Joy of being: Observation and Imagination


The words ‘To Observe’ has been repeatedly used in many previous articles. There is a need to define clearly and experience what this word means in order to understand not only Spiritual Truths but even to differentiate from what we normally refer to when we use the word. We saw some examples of this in previous articles. Here, I am offering more examples to differentiate Observation from Imagination so that the word is understood while reading or writing. Further, in order to move on to understanding how the paths to happiness take us forward, it is essential that one needs to observe oneself.

This makes it complicated. How can I observe myself? I can observe others or circumstances or nature etc. but myself? Let us first start with observing others. As we have covered earlier, most of us will add a thought or reaction when observing others. No doubt, this may be essential to store in our Mind for future reference but do not forget that this is precisely the reason why reactions or thoughts have a life of their own. ‘So & so is pessimistic while so & so is optimistic’ - how easy is it to label and judge. We think this is observation normally, i.e. we think observation is our understanding of the other person’s temperament or words. There is nothing right or wrong about this and this may even be required to enable us practically work in normal day-to-day situations. However, what we need to understand is that this is not observation.

Let us look at events as they happen. I am watching a movie. I am so absorbed in the movie that when the heroine rejects the hero, I cry or when the villain hits the hero, I feel the pain! This is not observation but instead, it is a strong imagination which makes one feel what is not real as being real, i.e. I am not the hero but I imagine and identify myself as the hero. Sachin Tendulkar scores a century, in my imagination I have identified with him totally that it is ‘I’ who has scored the century!

Let us look at Nature’s events. A dog barks. Our imagination says it is angry or alone or whatever. Our initial observation has to be a dog barked, full stop. By scientific enquiry, i.e., by looking around at why the dog is barking, we can find that it is looking at a stranger and barking. Or by rational analysis, i.e., it has been five hours since it had food and hence it wants to be fed etc. conclusions can be drawn. But these are very different from pure observation.

Moving on to one more slightly complicated understanding - science proves that the sky is not blue but it is a reflection. But see whether we refer to the sky as anything but blue! We don’t because in our Mind, it is real that the sky is blue. We can understand this as Imaged Reality, i.e., it seems blue or we see it as blue not in imagination but seemingly with our eyes. In the dog barking case, we imagine various possibilities, analyse and discard a few & choose one as most probable. This is not an observation, neither is seeing the sky as blue or using some other word for describing the sky.

One needs to understand there are different layers in the Mind. The earlier examples we saw of use of our intelligence or analysis or even scientific enquiry are all experienced (or done) by different layers of the Mind. They are needed and very much required but not the observation we are speaking of now. Even intuition and ability to read others’ minds etc. are all different facets of the Mind but they are not observation.

Normally, the Mind keeps shifting between these layers i.e., thoughts are incessant and it will be sometimes focused and concentrated. When there is sharp clarity in our thinking and the labels and judgments are made clearly by the intelligent focused Mind we term it as Observation many times. However, this is not what real Observation is all about. Science proves experiments by isolating and concentrating on a specific activity. If this is stretched, all activity of the Mind has to be ‘observed;’ then the identification we have with our Mind has to be dropped. The examples we saw in earlier articles have to be experienced, i.e., the Mind thinks, the body pains and emotions are arising, not ‘I’ think. This means, one’s identity with our thoughts and emotions drop. Even one’s identity with one’s name, body etc. drop. This naturally means one does not associate others as being connected to one i.e., ‘My’ children, ‘My’ company etc. are not real anymore.

(This is the first article of a three-part series on ‘Observation and Imagination’. The second part will appear next Friday.)

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(The writer is the Joint Managing Director of TVS & Sons Ltd., and MD, TVS Logistics)

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Printable version | Dec 12, 2019 6:56:00 PM |

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