiencing?”

Am I experiencing the tree, or is it just there growing? Its a seperate life form, although unremovable from our world, lacking any independent origin but another entity none the less. When I look out at the tree the observer is not the observered, right?

But psychologically, inside the head… the voice thats talking to “me.” There (in reality, and as it relates to the work?) the observer is the observed.

When I look out at the world without that seperation internally, surely that must transform the seeing. But do I now identify as everything?

I’m looking at a tree and I know it can’t be removed from this local, its climate, associated species, fire regimes, human history. You change any of those and the tree wouldn’t be what it is, it is inseparable from the history of our world by those and a million other factors. In that sense I see the one, but a different interpretation or perhaps topic than of “observer is observered” than what i know above.

The observer is the observed in that the observer is not actual, not real, but an imagined entity whose existence is of greater importance than anything else.

This is not to say that the observer actually exists, but that the illusion of I observing, I, the observer, means that nothing matters more than its reaction to the observed.

Without the illusion of I, the observer, there is only choiceless awareness, which means that perception is direct rather than distorted by I, the perceiver.

Yes. The delusion (causing conflict and confusion) is that we mistake our experience for truth, we feel that we see actual reality. Whereas our interface is solely designed for fitness/utility. At best what we see is useful/practical. Clinging to it as fundamental is the cause of conflict/harm/anxiety.

For example, the desktop on my computer is a useful interface - I take it seriously, if I drag and drop documents into the Trash, they really will dissapear if left there. However the Trash and File icons are not really an exact representation of the actual reality of whats happening in the depths of my PC.

This is an example of confusing the experience with the actual (ie. whatever is beyond the experience) - confusing the icon with the 000s and 1111s - the map with the territory.
You are obviously experiencing the object of consciousness you experience as “tree” - all that you know about it (eg. habitat, ecology, biology, composition, history etc) may be potentially useful (eg. for environmental management, carpentry etc) - but the image/story of “tree” that you are experiencing is a conditioned projection produced by your brain.
What is actually going on beyond the limits of consciousness (treewise if such a thing exists) we cannot know.

Again lets not worry about what is to be gained - we are trying to look at the human experience that we are actually experiencing. Whether any alternate forms of consciousness are available is besides the point (eg. LSD)

Wow thats really useful to me! Thanks.

But then we act like we do know, like you said and then the conflict.

I think I see what you are saying about map and territory. That sentence of mine you quoted is an example of confusing the two entirely. Especially in a conversation about observation. I was trying to bring up a point about if its an experiencer experiencing but then I was leaving off the interface, which your examples have brought out nicely. If I consider how its there for utility and the errors that have come with identifying with it, does it not begin to change? I am looking at this presently and wondered what you thought.

I think I should leave off the part about being everything right now. I feel like people hear “you are the universe” which K cautioned against and they take “observer is the observered” to mean the same thing, without going into the psychological implications of our daily division. The difference between those was what I wanted to bring up but I’m learning a lot in other directions too.

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Well I’m glad that we seem to be able to communicate - its a miracle! :unicorn: :innocent:

We have managed to look at this idea that : the human experience is essentially a conditioned projection of the human brain. We seem to both grok this intellectually.

But of course K says that seeing the fact that the “observer is the observed” and all that this implies, transforms our whole relationship with “reality”.
Also, here on kinfonet we often concentrate on what we call the “psychological” delusion of self and trying to improve myself - based for example on this kind of stuff by K :

So there is a division between the observer and the observed. And in that there is conflict; he tries to overcome jealousy, control jealousy, rationalise jealousy, see the importance of jealousy or say, ‘jealousy is love’ and so on and on and on. Whereas when the observer is the observed, jealousy is the observer, without the observer there is no jealousy. Are you following all this?”

K, Rome, 1973

“Awareness” and “awareness of”.
Is there a difference between the two?
Awareness is choiceless. It is not awareness of a particular thing. Awareness being not dependent on object of awareness.
Generally we are aware of something.
We are aware of fear, pain, noise as if these are objects, as if they are fixed.
If the ‘objects’ are in flow, ever-changing, there is no awareness of anything fixed or particular. There is only movement without fixed object. There is flow. Awareness independent of objects of awareness.
Someone says something. There is listening to what that person is saying. There is then reaction in mind. There is listening to that reaction. There is no fixed object of listening, it keeps changing. The other person’s words, my mind, then the birds. Nothing being fixed. Then that awareness is choiceless, without fixed object of awareness. The awareness is movement, flow.

Awareness is always “awareness of” because if there’s nothing to be aware of there is no awareness.

If the ‘objects’ are in flow, ever-changing, there is no awareness of anything fixed or particular. There is only movement without fixed object. There is flow. Awareness independent of objects of awareness.

In your “constant flow of no-objects” there is no intelligence, no discernment, no attention to examine probable effects and consequences - just awareness of dumb, meaningless mass movement.

Awareness is choiceless because it is not your awareness or my awareness, but awareness of what is happening, developing, building, deteriorating, growing, dying. It can’t be summed up as simply as you have.

K would say that you are not the tree. So, he meant it psychologically.

By psychologically, do we mean : regarding my relation to my image of myself?

An example of the obsever/observed dichotomy being the feeling of “separation” between the judgemental me that judges the good or naughty me.

He didn’t mean it “psychologically”. He meant that you are not literally the tree.

When K said " Observer is the observed",
at the psychological it means if I feel / observe I am jealous,I am that jelousy, it is not something different that I can control it etc.

But when I observe a tree without any reaction, it does not mean I am tree as in case of observing jealous, but there is only observation.

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When I am aware of feeling jealousy, envy, anger, suspicion, desire, fear, etc., am I the feeling named by thought, or am I thought naming the feeling? Am I both?

Feeling comes first as a response or reaction to stimuli, and thought follows with recognition of or unfamiliarity with the feeling. So if one is open and receptive to all feelings, familiar or not, there are no good or bad feelings, no right or wrong feelings, because feelings are inescapable, choiceless, be they reactions or not.

Then where did he mean that the observer is the observed, if not mentally, in the mind/psychologically, since we agree he didn’t mean you are the tree?