Who Is the One Who Watches?

Whilst you have the option of leaving the light on and the door open, most people who sign up for sensory deprivation do so because they want to know what it feels like to remove one’s senses.

But then what happens when you remove the senses? Well, you’re kind of left with nothing but the mind. And as you orient yourself to this new landscape, you start to notice the thoughts, feelings, emotions, even visions that exist in this new landscape. Many traditions call this the witness state. As I have spoken about in previous posts, just arriving in this new landscape is a monumental shift, never mind what you do when you’re there…

…But, if you do start to hang out in this new landscape for a while, it may well happen that you start to ask, who is it now who is watching these thoughts, feelings and emotions? And this is a great question to ask. In many Eastern traditions, this very question is the gateway to deepening an understanding of the truth of who you really are.

Delving into a couple of traditions, the Buddhist thinkers put forward the idea that if you dive more and more deeply into this question; who is the one who watches?, you will arrive at the answer that quite simply, and quite disturbingly for some, there is no one there who is watching. WHAT??? Yep, no-one. Just Sunya, just emptiness. Think about, maybe spend a float thinking about it; if there is, truly someone there, then where are they? The float tank has removed the idea that it could be your body, that’s already disappeared. So it must be the mind, but then where is the mind, can you see it, can you locate it? The Dali Lama explained once how he always thought there must be someone driving the experience of watching of the mind, a little like someone driving an airplane but when he climbed into the cockpit he realised that there was noone there.

Other traditions, such as Vedanta or non dual tantra say that if you can really see the truth of who or what your individual mind is, you will see that it is the manifestation of one great, divine, supreme, unending consciousness. WHAT??? I am supreme consciousness, I am divine, I am supreme, I am un-ending? Yep. Spend a float thinking about this one!

So the Buddhists say that if you ask who is watching, you will arrive at the answer that there is noone there, just Sunya, just emptiness. Other traditions say if you ask who is watching, you will arrive at the answer that you, as a manifestation of just one supreme consciousness, is watching.. Keep diving into this and you may find that they’re not so far apart in their ideology.

The point is, I think that you ask the question:

Who is the one who watches?


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