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Turning Subject Into Object

Turning subject into object is both a concept and a practice. In this talk I discuss the difference between inner and outer experience and how that relates to subjective and objective experience. We need to define perspective – subjective experience is what I identify as “me”. Objects exist within my awareness, but are not “me”.

An interesting point to note here is that even things I identify as me can be objectified. I have a foot, but I am not my foot. My foot is still me on some level, but I am able to objectify it. That ability to objectify internal experience is important.

If we find we are angry, that is our subjective experience. Turning subject into object would be backing up from that anger with a question: What am I right now? That shines the light on our experience and objectifies the anger. We can’t see the subject, we are the subject. But we can see things once we objectify them.

You may say, but Rob, I see myself get mad all the time. That’s true on two levels: One level is that you flip between subject and object to some degree all the time, and the other is that you see it now, when we’re objectifying it together. But learning to do this as a practice can lead to profound change in your life.

Who is the self that backs up from the subject to objectify it? That is the age old question. Another question to ask is which of these perspectives is self? That really depends on whose talking. Self can mean egoic separate sense; or it can mean, in some Indian traditions as an example, the cosmic oneness. We can get lost in words very quickly here. But the aware self in the background is what is often termed either just “awareness” or “authentic self”. Ego would normally be considered the smaller self.

The practice of mindfulness is a subjective experience, practice of awareness is an objectified experience. We need to do both. When you are angry, you are smaller. When you are aware you are angry (have objectified the anger, but not dissociated from it) you are larger. You are the anger and potentially the solution.

So how do we make the subject the object? We use introspection, questions, and cultivate awareness. The desire to see what you are brings this objectivity to the situation. We see as objects what we are. This is the practice of meditation. What is arising for me in this moment? We can make a practice of it, or we can do it when we realize we are unhappy.

Just the simple action of making the subject the object allows us space for change.

Referenced: Integral Theory

The World Is Your Body

This is an advanced talk. Many people may find this content weird, but I’m serious when I say that the world is your body. We’re trying to learn to look at the world differently. This is very literally a different way to look at the world. It’s a shift in consciousness.

Normal subject/object consciousness has ego and self boundaries involved with it. It’s important that we don’t look at these ideas from a place of self. We need to drop self to understand these ideas.

Subject and object aren’t separate. The act of listening, seeing, tasting, hearing, feeling can’t occur without both the subject and the object. That being the case, the actual act of sensation is the real content, and the parties involved are only ideas. The listening, as an example, *IS* the thing that’s going on. When we learn to dive into experience on that level we widen our perception of ourselves, and the world. Our experience is further out than we thought. We start to realize that we are larger than we thought.

Another point to understand is that we become, literally, whatever we focus on. When we see a sunset, we are the sunset. When we think a thought, we are that thought. When we hear a car horn, we are the car horn. The reason most of us don’t feel that way is because we are too busy bouncing from thought to experience to thought, etc. to realize any content deeply enough. This understanding is a new way of approaching things, but it allows for many freedoms.

What are the benefits of these ideas? An unchecked ego is the basis for all of our pain. This is another way, or facet, to understand dropping the ego. It’s another way to describe a new way of being. This will allow us to be filled with what is: sunsets, car horns, stillness, joy.

The practice is to realize that you are not a separate thing. You are an integral part of the greater whole. You are necessary to the process of life. Everything you hear, taste, smell, see, and feel shows you a wider self. That horn down the street is you. That breeze is you. You are vast. Realize it. Imagine, as a side benefit, how respectful we’ll be of the world once we realize it’s us.

Lastly, realizing that your body is the world quickly allows us to relate to the idea of “oneness of being” that all great philosophies speak of. This understanding is a way to realize that oneness.

Show music: La Bella Monterosa by Sahnas