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Chapter 12: Becoming a Witness

The same man, when he comes across a diamond mine, sees diamonds all over. Now, will we need to convince him he should get rid of his colored stones? Before he realizes what has happened, he will have already dropped the stones, run and filled his hands with diamonds. If one were to ask him later on what he did with the stones he was holding in his hands, he might say, “I am glad you reminded me. I had completely forgotten about them. I don’t know what happened to them. I don’t know when they were dropped.” When diamonds are in sight, one needs to empty his hands immediately.

Life is a positive ascent, it is not a negative descent. Life is a positive achievement, not a negative renunciation. As the witnessing consciousness grows deeper, new planes of bliss come to light. The layers of misery go on falling away; much garbage is thrown out. You keep throwing pebbles away, and diamonds begin to appear in your hands. These two things, the dropping of the nonessential and the acquiring of the essential, will always apply in following the points you have raised in your question.

So let your awareness of misery become intense, sharp. In that state, stop identifying with your body. Let your consciousness not become one with your body. And in all your day-to-day activities and operations, be a witness, not an experiencer.

Let me tell you a short story to explain to you what I mean. I have always loved this story.

Just recently, it seems the birthday of Ishwarchandra Vidyasagar was celebrated. Once he went to see a play. Ishwarchandra was a very well-known figure of his time, a very intelligent man. He was the honored guest and was seated in the first row. The play was in progress and there was a scene in which the villain is after the heroine to harass her. He tries to give her a hard time in every possible way. The scene reaches its climax when, finally, on a dark night in a thick forest, the villain catches hold of the woman. It is a very dark night. Everything is quiet; there is not a soul around. The villain grabs the woman. The woman screams, but her cry simply echoes in the stillness of the forest.

Ishwarchandra was watching the scene. He was a nice man. He couldn’t take the villain’s behavior any more. He lost his control. He got so enraged that he completely forgot it was just a play. He took off his shoe, jumped on the stage, and began pounding the villain. He started beating the actor! The actor took Ishwarchandra’s shoe and placed it on his forehead to show his gratitude.

The actor showed more understanding than Ishwarchandra. Addressing the audience, he said, “Never before have I received a greater award than this. It is indeed a tribute to an actor’s skills that an intelligent man such as Ishwarchandra should take the play to be real.”

Addressing Vidyasagar, the actor said, “Sir, I shall treasure this shoe; I won’t return it to you. This is my greatest reward.”