I have been an observer all of my life. When you are an observer, the entire world becomes your teacher. As a young child, I grew up in the forests of Oregon, so I was able to observe Mother Nature. The trees, the bushes, the streams and rivers, ponds and lakes, the birds and animals. My world was alive, and it spoke to me, not in words, but in a different language. I was Mother Earth’s student. I had an attraction to North American Indians. I observed that they lived a life in tune with Mother Nature. I observed modern society and saw that it was not right. It was a sickness, with much conflict and cruelty. I observed my parents, siblings, teachers and other follies of mankind. I was in the wrong place at the wrong time. I became a student of human folly.
Fortunately I was trained by a Zen Master since the age of 4. I was intelligent enough to observe him and learn from him. That was my cat. So throughout my life I have been observing. Growing up, school, catechism, boy scouts, family, teachers, classmates, the media and society were objects of observation. They were my teachers of life, showing me where and where not to tread. Thankfully I had Mother Earth to teach me the correct way.
Somehow I took a “wrong turn” when I decided to spend time living in ashrams. But I observed. I was able to observe every type of human relationship. So I learned a tremendous amount in those years. These teachings were to become invaluable to me in later years.
So this is the Tao, the way. To become a student of the world. To observe. To see everyone and everything as your teachers. And in my life, some were very powerful teachers. Those people and events that created the pain and suffering are the greatest teachers. I had a few masters in that respect.
Oh, but I also jumped into the action. And many times I played the fool. I observed my foolishness. I observed my thoughts, my desires, my decisions and my mistakes.
I have spent a lot of time in contemplation. I became the watcher. I learned. And even now I observe. I remain the watcher. I’ve left the action, for the most part. It seems that action is swirling all around me. So I observe it. I am still learning.
But don’t just observe the world. Observe yourself. Observe your mind as the watcher. Observe the thoughts entering and leaving the mind like a river. By observing the mind, you can realize what it really is.
“You must begin by being the dispassionate observer. Then only will you realize your full being as the universal lover and actor. As long as you are enmeshed in the tribulations of a particular personality, you can see nothing beyond it. But ultimately you will come to see that you are neither the particular nor the universal, you are beyond both. As the tiny point of a pencil can draw innumerable pictures, so does the dimensionless point of awareness draw the contents of the vast universe. Find that point and be free.”
– Nisargadatta Maharaj
“Be present as the watcher of your mind — of your thoughts and emotions as well as your reactions in various situations. Be at least as interested in your reactions as in the situation or person that causes you to react. Notice also how often your attention is in the past or future. Don’t judge or analyze what you observe. Watch the thought, feel the emotion, observe the reaction. Don’t make a personal problem out of them. You will then feel something more powerful than any of those things that you observe: the still, observing presence itself behind the content of your mind, the silent watcher.”
– Eckhart Tolle
So become the watcher. Observe yourself. Observe the world. Allow the world to become your teacher. That is why we are here. We are all just passing through. So observe the path, which is you.
– Greg Calise