“Like two birds of golden plumage, inseparable companions, the individual self and the immortal Self are perched on the branches of the selfsame tree. The former tastes of the sweet and bitter fruits of the tree; the latter, tasting of neither, calmly observes. The individual self, deluded by forgetfulness of his identity with the divine Self, bewildered by his ego, grieves and is sad. But when he recognizes the worshipful Lord as his own true Self, and beholds his glory, he grieves no more.” ~ The Upanishads: Breath of Eternal Life, translated by Swami Prabhavananda and Frederick Manchester.
The ancient sages and mystics of India said the same thing that Jesus said, “The kingdom of God is within.” One way to connect with the Divine inside you is to practice cultivating the Witness.
Cultivating the Witness Consciousness means attuning with the Bird who is watching the bird eating the fruits, which is to say aligning with your deepest self and observing all of your thoughts, words, feelings, and actions. Creating and nurturing this connection, between your deeper witnessing mind and your surface acting mind, can help you to feel more peaceful, loving, and kind towards yourself. The Bird who is watching the bird is like a compassionate friend who is always with you, showing you the truth of how things are with neutrality and wisdom.
Cultivating the Witness is a practice you can do anytime, anywhere by just simply stating the observable facts to yourself. For example, if you are waiting in line at the grocery store, you can witness your thoughts and feelings, and then think to yourself, “Some impatience and irritability are passing through me.” Once you witness what’s happening, then you can work with it skillfully by deciding to focus on gratitude, or to say a prayer, or to send blessings for goodness to all of the other people waiting in line. In this way, your deeper observer self can help your cranky surface self to transmute the frustration into loving kindness. So, cultivating the Witness is a great tool for working with difficult emotions.
In the tree of your life, can you see the Bird who is watching the bird eating the fruits? Do you take time to nourish a loving connection between these two birds?
Photo of birds and blossoms by Zane Lee on Unsplash.