Sankhya yoga/Topic of knowledge(Chapter 2 …continued)
People comparing these posts to the matter in Chapter 2 of the Gita will not find paras on `awareness’ etc because this is the sub-text. Most people associate the Gita and, particularly, Chapter 2 with karma-yoga, most people believe that the message of the Gita is, simply put, `Do your duty and forget about the results’. This needs to be properly understood and we will deal with this after the foundations that I would like to lay here…
In the previous post, I spoke about awareness…You are nothing but awareness…In this post, I will speak about the limitlessness of awareness.
Awareness is knowledge, isn’t it?
People believe that awareness is a product of the mind. In fact, in the English language, `awareness’ is often used instead of `knowledge’. Awareness of this or awareness of that, which definitely appears to be a function of the mind. If I hold up a pen in my hand and say, `Are you aware of this pen?’ you will say, `Of course’. That definitely is a function of the mind. Suppose I ask you another question: `Are you aware of the fact that your mind is aware of this pen?’, you will say `Definitely, I know it’. The second step has actually objectified your mind. The first step of being aware of the pen is the function of your mind; the second step when you are aware of your mind, aware of your knowledge, that step is not a function of the mind any more. You are articulating it through the mind but, really speaking, it is a function of I-awareness, not even a function but it is the nature of I-awareness, because I-awareness objectifies, illumines everything that is in front of it.
If you say you are consciousness or awareness, in what way is it different from saying I have a soul?
The soul is something people believe they have. Then I will have to counter-ask: Are you a soul with a body or are you a body with a soul (because you say `I have a soul’)? This makes it sound like the `soul’ is a thing to possess. I am saying you are awareness/consciousness which is not a matter of belief nor is it hypothetical. It is something you are. It is what you are aware of in your experience. That you are the one aware of body, mind and world… you are nothing but awareness. I have made explicit what is implicit in your experience of the world.
What is implicit there is that you are awareness. You have taken yourself to be the roles or body or the mind, and in different situations you have taken yourself to be different beings. All of them are dependent on I-awareness , I-awareness is independent of them all. Because those things are extrinsic, they come and go , whereas I-awareness is constant in all these experiences. In fact, in every experience of the world, what is common is the fact that you are awareness. Nobody can question that, it cannot be challenged. It is something to be understood, not something to be believed.
Coming back to the question: Is awareness limited by time and space? Time is nothing but a product of the mind. A gap between two events is what we call time. No event is without an observer, so the two events are two thoughts in the observer’s mind. So when I look at myself through the flow of thoughts there is a concept of time. When there are no thoughts, there is no time, as in deep sleep or meditation. Therefore, the awareness that is aware of time cannot be limited by time and space. Thanks to Stephen Hawking, everyone knows that time and space are one continuum. So I-awareness is not limited by both of them—meaning I am limitless or infinite.
Now we have come to a very interesting point– if awareness is unconditioned by time and space, it is limitless. If it is limitless, there are no separate `awarenesses’. There is no plural for awareness. There is only one awareness manifest in a billion or zillions minds and bodies. Like one space is manifest as outer space and inner space…. On Earth, on Mars there is only one space in which all galaxies exist. Similarly, there is only one awareness in which time and space exist. There are many minds and every mind becomes awareful in the presence of awareness and awareness is ever-present. And that mind is associated with a given body; therefore, that awareness now is manifest through that mind in that body. And I who do not know I am awareness say I am this much only and I gain an identity with my body.
All the duality in the world seems to disappear because all there is is only one awareness, unconditioned, unlimited in time and space, and, therefore, unconditioned by anything in time and space. One awareness is manifest as all these forms.
Swamiji, is this something we should know or experience?
That’s an interesting question. I would put it down as knowledge…. The word `experience’ is a very loose word. What does it really mean? I say, ` I went to the beach and what a beautiful experience it was.’ If I look at that experience, it is a riot of colours in the sky, the waves on the ocean, the feel of warm sand under my feet; the experience when broken down is nothing but knowledge. Then why do we use the word `experience’? It is to include my emotional response to it. For all this knowledge (knowledge is nothing but thoughts), for every thought there will be an emotional response. So my emotional response to this is, `It’s so beautiful, so calm, so peaceful.’ For somebody else it may have been very disturbing because a month ago, on the very same beach, his girlfriend called it quits and walked away. For that person the beach is not a calming, beautiful experience, but is actually a disturbing experience. So knowledge plus my emotional response is what I call an experience.
Now I am this `limitless awareness’ is something I don’t know when I start off unless I am exposed to Vedanta, and by Vedanta I mean this knowledge irrespective of which country or culture or which religion it belongs to. If I don’t know this, then what I need is knowledge, not experience. Like my American friend came here last year and we were having breakfast together. And I asked him, `How do you like our Indian food?’ He said, `Oh! I love it…..but I want to experience this exotic food called mango, I have heard about it.’ Actually, at that very moment, he was eating an alphonso mango; he had an experience of mango but he did not know it was a mango until I told him that what he was eating was a mango. So now the ignorance vanished. Therefore, it is knowledge that we are after and not experience. I cannot experience I-awareness any more than I already have, because in every experience I-awareness is present.
From a psychological point of view, I will say life is not cured but only managed. When you come to Vedanta and look at the same issue, where is the problem? I am nothing but pure consciousness.
You could say that problems exist, there is a world that confronts me. I accept that all living beings are nothing but pure awareness but I still feel isolated, you and I limit each other, the world limits me. Then we will have to go into the nature of what is this world.
Is there a poetic way of expressing this? It all seems too cerebral…
It is cerebral because it concerns knowledge.
I can put it mystically but you will interpret it in your own way. Like I could say, I am consciousness as I am sitting and writing this blog, I am sitting on every planet in this universe, and I am in every star in the galaxy. That sounds mystical, even inspiring maybe, but it could be misinterpreted..
The understanding that I am consciousness should give you something bigger, a bigger vision…
Gita gives you the vision of the whole. You move from a paradigm of insufficiency to one of sufficiency and fulfilment. This knowledge is complete only if I tackle the world and its reality, which we will deal with in the next post.
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