Chapter 3: The Lifting of the Veil
Women cannot live without a mirror. When they see a mirror it pulls them like a magnet. Their whole life is spent in front of it: trying on clothes and dresses, trying on jewelry and adorning themselves. And the surprising thing is that when the woman goes out, totally dressed up, if someone pinches her she becomes angry! If no one harasses her then too she is unhappy - because so much preparation was made to be provocative, to provoke harassment. Otherwise, what was the need? Women do not bother to dress up in front of their husbands. They remain perfect hags in front of their husbands because, with him, chasing and seduction have stopped long ago. But if she has to go out, she will take a lot of time to prepare. She will have spectators, she will be on stage.
Psychologists say man is a voyeur. His whole focus is in viewing, his whole interest is to see. Woman is not interested in seeing, she is interested in exhibiting herself. That is why a man - woman pair fit each other. Both sides of the illness are there simultaneously. And both states are unhealthy.
Ashtavakra says man’s nature is to be a seer, an observer; it is neither to be a performer nor a spectator.
Never confuse these two again. Many times I have seen people make this mistake - they think they have become the observer when they have become a spectator. There is a very fundamental distinction between these two words. The dictionary may not show the difference. There spectator and observer may have the same meaning. But in the dictionary of life there is a great difference.
A spectator is one whose eyes are on others.
And the observer is one whose eyes are on himself.
When the eyes are on the object you are a spectator, when the eyes are on the seer you are an observer. It is a revolutionary distinction, very fundamental. When your eyes stop on the object and you forget yourself, then you are just a spectator. When all objects of vision have departed, when you, and only you, are there - only awakening remains, only alertness remains - then you are an observer.
When you are a spectator, you become completely oblivious. You forget yourself completely, your attention gets stuck there. You go to the movies and for three hours you forget yourself, you don’t even remember who you are. You forget all worries and anxieties. This is why crowds rush there. There is so much worry, anxiety, trouble in living - a method of forgetting is needed. People become completely one-pointed. Only at the movies is their total attention focused. They see.actually there is nothing on the screen, just shadows go on flickering, but people are all attention. They forget their illness, their anxieties, their old age, and even if death comes they will forget that.
But remember, you have not become an observer in the theater; you have become a spectator. You have forgotten yourself, you have no memory of who you are. You have lost all memory of the energy of seeing which is within you. You have stopped at the object in front of you, you are totally drowned in it.
To be a spectator is a kind of self-forgetting. And to be an observer means now all objects of observation have disappeared. The screen is empty, now no film moves on it. No thoughts remain, no words remain; the screen becomes absolutely empty, blank and shining, white. Nothing left to see, only the seer remains. And now you take a plunge into the seer. You become the observer.
Performers and spectators: humanity is divided between these two. Very rarely an observer is born - an Ashtavakra, a Krishna, a Mahavira, a Buddha.. Very rarely someone is awakened and becomes the observer.