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Impersonal Witness

Glossary of Spiritual Wisdom

Quotes about Impersonal Witness

Experience of the Impersonal

As the Impersonal, one experiences oneself as a vast, dark, silent, emptiness. It is a sheer emptiness, boundless, infinite and absolutely silent. One experiences oneself as an emptiness that has no characteristic except that of being a totally silent Impersonal Witness. There is a stupendous vastness, an absolute silence, a complete impersonality, and a singularly clear but absolutely uninvolved awareness of everything. One is merely a witness, a silent and unchanging witness.

Impersonal Witnessing is Not Inquiry

We can’t just be distant observers; we can’t just look at experience as if it were a movie. Many spiritual experiences of transcendence or oneness are similar to watching a movie; but that’s not inquiry yet, that’s impersonal witnessing. For there to be personal inquiry, the witnessing must occur in the middle of experience—in contact with it—not outside it. We continue to witness, but we’re in the middle of it. Our witnessing is embodied. Why would the soul strip herself, expose her beauty and her richness, if we’re not completely and personally interested in her revealing her full truth, if we are inquiring with a prejudice or an aim in mind? Real inquiry coincides with a passionate involvement with one’s process, with one’s realization, with one’s life. That way it becomes the core that goes through our life. All of our life then feeds into it and is an expression of it.

In Absence One is Not the Witness, Not the Witnessing, Not the Witnessed

In Absence one experiences oneself to be a pure subject, that is not an object. One is the source of awareness. One is not the witness, not the witnessing, not the witnessed. One recognizes oneself as an Absence, unknown and unknowable. When one looks inward there is no perception; there is absolute Absence without consciousness of Absence, because Absence is not an object of perception. It is in fact the absence of an object of perception.

One Individual's Experience of the Impersonal Witness

I am not the body, not the personality, not the mind, not the Essence, not even God. I am nothing that is a content of experience or awareness. But all experience happens within me. Everything, at all levels, from the physical to the spiritual, all happens within me. I see the personal life as a drama that I am not involved in. It is like a movie that has a beginning and an end. But I am untouched and untouchable by any of it. I am beyond anything and everything—the person, and his whole universe. I am the Beyond, absolutely transcendent. I am a silent witness, that contains all there is. I am unchanging. I am the deathless, the unborn, the uncaused. I was never born, will never die. I have no beginning and no end, but all beginnings and all ends are within me. The concepts of life and death do not apply to me. I do not need to be freed or enlightened. I am always free, always have been, and will always be free. I see life and death as nothing but a process of constant transformation happening within me. All existence, from the lowest to the highest, is always in a state of flux, but I am the unchanging witness, where all transformation and change happen. I am the background against which this flux is seen. I am static, unchanging, unreacting, unresponsive, but singularly and purely aware. I am beyond time and space. I am beyond timelessness and spacelessness. All time is a movement within me. I see it as the movement of the timeless within the immensity that is me. This movement creates time, which is the axis of personal history. But all of personal history, all of time, and all of space is a time-space continuum that is a small and insignificant thing within me. I see mind, the totality of it, as a small process, like a little storm, within me. It is always busy with itself, trying to grasp me. But how can it grasp what transcends it absolutely! Time and mind are not contrary to me, are not a disturbance in my silence. They are little happenings within my vastness. I am beyond, but contain, all time, space, and mind.

Seeing How One's Life Has Developed for Some Unique Role or Purpose

This realization brings a new clarity and understanding to one's personal life. It makes it possible to see the role one is identifying with in one's life, and to know one's function, work and unique contribution in one's personal life. One can see how some characteristics or skills are developed in one's life, for some unique role or purpose. Here one understands the role of conditioning, as a tool towards the development of personal characteristics and skills needed to actualize a certain role, to facilitate a particular contribution. One here understands one's personal maturation as a unique development exemplified in the Personal Essence. This development is a unique manifestation in the Impersonal background. One knows one's unique, real function or work, as a specific contribution to the totality of life. One's personal realization, including one's real personal life and work, become seen as a unique manifestation of the Real, which is the same as one's unique contribution to the universe. This is a direct insight, not the result of a thought process.

The Detached Witness State Can Exist on Several Dimensions

This is beyond merging. It is the recognition of nonseparateness, of the universality of Essence. And it is a delight that separateness is eliminated by Love. This aspect of Being is the most effective for transcending ego boundaries. One lets go of his personal boundaries through Love. There is no fear or loss, for one merely becomes a loving presence that transcends and contains all boundaries. One’s identity is now not with the body, so it has no physical boundaries. One is this conscious Love, that pervades and transcends everything. From this place, one can be conscious of one’s body walking or moving, but not be involved in it. One is merely a witnessing consciousness. But it is not like the Impersonal Witness. It does not have an impersonal sense to it. It is also a pervading sense of presence of Love, and not a background emptiness. It is important to notice here that the detached witness state can exist on several dimensions. Most spiritual teachings speak of the detached witness as if there is one such state. The fact is that one can be a witness from different dimensions, for instance as the Impersonal Awareness, or the Cosmic Consciousness. When Cosmic Consciousness arises, it feels familiar. It reminds one of normal personal consciousness, except that it is boundless. This points to the fact that the normal consciousness is really this Cosmic Consciousness, but that it is restricted by identification with the body and its boundaries. One learns that one’s personal consciousness has the same quality as this aspect; it is like daylight. But it is focused, narrowed and made heavy by attaching it to the body.

The Impersonal Witness and Cosmic Consciousness are Differentiated Aspects of Being

The dimensions of both the Impersonal Witness and the Cosmic Consciousness, although nonpersonal and formless, are still differentiated aspects of Being. All the essential aspects we have discussed so far are differentiated, discernible Platonic forms. Love is definitely love, completelydelineated, as are Will, Compassion and so on. The Impersonal Witness is singularly impersonal. The Cosmic Presence is very clearly a consciousness that is boundless love, a loving conscious light. The realization of the various differentiated aspects of Being leaves the door open to the manifestation of pure Being, nondifferentiated presence. Manifestation and realization of this basic and supreme aspect is a long and difficult one, but it is a natural process that spontaneously occurs at some point of personal development.

The Impersonal Witness is an Aware Vastness that Contains and is Beyond the Time-Space Continuum, which is the Manifest Universe

The Impersonal Witness is an aware vastness that contains, and is beyond, the time-space continuum which is the manifest universe. It is generally not possible to imagine what Einstein meant by saying that the universe is a four dimensional time-space continuum. Mathematicians and physicists have this concept and deal with mathematical equations regarding it, but in the experience of the silent Impersonal Witness, Einstein’s four-dimensional universe is actually, directly perceived. It is as if one is looking from a continuum of more than four dimensions. This realization brings a new clarity and understanding to one’s personal life. It makes it possible to see the role one is identifying with in one’s life, and to know one’s function, work and unique contribution in one’s personal life. One can see how some characteristics or skills are developed in one’s life, for some unique role or purpose. Here one understands the role of conditioning, as a tool towards the development of personal characteristics and skills needed to actualize a certain role, to facilitate a particular contribution. 

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