The Silent Observer, Part II: Stepping Back

[This journal entry was originally written by Jay on October 22nd, 1997. As always, you can read what Jay thinks about this subject now in the post script – Dawn]

The silent observer is never angry, never unhappy, never insecure, never afraid in any way. It only sees, and in seeing, it knows. It watches you experience the feelings, and does nothing about it… because we experience these feelings by choice. Perhaps by unconscious choice, through our conditioning, but nonetheless by choice. We always have, at any moment, the option of learning from our observer how to choose our reactions, how to choose our perspectives, how to choose our state of mind.

Remember next time you are “swept away” by your anger, your sorrow, your bitterness. Remember your silent observer. Remember that part of you that cannot be “swept away” by these things. It is always there, these things are not. So which is the truth behind the situation? That which is constant and never-changing, or that which comes and goes at the whim of your internal cycles? Question not the momentary inconvenience, question instead the cycle that makes said inconvenience such a difficult reality. You will find that the truth of the situation lies within and beyond your cycles, your spirals.

Post Script

 Many are the lessons I have learned from my silent observer, but the most simple lesson it proffers continues to unfold over time for me. To say that I am an emotional person is to say the ocean is wet. Emotion drives me, it defines me… a life without emotion is not just impossible to me, it is inconceivable. I can say that in all honesty and with more than a touch of pride today. I couldn’t yesterday, however…

I tried to use the silent observer to turn me into a bit of a robot at first. Emotion seemed like weakness to me, and so it was for me. Being emotional meant being out of control, my mind dulled to defensive childishness until some perceived threat finally passed. Detachment was empowering, but only because I used my emotions to constantly exhaust myself. Stepping back became a regular practice for me a long time ago, and continues to be my grounding anchor in the happy whirlwind I call my life.

For awhile, I thought being in control of my emotions would be pretty cool; I thought having no emotion would be even cooler, though. I could put my mind to work mapping out my life for the next ten years, only to have emotion ruin my grand plan in the first five minutes of execution. It seemed like training my body to do what my mind told it to, no matter what, would be the most effective way to make my way in this world. Naturally, the new practice of checking with my silent observer quickly showed me the utter folly of this line of thinking.

I don’t pretend to know what is going on in anyone’s reality but my own (yes, you read that correctly if you got a double message from it; if anyone is going to pretend to know what’s going on with me, it should be me. If anyone ever won’t admit they are making it up as they go along when they tell you what’s up with them, or you… run!). In my world, though, emotion is the fountainhead from which my life flows. It didn’t take long for me to realize that “robotic Jay” had no motivation. Survival meant eating and sleeping and a host of other activities no robot worthy of programming would deign to engage in. If that was my primary reason for getting out of bed in the morning, I was programming myself to wake each day ashamed of my own pesky humanity. There had to be a programmer, and the programmer had to be happy at his core and excited to write the program.

There are two distinct aspects of personal development that must be worked together. Either aspect on its own ruins the developing subject over time. One aspect says: you are not in control of this process, you are right where you need to be, your destiny is to be discovered within, giving up the need to control the world is the only path to peace, et cetera. That’s great, and that’s true… except when it’s not. The other aspect says: you create you own reality, there is always room for growth and improvement, your destiny is only real if you manifest it, creating your life to your specifications is the only path to fulfillment and thus peace, et cetera. Most folks subscribe primarily to one of these outlooks.

I myself work the latter perspective more often than not. The people I admire most when it comes to worldly accomplishments obviously do as well. They don’t neglect the other perspective, however; and that has been one of the big surprises that came for me when I began to study successful people. Every one of them acknowledges that the spiritual perspective exists, and every one of them gives all of the credit for their success to that realm in their own way. The folks who boast being focused on the spiritual perspective often seem to lack the ability to step back, and their glaring deficiencies in the practical realm are obvious to everyone but them. I started out studying the spiritual people, and was surprised to find myself disappointed in their application of the principle they espoused. I moved on to studying business and artistic successes, and was surprised to find the greatest to all be quite spiritual.

The difference is the ability to step back, to contact that silent observer for motivation rather than identification. “How do others see me?” is a question that must be asked on the heels of “How do I think others see me?” if it is to be of any use. Making the time for self-analysis is as important as dwelling in a place where all is perfect. That perfect vision within can only get a foothold without when we can be honest about all the methods we use for getting in our own way. The time spent in these seemingly non-productive states increase productivity to the point of giving that time back over and over through the years. Behind it all is the question that must be asked continually: “What will make me happiest?

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