Although more challenging than to do the same in private, inner stillness can be achieved in a public space, despite that familiar self-consciousness which shoulders shame and embarrassment with such ease. Some will practice walking meditation, where the rhythm of the steps can instill a calmness which includes the all that surrounds it, some will ratchet up sweat with running and induce an altered state with endorphins. Some will sit in buses and trains, coolly and compassionately observing as they transport the observing self from one place on the map to another. They are the ones who will see that wherever you go there you are. They are the ones who understand why nothing really changes: because the observing self carries that same bag of assumptions and prejudices everywhere it goes, and allows it to filter all perceptions and thought processes based on those perceptions.
And that is seeing.
And it’s the observing self that I wish to focus in on, because when one achieves stillness in a public space it’s the observing self, the observer consciousness, that remains. The observer consciousness is possibly our most useful tool in coming to clearly see the the carefully constructed illusion of the personality and the rather robotic drama of public life.
Observing the personality, when inner stillness is arrived at, comes from detaching your perceiving intelligence from your actions and reactions. How you move, how you hold yourself, what you chose to say or withhold, how you give and receive glances, how you discern and judge, all these emanate from the familial and societal influences upon your growth from the earliest stages of life. Your discovery of their details will flesh out the basics of Freudian psychology as generally understood, such is its penetration into our culture. But the regular practice of the observer consciousness will reveal ever more subtle layers of the personality’s game playing defense mechanisms, so that eventually one will feel one can see through the entire performance, as though one were watching from the wings.
And this is knowing.
One sees a puppet whose strings are being pulled, by anxieties and fears, vanities and desires. One senses one is not that puppet, – not his emotions, not his thought, not his traits of character; that they are all affectations conditioned by society, overcoats called upon in time of need, and then, when buttoned up and snug, forgotten. Separating oneself from this walking, talking, gesturing player, one knows what one is not, and wonders what one actually is.
Is one a soul cleverly inserted into a form, and then a life, with all its accoutrements, conditions and demands? And if so, why? To experience, learn, digest, transmute? To transcend and then return, renewed, to assist those who still sonambulate in fog?
I would say yes, that is the case, and suggest that the practice of stillness in a public space can lead to such a gratifyingly exalted state.
And that is doing.