This awareness that the observer is the observed is not a process of identification with the observed. To identify ourselves with something is fairly easy. Most of us identify ourselves with something – with our family, our husband or wife, our nation – and that leads to great misery and great wars. We are considering something entirely different and we must understand it not verbally but in our core, right at the root of our being.
In ancient China before an artist began to paint anything – a tree, for instance – he would sit down in front of it for days, months, years. He did not identify himself with the tree but he was the tree. This means that there was no space between him and the tree, no space between the observer and the observed, no experiencer experiencing the beauty, the movement, the shadow, the depth of a leaf, the quality of colour. He was totally the tree, and in that state only could he paint.
Photo credit: Friedrich Grohe