Mark Zegarelli
Mark Zegarelli

Insight 18: 
Awareness can observe objects outside itself, but it can't observe itself or be observed as an object.

We're far from the shallow now.      

            Lady Gaga


Speaking of phones, ever notice how your cell phone camera can take a picture of anything except itself? (Yes, I get that you can use a mirror to photograph your cell phone… Work with me on this one!)


The metaphor is an apt one for understanding awareness. You, as awareness, can potentially observe anything that is not you – such as things, bodily sensations, thoughts, and feelings – yet you cannot observe you in the same way. That is, awareness cannot observe awareness from outside, as it observes other things.


This is actually good news. It means that awareness isn’t – you aren’t – an object and, therefore, you are unlike anything that awareness can observe. That is, whatever you may be, your essential nature is different from any of the external objects or subjective experiences that you can observe.


This insight should be an indication of just how far we've strayed from the common-sense, materialist perspective where we started.


According to materialism, whatever I am, it's made of essentially the same stuff that everything else around me is made of – that is, matter.


In contrast, in following this path, by directly inquiring Who am I?, we've arrived at a place where we have clearly parted company from that materialist perspective. As awareness, I can observe other objects, but I cannot observe myself as an object.


So, if it makes sense to you to agree that awareness is fundamentally different from what it observes in this key regard, please jump ahead to Insight 19.