The Trouble with The Watcher

The Trouble with the Watcher

How can we be certain that the watcher is not part of the mind?

“It is a relevant question but only intellectually. It is not out of meditation because the man is bringing into his question three things of which he is not aware: the mind, the watcher – and who is this third who is thinking whether the mind and the watcher are one thing? There is a third entity which is raising the question. I say to you: the watcher, your watcher, is part of your mind. And not only that, the second watcher behind it is also part of your mind.

“When you realize silent watching, you don’t see any mind anywhere; all thoughts stop.

That is the beauty and the revolution of the watcher: when you are in a watching state there is nothing to be watched.

This is the trouble: when there is everything to watch, the watcher is not there; when the watcher comes in, there is nothing to watch.

“Only one can exist, both cannot exist together. The presence of the watcher simply disperses the mind; it is no longer needed. It was just functioning because the watcher was absent.

“Gurdjieff used to tell a story:

“A very rich man went on a pilgrimage. He had many servants and a very big palace where he lived alone with all these servants. He called all the servants and told them he was going on a journey: ‘One by one, on rotation, you have to be on guard. I don’t know how much time I am going to take, it may be many years; the journey is long, the pilgrimage is hazardous. I may come back, I may not come back, but the palace and the garden all have to be present as they are now.’

“They said, ‘Of course. Whatsoever you say we will do.’

“The man went away. Months passed, years passed. By and by the servants started to completely forget that they were servants because the master had been gone so long. Man’s memory is not that long, and there are things which one does not really want to remember. Who wants to remember being a slave and that somebody is the master?

“Each servant had to guard the palace in rotation, and when each servant was guarding, he would pretend that he was the master. Anybody coming to the palace or passing by would ask, ‘Whose palace is this?’ The servant would answer, ‘It is my palace, my garden. Don’t you like it?’

“This was happening with all the guards. Years passed and the guards completely forgot about the master and that he was going to return. ‘By now he must be dead, something must have happened. And it is good that we got rid of that fellow – now we are the masters.’ They declared to the whole town, ‘We are the masters.’ The town had also forgotten the master; it was long ago. Only old people remembered that somebody had been there, but only very vaguely. Nobody was aware of when he went, where he went, and what happened to him.

“But one day, the master appeared; he knocked on the door. The slaves looked at him and suddenly fell at his feet: ‘Master, you are back!’

“He said, ‘I told you I would come back, even though it may take a long time.’

“They said, ‘Forgive us, because the city people will say we have committed a crime against you. We had forgotten you completely; we enjoyed being the master so much that we declared that we were the masters – and the city believes that we are the masters.’

“Gurdjieff used to tell this story, saying that the same is the case with the watcher.

The watcher is absent; the mind – which is just a slave – is pretending to be the master.

“And it is not a question of a few years – for millions of years the master has been absent. Perhaps the master has never been home; there is no question that he had gone, because once he arrives he never goes. So your thoughts, and the combination of thoughts which you call your mind, certainly, confidently believe that they are the master.

“Just try to watch your thoughts.

Remember one thing: thought itself cannot watch another thought – that is impossible.

“A thought cannot become a watcher of another thought; so when in your mind the thought arises, ‘I am watching,’ you have missed, because it is a thought. When the watcher is there you will not even have the idea of ‘Aha! Got it!’ Lost it! You were just on the verge of getting it and Werner Erhard entered, and EST finished everything: ‘Got it!’ Even that much, just two words, is enough; the mind is back.

It is always the mind that gets it, or does not get it; the watcher simply watches.

“No idea is formed, just absolute silence prevails. In that moment is the seeing, knowing, experiencing – without any thought. ‘

“Can’t you experience something without any thought? You will have to learn, because mind has been trained for centuries to think every experience in words. You see a beautiful roseflower: immediately the mind says, ‘How beautiful!’ You may not say it aloud, you are not that insane, but silently you will say, ‘How beautiful!’ But in saying it, you miss the experience of the beauty of the flower.

The moment you said, ‘how beautiful!’ you went far away from the flower. You have already compared it with your past experiences of the flower.

“And remember, your past experiences must have been just like this: they were not experiences because those times too, you would have missed in the same way, by saying, ‘How beautiful!’ You have always been missing the train!

“Standing by the side of a roseflower, just stand there. Can’t you keep for a few seconds just a watching state of consciousness, with no interference of words – beautiful, ugly, red, yellow? No, just stand by the side.

It is not difficult; it needs just a little knack, and you can practice it anytime, doing anything.

“Just don’t allow words to come in between you and what is happening….”


Excerpted and abridged from:

Osho, From Personality to Individuality, Talk # 13 – The New Man: Intellect and Harmony with the Heart

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