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Does the Self Need a Person to Validate It?
Rupert: Ramji, all is well, I am feeling extremely happy following my dharma; simplification is the best thing I’ve done since quitting drugs and alcohol. So thank you very much for that. I am reading the new book you sent me. I came across this little bit of text that stumped me:
“Turiyam, the Self, is the non-knowing consciousness principle. It becomes a knower and a worldly person (samsari) when Maya is operating and the subtle body, the mind, appears. Consciousness does not require a mind to be what it is – ever-free consciousness – but it requires a mind to claim, ‘I am consciousness,’ and set itself free of its apparent bondage.”
So far I have digested the reasoning that the self is a non-experiencing witness due to the fact that it is not modified by experience. But how can consciousness be “non-knowing” when previously we have been working under the idea that the self does not need anything to validate its own existence? This paragraph seems to state the opposite, that the self does in fact need the jiva, i.e. subtle body, to be aware of itself. Can you help me sort this out?
Ramji: The self-awareness of the self is not a knowing that requires an object like the knowing of the jiva. What kind of knowing is required to know that you exist and that you are conscious? It is not the mind that knows that you exist and that you are conscious. This is why nobody ever told you that you exist or that you are conscious. Yet you know you exist and that you are conscious simply because your consciousness/existence is self-knowing. You have to be before you can gain knowledge. The being that you are cannot be known as an object by the mind, because it exists prior to the mind. It is too subtle to be an object of knowledge. Finally, being and knowing are non-separate. You can’t know you exist unless you exist and don’t exist unless you know you exist, so existence/consciousness – you – is a non-dual conscious limitless “entity.”
If Maya is operating, a world and a jiva appears in you. The jiva is equipped with a means of knowledge – senses, mind and intellect – which is only good for knowing objects. You – existence/consciousness – have no senses, mind and intellect, so if you want to know objects, you are dependent on Maya for the knowledge of them.
Rupert: So I’m starting to digest this idea that Creation is a projection within awareness. The statement you can’t get something from nothing helps a lot. If the self is not an object but the subject, then how do you get a solid “real” Creation from consciousness?
Ramji: You can’t get a solid “real” Creation from consciousness. Consciousness is unchanging and there is nothing other than it that it can change into.
Rupert: So if that follows, then I am only experiencing Creation in my individual awareness, which is separated from other individual awarenesses by Maya. So collectively we are all dreaming together? Being likewise projections ourselves?
Ramji: Got it in one, Rupert! Gold star, go the head of the class. Maya makes the impossible possible. It creates a world that momentarily exists with limitless entities endowed with means of knowledge for perceiving the objects in the world.
Rupert: Whoa! Deep! Anyway, please correct me where I’m off base. Like I said, it’s only slowly coming into view.
The elders call our main speech or prayer, which acknowledges and gives thanks and greeting to the entire Creation, the Thanksgiving address, or in Mohawk, Ohetenkaliwatekwa (the word before words). When I asked an elder what that meant, he said the entire Creation is the word before words, meaning a thought. Before you say something, you think it. So this entire Creation is merely a thought of the Creator’s.
Okay. So let me see if I get this. Existence/consciousness/bliss is the self, but is unknowable to the jiva AS the jiva, which is why the jiva disappears in deep sleep.
James: Yes, the jiva is an inert projection. If there is any knowing, it is always only the self that knows.
Rupert: Okay, fine. So when the jiva is retracted, so to speak, what’s left is the experience of no experience, BUT the self is even more subtle than this state??
James: The self is the awareness in which this “state” appears. You can’t have a state without a knower. If there is a state beyond the jiva, it can only be known by the self. When Maya is not operating, there are no objects (states) for the self to know, so it “knows” itself, which is a meaningless statement from the jiva’s perspective. If Maya is operating, it seems as if the jiva is conscious and that it knows, but it doesn’t. When Maya is operating, the self becomes a knower of objects, but it is unaffected by what it knows.
Rupert: And if the self is a non-knowing consciousness principle, what is happening in samadhi?
James: Samadhi is an object known to the self.
Rupert: The jiva disappears, but you (the self) are still in a state of knowing.
James: No. The self cannot be in a state of anything. All states appear in the self.
Rupert: Is this simply the knowing of the bliss sheath?
James: No. The bliss sheath is inert. It doesn’t know anything. It merely reflects the bliss of awareness when Maya is operating.
Rupert: If so, then the bliss sheath is still mithya.
James: Yes, the bliss sheath is mithya, unreal.
Rupert: But beyond that there is only the non-knowing consciousness principle?
Rupert: Which can never be known?
James: It can never be known as an object. When the teaching removes ignorance about it, it seemingly knows itself, even though it knew itself all along!