Self-Observation and the Laughing Buddha

laughing-buddhaSometimes humor and sometimes serious, grasshoppah. Hence the Zen of Self-Observation and the Laughing Buddha.

The Question posed to me by one of my Self-Mastery students today is, by and large, one worthy of a full and rich answer.

“I see myself doing it and I still do it. I see how crazy I am being and I still do it. Now what ???”

And, bam! There it is. We are programmed and therefore the programming runs by default. Until we begin to RE-program the machine, this will continue to be the case. Auto-pilot.

So we say the words and then we regret. We send the email and then we wish we had slept on it first. We do the action and then we suffer the consequences. And in these cases, we look back and wonder why we didn’t realize we were doing so much harm until the harm was already done.

This is all done in a state of sleep or “unconsciousness”—not the kind of sleep that rests our head on a pillow, and not the kind of unconsciousness that we experience when we faint or are under anesthesia such as in a surgery. In this sleep-state our programming runs on “auto-pilot” and it is activated when we are not “present” in the moment.

In the beginning of the work on Self-Mastery, we begin through Self-Observation, to see ourselves acting in this sleep-state. The beginning of this “seeing” causes a great deal of agitation, anxiety, and sometimes depression as we observe ourselves having acted in an unhealthy way in some situation(s) in this auto-pilot mode. The shock of seeing that this is our condition can be overwhelming and discouraging.

Continuing to observe ourselves acting in sleep-state auto-pilot, and the negative consequences of such actions—especially after much repetition—will usually bring about a desire for some way to control this, yet we soon discover that the programming of this auto-pilot is stronger than our will to control it.

For some, the search for an easy, soft, cushy way to achieve this longed-for control consumes far too many years that could have been spent performing the often painful but highly successful process of real transformation. Just yesterday, I stumbled on an email from a “spiritual teacher” who offers “Soft Self-Mastery” classes. Her bank account will benefit greatly but her students are not likely to achieve anything remotely close to what is true Self-Mastery. I equate “Soft Self Mastery” to wrapping a broken leg in cotton balls, sipping chicken soup and expecting the leg to heal properly. In true Self-Mastery, again speaking metaphorically, the leg must be properly set—which can range anywhere from mildly to extremely painful—and held in constant place by proper casting, then followed up by rigorous therapeutic motion. Which form of treatment sounds more likely to bring about the desired outcome of a properly healed leg?

If we are determined to continue observing ourselves in these types of sleep-state auto-pilot situations, we may find that we wish to begin efforts to stop ourselves from these actions that we know will bring about negative consequences. This experiment to stop ourselves can be, in itself, quite useful, as we will see how difficult or impossible it is to circumvent this auto-pilot programming. Seeing this can produce an extreme sense of frustration, although it can also increase our desire for true transformation.

When we first attempt to change this programming by trying to slam on the brakes, we are generally met by futility. On occasion, we may be successful, even though we are still likely to be met by much resistance within, along with the fact that we more than likely have already “broken the leg” so to speak by the time we’ve been able to apply the brakes. The words are already half (or more) out of our mouths or the action is already half (or more) in motion before we can stop and try to course-correct.

In cases where we are able to stop ourselves midway, we may find some satisfaction in seeing that applying the brakes is entirely possible; however, we soon discover that we cannot do so consistently, nor can we do so before the words are spoken or the act put into motion. In most of these cases, it is more beneficial to do nothing but observe, and I will tell you why as I unravel this mystery.

We have several possible stopping points in auto-pilot mode, and only during Self-Observation, and only depending upon degree of Real Will and Conscious Awareness. They are:

1. After the act.
2. During the act.
3. At the onset of the act.
4. Before the act.

After the act is too late. During the act is too late. At the onset of the act—which means we have already set the wheels in motion, making stopping nearly impossible—is usually too late. Only stopping before the act can we see Real Will in action; and only the repeated action of Real Will can reprogram the machine.

Therefore, until we develop Real Will (which is not a function of Ego, and which requires much inner work), we are at the mercy of auto-pilot—the programming that is already in place. When we are able to observe auto-pilot running its program, this is confirmation that we are not wholly in the sleep-state. The simple act of Self-Observation moves us out of the sleep-state and into a new state of conscious awareness. This is the beginning of awakening and presents the opportunity for reprogramming. We cannot reprogram a program that we cannot see needs reprogramming. Capiche?

The very act of watching the auto-pilot program brings our attention to the matter. Continuing to calmly watch the same auto-pilot program run again and again as it brings about negative consequences again and again, will eventually lead to such disgust and dismay that we will finally admit, often times in tears of frustration, that we cannot live like this any longer. Whether we admit to asking for assistance from Higher Forces, or not realize that our admission of defeat, in essence, calls in Higher Forces, the same outcome occurs—Higher Forces intervene.

This is when we begin to realize that by watching this auto-pilot program continuously with vigilance, we have developed such a powerful distaste for it that it begins to transform. We begin to catch ourselves in the act and upon doing so, course-correct. If we continue observation this way, we will begin to catch ourselves at the onset and course-correct. Finally, we will reach a point where we can almost literally “smell” the auto-pilot program coming on and course-correct prior to it even beginning.

Self-Observation is the beginning of transformation. Self-Observation, however, must be done without judgment or the intervention of our subjective ego-being. A true teacher of Self-Mastery (and there are many) knows that seeing our own auto-pilot programming and its frequent negative consequences can be painful. Anyone peddling “Soft Self-Mastery” is living in denial him/herself and therefore is selling the same. Nevertheless, “all roads lead to Rome” as the saying goes, regardless of whether they are detours or deterrents. Some of us genuinely need to visit all of the dead-end streets before we are finally ready to embark upon the real journey toward healing.

Reality is reality: bubble-busting can be fun, but it still requires a sharp pin.

Herein the Zen . . . Once we “get comfortable being uncomfortable” with this process, we realize why the Laughing Buddha is laughing!

I have searched the internet, read hundreds of books, and have yet to see anyone distill the essence of and explain Self-Observation in a way that all people can understand it. I do not claim to have done so in this short essay, though I do hope this sheds some light on this very important exercise that everyone with the aim of Self-Mastery needs to work on daily.

The aim of Self-Mastery is a noble aim. My book, Dear Sandy: The letter that wrote itself into a Book, introduces Self-Mastery to those just beginning, and provides reminders and, sometimes, new perspectives to those already working along these lines. Students in my Self-Mastery classes have posted many testimonials to the success of this work in their lives. Their testimonials are posted anonymously for their privacy.

May the Source Be With You Always and Everywhere!

© Jennifer Sweete, March 2017

Look for my future Jennifer Sweete blog posts right here!

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Books I have enjoyed reading this season:

Plato and Aristotle. A fascinating study of two philosophers somewhat at odds . . . but maybe not really as much as it looks on the surface!

Diane Duane writes YA books and my grandson has started me reading her So You Want to Be a Wizard (first in a series). Finished that one and her second in the series called Deep Wizardry. Working on #3 now – High Wizardry. Interesting study on Suspense Writing for YA! This author is DEEP AND HIGH in her understanding of the Cosmic Consciousness and she knows how to DELIVER the message!

Until we meet again, keep reading, keep writing, keep dreaming!

Jennifer Sweete is the author of Dear Sandy: The letter that wrote itself into a Book (2015) and The Poet & The Widow (2016). She is a Certified Massage Therapist and Usui/Holy Fire Karuna Reiki® Master and teacher, a small business and writer’s consultant, self-mastery coach, musician, poet, and author. And they all fit snugly into the same hat! She’s currently serving her 2nd term as President of the Chaffee County Writers Exchange while assisting other authors through the processes of editing, self-publishing and marketing their books. She resides with her husband, grandson, and furry friend in sunny Colorado. For more info, contact her at


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