Not what…

I AM Not What I AM Aware of | Swami Sarvapriyananda

the question here is…

in advaita vedanta we
follow a process of self-enquiry

we inquired into our experience of
ourselves and the method for that
enquiry is one principle that we take up

the principle that is taken up is:
whatever i am aware of
i am not that

whatever we are aware of is an object not awareness itself
that which we are aware of is an object to awareness not awareness itself

so by this process we eliminate
from our self-concept
all objects

you see the problem is that
we have identified ourselves
with things which are not ourselves

with the body
with the mind

we take these to be

but we are not these
vedanta tells us that you are awareness
pure awareness

now how do we reach that
how do we appreciate
what we truly are
by this method

this is the method
that has been adapted that
the real nature of the self
is that which is aware
and anything that we are aware of
is not the real self

it’s an object to the real self
it’s a very powerful method

now if you follow this method
even if you think about this method
then you will come to this question
which this gentleman has asked

the question is:
so our ultimate goal is to know ourself
whatever we are aware of is an object
not the self
so when we reach self-knowledge
we will be knowing the self but
then the self will be an object
because whatever we know is an object
then it will not be the real self
this question has to be appreciated

then you can understand
the beauty of the answer

so the answer is that
the self can never be known as an object

whatever is an object is not the self

and that criterion remains true
till the very end of it:

whatever you know as an object is not the self

will the self remain unknown

either the goal is self knowledge
will we fail in attaining the goal
will it remain with the self
will my real self always remain unknown


it is more than known
it is not known
in the usual sense
of knowledge

what is the usual sense of knowledge?

whatever we know as an object usual
sense of knowledge is but knowing something as an object

i the consciousness
i deploy instruments
of knowledge

through the mind and the senses

so through the mind and the eyes
i the consciousness
i see

what do i see

this awareness
through the mind and
the ears

i hear

what do i hear


similarly other objects are there for
each sense organ
separate object
there is
smell and there is
taste and there is

not only that there are subtle objects
in our mind itself

thought and
imagination and
memory and
ideas and

these are also objects
because we are aware of them
so at the level of the external world
physical body
which is part of
the external world

the breath they’re aware of it

memories aware of it

not the self
beyond that
even the intellect which we are using right now
for understanding all this
that is also an object

it’s a process we are aware of

beyond that if you push
as he says
you’ll reach a blankness
the blankness we experience
in deep sleep
the blankness we experience
in deep meditation also

because it is experienced
that’s also an object
it is not us
so we are not the physical body

we are not the
breath the pranic body

we are not the
mental body

we are not the

we are not even the
blankness beyond the intellect

not anna maya kosher
not prana maya kosha
not mano maya kosha
not vigyana maya kosha
not anandamaya kosha

then see
here is the beauty of it
we now are looking for our real self
and our tendency is to objectify

because we have always seen objects
whatever we know are always objects

so somewhere
even if we say i know that
the self is not an object

we say that
we think that

but unconsciously the impulse is
to objectify the self

it can never be objectified

it is not an object of awareness
it is the awareness itself

then how is it known
will it be unknown

no it is more than known
in every act of knowledge it is known

whenever you know something
the presence of objects
you are knowing the self itself

whenever you know the absence of objects
you’re still knowing the self itself

it’s like
let me give you an example

it’s only an example

so when i show you the clock
what do you see
and then i show you the mic here
what do you see

let me show you the cloth here
what do you see

clock mic cloth
three different objects

but notice there’s something else
you are missing

it is not just clock
it is the light reflected of the clock

there is clock here
plus light
the light is falling on it
and then its illumining the clock

so you are seeing the light
the same light falls on this
mic and illuminates it

it is mic plus light
that gives you the experience of the microphone

it is cloth plus light which makes/gives you
the experience of the cloth

what is common to all of them
clock is different from mic
mic is different from cloth

but the same light is
illuminating all of them

in the same way there is consciousness
in every experience
in every knowledge of every object

one thing is there
consciousness is always there

now why did i say it’s only an example

one thing one must be careful of here
the clock is a material object
but the light which is reflected from
this clock is also a material object
so that
that does not apply to

what i mean is
in every knowledge
consciousness is there
but not as an object
as the illumina of that object

once we realize that
then we will find it in every uh
every knowledge in ken openisha that is said

in every episode of knowledge
in seeing

in thinking

whatever it is

the same consciousness
is shining everywhere

but not as an object

it is self-revealed
there is a very important
conception in advaita vedanta

self-revealed is in sanskrit
sub prakasha
sub prakasha

it does not know itself
it is in english
self revealed or self luminous

sub prakasha
it is revealed by itself continuously
but it’s not an object to itself

in philosophy
self reflexivity is a fault
reflectivity means
nothing can make itself an object

so for example
i can use this finger to touch things
i can touch the microphone
i can touch the cloth
i can touch the table

this fingertip i can touch
but can this
fingertip touch itself

no it can touch other fingertips
but it cannot touch itself

in the same way these eyes
they can see other things
but they cannot see themselves
and don’t say that you can see yourself
in a mirror you are seeing a reflection
of the eyes in the mirror
the eyes cannot
see themselves directly
the way they are
seeing other things

so self reflexivity is not allowed
or it’s seen as a fault in philosophy
self-reflexibility means something
knowing itself
something referring to itself
eyes do not see themselves
the finger does not touch itself

similarly consciousness
does not know itself

so when enlightenment comes
you cannot say that the self will know itself
it does not technically know itself
but it is more than known
it is self revealed
itself luminous

not only in
in enlightenment
in every knowledge
in all world ordinary knowledge
in religious knowledge
spiritual knowledge
in all kinds of knowledge

consciousness is
just as the light is common
when it’s reflected of all the objects
also the eyes
when we see different things
we are seeing different things
but what is common to all of them
that the eyes are seeing
same eyes are
seeing everything
and i touch different things
with the fingertips

what is common to that
the same fingertip is touching everything
so in touching everything
i can say that i know that
i this the fingertip
is seeing everything
i this eyes are self-revealed

in self-knowledge what happens is
you realize the luminous nature of consciousness

then in every act of knowledge it doesn’t
doesn’t have to be only brahmayana
in every act of knowledge
the self is revealed
consciousness is revealed

that in dualistic language it is called
seeing god everywhere
seeing god in everyone
seeing god in every experience

so the answer to the question is
when self-realization comes
will the self know itself
if it knows itself then it becomes an object

it cannot be the self anymore
no it will not know itself as an object

but the self luminous nature of consciousness
will be revealed to us
and will be continuously aware
it is already continuously available to us
we don’t recognize it that’s all

we will recognize it in thereafter
every act of knowledge
in every episode of knowledge
it will be recognized
and that is called freedom
in ken upanishad

in every cognition
when consciousness reveals itself
when you realize
it’s the presence of consciousness
the self
real self

that is called immortality
then you may live anywhere
you may live in any way

yatra tatra in the language of ashtavakra

as whatever your condition you may be
a monk you may be
a householder you may be
fully active in the world
you may be totally withdrawn from the world
you may be healthy
the body may be healthy or sick
you may be young or old
a body

in whatever condition
you may be well known in the world
you may be absolutely unknown
whatever is the condition of your life
wherever you exist

you are that one
ever free consciousness

you are totally free
and that is jivanmukti
freedom by living


Holger Hubbs

By Holger Hubbs

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