Witnessing Consciousness - In Gita Verse 8.8 He who meditates on Me as the Supreme Personality of Godhead, his mind constantly engaged in remembering Me, undeviated from the path, he, O Pārtha, is sure to reach Me.
In this verse Krishna is saying two technique Self-remembering and Witnessing.
Many of us reading the word self-remembering feel that the technique of self-remembering seems easier than witnessing. And also might have question - Do they both lead to the same goal?
Both lead to the same goal, but the technique of self-remembering is harder, longer and dangerous. Only very few people in the whole history of mankind have attained to enlightenment through the technique of self-remembering.
Many have tried, but utterly failed – it looks easy. The reason is that your self-remembering is not going to be your self remembering, it will be your ego remembering; that’s why it looks easy.
You don’t know the distinction between the self and the false self. The false self is our ego, and the ego is very subtle, very cunning, and tries in every way to pretend to be the real self. That’s why in the beginning it will look easier than witnessing, because in witnessing there is no place for the ego. From the very beginning the ego is avoided.
In witnessing, the ego cannot enter. But in self-remembering, there is every possibility of the ego pretending to be yourself. Then the more you will practice, the more your ego will become stronger.
If somebody wants to travel on the path of self-remembering, he absolutely needs a master. He cannot move alone, because he cannot make a clear-cut distinction of what is false and what is true. He knows only the false; he is not acquainted with his true being. Unless he is under a very rigorous master it will be very difficult to create a separation between the ego and the self.
Witnessing is the most simple and the most infallible method; it is the essence of all meditations. Even self-remembering, finally, is witnessing – but at a later stage, when you have dropped the ego.
And if you start looking inside yourself, you can understand what I am saying. Can you see your ego and self separately? You simply know one thing: that is I. You don’t know two things: that I is the ego, and that the ego is capable of nursing itself through anything.
This example of Rabbit and centipede will give you clarity why self-remembering is harder:
Once Rabbit said to Centipede, “My curiosity is: how do you manage to walk with such a trail of one hundred legs? How do you manage which one comes first, then second, then third, then fourth…?”
The Centipede said, “I have never thought about it. I will try. Just now – I will try here.”
And then and there he fell on the ground. He called the Rabbit and said, “You idiot! Never ask another Centipede such a question, otherwise Centipedes will die. We cannot live with this curiosity. I have been doing perfectly well up to now, and just as I started becoming alert about what leg is going when… as I started remembering one hundred legs, my mind got very much puzzled.”
Self-remembering is a school method. And school method means you are in a safe monastery, not doing work that could be dangerous. Otherwise your remembering… working in a factory, working in a carpentry shop and trying to remember, you are bound to get into the same position as the centipede.
I don’t want anybody to get into any trouble in the name of spirituality, hence my suggestion again is just pure witnessing – no question of I. And that too, very playfully, not seriously, with a sense of humor.
If you forget, there is no harm. Whenever you remember, again you start. You will forget many times, you will remember many times. There is no question of guilt; it is human.
Very slowly, bigger and bigger gaps of witnessing will arise in you, and as the gaps of witnessing become bigger, your thoughts will become smaller, less. The moment your witnessing comes to a peak – at certain times with a crystal clarity – the thoughts will simply disappear. You will be in an absolute silence. Whatever you are doing will not be disturbed by your silence, but on the contrary, your workmanship, your creative effort will be enhanced.
Krishna is guiding us so he gives us all the possibility to become Witnessing Consciousness. For Arjuna in the presence of Krishna both the techniques will work. But as we are and where we are it is better to Witness than Self-remembering.