Witnessing – In Gita Verse 2.20 For the soul there is neither birth nor death at any time. He has not come into being, does not come into being, and will not come into being. He is unborn, eternal, ever-existing and primeval. He is not slain when the body is slain.
Krishna says that our subjectivity or soul is witnessing consciousness. Which is eternal.
Witnessing is not a mental activity; thinking is a mental activity. Rather, it would be better to say that thinking is mind. When the mind is not, when the mind is absent, when the mind has disappeared, only then do you have witnessing. It is something behind the mind.
Zen Buddhism uses “mind” in two ways: the ordinary mind means thinking; then mind with a capital M means the Mind behind thinking. Consciousness is behind the mind; consciousness comes through the mind. If mind is in a state of thinking it becomes opaque, nontransparent, just like a clouded sky – you cannot see the sky. When the clouds are not, you can see the sky. When thinking is not there then you can feel the witnessing; it is the pure sky behind.
So you cannot do two things, either you can think or you can witness. If you are thinking, then you lose witnessing. Then the mind becomes a cloud on your consciousness. If you are witnessing, you cannot think simultaneously; then the mind is not there. Thinking is an acquired process; witnessing is your nature. So that you cannot do both, or mind cannot do both, it doesn’t mean that mind is the faculty to witness. Mind is the faculty to think, mind is for “minding.”
Really, many problems are created just by language. There is nothing like “mind.” There is only a process, not a thing. It is better to call it “minding” than mind. It is a process of continuous thought, one thought being followed by another. Only in the gaps, only in the intervals between two thoughts can you have something of the witnessing nature. But thoughts are so fast that you cannot even feel the gap. If you begin to witness your thoughts, then the thought process is slowed down and then you begin to feel gaps. One thought passes, another has not come yet, and there is an interval. In that interval you have witnessing. Thoughts cannot exist without gaps, otherwise they will begin to overlap each other. They cannot exist! Just like my fingers are there – with gaps in between.
If your thought process is slowed down – and any method of meditation is nothing but a slowing down of the thought process – if the thought process is slowed down you begin to feel the gaps. Through these gaps is witnessing. Thought is mind; a thoughtless consciousness is witnessing. Thought is acquired from the outside; witnessing is inside. Consciousness is born with you; thought is acquired, cultivated. So you can have a Hindu thought, you can have a Mohammedan thought, you can have a Christian thought, but you cannot have a Christian soul, you cannot have a Hindu soul. Soul is just soul – consciousness is consciousness.
What Krishna is right now doing giving very gentle jerk to Arjuna, through that jerk he is bringing Arjuna back to present moment.
Recollect the moment when you get little bit of jerk in your thinking your thinking stops, in that moment you get like lightning, you come across a glimpse of your consciousness. Suddenly you will find freshness in you.
Krishna right now is just giving a jerk so that Arjuna can be watchful and then can witness. Once Arjuna can witness himself then he will be on his own to become aware. We have to remember that we can eat, see, hear, sleep on our behalf same way no one can witness on our behalf. Unless we take take that challenge and responsibility than only it is possible. Krishna can only give wake up call to Arjuna, so that he can witness himself.
Witnessing is a relationship between subject and object. Awareness is absolutely devoid of any subjectivity or objectivity. There is no one who is witnessing in awareness; there is no one who is being witnessed. Awareness is a total act, integrated; the subject and the object are not related in it; they are dissolved. So awareness doesn’t mean that anyone is aware, nor does it mean that anything is being attended to.
Awareness is total – total subjectivity and total objectivity as a single phenomenon – while in witnessing a duality exists between subject and object. Awareness is non-doing; witnessing implies a doer. But through witnessing awareness is possible, because witnessing means that it is a conscious act; it is an act, but conscious. You can do something and be unconscious – our ordinary activity is unconscious activity – but if you become conscious in it, it becomes witnessing. So from ordinary unconscious activity to awareness there is a gap that can be filled by witnessing.