In most Eastern styles of meditation, we speak of “the witness”: the inner eye that sees the internal and external world. During meditation, the witness watches our thoughts and emotions pass by. It notices states and changes in the body and mind. In daily life, the witness also picks up on the states, thoughts, and feelings of those around us.
In deeper meditation, when a level of alive stillness is achieved, we are directed to turn the attention of the witness away from what is being observed and toward that which is creating the stream of awareness, that which we might call Self, Atman, God, Source, Universe or other.
I have been disturbed, many years now, by what I witness in the world–and I suppose that you, my reader, have been disturbed, as well. The various nations, philosophies and religions seem set on destructive paths.
And so, I wondered today if I could find a way to communicate some of the similarities that bind us together as one humanity, and so I looked for a metaphoric description of “the witness” in a religious text. Immediately, the Bhagavad Gita came to mind. In this sacred Hindu text, two Kingdoms, related by blood, are set to engage in war: one army on one side of a great plain, and the second army, posed to go, on the other.
It is just before dawn. The God Krishna and a revered warrior-prince, Arjuna, stand together in Arjuna’s chariot. Now Arjuna cries out to Krishna in despair: Why must there be war? Why conflict between families?
The answer, as I recall its meaning from my reading, long ago, is this: it is none of Arjuna’s business to know the why’s and wherefores of the world, for conflict and war are inherent to the human drama, and each of us has many lives and repeat many karmas.
But Krishna also tells Arjuna: you can detach yourself from the drama. You are with me, after all, in this moment, this time, and place. Here is where your focus should rest. Witness me.
As Arjuna turns his attention away from the war and toward his friend, Krishna reveals himself in his glory and, if you are sensitive to the beauty of language, the description of the glory of Krishna is utterly transporting.
In essence, the story is this: The witness part of us is called to become still, to detach from the conflicts of the mind and emotions and from the conflicts of society and the troubles of the world.
At each moment, the witness can turn to its godly companion and be utterly transported into a universe of peace, beauty, and revelation.
I just wanted to share this thought here. It is not meant to be taken as advice or guidance.