Tuesday, November 30, 2004

The Witness

One aspect of my spiritual practice that is becoming very real to me as of late is that of "The Witness."

As I sit here and try to put this experience to words, I find it very difficult. I will, however, do my best to capture this experience with language... although I'm sure that the text will fall short of the complete reality.

The Witness, in contemporary American language, might best be described as "The Soul." It is who I really am. It is the part of me that never dies, was never born, cannot be hurt or harmed. It is Light - and Peace - and Love. It is that which merges with God. It is my Spirit, my Soul, my Atman, my Buddha-consciousness, my Christ-consciousness ("It is not I, but Christ that lives in me."). It is I AM. Direct knowledge of this Witness is the experience that saints and sages have had throughout all of history.

The ramifications of this are astounding!

Most of us identify with our bodies or our minds - "I am Trevor Harden, born May 6th, 1979... I prefer this and am repelled by that." And what is the state of our bodies and minds? It is like choppy water - never completely at peace - a restless, drunk monkey. To make things worse, when we get angry, we become our anger. When we are suffering, it overwhelms us and we identify ourselves as: SUFFERER. If only we knew! Behind the scenes of our life - our Drama - is the Witness. Silent and Quiet. Experiencing life. Watching the whole sha-bang play itself out. Wow! Yes! When we identify ourselves as The Witness, life becomes a kind of Film or Movie. We watch the drama unfold. And when our "self" suffers, we observe. And when our "self" enjoys pleasure, we observe. This doesn't mean that there is not a place for pleasure or pain, but rather that we can be free of it if we so desire! We know that this body, this story, this drama will someday end, and yet "I" will go on!!

This means that in all times and all situations, under any circumstance, there is a part of us that is always at peace - always still - always in perfect joy. The question is: Will we turn inward and find that place? This is what meditation is for. What contemplative prayer is for. What yoga is for. What a spiritual practice is for. And those that have "mastered" their practice, identify completely with the Witness to the point where their internal water or lake is always perfectly still so that you can see straight through to the bottom. They are free from the constant feeling of restlessness and disconent that each of us are troubled by in life. Their personality/ego ceases to exist and they become basically a servant of God in the world - acting only from a place of love, peace, and purity. Most of us will never reach that place completely, but we head in that direction - using the examples of those who have gone before us as our inspiration.

I've got a long way to go, no doubt. But that's partly what life is for - the act of Becoming. And when things get screwy along that path, I know I have a place to turn: Om Mani Padme Hum (Loose Translation: "God, who is like the most precious jewel, lives in the center of my heart.")

1 comment:

Meredith said...

Dear Trevor,

With this post it is as though I can see through your clear waters right to your “Witness.” This most precious jewel does live in the center of our hearts, and it is always there, beneath the fluttering of our minds, our restlessness, beneath our ego, our selfishness, our arrogance, our joys and sorrows. The witness is silent and quiet, calm and serene. It notices the drama, but is not overwhelmed by it. And this witness is always with us; we just need to get beneath our thinking mind to recognize this beautiful treasure we are within.

I am so glad to have met you, Trevor.