The Mechanics of Looking

The practice of looking is described in The Basics of Looking. This essay expands upon some of the key aspects of Looking.



Per Vipassana of Buddha, the definition of Looking is as follows:

Looking is observing things as they really are, not just as they seem to be.


Looking with Eyes open

When one is looking with eyes open, one sees the physical objects. One also becomes aware of mental objects, which are evoked by the physical objects, such as, thoughts, feelings, and emotions. In looking, one does not suppress these mental objects. One observes them for what they are.

Looking includes the observation of mental objects. It does not exclude them.

For example, it is a common experience to have thoughts, labels, evaluations, opinions, etc., arise in the mind as one looks around at things in the room. 

To experience this point, go ahead and look around the room right now. Notice any thoughts that arise in the mind while looking at physical objects. For example, as one looks at a lamp, thoughts similar to the following, may arise.

  • “This is a lamp.”
  • “This is an expensive lamp.”
  • “I will never buy such an expensive lamp.”

In some meditation techniques the primary goal is to make one’s mind blank. However, this is not the goal of Looking. In the practice of Looking one does not suppress thoughts.

Looking does not attempt to clear the mind of thoughts, feelings, or emotions.


Looking with Eyes closed

When one is looking with eyes closed, attention goes more to mental objects, and on the activity occurring among them. Observe wherever the attention takes you. Do not exclude anything.

Looking includes observation of activity among mental objects, such as, “thinking.”

As an observer, do not get involved with the activity taking place in the mind. Simply observe the activity for what it is.

Looking does not interfere with the activity of “thinking” that is going in the mind.

When one is judging one is imposing some pre-conceived standard. This colors the perception of what is really there. Do not judge. Let the mind align its considerations the way it wants to.

Looking does not cast any judgment on what is there.

Some meditation techniques practice concentration. Such concentration is not part of looking. Let the mind present whatever it wants to.

Looking observes whatever comes up. It does not demand concentration.

Past overwhelm can make one shy of looking at certain thoughts, feelings and emotions.  Such overwhelm occurs only when one digs into the mind. If one is  just there with whatever comes up, there is no overwhelm.

Looking is effortless. In looking there is no resistance toward what is there.

One looks, hoping to get resolution of something. However, expectations lead to visualizations, and that may color the perception of what is there. One then doesn’t see what is really there.

Looking does not expect any answer, result, realization, or phenomenon to occur.



When one is not suppressing any thoughts or feelings, and is simply looking without being judgmental, then, in that moment, one is being totally honest with oneself. This is the basis of personal integrity.



Origin: “to press down.” To suppress is to prevent the development, action, or expression of; restrain.


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  • Chris Thompson  On April 7, 2012 at 12:43 AM

    The longer you write this, the smoother and simpler it seems to me. This is becoming quite easy to understand and to use.


  • vinaire  On April 7, 2012 at 4:49 AM

    Thank you. My purpose in rewriting this KHTK series is to make it simpler. I am not quite happy with KHTK 3A yet. I think KHTK 3A should focus on “Looking at Mental Objects”, and provide better guidelines for it.



  • Chris Thompson  On April 7, 2012 at 8:10 AM

    Maybe we could explore the wording of “don’t be judgmental.”


    • vinaire  On April 7, 2012 at 8:41 AM

      Yes, I have been looking at that. Do you have any recommendations?

      Let me know what your train of thinking is here.



      • Chris Thompson  On April 7, 2012 at 9:29 PM

        It’s just that the definitions of words are always tripping us up. My understanding of KHTK is to look and not do anything else. Therefore using any verbs layered over the top of things to do or not to do seem counterproductive.


      • vinaire  On April 7, 2012 at 10:54 PM

        I believe that judging or evaluating should not be imposed from outside on what one is looking at. If a consideration comes to view,which is inconsistent, then, once viewed, it automatically readjusts itself to align with other considerations that a person holds. This is what realizations are made up of..

        Just like the principle of entropy, there seems to be a principle of consistency. All known considerations readjust themselves toward consistency among themselves. If there is an inconsistency, then there is a consideration present, which needs to be viewed fully. .



      • vinaire  On April 9, 2012 at 3:07 PM

        “The universe abhors a vacuum.”

        The law seems to be that the particles are attracted towards each other, and group together according to some pattern. The vacuum appears as the space between particles. Where particles are dense, there is less vacuum. Where particles are far apart there is greater vacuum.

        In outer space, it is the law of Gravity that seems to govern the grouping of smaller particles and much larger planets and stars. There is electromagnetic radiation filling the supposed vacuum.

        The greatest vacuum seems to exist in the intergalactic space.

        If we apply the above as an analogy to considerations, there is bound to be some law that naturally lets considerations group together. There is a lot of stretch here, but this analogy could lead us somewhere.

        We have postulates, considerations, thoughts, perceptions, data, hypotheses, theories, principles, axioms, and selves. What would be analogous to vacuum in this case… and to electromagnetic radiation?

        I’ll let the mind work on it.



  • vinaire  On April 8, 2012 at 8:45 AM

    I have now streamlined the KHTK 3A essay. It is much more to my liking now.

    I hope that it is to your liking as well.



    • Chris Thompson  On April 8, 2012 at 6:24 PM

      This KHTK technique has an excellent result for me also to use looking at a random pattern such as television snow. With a random pattern of dots, the mind of its own accord begins to arrange these random dots into patterns familiar to itself. I recommend anyone to try it and describe what happens as I am interested in this interaction. Just look at the screen with eyes open with interest. Your eyes can un-focus or not either way mind seems to want to make something of this blank canvas.


  • Chris Thompson  On April 8, 2012 at 8:49 AM

    Maybe a person could be “indiscriminate” or “nonjudgmental” while they simply look. This is pretty close to not adding anything to the looking.

    Antonyms of “judgmental”:


    • vinaire  On April 8, 2012 at 10:55 AM

      I don’t think that a person is being indiscriminate during looking because he is recognizing each element for what it is without being judgmental.

      These elements come into view and get aligned with the “background of consistency” of that person.



      • Chris Thompson  On April 8, 2012 at 4:45 PM

        — or do you mean critical for judgmental? Lots of words, lots. I think we are on the same page anyways.


      • vinaire  On April 8, 2012 at 6:00 PM

        By judgmental I mean imposing a judgment based on opinions rather than on a keen analysis of facts.

        I believe that the mind operates, automatically, on a “law of consistency.” Its analysis is based on factual data as that dynamically comes into view. Thus, the quality of analysis is based on the ability to look. This analysis is instantaneous.

        No judgment from outside needs to be imposed. Any such imposition of judgment would only color the truth.



        • Chris Thompson  On April 8, 2012 at 6:11 PM

          Right. I get what you mean. On the other hand, I am not so sure about our competence to do “keen analysis of facts.” Is this keen analysis dependant upon earlier training? Such that one is familiar with and would recognize a healthy and consistent scene if one were to see one?


      • vinaire  On April 9, 2012 at 2:49 PM

        I believe that “keen analysis” will take place by itself when the rules of looking are followed. The rules of looking are simply there to let the mind unwind without interruption.

        When the mind unwinds it takes care of judgment in the most efficient manner without any help from outside. This is so because of “Law of consistency.”

        All data, when perceived fully, gets automatically realigned with the background data.



  • Chris Thompson  On April 8, 2012 at 6:25 PM

    Then if any images seem to appear, do as KHTK principle says and do nothing with them… Or if you are experimenting, do whatever you want with them. Regardless, there is no requirement to do anything but notice what comes up.


  • Anonymous  On April 17, 2012 at 3:08 AM

    hi cha, jst read up till KHTK :3A,
    makes sense, will start with some time to myself and keep u posted for further guidance,
    thanks a lot


    • vinaire  On April 17, 2012 at 4:35 AM

      Great, well done. Now you have been initiated. 🙂
      See my other response under “About This Blog.”



  • Rafael Sánchez Núñez  On April 17, 2012 at 8:35 PM

    Vinay, in the step # 1 you recommend: ” Find a place where you can sit comfortably for a while without being disturbed or distracted. ” . It is important in my view to explicitly recommend to avoid the presence of any persons in the first sessions as a gradient if the eyes are going to be open at the begining, avoiding strong noise at first would be good too. To be explicit on this is to work for less confusion.


    • vinaire  On April 17, 2012 at 8:45 PM

      Thanks for your recommendation, Rafael. I am sure a student will decide it the way you are recommending, if he is getting disturbed and distracted otherwise.


  • lizabeth  On June 4, 2012 at 4:24 PM

    I’m somewhat familiar with your advice, but now I have copied it as reminder. Wonderful good stuff and will use the guidelines when I start meditating again. For some time now I have been studying various writings and viewpoints and it seems that looking while reading words, things pop up, has been working well for me in that regard, and very beneficial.. Does that make sense or align with your meditation looking advice?
    Thank you.


  • vinaire  On June 4, 2012 at 6:46 PM

    Certainly. Once one can get used to the KHTK principles, one can be in the ‘looking mode’ all the time. Actually, that would be the optimum way to be. Sitting, walking, reading, writing, eating, sleeping, all can be done in the looking mode. I would say that one may even dream in the looking mode.



    • lizabeth  On June 4, 2012 at 9:49 PM

      Very good. That’s what I’m working on, my goal. I’ve recently had some interesting dreams also where I’m conscious and reading words with knowingly trying to understand what the words are and getting the understanding of the message. I will practice, as now not so mysterious.


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