Unknowability of the self

Srinivas Sista sista at ECN.PURDUE.EDU
Mon Jun 23 10:44:30 CDT 1997

Allan Curry writes:
> 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.

Hence they resorted to saying "Neti, Neti". By denying everything
that is in the realm of relative knowledge.

> 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! 

The closest I can think of is one of the maha vakyas which is 
"Prajnaanam Brahma"

> 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.

I am guessing that you are trying to allude to the source of the faculty
of knowing(correct me if I misunderstood you). If that is the case, as I 
see it you are postulating several sources with their respective
of knowings. :-) the way you formlated it,(I mean by its very
it cannot be known. But I fail to see if it serves any purpose, except
yield a nice generalization. A "multiple atman theory"(tongue in cheek)?

> At the very least they all share at least one
> identifying characteristic which is their being completely unknown and yet
> undeniably present. As far as I know this is the ONLY characteristic which
> 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. 

I would say yes. But I cannot say if that is the end of duality.
I am still in the realm of reason/knowledge/logic. After understanding
if the mind comes to a complete halt then probably(again speculation on

> If the universe is
> defined to be the set of knowable things then we (as knowing) would neither
> be in that set nor would we be nothing. Knowing is the limit of the world.
> 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 ordinary
> 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?

Before I go ahead and say that we all are that, I would first stop to 
consider if there is any other. And as far as knowing goes, all I am
of is my knowledge in terms of objects and concepts. Any other
(as regards its source, its unknowability, its transcendence, its
non-uniqueness/uniqueness) will only build my knowledge in terms of 
concepts. That is the reason why great teachers advocated stilling the 
mind first. And I do feel that it has to be so. I really don't know what 
constitutes Sruti. So I cannot comment.

Srinivas Sista.

I was just kidding about Bankei. There have been cases where the person
was enlightened long before they actually found out from others &
that their state is what is refered to as enlightened.

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