Consciousness Knowledge Understanding
An essay exploring the meaning of the Sanskrit words:
Jnana, Vijnana, Prajnana and Sujnana.
This discussion between Sri Mohan and myself took place
on the Advaitin Yahoo discussion group website in
January 2009. Because it evokes some of the statements
that Nisargadatta made on the subjects of Consciousness,
Knowledge and Understanding it is perhaps of interest to
republish it here. Sri Mohan demonstrates the use of these
three important concepts in a typically contemporary manner
which results in their interchangeability and confusion,
whereas Nisargadatta explains their meaning with clarity
Sri Mohan wrote...
“The English terms `Awareness', `Consciousness' and
`Understanding' are used interchangeably and to mean
the same concept in Western philosophy.
The Oxford Dictionary defines the meaning in almost
identical terms and basically states that they represent
a state of knowledge which enables one to understand
`Awareness' appears to be a state of existence or being.
`Understanding', however, is the end result of acquisition
of knowledge. `Awareness' is a state that is free of any
definitive action or process. It can be described as
`endowed' or `self-existent' rather than `acquired' or
`Understanding', on the other hand, clearly connotes the
acquisition or achievement of some kind of intellectual
clarity, following a process of learning or striving.
This difference can be demonstrated by the idea of `being
aware that one has understood a situation'. `Awareness'
and `Un-awareness' are states of being, while
`Understanding' is an intellectual achievement.“
Awareness, Consciousness and Understanding are not the
same concept. Awareness does not necessarily have to
represent a state of knowledge. Awareness is beyond
being and non-being. Understanding is perhaps a
combination of knowledge and being. Understanding may
well be a result of knowledge acquired in previous
existences, since the organ chitta, the seat of
understanding, accompanies the jiva in transmigratory
existence. Children are born with different degrees
of understanding, different qualities of chitta
Memory and understanding are related since understanding
could be said to be the result, in part, of past
remembered knowledge. Chitta includes therefore both
memory and understanding. Knowledge can be forgotten
but true understanding is not lost, since it has passed
into the subtle organ. Understanding is not merely an
intellectual achievement since individual understanding
directly and proportionately varies with the quality
of the being of the individual. Purify your being and
you will see and understand more even with the same
The casual use of the words 'awareness', 'consciousness'
and 'understanding' interchangeably, debases language
and ensures no one understands what is being said. It
is reasonable to suspect that such words are being
used interchangeably because it is not known what they
indicate or mean. In fact a study of the English words
'awareness, consciousness, and understanding' leads to
some comprehension of the quite different levels and
natures of Atman, Brahman and Parabrahman. However,
what the corresponding Sanskrit originals of these words
are, remains something of a mystery? The meanings given
by the Oxford English Dictionary can never exceed the
level, mundane and spiritual, of the compiler. Original
meanings found in an etymological dictionary tend to
give greater insight, as if the creators of language
were at a finer level than subsequent generations of
users. Language seems to start at a surprisingly high
level and then slowly degenerates with time? Ancient
Panini's and Bhartrhari's comprehension of the
spiritual structure which is the basis of the Sanskrit
language is astonishingly profound and no one since,
eastern or western, appears to have again approached
such a level of understanding.
Sri Mohan wrote...
`Vijnana', `Prajnana' and `Sujnana'. These words
describe a kind of ascending scale of knowledge.
`Vijnana' can be said to be `experience' or `wisdom',
which is knowledge gained from experience. `Prajnana'
is a wider and more profound knowledge of matters
beyond the ken of the mind and intellect. `Sujnana'
is pure knowledge of the Supreme and corresponds to
`Consciousness'. The terms `Pragnana' and `Sujnana'
can be said to state the same concept.
Looking up these words in the Monier Williams and
Macdonell Sanskrit dictionaries subtle differences are
'Vi' indicates 'separation', 'apart', 'without', possibly
derived from 'dvi' meaning 'in two parts', 'in different
directions'. 'Vi' as a prefix to nouns indicates 'division',
'distinction'. 'Jnana' simply means 'knowledge'. Vi together
with the root jna means to distinguish, discern, observe,
recognize, know, understand. Therefore vijnana literally
means without knowledge, separation knowledge, or
possibly knowledge in two directions, knowledge of duality?
Monier Williams lists the meanings: 'the act of
distinguishing', 'discerning', 'comprehending',
'understanding'. Macdonell offers the meanings:
'Pra' with verbs means 'before', and with nouns means
'great', but with adjectives means 'exceedingly'.
Therefore prajnana literally means great knowledge.
Monier Williams lists the meanings: 'wisdom', 'knowledge'.
Macdonell offers the meanings: 'cognisance', 'knowledge'.
He also equates prajnana with Sarasvati, the shakti of
'Su' has many meanings and indicates 'to move', 'possessing
supremacy', 'extract', 'beget or bring forth', 'good',
'right', 'excellent', 'virtuous'. Simply and literally,
sujnana means good knowledge. Monier Williams lists the
meanings: 'possessing good knowledge', 'easy to be known'.
Macdonell offers the meaning: 'good knowledge'. 'Su' is
indicative of a high ethical quality.
In summary.... Vijnana is knowledge of the principle
of duality, knowledge of the subtle world. Prajnana is
great knowledge which transcends human knowledge,
knowledge of the causal world. Sujnana is knowledge of
the highest ethics, goodness, knowledge of dharma,
knowledge of the single ethical principle that enables
creation to manifest, which is love-existence,
existence is possible only if all love all.
The buddhi is capable of looking in two directions,
outward to the material world and inward towards the
subtle world, It reaches to the causal world but it
cannot penetrate into the causal world. Therefore
someone who uses predominantly the buddhi is able to
discriminate between the real and the unreal, but having
no direct knowledge of the cause of anything cannot
claim to be a possessor of great knowledge. Aham is
latent in the buddhi and once it comes into manifestation
it could be further stated that no 'I' can be a great man,
no 'I' can know great knowledge. Sujnana is knowledge at
the level of the creator. Since Brahma is merely a
personification of one of the gunas, rajas, such knowledge,
although magnificent, does not transcend Prakriti, and
is located within the Vyavaharika.
Prajnana and Sujnana clearly do not represent the same
concept. Sujnana is not consciousness. Since the Absolute
does not know himself and has no knowledge, neither
vijnana, prajnana, or sujnana. Neither jnana nor any
word prefixed to it, can apply to the Parabrahman.
What has been said in this short essay is simply playing
with the etymology of the words. Whether these were the
true original meanings of the words is very difficult to
be certain. One can only guess. Sri Mohan has eloquently
given some of the current meanings and naturally they
predominate in the contemporary understanding of jnana
and its several derivatives.
Sri Mohan wrote....
It is in this context that an important sloka from the
Aitreya Upanishad is translated thus:
Sarvam Thath Pragnanetram Pragnane Prathistitam
Pragnanetro Lokaha Pragna Prathista Pragnanam Brahma
'All these are guided by consciousness and are supported
by consciousness. The universe has consciousness for its
guide. Consciousness is the basis or stay of all. Verily
consciousness (Prajnanam) is Brahman.'
Since nowhere, in the Sanskrit dictionaries quoted, is
prajnana translated other than 'knowledge' or related
to knowledge, therefore Prajnana in the Aitreya
Upanisad cannot accurately be translated as
I suspect we are not going to get very far merely
consulting dictionaries in distinguishing Awareness,
Consciousness, and Understanding. Also the word
Knowledge could well be added to these three since
it is frequently interchanged with Consciousness by
Vedantic authors. It is necessary to hear what a
jnani has to say?.... Nisargadatta uniquely has
distinguished these four.
First Nisargadatta distinguishes between Western and
Indian concepts of consciousness-knowledge. His
explanation shines light upon the basic conceptual
“In the West the name for consciousness is the mind,
in India the name for consciousness is Jnana,
So there is the explanation... the majority of Western
Advaitins and Western philosophers simply do not
understand the concepts present in the Indian mind.
It is acknowledged, as Sri Dennis Waite says, that
Nisargadatta uses the word consciousness differently
from the majority of Vedantins, however it is believed
this is because he has managed to transcend consciousness
while they appear not to have, perhaps mistakingly
regarding consciousness as an absolute?
Nisargadatta uses the word 'chetana' (=cetana) for
consciousness, which Monier Williams lists as 'visible,
conspicuous, distinguished, consciousness, soul, mind'.
and 'caitanya' as 'consciousness, sensation,
intelligence', and the Samkhya usage as 'Universal
spirit'. Macdonell translates cetana, the adjective as
'manifest, distinguished, sentient, animate, conscious',
and the noun as 'perception, appearance', and with a
final long 'A' vowel as 'consciousness, intelligence,
mind'. And 'caitanya' similarly as 'consciousness,
Occasionally Nisargadatta uses the word 'chitananda' for
consciousness, indicating, I believe, a universal non-dual
level of consciousness that differs from 'cetana' the
consciousness which has a manifold nature and can assume
innumerable forms. Nisargadatta spoke in Marathi and one
can only hope his translator understood the subtleties
of the different words used for consciousness.
Philosophy, both Western and Vedanta, is essentially
words talking about other words, words defining and
refining other words... and one may well ask what is
the point of it all? It could be justified as the mind
trying to understand the mind? If so, that seems to be
a useful process in the quest to transcend our limited
nature, which most of us, if honest, find ultimately
What follows is a collection of quotations by Nisargadatta,
scattered throughout the many transcripts of his talks.
Sri Dennis Waite will possibly comment that it is too
long.... but only those who want to understand the
essential difference between Awareness, Consciousness,
Understanding and Knowledge will read this far, and
certainly any further... and that is just how it must be.
I sincerely believe that reading just a little of
Nisargadatta will enable one never again to confuse,
or interchange, the concepts of consciousness and
awareness. Nisargadatta also reveals what understanding
is and the great usefulness, but ultimate limitations,
Some Advaitins may suggest that extensive quotations
should not be made on this forum, rather one's own
understanding. To that one counters that this collection
is not ordinarily available, and the clear voice of
Brahman seems to be speaking through illiterate
Nisargadatta's mouth, and there is no desire to alter,
enhance, imitate, or précis that. I am simply amazed
by what he says.
Nisargadatta on consciousness....
"Everything takes place in consciousness.
As Absolute, I am timeless, infinite, and I am
awareness without being aware of the awareness.
As infinity I express myself as space, as timelessness
I express myself as time. Unless there is space and
duration I cannot be conscious of myself. When space
and time are present there is consciousness, in
consciousness the total manifestation takes place,
and various phenomena come into being.
You are not the consciousness but have to become one
with the consciousness. Consciousness is normally
associated with an individual. But it is not really
the individual that has consciousness, but it is the
consciousness that assumes innumerable forms. Out of
the same consciousness, with the formation of a Krishna
body a Krishna is born; a donkey also is formed
accordingly. Consciousness is the same. There is no
end to what this consciousness can do. This
consciousness that one has is of a manifold nature.....
it can adopt any form it likes..... whereas your
true nature is full in itself, unchanging.
Just like in a cinema all is light, so does
consciousness become the vast world. Look closely and
you will see that all names and forms are but transitory
waves on the ocean of consciousness, that only
consciousness can be said to be, not its transformations.
Consciousness is like light. Just like in a cinema
all is light, so does consciousness become the vast
world. Consciousness does not shine by itself. It
shines by a light beyond it. Having seen the dreamlike
quality of consciousness, look for the light in which
it appears, which gives it being. If you are alert,
be aware of yourself, and you will see light in the
deepest recesses of your core. You are the light.
This consciousness, because of which everything else
is, is itself merely the light of That which is,
a reflection of That which is.
This consciousness is nothing but energy. When the body
essence grows weaker, the consciousness grows weaker,
and ultimately will leave. I am not consciousness, nor
its contents. Whatever you perceive is not you, nor
yours. It is there in the field of consciousness, but
you are not the field and its contents, nor even the
knower of the field. Cease taking yourself to be
within the field of consciousness. Consciousness comes
into being and goes out of being. Sometimes we are
conscious and sometimes not. When we are not conscious,
it appears to us as a darkness or a blank. But a jnani
is aware of himself as neither conscious nor unconscious,
but purely aware, a witness to the three states of mind
and their contents. There is the content of consciousness
as well as the awareness of it.
Consciousness has identified with a form. Later it
understands that it is not that form and goes further.
In a few cases it may reach the space, and very often
there it stops. In a very few cases, it reaches its
real source, beyond all conditioning. Consciousness
must seek its source. Not as an individual, the
knowledge “I Am” must go back to its source.
Whenever a form is infused with life (prana),
consciousness (chetana) appears by reflection of
awareness in matter. The combination of the body and
the vital breath generates this consciousness.
You are not the consciousness. Because of the mistaken
identity we think of personalized consciousness, but
actually it is vast and limitless. The source of
consciousness is prior to time and space, prior
to manifestation. Consciousness itself is an impurity,
because it is the result of procreation, and cannot
exist without a body. Consciousness is made of material
and is therefore temporary. People do not really
understand that the body, breath, and consciousness
are time-bound. At the end of the day the consciousness
Being in consciousness is time-bound. Consciousness is
a temporary condition which has come upon the total,
timeless, spaceless, changeless state. It is a happening
which has come and which will disappear. Entering the
consciousness drags you down into the suffering.
Consciousness brings you trouble. Understand the nature
of the consciousness and feel you have nothing to do
with it. Consciousness is a guest with you, it was not
originally there and will not be there in the future.
It is temporary. In the temporary knowledge about the
consciousness you want to understand everything in that
consciousness itself. Understand that consciousness
is conditioning. Consciousness is concepts, ideas,
hopes, and all things. Awareness is already beyond
Be aware of being conscious and seek the source of
consciousness. That is all. Consciousness comes upon
one by itself, spontaneously, and goes away in the
same manner. Consciousness is a time-bound state.
Go back to your state before this consciousness
came upon you. The original state is before the
consciousness came upon you. That which you do not
know, that is the right state. Everything that comes
after this consciousness is attained is useless.
Consciousness is useless.
Consciousness is the product of the five elements and
their interactions. Consciousness is present as long
as the five elements are present. When the great
dissolution of the universe occurs, there is
dissolution of the five elements, and consciousness
also finishes. But the knower of consciousness, the
Absolute state, is unaffected. In that state there
is no fear of anything. Even when there is total
destruction, the Absolute is merely watching, being
in a state of witnessing.
What remains when consciousness, or the sense of
Being goes, is the Original, which is unconditioned,
without attributes, and without identity. It is
Parabrahman, the Absolute.
The Guru tells me that this consciousness, which I
love so much, is only an illusion. This consciousness
is the basic cause of all unhappiness. My true state
is before this consciousness arose, and beyond all
concepts. Consciousness cannot be separated from the
world and the universe, it is the same. This is my
maya, it has come out of me, and I know that I am
not the maya. I am the witness of this play.
All consciousness is limited and therefore painful.
At the root of consciousness lies desire, the urge
Consciousness cannot stand still. Consciousness is
the same as movement. The movement takes place through
the three gunas which are inherent in this knowledge
“I Am”. All movement takes place through these gunas
and this consciousness keeps on vibrating.
The whole consciousness is already there. No great
man having taken birth has wrought an iota of change
in the consciousness. What is, is. It will never
change. The experience is there and somebody comes
later to experience it. Unknowingly this knowingness
has appeared in you, and you have to go through it,
willingly or unwillingly. No one can change what he
has to face as experience so long as he is identifying
with the body and mind.
Consciousness happens in the universal consciousness
or mind, called the ether of consciousness. All the
objects of consciousness form the universe. Beyond
both, supporting both, is the supreme state, a state
of utter stillness and silence. Whoever goes there,
disappears. It is unreachable by words or mind.
It is called God, or Parabrahman, or Supreme Reality,
which are names given by the mind. It is the nameless,
contentless, effortless and spontaneous state, beyond
being and not being. Just as the universe is the
body of the mind, so consciousness is the body of
There is a state beyond consciousness, which is not
unconscious. Some call it super-consciousness, or pure
consciousness, or supreme consciousness. It is awareness
free from the subject-object nexus. Which is first,
consciousness or awareness? Awareness becomes
consciousness when it has an object. The object changes
all the time. In consciousness there is movement;
awareness by itself is motionless and timeless, here and
now. In pure consciousness (ie awareness) nothing ever
‘I-am-ness’ is consciously receding from the Absolute.
Consciousness is slowly extinguishing itself, knowingly
it is disappearing. But nothing affects you, the
Absolute. You can never isolate yourself from the
consciousness unless consciousness is pleased with you
and gets rid of you. Consciousness opens the gate for
you to transcend consciousness.
Look at consciousness as something that happens to
you and not in you, as something external, alien,
superimposed. Then, suddenly you are free of consciousness,
really alone, with nothing to intrude. And that is your
true state. You cannot step out of consciousness for the
very idea of stepping out is in consciousness. But if you
learn to look at your consciousness as a sort of fever,
personal and private, in which you are enclosed like a
chick in its shell, out of this very attitude will come
the crisis which will break the shell.
All that is to be done, if anything, is to sit and let
consciousness unfold itself, and unfold knowledge about
itself. You must have a thorough knowledge of this
consciousness, and having known everything about the
consciousness you come to the conclusion that
it is all unreal, and then it should drop off.
You know that you are not the consciousness. You witness
your consciousness. Consciousness is the reflection of
the Awareness that is the Absolute.
Nisargadatta on awareness......
Awareness and consciousness are not the same. Awareness
is primordial, it is the original state, beginningless,
endless, uncaused, unsupported, without parts, without
change. Consciousness is on contact, a reflection
against a surface, a state of duality. There can be no
consciousness without awareness, but there can be
awareness without consciousness, e.g.. as in deep sleep.
Awareness is absolute, consciousness is relative to its
content since consciousness is always consciousness of
something. Consciousness is partial and changeful,
awareness is total, changeless calm and silent, and is
the common matrix of every experience. Consciousness
comes and goes, awareness shines immutably.
When the content of consciousness is viewed without
likes and dislikes, the consciousness of it is awareness.
But there is still a difference between awareness as
reflected in consciousness and pure awareness beyond
consciousness. Reflected awareness, the sense: ‘I am aware’
is the witness, while pure awareness is the essence of
reality. Reflection of the sun in a drop of water is a
reflection of the sun, no doubt, but not the sun itself.
Between awareness reflected in consciousness as the
witness, and pure awareness, there is a gap, which the
mind cannot cross.
Nisargadatta on knowledge.....
All knowledge is a form of ignorance. All knowledge
is in memory; it is only recognition, while reality
is beyond the duality of the knower and the known.
How is it known that everyone is completely ignorant?
Consider, where did it all start? It is part of the
knowledge “I Am”, and this knowledge and the particular
form, the whole bundle, has been created out of the
5 elements, and the 5 elements have no knowledge, so
the whole thing is pure ignorance.
All these ideas of yours are binding you. Understand that
there is no knowledge, that it is all ignorance. There is
no knowledge whatsoever. When you understand yourself,
both knowledge and ignorance disappear. You only require
knowledge so long as the ignorance is there.
Can you understand that knowledge itself is ignorance?
If knowledge were real it would have been there eternally
.....it would not have had a beginning and an end.
People consider themselves ignorant and want knowledge.
They come to a jnani and listen and they get knowledge,
and ultimately they give the knowledge up again as
being unnecessary. When you want knowledge you want
something in the manifestation. You are amassing
knowledge for an individual. You are amassing knowledge
that is not going to help you, because it is in a
Can there be true knowledge of things? Relatively.....
yes. Absolutely.....there are no things. To know that
nothing is is true knowledge.
The no-knowingness state is a total, complete, perfect
state. In the knowingness state everything is imperfect
and is never complete. In your nothingness you are
perfect, you are total, and in your knowingness you
Knowledge and ignorance both disappear into vijnana.
Jnana is knowledge, ajnana is ignorance, both disappear
You can never have knowledge about your Self because
Parabrahman cannot be witnessed. You know what you
are not..... what you are you cannot know. The
Ultimate knowledge does not have any knowledge.
Ultimately one must go beyond knowledge.
When you are convinced you are the Knower of the
consciousness, there is still a mental identification
with the body which makes you feel that something good
is going to happen to you. Now you have a certain
amount of knowledge and it makes you feel very happy.
This knowledge has driven away ignorance. In the
washing away of the ignorance the knowledge will
also disappear, only you remain.
The Absolute does not know Itself.
Nisargadatta on understanding....
Consciousness and whatever appears in consciousness
is nothing but a gigantic fraud. It is a spontaneous
happening, there is no perpetrator of this fraud.
There is nothing that can be done about it, therefore
all that can happen is for the understanding to
All experiences are due to memories and are merely
movements in consciousness and therefore they cannot
last. All experiences will be a means of suffering if
one has not realized what they are. Whatever happens
is a mere movement in that consciousness. Once this is
understood, nothing remains to be done, there is
nothing you can or need to do. What you think you have
understood is only a movement in your consciousness,
and you are separate from that consciousness. As far
as the Self is concerned there is no question of
understanding or not understanding.
Understand your own mind and its hold on you will
snap. The mind misunderstands, misunderstanding is
its very nature. Right understanding is the only remedy.
By all means use your mind to know your mind.
It is perfectly legitimate, and also the best
preparation for going beyond the mind.
You can not know perfection, you can know only
imperfection. For knowledge to be, there must be
separation and disharmony. You can know what you are
not, but you can not know your real being. You can
only be what you are. The entire approach is
through understanding, which is the seeing of the
false as false. But to understand, you must observe
The correct understanding will be when you realize
that whatever you have understood so far, is invalid.
In Jnana-yoga all that is understood is made unreal.
Understanding is a stage. You must go beyond this
understanding stage, to a stage beyond, you must
come to a state of “I have not understood anything”.
Come to the conclusion that the various stages from
childhood up to old age..... whatever you have
understood and got stabilized as your identity.....
has proved false. Similarly, whatever you have tried
to understand during your spiritual search will prove
false. Therefore nothing is to be understood. The
ultimate point of view is that there is nothing to
understand, so when we try to understand, we are only
indulging in acrobatics of the mind. You have not
understood until you have solved the riddle of the
one who thinks he has understood.
Nisargadatta on distinguishing Atman,
Brahman and Parabrahman....
This consciousness which makes perception possible
is the Atman. That which is aware of the consciousness
is the Brahman. The Paramatman is that knowledge that
indwells the body, “I Am”, and that cannot be
Brahman means the emanation of the world,
simultaneously confirming that “I Am”. In this
Brahman everything is illusion. The principle that
understands, realizes, and witnesses, is the
Parabrahman. Witnessing happens to the Parabrahman.
The Parabrahman is the highest Self. It is subtler
than space. One who is Parabrahman does not know
whether he is or is not. Non-beingness or beingness
have absolutely no effect on him. That is nirguna.
Saguna and nirguna are one in Parabrahman. There is
only the Supreme. In movement it is saguna. Motionless
it is nirguna. But it is only the mind that moves or
does not move. The real is beyond, you are beyond.
In the Absolute state there is no one to be conscious,
so there is no question of reaching the Absolute state
as long as consciousness is present. The Absolute
state is where knowledge is absorbed in knowledge,
and knowledge is not aware of itself.
How is Brahman to be recognized?.....
When you are absolutely one with Brahman, you do
not use the mind. There is no sound, and you cannot
talk. You keep quiet. To talk you have to use the
instrument of the mind, and so you need to detach
a little from Brahman, then talk can come out.
How is Brahman to be transcended?....
Once stabilized in the Brahman, there is no
longer any use for knowledge of the Brahman,
that is, knowledge of the Self. Therefore I, the
Brahman, do nothing, and need nothing. This is
videhisthiti, the body-free state. There is no
high nor low, no real nor unreal, no inside nor
outside, and no dimension of any kind in that state.
You are the Brahman who loses identification with
the body, no longer a human being. You are not
ever the Brahman, but the Parabrahman, the witness
of that Brahman. All this Brahman is illusion,
ignorance. Brahman is created out of your beingness.
Your beingness is ignorance only, from the Absolute
With the transcendence of the knowledge “I Am”, the
Absolute prevails. The state is called Parabrahman,
while the knowledge “I Am” is termed Brahman. This
knowledge “I Am” or the beingness is illusion only.
Therefore when Brahman is transcended only the
Parabrahman is, in which there is not even a trace
of the knowledge “I Am”. How is the Parabrahman to
Nobody becomes a Parabrahman, nobody can become a
Parabrahman. It is. Before the knowledge “I Am”
appeared on you, that is Parabrahman. In the
Parabrahman state the quality of knowingness is not
present, nor does the Parabrahman state have any
embellishments like the manifest consciousness.
The Parabrahman state does not know it is, neither
does it have this manifestation. In spite of the
dissolution of universes and cosmos that Absolute
is untouched. It exists.
In the Parabrahman there is no awareness of existence,
there is awareness of awareness only. As soon as
awareness of existence comes, there is a duality
and manifestation comes.
Even the dissolution of the manifest universe,
the Brahman, cannot destroy the Self. Prior to,
during, and after the dissolution, I, the Absolute,
ever prevail, untouched, untainted, and unchanged.
Part of the confusion of the interchangeability of
consciousness and knowledge is because consciousness
and knowledge are located in our structure side by
side. One helps the other. When there is consciousness
there is also simultaneously knowledge. When there
is knowledge, consciousness is enhanced. This may
cause some Vedantins to believe that consciousness
and knowledge are one and the same, but they are
quite separate in us and seen by awareness which is
located behind and watching this pair. Only in Cit
or citta, are knowledge and consciousness united.
Citta sees, knows, and understands instantly
Nisargadatta's language is astonishing and provocative.
How can Nisargadatta's words be known to be true or
false? There is a simple test, which can be done each
and every day of one's life. Observe at the moment of
awaking in bed each morning. You will awake as simple
awareness. In that first brief instant you are pure
awareness. It is realized that you have not been asleep.
Someone may have been asleep, asleep throughout the
whole of the night, but you have never slept. You have
remained throughout, day or night, in your natural
state.... pure simple awareness. All this is in one
instant moment. The next moment something occurs,
there is a thought that you do not know who you are.
You identify with the suggested thought... you
ask the question: Who am I? It is a fatal question.
The next instant something comes in from the left
hand side, and covers you, completely obliterates you,
like a cloak covering its wearer. Consciousness appears
and you remember you are your familiar self living in
such and such a house, with all the people in your life,
and all your work to do. And you realize it is all pseudo.
Of course you get up and go about your activities
being the person you are in ordinary life.... but
if you are quick, very very quick, you realize
that you have been completely covered over by
consciousness. You have disappeared.
Consciousness, the vyavaharika, has been superimposed
upon awareness, the paramarthika.
It is completely unnecessary to know who I am. The
self is awareness that does not know who it is.
Having made a serious mistake, having been deceived
by suggestion, I wonder who or what is the source of
the suggestion? I also wonder how I am going to be
able to resist the suggestion tomorrow?
I spend the rest of the day, and the next day,
and every day, saying: neti, neti...
I am not this person who I believe I am.
This person loves himself.... neti, neti.
This consciousness does not want to disappear... neti, neti.
I want to be my true self.... neti, neti.
Me.... neti, neti.
Mine.... neti, neti.
I am..... neti, neti.
I.... neti, neti.
Even neti, neti.... neti, neti.