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Awareness Seeking to Know Itself
Question: What does it mean when James sometimes gives human-like qualities to awareness? For example, he sometimes says that awareness wants to be known or it is making you seek for awareness.
Arlindo: It is a tricky business to talk or write about awareness without getting into this language problem. All mithya languages are dualistic and always refer to names given to objects – their forms, properties, qualities and attributes. Whenever anyone speculates to say that awareness is looking to know itself in the “saguna” field of creation through self-inquiry and self-knowledge, keep in mind that it is a metaphor.
As you said, awareness is “nirguna” (guna-free, or without attributes). It is free of any subtle modification and therefore non-dual and attributeless. Pure awareness is not an “experiencing entity”! Yet scriptures speculate to say that awareness is of the nature of “sat chit ananda” – existence-consciousness-limitlessness – which are not really its qualities and attributes, but awareness very attributeless in nature.
But our languages will always fall short in describing our true nature. No wonder some teachers suggest that it is better not to say anything and just remain in silence. But that does not help much. Why so? Because mithya-ignorance requires mithya-knowledge in order to disclose the attributeless nature of the self. Silence will not do the job. Knowledge is the only remedy for ignorance.
Furthermore, it is not completely wrong to say that awareness plus maya “apparently” seeks to know itself in mithya. How so? Since reality is non-dual and all there is is awareness, we can as well suggest that in mithya awareness, with the aid of jiva’s highly reflective subtle body, seeks to know itself through the experience of its own reflection.