Observing I is a neutral, non-identified internal sense or faculty that can be developed and strengthened in the Work. It can be thought of as a camera lens or a magnifying glass by which one is able to non-critically self-observe all three centers. Observing I has no voice, no commentary. It is a silent, witnessing presence. If one experiences a commentary on what is being observed, this is simply another part of the multiplicity being activated.
“To observe oneself it is necessary to divide oneself into an observing and an observed side and … the feeling of I or consciousness must be given more and more to the observing side. That is, Observing I must be given as far as possible the feeling of I at the moment and the observed side given the feeling of ‘not I.’ … You walk about in life observing houses and people and trees and so on and do not necessarily connect the feeling of I with them. They are ‘not I’ to you. But the same division must be made internally. … Self-observation in the Work-sense is to separate Observing I from what is observed in oneself. … The idea of the Work is to make one big Observing I that stands outside the personality and takes photographs of all the I’s in the personality. The more photographs you take, the stronger will the Observing I become and the more chances you will have of coming into a new life freed from the compulsion and habits of the old life.”
– Maurice Nicoll, Commentaries, “Commentary on Self-Observation and I’s,” July 9, 1943 and July 17, 1943, Vol. 1
“When self-observation really begins, the Observing I passes gradually inwards – that is, in the direction of Real I – and as a result of the gradual penetration inwardly of Observing I it sees more and more because it gets behind more and more in ourselves.”
– Maurice Nicoll, Commentaries, “Further Notes on Deeper Self-Observation,” December 2, 1944, Vol. 2