Meditation: sight, the observer, and duality

Dualism is assumed by society, education, cultural norms and, thus, by the vast majority of people. Dualism, or a dualistic view of reality, engenders me/my/mine together with you/yours. Dualism says that dog is dog and not bird, that bird is bird and not tree, and that none of these are me – but they might be mine (which actually is not true).

Duality is the underlying propellant to all designations, labels, distinctions and, therefore, to the ideas of difference therefore separate and identifiable. This is the interesting feature of dualism: it doesn’t usually unite but, rather, divides and separates.

Nondualism is unitive, complementary, inclusive to the point of dissolving distinctions. Nondual is about non-separate, undivided or indivisible. Duality assumes that two are different and that their difference is true and stable. Nonduality asserts that two are ever in relationship, contiguous and/or a continuity of some kind and that, due to relation, all is in constant flux and change.

Just about all meditation training includes “the observer.” One’s self is the observer, of course. The technique is intended to bring one to the moment so that one observes how present and attentive to the moment one is or is not. This includes attentive and observant of emotions, thoughts as they arise, judgements and their immediacy, excitement and its immediacy, as well as choices, avoidances, self-talk, and so forth.

This is a very worthwhile self-recollection and self-discovery process. Its benefits on and off the cushion are significant. This technique and process is also dualistic and cannot undo dualistic tendencies within one’s emotion-mind complex thus the sense of self. Can the technique of “the observer” be skipped in meditation taming and training? No; not if one desires to truly advance one’s practice which is essentially to dissolve the conceptualizations that reify the sense of self and identifications put upon everything. Why? Because one has to “notice the usually not noticed” of naming, labeling, judging, getting excited, watch excitement dissipate and observe how the personality seeks to fill that hollowness, etc.

Observation is not vipashyana but is like a pathway leading toward it. Observation is not detached (for a long time in practicing it), it is not a neutral process. One has all kinds of emotions and self-judgement with what one observes. That said, self-observation can help one see how superficially one is living, thinking, and responding to life, people, and beings. And that is excellent! Now one can go actually go inside, get into the workings of the sense of self, and -if one wishes- deconstruct our figments of imagination called me, you, dog, bird, tree, should, don’t, can’t, happy, safe, and so forth.

We play with the observer a little to begin this session in order to go beyond it.

About Donna Mitchell-Moniak

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