watching-me spiritualityAs we saw in the last post, the observer-self is a deep part of human consciousness. Also, it is a part of us that doesn’t lend itself to analysis. We saw that, as we observe the observer, we become the observer.
This being the case, studying the observer-self; figuring out what it is; isn’t that helpful an exercise. It is not the point, the ancient wisdom instructs us. The point it turns out, is to be mindful of it, attentive to experiencing it. Apophatic spirituality teaches us to be present to, being present in our observer-self consciousness.
The centerpiece of apophatic spirituality is attentiveness to the observer-self within us.
Sounds easy.
It isn’t.
i amMost of us, most of our days, are wholly immersed in, and identified with, our thoughts, feelings, reactions, and instincts. This immersion runs so deep, that it is hard to distinguish self from thoughts and feelings. We experience ourselves as being them.
cheeseburger impulseCheeseburger Thought; Cheeseburger Bought.
Imagine you have a cheeseburger impulse. If you are not inclined to cheeseburgers, substitute a latte, or a new pair of shoes, or working longer hours. Whatever impulse you tend to have, imagine that.
When the thought, feeling, or desire hits, most of us don’t recognize it has come up on us. Our observer-self has been lulled to sleep and we have become so habituated to these kinds of impulses that we identify them as “us.” The “me” that I think I am, is in that moment a “cheeseburger-wanting me.” More often than not, as soon as we experience a thought and desire for a cheeseburger, we swing by the drive-thru and pick one up (it’s convenient that there are so many drive-thru’s nearby).
cheeseburger impulse 2Cheeseburger-thought becomes cheeseburger-bought with very little input from the observer-self. The impulse-to-action process is actually quite complicated, with many points along the way to see what is happening, intervene, condone, accept or reject. However, very little intervention usually happens. Most often, we just mindlessly follow an instinctive chain of events. The part of us that is able to stand outside our thoughts, feelings, and actions; the part of us that is able to observe both body and ego-consciousness, is so often ignored, we often forget we even have it.
Apophatic spirituality is about recovering our attentiveness to the observer-self within.
observer selfFor most of us, when we observe self, it is usually well after the fact. Enough cheeseburgers or lattes and our clothes get tighter. We look back and think to ourselves, “I’ve been eating/drinking too much.” We realize we are distant from the people we love and looking back, think, “I’ve been working too much.” Our bank account is overdrawn, and looking back, we think, “I’ve bought too many shoes.”
But that kind of self-observation is not the same as being attentive to the moment in which those impulse-actions decide our days.
That dynamic is one really good reason to recover the apophatic way.
More next post.

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