Observation without a center

What is that? Does it exist?

Following on from a discussion here @Huguette asks :

(Is) there an observation which is NOT the activity of the self centre…?an observation whose action is not to… compare…an observation which is not motivated by desire or emotion (all of which are the activity of thought)?
If I walk from the living room to the kitchen, there is awareness or observation of what is, including thought… it is understood that spontaneous observation is not an activity of the intellect.

Interestingly, @Pilgrim notes : if our mind is old and reality is in our minds then our reality is old because we keep reliving it.

So, based on the above, maybe I can start by asking : When I walk from the living room to the kitchen, is what I observe the activity of the intellect?

One answer (which has already been proposed) is : It doesn’t matter, all that matters is the absence of conflict.

In the day to day activity the observation is about things, objects, people, and all of the interconnections and interactions between it all. This is an automatic process. We can seemingly organise this to our own ends, but we are really reproducing a human function. This is a day to day affair. Surely when I am walking in the forest enjoying nature it is different? I don’t need instruction, nor confirmation. Is it pleasure or is it nature? Surely we can see the difference for ourselves? If we continue to debate this, it is pleasure. If we can’t see the difference, it is pleasure. Seeing the difference is not pleasure.

Douglas, my friend, are you now looking at the question or waiting for answers to come your way and be evaluated? I might think this or that about it but of course I don’t KNOW the answer to that.

I don’t mean to be unkind but I feel this question too needs to be addressed by us:— What is the underlying action of questions and answers in our context? Do we put questions as ideas to be intellectually evaluated? Or do the questions arise spontaneously in observation? In asking a question such as “what is observation”, am I OBSERVING what happens inwardly or am I just keeping myself occupied? And then what do we do with answers which come our way? Evaluate them, accept them, shred them, observe them?

If every answer mechanically produces another question and every question mechanically produces another answer, and so on, isn’t that a strictly intellectual process in an unending loop? If we only compare the answers which come our way to previous proposed answers and then put further “new” questions, can this lead to real understanding? Perhaps this approach can produce answers in science, I really don’t know about that. But to me, this approach can NOT lead to understanding oneself (the world), suffering, action, relationship, and so on.

And the question of observation is not unrelated to the question of conflict. Where there is no observation, attention, awareness or sensitivity (I’m not implying that these are different “things”), conflict arises, grows and explodes, doesn’t it. Then how can the absence of conflict be all that matters?

The mechanical, intellectual, observation of day-to-day activities, things and people, and so on, can be appropriate in certain fields. But, where observation of the daily activities excludes the whole — it is excluding the inward and outward tides of sights, feelings and sounds which are part of life; and it mechanically discounts and excludes the fleeting emotions and reactions which arise in the course of the unfolding day. This exclusion creates a kind of isolation, a self-contained “petri dish” in which contradiction arises and conflict and mischief of every kind grows, as I see it. There needs to be observation of the whole for the human being to thrive, unfragmented. And the repetitive, disconnected, mechanical processes of the intellect can also take place as one walks in nature, can’t they.

My technique for dealing with the issue you raise here, is to do my best, and just act as if the other people involved are also doing their best.

I have certain questions revolving around this issue (I think my last 2 topics also revolve around this issue) the question comes up because of what people seem to be saying and because I cannot state my case with certainty and clarity.

Whatever we think choiceless awareness is, and whether I’m doing it right - may come up in the discussion - but for the discussion to take place, we need to communicate ideas. Thats why I’m here : to enquire into, and clarify those ideas.

Here I’m referencing something I thought you had implied - regarding your disinterest in fundamental reality - and which I think is related to the psychological knowledge/practical knowledge debate (if its important, I’m sure we’ll go into it in more detail later)

I often say that to my children and grandchildren - we do our best. Whatever the situation we’re in or our state of mind in the moment, what else can we do?

Oh that’s a good point. Whatever anyone is doing, it is obviously the best thing they are able to do at that moment.

Of course. But we wander in and out of awareness. We get distracted, separated. The intellect takes over and we “forget” the thing that we are really looking into. Then we look for exceptions to prove the “opposite” of something, we flit from one theory to another, we try to make all the parts fit, and so on. So we wander far away from what is at hand, from the thing which really matters to both speaker and listener, and we get lost, confused. For this reason, we must start from silence and silent observation.

But there is an energy which keeps us moving, looking, slogging along, making mistakes, and learning. I don’t know if I’m being clear. I don’t know if I’m making sense.

Here is an excerpt from the article Due to the Space inside Atoms, You Are Mostly Made up of Empty Space:

“…everyone currently on earth, all 7.6 billion of us [Feb 2020], we could all fit into the room you’re in right now. The entire human race, every single person, could all be compressed into a solid cube with the equivalent size of a sugar cube – all because we are made up of nothingness.

What we perceive as solid objects like desks, chairs, cars, even ourselves, is actually just a big conglomeration of tiny particles separated by what is practically infinite nothingness. This absurd truth has everything to do with atoms.

Anything that has a mass and occupies a given amount of volume is rudimentarily defined as matter. Everything around us is made up of matter, even further, everything around us is matter made up of atoms. Atoms make up everything, but they also exist very, very far apart – and atoms themselves are more void than they are matter.”

I’m sure you’re familiar with this concept of the space within matter which the physicists tell us about. I don’t know if it’s really so. I don’t know if the scientists are right or if they will eventually change their minds. But, right or wrong, it makes intuitive sense to me — not that intuition is reliable. That is as close to understanding the fundamental reality of the physical universe as I can come. Beyond that, I leave it alone. I cannot penetrate deeper into it than that. There is no energy pushing me in that direction.

But there IS an energy pushing me to look at the things we talk about here. And — like gravity — no effort can ignore it or resist it.

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Actually looking at nature, integrated with the beauty, there is no memory.

Nearly everyone ends up saying this as if it is important. It is the past. This is not seeing. That’s the point.

@Peter what I think you may be pointing at is the difference between freedom from the known and reaction to the known?

The fact that we do know that we are walking in a forest with trees and birds etc is natural healthy functioning for our human brain. Our evolutionary and cultural conditioning is functioning - I have an idea of what a tree is, but there is no reaction from fear?

Science (when functioning correctly) is basically practical knowledge (as opposed to psychological belief) in action - It holds on only to what functions and immediately discards anything in conflict with the facts - thats why it keeps evolving. (of course human behaviour often conflicts with the scientific method - and scientists are humans)

In line with what you say about answers just leading to more questions : a good scientific model or theory usually raises more questions than it has answered. And strangely, the more refined their observations go, the weirder the models become (in terms of our common sense).
It used to be common sense that lightning was produced by Thor, and now some Physicists are forced to wonder whether our observations of space and time (and the objects within them) are projections of the mind (rather than a fundamental constant)

There is Psychological Knowledge - which would be strong beliefs that I identify with, and would cling to whatever the circumstances.
And there is Practical Knowledge - like the knowledge of the carpenter who knows which wood to choose for making planks.
And there are rare moments of silence (like when staring blankly into space after a marathon or a hard day in the mines) when there is no naming at all.

But when I am not involved in important practical matters - like when I’m taking a stroll in the park, or drinking a cup of tea - isn’t the knower still present (and does it matter?).
This would be Unconscious Knowledge - I automatically know where I am, what things are etc… but not consciously. I am not naming things, but due to a subconscious storehouse of experience, I know what things are.

Apart from special moments, like the blank minded daydreamer, or the zen monk during the space between thoughts, staring at the wall, we are always perceiving the world through knowledge.

But being human isn’t the problem, there is no need to be constantly in special states of complete emptiness, there is only the problem of dogma and conflict. (?)

What about ‘direct perception’? The seeing oneself not through any sort of filter at all. That seems to me to be the most elusive of all. The seeing (awareness) of oneself totally freshly. You asked a while back about K mentioning ‘ taking a rope for a snake’… I read that recently and it was in this context, there is no direct perception because of fearing what would be seen, the violence, the masks and beliefs, ideals etc, all hiding the confusion…too ‘dangerous’ to go near?

But it isn’t dangerous, it’s the ‘rope’ that’s taken for a snake. It’s actually freedom from the known.

Direct perception is often equated with insight.
Something that seems completely incomprehensible, unable to be solved via ones habitual rationalisation, suddenly becomes apparent - generally because we see the filter/obstruction aka being able to think outside the box.
Insight about oneself is usually equated with seeing the filter of the self (ie. the self is a filter)

But this does not mean that there is no “filter” at all - without the filters of knowledge, and experience for example, how would we recognise things (or concepts) like “myself” or chairs at all?

As for K and snakes, I’m afraid I’m not getting your point. Maybe you’re saying we’re afraid to look without fear at ourselves

Yes I think it’s something like that. The thought/fear resists direct perception of itself. Is the resistance in the brain? Does direct perception threaten the built up sense of security? To be seen just as we actually are? Choicelessly? Our instant rationalization for how we act , what we think, do?

I may see regrettable actions and behaviours in my self, but I don’t understand how to address these, other than having concerns and self-recriminations. There is the idea I can self-examine my thoughts, but even that doesn’t seem to really have any fundamental application, except to think it is under control. When I think of direct perception, all I see is what I am doing, which is what I see anyway. What will get to the change?

I look at these hands of mine and see that I fit very well into the animal world but I am the only one among all of them that is asking “why”, “why am I here?”, “for what?”.

How does this work? I may see regrettable actions and behaviours in my self, but I don’t understand how to address these, other than having concerns and self-recriminations. There is the idea I can self-examine my thoughts, but even that doesn’t seem to really have any fundamental application, except to think it is under control. When I think of direct perception, all I see is what I am doing, which is what I see anyway. What will get to the change?

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The self is sooo important - it must be, in light of how much emotion and effort it generates - Therefore ipso facto opinionato conclusiom, something soo important must have some highly important function - but what?

Answer: Don’t be an A#*^hole. :innocent: :joy:

The change from fear to freedom from fear?
The change from conflict to acceptance?

How would you put it @Peter ? What are we asking exactly?

We suffer because we feel alienated, unfulfilled. Rather than simply facing the fact that that is so, we pursue a projection of something different. We escape from the fact of how we feel, what we are, to a fantasy of what might be. Similar to the situation of the donkey whose owner has placed a treat on a stick and fastened it to the animal’s head. The donkey moves toward it hoping one day he will catch up to it and enjoy it. He never will. That is a fact.