I am a bit confused about what is the difference between 'witnessing meditation' as taught by Osho, which can be found here, here, and here, and 'silent present moment awareness' (page number 11) as taught by Ajahn Brahm in his book, 'Mindfulness bliss and beyond'.

At first, they both seem identical to me, but as I practice with Osho's instructions it's difficult to get to that point He describes.

I would appreciate if the commentary is provided along with the answer from practice point of view.

2 Answers 2


Witnessing is one faculty of broader term called mindfulness. When you are in flow(jhana) there is only witnessing, pure awareness or bare awareness. Nānamattāya paṭissatimattāya as said in Sati Patthan sutta DN22.

However when you are agitated, lustful, angry, sleepy, restless etc. It attacks this bare awareness. These are called hindrance. You can not just be aware. its not easy. You need few more faculty i.e alertness( Sampajana) and right effort (samma vyayamo). As early as possible be alert when this mental activity are arising will make it easier to handle. and when you realise this unskilful mental activity you have to do effort to mutate them. You need some antidot.

You also need to develop required level of concentration(samma samadhi) without that bare awareness is not possible. you might be perceiving the breath rather then being aware of sensations at nose.

In next level of mastery there is proper and improper attention. there exist some level of curiosity or interest in these unskilful mental activity. and you need to change your mindset to not be interested. instead be interested in trilakhana (anicca,anatta,dukha nature ) of them or be interested in skilful mental activity. This mindset(samma ditthi) has to be developed. This wise attention (yoniso mansikaro) has to be developed.

Thus mindfulness is witnessing + right mindset +required concentration +alertness always And occasional right effort .

Your goal is always to abide in bare awareness. Its like sailing the boat. When there is storm you need more effort otherwise it sails effortlessly.

When you practice for many months you already developed right mindset. and being alert and concentrated is effortless. Now you only abide in the mare witnessing for all the time. Then your mindfulness is said to be established(satipatthana). Osho, Krishnamurthy, Ramana are talking at that level. They dont care about the struggle a new student goes through.Because they are accidentally enlightened.

  • Thank you for the answer. It clears the confusion. Jun 3, 2022 at 4:35
  • Thanks for bounties.
    – enRaiser
    Jun 3, 2022 at 5:24

In MN10, the Buddha points out that there are four steps to mindfulness meditation:

MN10:1.6: The Buddha said this:
MN10:2.1: “Mendicants, the four kinds of mindfulness meditation are the path to convergence. They are in order to purify sentient beings, to get past sorrow and crying, to make an end of pain and sadness, to end the cycle of suffering, and to realize extinguishment.

The third step is mindfulness of the mind, which includes thoughts:

MN10:3.1: What four?
MN10:3.2: It’s when a mendicant meditates by observing an aspect of the body—keen, aware, and mindful, rid of desire and aversion for the world.
MN10:3.3: They meditate observing an aspect of feelings—keen, aware, and mindful, rid of desire and aversion for the world.
MN10:3.4: They meditate observing an aspect of the mind—keen, aware, and mindful, rid of desire and aversion for the world. MN10:3.5: They meditate observing an aspect of principles—keen, aware, and mindful, rid of desire and aversion for the world.

Notice that a repeated phrase is "rid of desire and aversion for the world". When there is desire, we see what we want to see. When there is aversion, we avert our mind away from what is. Without desire and aversion we witness and remember what is:

DN34:2.1.20: Furthermore, a mendicant is mindful. They have utmost mindfulness and alertness, and can remember and recall what was said and done long ago.

The number "one" is a thought. The number "two" is a thought. When we count breaths (an aspect of the body) we are witnessing our breaths and being mindful of the count. So in counting the breaths we witness the count increase with our breaths.

Between "one" and "two" there is a silent thread that holds and moves with the count. The thought of "one" takes but a moment, but a breath is longer than a moment, so there needs to be a mindful, ephemeral bridge from "one" to "two". Following that thread, the count proceeds. Losing that thread, the count is lost.

Thoughts are an aspect of the mind. The silent thread is an aspect of the mind. There are other aspects.

See also:

“Witnessing is not a thought, but you can start thinking about witnessing, you can make it a thought. The moment you make it a thought, it is no longer witnessing. Either it is witnessing or it is a thought; it cannot be both together. OshoTimes

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