To observe the hidden, one has to have eyes that are not conditioned by the past. One must look at oneself as though for the first time, each time, and therefore never accumulate.
Public Talk 3 in Madras (Chennai), 13 January 1971
We don’t doubt that the observer is the observed because we can see in ourselves and others how perception is determined by the conditioning effect of experience. We are all conditioned by our experience, but if we don’t see our conditioning for what it is, we can’t see how the observer really is the observed. We can only see what our conditioning allows for because we are identified with our conditioning. In fact, we are our conditioning.
The conditioned mind is not free to experience what actually is because it is shaped by its formative experiences. It is a mind that is mired in the past by the unresolved conflict between its experience and the meaning it attributes to it; a mind that can’t see beyond appearance and can’t act without assurance. It is a mind conditioned to conform to whatever pattern of behavior serves its primary concern. If it is less interested in self-knowledge than in ambition and success, it is conditioned to be in conflict.
The mind that is more interested in self-knowledge than ambition and success abides more in the eternal present than in an imagined future, and is less conflicted because it is more attentive to what is actually happening than to what should be happening. It is learning about its conditioning instead of letting its conditioning determine its behavior.