The knower is composed of two aspects and centers, the outer knower and the inner knower. But in addition, the outer knower himself has two facets, external and internal. The division of the outer knower into its external and internal facets is very significant. And before the outer knower is awakened, this significant division applies to the observer as well; so we have the internal observer and the external observer. The main function of the internal outer knower is to activate pure attention. Even though pure attention is the dynamic identity of the inner knower, it is actually the internal outer knower who activates pure attention and directs its flow. The internal outer knower is the bridge from the outer to the inner knower and between the inner knower and the external outer knower.
An understanding of the two sides of the outer knower not only gives us a higher conceptual clarity, but also has very profound practical implications. It is through coming into contact with the internal outer knower that we finally gain experiential understanding of the fundamental keys of spiritual practice – self-recognition, self-remembrance, embodiment, surrender, and the shift of identity to our higher self.
The External Outer Knower
The external outer knower performs the same role as the ordinary observer: it activates external attention. Because he is conscious of his subjectivity, the relationship of the external outer knower with external attention is naturally also much more conscious. Via external attention, the external outer knower is responsible for many functions, including thinking and visual perception. He is also the center of the reflective, discriminative and conceptual intelligence of the soul. And he is in addition the center of our human consciousness, the headquarters of our psychological self or personality. From a spiritual standpoint, the external outer knower gives a conceptual framework within which the intelligence of the internal outer knower can operate.
The Internal Outer Knower
Before the actual awakening of the outer knower, the internal observer is already active in more mature souls, those who are connected to their spiritual evolution. In the absence of the internal observer, we would never enter the inner path and realize our pure subjectivity. He is the bridge between personality and the soul, between the external outer knower and the inner knower.
The static identity of the internal outer knower is the bare attention of outer essence-me. In addition, he also has a dynamic, functional identity, which we call ‘internal attention’. In this way, the internal outer knower is similar to the inner knower, who also has both static and dynamic identities (conscious me and pure attention). It is the internal outer knower who activates the pure attention of the inner knower and directs its flow of recognition, embodiment and surrender. So clearly, his role is of the highest importance in our internal life and in the soul’s evolution.
We have said that the problem with the majority of seekers is that their inner knower is absent. We can now add that their internal observer is also asleep. Such seekers have no bridge to the inner knower, which means their practice is a mere illusion. If our identity is entirely confined to the external observer, we are bound to fail in any spiritual pursuit. There are other seekers who do have an awakened internal observer but it is rudimentary and very weak. In these cases, it is crucial to strengthen and further activate it, if there is to be any possibility of further evolutionary progress.
Conflict between the External and Internal Outer Knowers
It is very often the case that the two aspects of the outer knower are on certain levels working against each other. One common example is where the external outer knower refuses to surrender, via the internal outer knower, to the inner knower; he refuses to get out of the way. Because of the inability of the external outer knower to let go and allow the internal consciousness of the soul to take over, he tends to control our consciousness too much. Fear is often at the root of this tendency because the external outer knower is responsible for our survival in the outer world. Unless the external outer knower matures, relaxes its control, and becomes more absent, the internal outer knower cannot function as a true bridge to the inner knower. In another scenario, the internal outer knower can be well developed but, due to the resulting internalization of consciousness, the external outer knower fails to integrate and one can become dysfunctional in the outer world.
In a healthy scenario, the weight of our identity should be in the internal outer knower, with the external outer knower being experienced as his transparent extension.
Getting in Touch with the Internal Outer Knower
As with pure attention, the internal outer knower is not easy to grasp. While he linked to the bare attention of outer essence-me, he functions somewhat independently from that bare attention. This is why, even prior to the awakening of the outer knower, the internal observer can be in many ways just as effective. The internal attention of the internal outer knower is very fluid, profoundly intuitive, and instantaneous, and we ‘capture’ the internal outer knower more as an activity than as a center. The internal outer knower is the one who is gazing within, looking at our inner self, and the one who activates the intention to feel that self through pure attention. The switch from internal attention to pure attention is very quick and, for that switch to take place, the internal outer knower needs to surrender to pure attention. Any act of self-recognition is a result of this instant and symbiotic interplay between the internal outer knower and the inner knower.
In order to activate the internal outer knower at all, one has already to be in touch with spiritual longing, an instinctive self-remembrance, and a deep yearning and love for pure subjectivity. This is not something that can be forced from outside, nor even from one’s own mind; it has to come from within. One cannot train the internal outer knower through artificial practice; one rather matures into his wisdom, which is instinctively sensed even if he is not yet awakened. The role of a teacher is not to activate the internal outer knower, but to strengthen and deepen this dimension of our consciousness.
Shift from Gazing Within to Becoming Pure Subjectivity
Another frequent problem seekers have is that of failing to bridge the gap between internal attention and pure attention. While they may successfully activate internal attention and look within, the internal outer knower does not then surrender to the inner knower. This leaves too much duality between the internal outer knower and our pure subjectivity. Even if the internal outer knower manages to activate pure attention, and pure attention then recognizes one of the centers of me, the internal outer knower still remains gazing at it from outside. Even though the internal outer knower works on a much subtler level than the external outer knower, he can also refuse to let go of his control. This causes an internal split which blocks one’s progress. The inability to surrender the internal outer knower is one of the main reasons why some students struggle to embody their pure subjectivity. Learning how to surrender the internal outer knower is therefore essential to progressing one’s spiritual journey.
Merging between Internal Attention and Pure Attention
Attention is energy. The internal outer knower is meant to let go once it has activated pure attention, so that his internal attention merges with pure attention, thereby empowering it. This merging of attentions is not something one needs to do anything to achieve. It should occur naturally. Internal attention is activated in the internal outer knower and then it relinquishes itself to pure attention and flows with the latter towards one or more centers of me.
Having said this, internal attention can only merge with pure attention in the context of the awakened centers of consciousness. The same does not apply to pure me of being and pure me of the heart. This is due to the close proximity of the internal outer knower to the other centers of consciousness. As far as the experiences of pure me of the heart or being are concerned, the stage of the internal outer knower gazing at these centers is entirely absent. For these centers, once the internal outer knower activates pure attention, the inner knower takes over fully. Internal attention is still present, but it is at more of a distance. It is serving to link the heart or being to conscious intelligence.
Internal Outer Knower in Inward Fusion with Conscious Me
With the second level of self-absorption, the outer knower and the bare attention of the inner knower attain fusion. This is the samadhi of the outer knower in conscious me. Who is in samadhi? It is the bare attention of the outer knower and it is the internal outer knower himself who, as a dynamic identity, is on some level independent from that bare attention. This samadhi has a profound impact on internal attention as well, which itself also achieves absorption in conscious me. The combination of bare attention and internal attention in samadhi results in the realization of the second level of pure attention. However, even after this has happened, the internal outer knower is able to activate a second level of internal attention through, for example, creating the intention to surrender deeper into conscious me. In scenarios like this, internal attention can be present simultaneously in both its static and dynamic modes.
Two Directions of the Internal Outer Knower
As has been noted elsewhere, there are two aspects to the inner knower, inward and outward, which reflect the direction in which his pure attention flows: towards essence-me, or away from it. Pure attention flows from the inward inner knower towards essence-me and immanent I am. It flows from the outward inner knower away from essence-me to illuminate any center of pure me and universal or absolute I am.
A very similar two-way principle is found in the internal outer knower. His internal attention can be directed towards outer essence-me, such as in recognizing the sense of me of the outer knower, or away from outer essence-me towards other centers of pure subjectivity. However, in the case of the internal outer knower, we would hesitate to call the second direction ‘inward’. Even though it is inward from the standpoint of the outer knower, it is outward from the standpoint of the inner knower to whom the outer knower is a secondary identity and center. For now, it is just important to be clear about internal attention having two directions.
Experiencing the External Outer Knower from the Internal Outer Knower
It was noted above that the weight of our identity should be in the internal outer knower, with the external outer knower being experienced as his transparent extension. This means that the internal outer knower should be continuously connected to our pure subjectivity and be the foundation of the external outer knower when the latter is engaged in external attention. As an example of this, if you are having a conversation with another person, the part of you that makes sure you do not lose your rootedness in pure consciousness is the internal outer knower. Because the two aspects of the outer knower are so completely joined together, you may have the impression that it is the internal outer knower who is the one looking at the world through your eyes. However, the truth is that it is still the external outer knower who is perceiving, even while feeling himself to be functioning from the internal outer knower, as his deeper self.
It is important to contemplate, understand, and practice how to harmonize the external and internal attentions of the outer knower. The internal attention of the internal outer knower gives the external outer knower another, and deeper, level of dynamic identity. While internal attention is indeed dynamic, when it becomes stabilized through continuous practice and use, it establishes a solidity and permanence that resembles a stable identity and bare attention. To explain this, we can see the identity of the internal outer knower as an inward extension of the bare attention of the outer knower, stretched horizontally towards pure me of consciousness and vertically towards conscious me.
In the simple act of perception, or when you talk to another person, the external outer knower is actually based in and coming from three levels. The external outer knower engages in the activity of external attention while he is, at the same time, both rooted in his bare attention and feeling the internal outer knower to be his internalized foundation. In addition to this, the whole – or both sides – of the outer knower must also be embedded in the static and dynamic aspects of the inner knower, conscious me and pure attention.
For a definition of the terminology used, please visit the
for a printable version of this article.