Self-Observation — An Awareness Exercise from the Mahabharata

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This week’s featured practice is on self-observation, which this ancient Hindu text describes as the viewing of our Soul by our understanding. It explains that if our senses become perturbed or are left unrestrained, how this becomes an obstacle to the act of inner seeing.

Original article from AncientSacredKnowledge.com

The Shanti Parva (book 12 of the Mahabharata) is set after the ending of a great war. In this time of peace, the new king Yudishtira receives counsel from sages on proper governance, justice, and a wise way of life.

The Shanti Parva (book 12 of the Mahabharata) is set after the ending of a great war. In this time of peace, the new king Yudishtira receives counsel from sages on proper governance, justice, and a wise way of life.

The Mahabharata, an ancient Hindu epic, describes the practice of self-observation, watchfulness of thoughts and of the senses, for gaining knowledge.

Here are two passages that are particularly instructive for this practice:

“From the destruction of all sinful deeds, knowledge arises in men. Upon the appearance of Knowledge, one beholds one’s Soul in one’s understanding even as one sees one’s own reflection in a polished mirror. One obtains misery in consequence of one’s senses being unrestrained. One obtains happiness in consequence of one’s senses being restrained. Therefore, one should restrain one’s mind by self-effort from objects apprehended by the senses.”

~ The Mahabharata, Book 12: Santi Parva: Mokshadharma Parva: Section CCIV (Translation by K.M. Ganguli)

“As when quantity of water is clear, images reflected in it can be seen by the eye, after the same manner, if the senses be unperturbed, the Soul is capable of being viewed by the understanding. If, however, the quantity of water gets stirred, the person standing by it can no longer see those images. Similarly, if the senses become perturbed, the Soul can no longer be seen by the understanding. Ignorance begets Delusion. Delusion affects the mind. When the mind becomes vitiated, the five senses which have the mind for their refuge become vitiated also. Surcharged with Ignorance, and sunk in the mire of worldly objects, one cannot enjoy the sweets of contentment or tranquillity.”

~ The Mahabharata, Book 12: Santi Parva: Mokshadharma Parva: Section CCIV (Translation by K.M. Ganguli)

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About Angela Pritchard

Angela Pritchard is an author and researcher into the universal nature of spirituality and consciousness. She is the co-author of two books on ancient sacred mysteries. Her primary focus is on experiencing spirituality firsthand, including through OBEs, and she has been dedicated to this for the past 10 years. She aims to uncover the hidden roots of what’s really driving the agenda in society and the world in relation to the war on consciousness and awakening, and writes alongside her husband on the website Belsebuub.com.

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  1. Great quotes, thank you Angela.

    I find the act of self-observation in daily life challenging, forgetfulness being one of the main obstacles. What I also found is that active awareness allows a refuge from compulsive spontaneous reactions. Seeing own thoughts and also reflecting on actions highlights lack of wisdom and reminds me how automatic responses bring unhappiness to others and to myself as well. Lost awareness blocks the link with previously gained understanding and same old mistakes can be made easily. It is like all of us carry within a wealth of experience and knowledge but it can only be accessed by the means of active awareness.

  2. James N says:

    Thank you very inspiring. I like the examples and am all too familiar with the misery of unrestrained senses. ‘The sweets of contentment or tranquility’ sounds like is a worthy goal to strive for.

  3. Thanks Angela, a timely reminder!

    The clear water analogy is really helpful – really motivating for having a still mind and not being drawn into the things of the senses!

  4. I found self observation to be such an important exercise which needs continuous attention.

    Also, enjoyed reading Belsebuub’s talk included on self observation.

    Great passages, another great find from Ancient Sacred Knowledge. Thanks Angela.