The Watcher

[ On the blogiversary of SIAOF, am reposting the most popular original post of the last year. Enjoy, and thanks for stopping by !]

It’s easy to get stuck as “The Watcher “.

After meditating a while, and  watching thoughts or sensations,
the belief may arise that there must be a noticer of experience
lurking around in the back somewhere.
Thus, “The Watcher” is born of imputation.

” This is who I really am !
I have meditated, and
meditation has revealed the truth
to me about myself!”

Not yet.

The watcher is another identity,
another layer of fictitious selfing,
a fallback position for the “I”.

If “I” am not the body,
and if “I” am not sensations or thoughts,
then “I” must be whoever notices.

This little trip hazard may lie almost right in front of the Gateless Gate.

It doesn’t come up until people actually start investigation into what they really are, usually at first through meditation.

Once it does come up, unless there is someone
or something to remind that this is merely a parking spot along the way,
meditation may continue for decades,
still parked right there,
watching away as “The Watcher”.

What’s parked ?


Identification will grab anything to use as material for imputing self somewhere.

Even something that really isn’t any thing at all.

There is no watcher to be found.

Watching happens.

In a previous post, there was reference to Adyashanti and the “nothing that’s here”.

The “nothing that’s here” = watching happening.
A capacity to know,
a process in motion,
an activity with no actor,
more verb than noun.

Search for the noun,
see if you can find the watcher,
and another phantom of identification inevitably falls away.

What’s left then ?


Keep going !


[ Original post date January 21, 2012 ]

Thanks to this site for the ghost pic :


Thanks to this site for the parking space pic:

For another blogger dispelling the same myth of “The Watcher” :

For the author of an e-book dispelling The Watcher myth and other myths of identity:

Shinzen Young on several traps and their antidotes along the path:

About dominic724

A former seeker starts blogging.
This entry was posted in Buddhist Practice, Human Experience, No self and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to The Watcher

  1. dadirri7 says:

    thank you dominic, you say it so simply “watching happening” ….

    • dominic724 says:

      That’s why it’s so easy to miss, Christine. Hidden in plain sight, so simple we look right past it. I looked right past it for many years. One of my very first reactions to what happened six months ago was feeling very foolish for having looked for the complicated, when the utter simplicity was always right here, ignored. Appreciate the comment. May these observations be of some service. In gassho. d

  2. Shane Wilson says:

    Thanks Dominic for an excellent explanation of another mistaken identity.

  3. Louise says:

    I meditate with the watcher who can see and feel things come and go. It has given me permission to allow things to float in and out and not focus on them. But now I think about it, there is no watcher really is there? I can’t find the watcher. If I did, then I should eventually be able to find a watcher who is watching the watcher watching what is happening. So, I’m free from the watcher then? Can it be that simple? So I’m the watcher and the watched?

    • dominic724 says:

      Watching happens, is how I’d put it.

      No watcher. If you can actually find a watcher, what are its qualities ?
      You can impute “me” on everything now, but it may create an impediment later.
      Yes, it can be that simple for most of the identities.
      The process of dissolution is about dropping false identities.
      Everyone who meditates is doing this to some degree.
      The “me” identity will move to the next identity back (impute itself on some other thing)
      Find where that is for you, and that’s the next place to shine the searchlight of Truth.

      The last identity to go is the “me” in any form at all.
      This is called the ” Gateless Gate ” in Zen : losing the “I”.

      If you want to chat more please ask.
      You can read my other blog or look up Liberation Unleashed.


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