Waking Yourself Up. Part II: Hortons


As I mentioned in Part I, enlightenment is when you no longer identify with (think of yourself as) your thoughts. Also in Part I, I explained how you were the Witness to your dreams. To summarize, when you sleep, your subconscious brain creates a dream and shows it to you-the-Witness:


In order to solidify your foundation as the Witness, you need to shift your identity from all the thoughts bouncing around in your brainpan, to actually witnessing these thoughts (ie: becoming the Witness) – and you need to do this while you are awake and going about your everyday life. You need to learn to differentiate between your thoughts and you-the-Witness.

So how do you break the grip thoughts seem to have on you?

All you need is to understand a simple concept that I call a Horton. What’s a Horton, you ask? As any child will tell you, a Horton is a big cartoon elephant from the Dr. Seuss story, Horton Hears a Who

I want you to imagine a big, cartoon elephant – I use Dr. Seuss’ Horton. Now, color Horton pink and have him carry an open umbrella in his trunk. Color the panels on the umbrella blue and white. Can you see this? Now I want you to add something uniquely your own to this scene, like a leprechaun pulling his tail or something.

This mental image of yours is what I call a Horton.

Notice something about this Horton – no one else, besides you, has ever seen it. It is a unique, mental image that exists only in your mind.

Your brain, with my prompting, created this Horton, and, when you visualize it, your brain shows it to you. Not you-the-ego, but you-the-Witness:


Hmm…looks like the Dream diagram above doesn’t it? What’s the difference? Well in a dream, your unconscious brain generates the images, while with a Horton, your conscious brain generates it. Nothing else is different. You are the Witness that sees both unconscious images (dreams) and conscious images (Hortons).

Now take a look at the edge of your computer monitor. Right now, go ahead and look up at the edge of your monitor. Here’s what just happened: Light waves bounced off your computer monitor, entered through the front of your eyes and hit these little eyeball sensors (cones and rods). Those sensors then sent an encoded signal to your brain. Your brain, being a wonder of ancient technology, translated those signals into a Horton (an image of the edge of your monitor) and showed them to you-the-Witness. Additionally, your brain said something out-loud-inside-your-head such as, “that’s the edge of my monitor” which you-the-Witness also heard. The sound you heard in your head (“that’s the edge of my monitor”) is also a Horton. Here’s the diagram:


Everything that you have ever seen or heard or felt has followed this same path:


What are all those thoughts in your head? Just Hortons your brain spews out:


In fact, ever since you were born, every single experience you had – whether physical, emotional or mental – ended with:


Memory? Just a Horton. Emotion? Just a Horton. Imagination? Horton. Solving quadratic equations? Hortons. Everything that your brain translates (vision, sounds, etc.) or that your brain generates (thoughts, memories, etc.), becomes a Horton that your brain shows to you, tells you, or let’s your feel – and that’s “you” as in you-the-Witness.

Think of it as your brain doing a bunch of data retrieval, processing, and translating, then drawing a nice pretty picture (a Horton) and proudly holding if up to you-the-Witness to see. “Look what I drew Mommy!”

Hortons. It’s all Hortons. And you’ve been watching them your entire life.

Now stop a minute. Take a deep breath and look around your room. Try to get a feel for you-the-Witness seeing a bunch of Hortons.

Welcome to the Eternal Now Mr. or Ms. Witness.

In Part III, we’ll look closer at you-as-the-ego and I’ll try to convince you-as-the-ego that you’re just another Horton like the rest of ’em.

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12 thoughts on “Waking Yourself Up. Part II: Hortons

  1. Hi Wayne, great description of how we perceive reality. The thing that is resting uneasy in my mind at the moment is that we have direct experience or knowledge of each part of your diagrams above except the part labeled ‘YOU-THE-WITNESS’. It seems to me that the whole system is set up to make it seem like there is a witness but in fact we have no actual knowledge whether there is a witness or not. If you take ‘YOU-THE-WITNESS’ out of your diagrams, the result is the same.

    • @Michael: Great point – and one that has vexed the spiritual seeker for ages. The Witness can’t see or experience the Witness because there is no Horton of the Witness – no image of it for the Witness to see. By the same token, the tongue can’t taste itself, the eye can’t see itself, the ear can’t hear it’s eardrum, nor the finger feel itself – and yet we taste, see, hear, and feel effortlessly. By the same token, the Witness can’t witness itself – and yet, it witnesses everything outside of itself effortlessly. This is why we can only get a “sense” of the Witness (and I’ll provide a meditation that will help with this in Part IV). But understanding what the Witness is – and thus these “theory” articles – is critical in learning how to shift our identity from the ego (a bunch of Hortons) to the Witness.

      PS: That’s a great video on your site Michael – the one with Charlie Chaplin. I was expecting a spoof on Hitler, but it was serious and very moving. Thank-you.

  2. Why argue about the witness, because realizing witness is just waking of consciousness, is it not? Why make witness into a “thing” or object? Am I missing something?

  3. @Santosh: Actually, the Witness isn’t an object per se. It’s not something you can experience directly, sort of like the OPEN part of a window. The opening (Witness) is bound by the window frame (objects/things). Without the window frame, the opening expands infinity (the Pure Self).

  4. If we recognize the witness, don’t we become then a witness of the witness. Then we can choose to be a witness of the witness who witnesses the witness. Isn’t it just a mind game? Does it make us a better person? Isn’t it a trap set up by a clever mind, which is trying to outsmart itself?

    OK. I am good at witnessing myself – when asleep, awake or meditating. I am not joking – I really am and I am saying it without any pride or a sense of accomplishment. Because I know that does not make me a better person. Maybe I have more expanded perspective and more freedom and broader thought, but that is not the final frontier. Far from it. I feel.

    There is much more purpose to life than all these little mind games. I can play them well, but – they are just the first little steps to a much bigger reality and much more discoveries. Why focus on these two little beginning steps so much? Why such a big fascination?

  5. @Lilly: “Why focus on these two little beginning steps so much? Why such a big fascination?” … To explain it to others.

    It is definitely NOT a mind game, Lilly. It is seeing the mind, disidentifying with the mind, recognizing that the mind and thoughts are just more stuff “out there” that is not us.

  6. Hi Wayne ! Great website btw. Yogani does a good job (imo) of explaining the difference between Non-Relational and Relational Self Enquiry and how Non-Relational (Pre-Witness) Self Enquiry can be very frustrating/circular–thoughts (Hortons!) reacting with thoughts vs perceiving thoughts (oops–Hortons!)
    as objects separate from Self. Approached intellectually from the Non-relational perspective (Lilly’s perspective above) it will always seem circular. Maybe you could expound on this, if you haven’t already–I havent read further than this.. 🙂 but will. Good stuff senor. BTW I used to “commute” from Beaverton to Bend Monday and return Friday–drove over Hood most of the time until I discovered Santiam… Both of those drives are incredibly scenic…

    Thanks for a great site.

  7. I wanna use the hortons sounds interesting and am willing to give it a try hopefully I will understand how to do it. Everything is a Horton except the witness?

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