Happiness appears as desire when it is veiled; desire is revealed as happiness when it is fulfilled.

Is The Witness Separate From The Witnessed?

I must be misunderstanding something: I realize that I have set-up a new separate entity -- the witness -- "behind" my experience. I acknowledge this, but that's where I seem to be stuck.

Dear Rupert,

The recognition of Consciousness as myself seems to have limited value….However, even if I can continuously watch from this position of consciousness as witness, it seems a passive position and a potential source of frustration from being stuck on this single channel (analogy to tv). If I prefer to experience something different, I seemingly have no ability to carry out actions towards this preference, as I’m simply a watcher.

I must be misunderstanding something….I realize that I have set-up a new separate entity—the witness—“behind” my experience…I acknowledge this, but that’s where I seem to be stuck.

Best wishes,



Dear James,

It is not so much a misunderstanding as a partial understanding. You have seen that it is ‘I,’ Consciousness, that witnesses the mind, body and world, rather than your previous understanding that ‘I,’ the body/mind, witnesses the world.

This understanding is, as it were, a half-way house between the belief that we are a body/mind and the experiential understanding that we are unlimited, unlocated Presence which is at once the source and substance of all things.

The watcher that you refer to is still, as you rightly observe, a separate entity. However, such an entity must be on the ‘watched,’ not the ‘watching’ side of experience, because as an entity it must, by definition, have observable (watchable) characteristics.

See in this way that whatever it is that is ‘watching’ cannot by itself have any ‘watchable’ characteristics. So, once it is clear to you that you are this watching Consciousness see if there is anything in your experience to validate the belief that it is limited or located.

Take any thought, image, sensation or perception and ask yourself if there is any distance between the thought, image, sensation or perception and Consciousness itself. See in this way that all experience is equally intimate. Nothing is any closer or further away from ‘that which knows it’ than anything else.

Now go more deeply into every thought, image, sensation or perception and see if you can find any substance there other than Consciousness itself.

In other words, as we go more deeply into our experience, we find that this watching or knowing Presence that stands, as it were, in the background of all experience is, at the same time, the foreground, the very substance of that experience.

As the background it is independent, impartial, untouchable, unmovable, unchangeable and indifferent, but as the foreground it is the very substance of experience. As such it is known as love.

Or we might say that as peace we are the background of experience whilst as love we are the heart of experience.

As such there is no question of being frustrated because of the inability to ‘change channels.’ Such a frustration would require one to imagine oneself as a separate entity that is apart from experience with the potential to change or manipulate it to suit such an entity.

In the absence of such an entity there is an absence of frustration. However, this doesn’t mean that we are simply passive - that would be an inverted version of the same.

Rather everything is seen as an expression of the freedom of the totality, and our self is known as the very substance of that totality, simultaneously the knowing of it, the being of it and the loving of it.

With kind regards,