What is meant by pure consciousness?
Miguel Angel Carrasco
nisargadata at MX3.REDESTB.ES
Wed Nov 19 14:13:47 CST 1997
The trouble in the current discussion What is meant by pure consciousness?
is that we have not defined exactly what we mean by Consciousness.
Greg Goode mentioned Ramesh Balsekar^Òs classification.
Briefly: 1) Consciousness at rest = Nirguna,
2) In movement but unlocalized = Witness,
3) Embodied = I am, 4) Attached = the person.
This is useful to describe the jiva´s journey back to the Absolute, but it
may not be so appropriate to understand the basic difference between
Absolute and its manifestation. I do like the concept of hierarchy.
Because the Absolute is not just a further step in a journey.
It is what there really is. And the rest is just appearance, not lower
As I see it, there are just two kinds:
a) appearing, temporal, dual consciousness (which rises when the
distinction subject-object appears, and with it the world and the I am),
b) permanent, atemporal, non-dual Awareness, without contents, unmovable,
Other quotes of Nisargadatta supporting this:
[The Absolute] gives birth to consciousness. All else is in consciousness.
There is a state of non-duality, in which there is no cognition, only pure
being, which may be as well called non-being, if by being you mean being
something in particular. (409)
Without the absolute denial of everything, the tyranny of things would be
absolute. The Supreme is the great harmonizer, the guarantee of the
ultimate and perfect balance -of life in freedom. It dissolves you and thus
re-asserts your true being. (89)
It is without quality and beyond consciousness. You may say it is a point
in consciousness, which is beyond consciousness. Like a hole in the paper
is both in the paper and yet not of paper, so is the supreme state in the
very centre of consciousness, and yet beyond consciousness. It is as an
opening in the mind through which the mind is flooded with light. The
opening is not even the light. It is just an opening. From the mind's point
of view, it is but an opening for the light of awareness to enter the
mental space. By itself the light can only be compared to a solid, dense,
rocklike, homogeneous and changeless mass of pure awareness, free from the
mental patterns of name and shape. The supreme gives existence to the mind.
The mind gives existence to the body. (34)
One thing is quite clear to me: all that is lives and moves and has its
being in consciousness, and I am in and beyond that consciousness. I am in
it as the witness. I am beyond it as Being. (92)
Consciousness does not shine by itself. It shines by a light beyond it in
which it appears, which gives it being. Don't be all the time immersed in
your experience. Remember that you are beyond the experiencer, ever unborn
and deathless. In remembering it, the quality of pure knowledge will
emerge, the light of unconditional awareness. (190)
Awareness takes the place of consciousness; in consciousness there is the
"I", who is conscious, while awareness is undivided; awareness is aware of
itself. The "I am" is a thought, while awareness is not a thought; there is
no "I am aware" in awareness. Consciousness is an attribute while awareness
is not; one can be aware of being conscious, but not conscious of
Awareness is primordial; it is the original state, beginningless, endless,
uncaused, unsupported, without parts, without change. Consciousness is on
contact, a reflection against a surface, a state of duality. There can be
no consciousness without awareness, but there can be awareness without
consciousness, as in deep sleep. Awareness is absolute, consciousness is
relative to its content; consciousness is always of something.
Consciousness is partial and changeful, awareness is total, changeless,
calm and silent. And it is the common matrix of every experience. Since it
is awareness that makes consciousness possible, there is awareness in every
state of consciousness. Therefore, the very consciousness of being
conscious is already a movement in awareness. Interest in your stream of
consciousness takes you to awareness. It is not a new state. It is at once
recognized as the original, basic experience, which is life itself, and
also love and joy. (29)
All movement requires a motionless background. It is itsef the background.
Once you have found it in yourself, you know that you had never lost that
independent being, independent of all divisions and separations. But don't
look for it in consciousness, you will not fint it there. Don't look for it
anywhere, for nothing contains it. On the contrary, it contains everything
and manifests everything. It is like the daylight that makes everything
visible while itself remaining invisible. (410)
This is the heart of the problem. Either you are body-conscious and a slave
of circumstances, or you are the universal consciousness itself - and in
full control of every event. Yet consciousness, individual or universal,
is not my true abode; I am not in it, it is not mine, there is no"me" in
it. I am beyond, though it is not easy to explain how one can be neither
conscious nor unconscious, but just beyond. I cannot say that I am in God
or I am God; God is the universal light and love, the universal witness: I
am beyond the universal even. (320)
It is not just because Nisargadatta says so, that I think the Absolute is
not consciousness-of, that It cannot be permanently in need of thinking
about something. But because it seems to me the logical thing to believe.
Consciousness-of (as opposed to pure contentless Awareness) cannot be
always there, it just appears and disappears. If it were always present,
always with knowledge of things past or future, that would mean that the
Absolute cannot be without objects, without thoughts, that It is always
Dual, that It is just an eternal I-Subject watching the Not-I. That is what
Fichte thought. But that is not Advaita.
Of course, I understand the only natural ´horror vaciui´, the fear of
nothingness. But there is infinite bliss there. Nisargadatta was anything
but a sad nihilist:
You people do not know how much you miss by not knowing your own true self.
His [the gnani's] state tastes of the pure, uncaused, undiluted bliss. He
is happy and fully aware that happiness is his very nature and that he need
not do anything, nor strive for anything to secure it. It follows him, more
real than the body, nearer than the mind itself. To me, dependence on
anything for happiness is utter misery. Pleasure and pain have causes,
while my state is my own, totally uncaused, independent, unassailable.
The happiness of being absolutely free is beyond description. (139)
I am complete and perfect. I am the beingness of being, the knowingness of
knowing, the fulness of happiness. (321)
[Now I live] in the void beyond being and non-being, beyond consciousness.
This void is also fulness; do not pity me. The mind ceased producing
events. The ancient and ceaseless search stopped - I wanted nothing,
expected nothing, accepted nothing as my own. There was no "me" left to
strive for. Even the bare "I am" faded away. The other thing that I noticed
was that I lost all my habitual certainties. Earlier I was sure of so many
things, now I am sure of nothing. But I feel that I have lost nothing by
not knowing, because all my knowledge was false. My not knowing was in
itself knowledge of the fact that all knowledge is ignorance, that "I do
not know" is the only true statement the mind can make. (392)
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