It's taken me awhile to understand the role of the witness in my life. Though I was unfamiliar with the term "the witness" until I found AYP, I was not unfamiliar with inner silence, which is precisely what the term "the witness" alludes to and personifies.
I can remember inner silence being within me since I was a child. But no one in my tiny, localized world was talking about inner silence or the witness. Maybe things like peace and serenity were being mentioned here and there, but I don't recall coming across such a direct reference to this raw base of consciousness that was undeniably part of my core self.
As a young teenager, I could hear words in my mind before I spoke them. I could visualize a movement before activating a muscle. I could dream lucidly while asleep and play around in my mentally-invented subconscious world. Without the established presence of the witness, and the corresponding distance between observer and observed, none of those capabilities would've been possible. However, when the witness is glued to thoughts and feelings to such a degree that its stickiness obscures and negates any subjective distance inside, then the witness is like a fool, unaware of its own nature and presence. That state of stupefaction is where so-called suffering arises. It is merely the result of a lack of inner space. I've been there. Who hasn't?
From kindergarten to high school, I went to a Catholic school, so I was well-versed in many aspects of spirituality, and I certainly appreciated the stillness I would experience during mass in the chapel. But again, much of the spiritual talk revolved around theology, morality, worship, and other ornamental facets of culture and belief. Where was the witness in the rhetoric?
Speaking of rhetoric, I have used the adjective "raw" to describe the witness because I find it very fitting for a few reasons.
Firstly, when all the surface components, embedded obstructions, and interwoven layers are whittled off the personality, it seems intuitively true to me that only the witness remains, i.e. as naked awareness, sentience, and beingness. That nakedness corresponds with the word "raw" when "raw" is used to point to the condition of being uncovered, unsheathed, and revealed as a bare essence. Furthermore, "raw" is applicable to the witness within the connotation of the witness being the prime resource that is drilled down into in order to creatively produce results on the exterior. Just as wood is the "raw" material needed to build a house, so is the witness the "raw" material needed for the mind to function with all its marvelous capabilities. And the body follows the mind, so the witness is de facto the commander and artist behind the body. The witness is the seed of will power.
Finally, to attribute one more quality of rawness to the witness, there is that version of "raw" that means uncooked. A raw piece of meat has not been touched or burnt by flame or fire. A raw vegetable has not been exposed to the heat of a pot of steaming water on a stove. Similarly, the witness seems to remain unchanged and unshaken by the combustion of life's turmoil. It is perpetually raw, but not in the sense of being vulnerable, like wounded skin that has been rubbed raw with abrasiveness. Rather, it is a pristine rawness—an untainted and supremely protected cornerstone underneath the madness.
Here's where it gets interesting. As a teenager, though I could fully feel the witness, cherish it, silently acknowledge it as self, and surrender to its presence during waking state, dreaming state, and deep dreamless sleep, I did not quite understand the implications or destiny of the witness to truly blossom and mature into what we call stillness in action in AYP. It was as if I was an aspiring tennis player who had got exceedingly comfortable playing with a tennis ball in my hands—bouncing it on the ground, tossing it up in the air, grazing my fingers across the yellow-green fuzz—but never picking up a racket and hitting the ball over the net or rallying with another player. That's a bit of an exaggerated metaphor, because I think stillness in action was surely present in my adolescent life, as it is in everyone's, but the conceptual contrast serves a purpose in illuminating the principles and practices I now utilize.
Without ecstasy (the divine feminine), stillness (the divine masculine) is incomplete. Enlightenment is a merging of the two, inside and out. The witness needs to become more than a passive observer. In fact, it was that compulsive need to not just observe but to participate that prompted me to use drugs and alcohol as a means to rouse the dragon from her slumber. No need to rehash the pitfalls of that experiment here, since I've covered that territory extensively in other blogs and lessons on my recovery website.
In any case, to be centered in the witness, and to have all extremities pranically charged so that stillness is organically electrified and surging outwards (intelligently and altruistically) is the optimal state. It's about staying in touch. In touch with the leading edge of evolution. In touch with a utopian vision. In touch, most importantly, with you, dear reader.
To quote the sappy Jerry Maguire: "You complete me." Yes, it is you—friends, family, strangers, even foes—who make the witness more than a detached void of indifference. It is you who solve the puzzle, decode the riddle, and reflect the prismatic image being projected by our omnipresent source.
Isn't it interesting that our eyes can be both looked into, and looked at? When looked into, the soul becomes visible and palpable. When looked at, the glazed surface reflects beams of light like a mirror. We have the luxury and privilege of shifting our perception to accommodate both perspectives, depending on our mood. Sometimes we need to be shallow. Sometimes the deeper dimensions call to us.
Yogani has said that the quantity of the known is far surpassed by the quantity of the unknown. What we know is a minuscule fraction of what we don't know. It is the hunger for self-knowledge and self-experience that drives our quest and compels the witness to become electric. It is God chasing God, self seeking self, life testing life.
It is Oneness.
The higher power is in us.