how can the seer be the same as the seen?

Vic Shayne
13 Pillars of Enlightenment: How to realize your true nature and end suffering

Photo by anait film

ne of the cornerstones of spiritual awakening is that the seer and the seen become known/realized as inseparable and therefore nonexistent. The falsehood of the seer-seen duality is not an easy thing to explain, though gurus have tried to do so for millennia. Through persistent enquiry into the sense of self — that person you take yourself to be — the fact of no-separation becomes quite evident. But for those who have not uncovered this fact, the so-called phenomenon of the observer-observed (seer-seen) relationship remains a puzzle or koan.

It seems quite obvious that in order to have action there must be an actor, and that speech is dependent upon a speaker. Using such analogies make the observer-observed or seer-seen dichotomy clearer, but to actually get it it’s necessary to have a realization. An intellectual understanding is limited to the same mind that fragments the world into dualities.

language fails us
This business of the observed and observer, the seen and the seer, etc., is very hard to bring into language. In large part, this is because whenever we use a verb it is implied that there is a cause that brings the verb into existence, and therefore it is implied that to observe there must be an observer.

There are two main considerations here: whether the observer perceives itself as separate from the observed, and how the observer-observed duality causes us problems.

We are conditioned to believe that if there is an act of observing then there must be a doer separate from the action of doing. Such conditioning gives us a feeling that we are removed, apart, from the wholeness of life, of consciousness.

the fragmented mind
The misperception of separation takes place because we have fragmented the world into a me-versus-you equation, creating untold conflict, which is why most people, and society, are always in a state of conflict, with others and within themselves. Conflict is expressed as depression, anxiety, anger, hate, fear, and so on. We accept certain parts of ourselves while we deny or refute other parts. And we try to suppress certain parts while promoting others. Thus, we are in denial of who we truly are as a whole and we just don’t want to look at this truth.

Fragmentation is in-bred, not in-born. The mind needs to be trained for very practical reasons, like telling the difference between a meatball and a golfball, but when applied psychologically it creates the self, and this self causes problems.

One way to tell if the observer is fragmented from the observed is if the observer judges, criticizes, organizes, categorizes, enjoys, abhors, refutes, or takes any action or makes any thought to change the observed as if it is not himself. Judgment requires a judge who creates an object of judgment.

thou shalt not judge
We can pause here for a second and consider that most religious and spiritual teachings dictate that their followers should not judge others, but they are clearly missing the point. The idea is not to control oneself, which is to prevent oneself from judging, but rather to have a realization that judgment occurs due to fragmentation. The better advice would be to enquire into what you are so that you naturally will break the habit of judgment and any possible violent response to what the self judges to be offensive.

Generally, it is difficult for most people to get, to realize, that the thinker is the thought. We must return, time after time, to this same premise, which is that there can be no thought without a thinker, or an action without an actor. To alleviate suffering, which is the driving force that turns people inward, we must return to wholeness.

che significa?
What is the significance of any of this to a spiritual seeker? For one, the seeker is the sought, and if he were realize this fact then all seeking would come to a halt, wouldn’t it? The seeker would have nothing to look for if he knew full well that all his answers are right here where he already is. Oddly, though (and I must admit that this was the case for me), even if you were to tell someone that the seeker is actually seeking himself, he wouldn’t know what to do with that information and would go on seeking to his heart’s discontent. But, alas, we are like little children whom we advise not to do something yet we do it anyway, because that’s part of the learning and growing process. Immediate understanding is a rare thing.

If you are a seeker, I am telling you right now that you are what you are seeking. But if you accept my word for it then you have not had any realization of your own, have you? Just keep it in mind: the seeker and the sought are one and the same. You are all you need; the answers to everything are within you. Find out for yourself if this is true.

consciousness experiences itself
Now if we can pull back a little we can find something quite fascinating. I am proposing a fact here, but again, it is necessary for you to find out if it is true by enquiring into your own sense of self. The fact is that all that consciousness sees and experiences is itself; and you are consciousness. In other words, everything you see is yourself: The seer is the seen. How do I know this to be true? One morning I woke up and this was my stunningly new perception. It made me laugh at the simplicity and novelty of it all. This realization for me is permanent.

When this realization hits you as well, the mind will be propelled out of its conditioned state of fragmenting all reality into opposing and complementary forces. There will be a sudden and mind-less realization that you are the dreamer dreaming all that you dream, and without you as the dreamer, the dream of life would not exist at all because you ARE the totality of life.

Everyone, everything, every animal, every condition, every phenomenon, and the container in which everything is held and takes place, is you, created by you. This you is not the illusory personal self, but rather consciousness that underlies the self.



…writer for 40+ years, mind/body practitioner, self-enquiry meditation, NY Times best selling author (, consultant, researcher.

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Vic Shayne

…writer for 40+ years, mind/body practitioner, self-enquiry meditation, NY Times best selling author (, consultant, researcher.