What it means to stand back and observe rather than believing we are the “do-er”

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To be the witness…”is a voluntary creation of the intellect, a place of detached watching of phenomenal activity, where no judging or comparing takes place. (“if you wish to see the truth/then hold no opinions for or against anything.”) Just see what is. The witness dwells in the cool space between the heat of one’s imagined self and one’s projections. It is an aspect of ego used to extricate yourself from unconscious attachments to other aspects of ego.
Moments of consciousness are brief compared to the vast intervals of unconscious, mechanical, conditioned ways of being. We are continuously losing the thread of attention, seeing who we are, losing it again finding it again, being pulled this way and that by the forces around us.
The witness…does not come into existence by desire or decision alone. It must be developed by specific techniques and exercises. Certain meditation practices of mindfulness may be used as well as exercises that take us out of our normal patterns…Situations that take us out of our normal patterns often allow us to observe our workings more clearly. Time of silence and fasting are examples of this. Yet all our daily actions are available to the witness, particularly if we slow them down enough to see the precise quality inherent in them…The witness is not evaluative. It does not judge your actions. It merely notes them…This point is important. Most of the time the inner voices of most people are continually evaluative. “I’m good for doing this” or I’m bad for doing that.” You must make that evaluative role an object of contemplation as well. Keep in mind that the witness does not care whether you become enlightened or not. It merely notes how it all is.

(Excerpt from “Paths to God: Living the Bhagavad Gita by Ram Dass, p. 256)