Unknowability of the self.

Mark Hovila hovila at FOXINTERNET.NET
Sun Jun 22 01:30:21 CDT 1997

Speaking about doubting enlightenment, I just finished reading an
outstanding book.  It is called Collision With the Infinite, by Suzanne
Segal.  This is an autobiographical account by a woman who experienced the
sudden and permanent loss of her personal self (which she realized never
really existed anyway).  For a long time her mind kept looking at the
experience and sent the message that something was wrong.  Eventually she
realized that not only is there no personal self, there is also no other,
and the emptiness she had experienced since the loss of her self was now
described as "vastness."  I have no doubt that this is an authentic case of
self-realization.  The book clarified many important points for me and I
highly recommend it to everyone.


> From: Allan Curry <un824 at FREENET.VICTORIA.BC.CA>
> To: Multiple recipients of list ADVAITA-L <ADVAITA-L at TAMU.EDU>
> Subject: Unknowability of the self.
> Date: Saturday, June 21, 1997 12:58 PM
> Dear All,
> This post comes closest to the what I would say is true.
> I hope you will read it closely and comment (on or off the list)...
> Srinivas Sista writes:
> >>Sure, the mind can create a dream world from its own resources but
> >>that does not prove it does not draw on something "out there" to
> >>create its representation of the waking state world. Does it?
> >
> >Who decides? And I wonder what kind of "proof" you are expecting.
> >Either you believe yourself(perception,inference) or somebody else
> >(including books,people,shruti,..etc) or a combination of both. There
> >is no proof beyond these. The point here is, as long as you choose to
> >believe, it doesn't matter which one it is. You are still in the realm
> >of beliefs :-)
> >
> hmmm... you are right. Proof, perception, inference, etc. only
> pertain to the dualistic relative world of appearances. Whatever is
> truly outside that cannot be proved, demonstrated or even described.
> Yet if this were true, how would anyone ever know there was such an
> unknowable thing? I can think of only one answer to that -- knowing
> itself is that unknowable thing! Whenever any thing is known, the
> knowing of that thing is not itself known. The knowing of one thing
> cannot therefore be compared with the knowing of any other thing.
> All knowings may be identical or they may be a set of similar knowings.
> That will never be known. At the very least they all share at least one
> identifying characteristic which is their being completely unknown and
> undeniably present. As far as I know this is the ONLY characteristic
> is continuously present in experience. To the extent we are the knowing
> of experience we are not in the set of findable things. The search for
> self cannot therefore end by finding any thing but only by understanding
> that the self is not *in* the set of findable things.  If the universe is
> defined to be the set of knowable things then we (as knowing) would
> be in that set nor would we be nothing.  Knowing is the limit of the
> There is no other limit than that and in my opinion, we all are that, no
> one more or less.  Transcendence (ie. Turiya state, etc.) is just
> knowing which is always the case but without an object. When objects
> re-appear, knowing is still present as always. Know what I mean?!
> Does this agree with Sruti or not?
> - Allan Curry
> P.S.
> Perhaps I did Bankei a disservice in saying he doubted his enlightenment.
> It's been a few years since I read "The Unborn", but I'm certain that
> he did travel Japan for years looking for a master to verify his
> I assumed he must have therefore doubted it, but maybe he had a different
> reason for seeking such a verification?  It is traditional to do so, I
> (if enlightened people still care about traditions...)  Was he
> You bet he was!  He sounds a lot like Ramana Maharshi. He didn't talk
> about Buddhism. He said he didn't have to because he could point out the
> truth to people directly. My failing memory of him probably is laughable
> I doubt if anyone familiar with Bankei would say he was "some kind of a

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