You can’t be totally aware if you are choosing. If you say “This is right and that is wrong,” the right and the wrong depend on your conditioning. What is right to you may be wrong in the Far East. You believe in a savior, in the Christ, but they don’t, and you think they will go to hell unless they believe as you do. …To be aware is to be conscious of all this, choicelessly, it is to be aware totally of all your conscious and unconscious reactions. And you can’t be aware totally if you are condemning, if you are judging, if you are justifying, or if you say, “I will keep my beliefs, my experiences, my knowledge.” Then you are only partially aware, and partial awareness is really blindness.
Seeing or understanding is not a matter of time, it is not a matter of gradations. Either you see or you don’t see. And you can’t see if you are not deeply aware of your own reactions, of your own conditioning. Being aware of your conditioning, you must watch it choicelessly; you must see the fact and not give an opinion or judgment about the fact. In other words, you must look at the fact without thought. Then there is an awareness, a state of attention without a center, without frontiers, where the known doesn’t interfere…
(London, 4th Public Talk, June 12, 1962 Collected Works, Vol.XIII, p.188)
So, through awareness I begin to see myself as I actually am, the totality of myself. Being watchful from moment to moment of all its thoughts, feelings, its reactions, unconscious as well as conscious, the mind is constantly discovering the significance of its own activities, which is self-knowledge….
All relationship is a mirror in which the mind can discover its own operations. Relationship is between oneself and other human beings, between oneself and things or property, between oneself and ideas, and between oneself and nature. And, in that mirror of relationship, one can see oneself as one actually is, but only if one is capable of looking without judging, without evaluating, condemning, justifying. When one has a fixed point from which one observes, there is no understanding in one’s observation.
So, being fully conscious of one’s whole process of thinking, and being able to go beyond that process, is awareness. You may say it is very difficult to be so constantly aware. Of course it is very difficult—it is almost impossible. You cannot keep a mechanism working at full speed all the time; it would break up; it must slow down, have rest. Similarly, we cannot maintain total awareness all the time. How can we? To be aware from moment to moment is enough. If one is totally aware for a minute or two and then relaxes, and in that relaxation spontaneously observes the operations of one’s own mind, one will discover much more in that spontaneity than in the effort to watch continuously. You can observe yourself effortlessly, easily—when you are walking, talking, reading—at every moment. Only then will you find out that the mind is capable of freeing itself from all the things it has known and experienced, and it is in freedom alone that it can discover what is true.
(Brussels,Belgium, 4th Public Talk, June 23, 1956 Collected Works, Vol.X, pp.53-4)
Understanding comes with the awareness of what is. There can be no understanding if there is condemnation of or identification with what is. If you condemn a child or identify yourself with him, then you cease to understand him. So, being aware of a thought or a feeling as it arises, without condemning it or identifying with it, you will find that it unfolds ever more widely and deeply, and thereby discover the whole content of what is. To understand the process of what is there must be choiceless awareness, a freedom from condemnation, justification, and identification. When you are vitally interested in fully understanding something, you give your mind and heart, withholding nothing. But unfortunately you are conditioned, educated, disciplined through religious and social environment to condemn or to identify, and not to understand. To condemn is stupid and easy, but to understand is arduous, requiring pliability and intelligence. Condemnation, as identification, is a form of self-protection. Condemnation or identification is a barrier to understanding. To understand the confusion, the misery in which one is, and so of the world, you must observe its total process. To be aware and pursue and pursue all its implications requires patience, to follow swiftly, and to be still.
There is understanding only when there is stillness, when there is silent observation, passive awareness. Then only the problem yields its full significance. The awareness of which I speak is of what is from moment to moment, of the activities of thought and its subtle deceptions, fears and hopes. Choiceless awareness wholly dissolves our conflicts and miseries.
(Madras, 11th Public Talk, December 28, 1947 Collected Works, Vol. IV, pp. 143-4)
I wonder if you have ever walked along a crowded street, or a lonely road, and just looked at things without thought? There is a state of observation without the interference of thought. Though you are aware of everything about you, and you recognize the person, the mountain, the tree, or the oncoming car, yet the mind is not functioning in the usual pattern of thought. I don’t know if this has ever happened to you. Do try it sometime when you are out driving or walking. Just look without thought; observe without the reaction which breeds thought. Though you recognize color and form, though you see the stream, the car, the goat, the bus, there is no reaction, but merely negative observation; and that very state of so-called negative observation is action. Such a mind can utilize knowledge in carrying out what it has to do, but it is free of thought in the sense that it is not functioning in terms of reaction. With such a mind—a mind that is attentive without reaction—you can go to the office, and all the rest of it.
(Saanen, 7th Public Talk, July 26, 1964 Collected Works, Vol.XIV, p. 20)