Witnessing is not aloofness; to witness is to come close

Acharya Prashant
18 min readApr 13, 2021

The following is an excerpt from a samvaad (dialogue) session with Acharya Prashant.

Questioner (Q): What is the relationship between witnessing, the observer, and the observed? How does witnessing relate to J Krishnamurti’s statement “Observer is the observed”?

Acharya Prashant (AP): What is observation? What is the observed one? Who is the observer?

Q: The mind (someone from the audience answers).

AP: The mind, right? Is it not something of obvious consideration that as we all sit here, we look at this color (pointing to the deep brown color in the background) in a very similar way? The proof is that all of us will give it the same name. Hardly anyone here will call this ‘yellow’. And is it a coincidence that all of these (pointing to the entire audience) are human beings and all of these, call this (pointing to the background) by the same name? Is this just a mere coincidence? Or is this why we call this (pointing to the background) ‘Deep Brown’? Because we all are essentially the same mind, because we all are human beings? This is what is meant by “The observer is the observed”.

You look at a particular thing, as you look at it, as you call it only because you are the way you are. Because we all are human beings, hence, this (pointing to the background) is deep brown. Because our mind has a certain configuration, hence, this (pointing to the background) appears the way it does.

You, the observer, are intricately linked to that which you are seeing, observing. An alien sitting here may not even perceive this wall as a 2-dimensional thing. You do not even know — How many dimensions exist in the space of the alien? Even when you say ‘alien’, you perceive a very different shape albeit necessarily in 3D. Do you see this? Can you perceive an alien in four dimensions? That is, what is meant by “Observer is the observed”. Even if you perceive an alien, you may perceive him to have a tail; you may perceive him to have five eyes, including eyes in the arms; you may perceive him to have just one arm; you may perceive him to have a horn on the head, an additional one. But can you perceive the alien as a four-dimensional entity? Can you? Try, try even imagining an alien in four dimensions, try. So, that is…

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