The expression ‘original consciousness’ is used by some neo-Vedanta teachers, who ask their students to negate what is ‘not original’ to arrive at the ‘original consciousness’. The expression ‘original consciousness’ used in this form is misleading – because Consciousness is unchanging – Consciousness never adds anything to itself to lose its original nature – it is not like milk becoming curd and we have to make it milk again.
The purpose of self inquiry is to arrive at the nature of ‘I’ which is invariable in every experience. The time-tested simple method give in the methodology of revealing truth in traditional Vedanta is the method of discriminating between the perceiver and the perceived, or the subject and the object. I is ever the subject, the perceiver, the witness with reference to what is perceived, never the perceived. Consciousness that shines as ‘I’ is never an object of any means of knowledge. Consciousness-I is unique in this respect.
So in the understanding of ‘I’ or me – negate whatever is objectified or objectifiable. Then what is revealed is what shines as ‘I’ which is self-revealing, self-existing, basic, non-negatable, consciousness that is ever-present, changeless and limitless – unfettered by whatever is objectified or objectifiable in its presence - cit svarupoham. When it is our own confirmed and ascertained recognition we can call it as assimilated knowledge.
Now we can ask is this consciousness that I am, affected or divided or displaced by any status as an experiencer or the experienced object? For example a sound is heard. That means the hearer of the sound is perceived, as well as the sound is perceived. Is the hearer or the sound heard outside consciousness-I? No. Consciousness is the presence that illuminates, accommodates unconditionally, gives life to and sustains the hearer and the heard sound. Both have no separation from Consciousness-I.
The thinker of thought and the thought
The hearer of sound and the sound
The seer of form/colour and the form/colour
The doer of action, the action and the object of action
All of these are illumined, revealed, perceived and gain being in the limitless, ever-present, unchanging Consciousness that is the truth of experiencer-I, the experience and the experienced object. Akhanda cit savarupoham.
In every experience there are two orders of realities at play and they are to be understood and recognized as such, otherwise there is no understanding of Advaita. Confirming for oneself that what shines as ‘I’ is consciousness that is separate from the personality and everything else is not advaita – it is still dvaita or duality because one may imagine that the personality is another thing, as is the rest of the universe. Then where is Advaita?
The two orders of reality have to be understood. One is an independent reality and the other is dependent. For example wave is a dependent reality – it depends on its cause water. Water the cause of wave is the independent reality because water can exist without being a wave, whereas wave cannot exist without water, because wave is nothing but water. The independent reality has the technical name of satyam and the dependent reality has the technical name mithya.
Taking the example of a sound is heard.
Hearing of sound is
The hearer of sound is
Consciousness-I, the unchanging truth of the hearer, in whose ever-presence, the hearer, hearing and the heard comes to light – is. I am = Consciousness Is = Existence-Consciousness
It is this Existence-Consciousness which appears in multifarious forms of different experiences without undergoing any change.
Here the hearer of sound (a facet of the personality), the hearing itself and the sound are dependent on Consciousness-I, the unchanging independent reality. The hearer is mithya, the hearing is mithya, the sound is mithya - in other words the empirical world consisting of the ever changing factors such as experiencer, the experience, the experienced object is mithya. You the ever-present changeless witness-consciousness, in whose presence the empirical world of experience comes into being, is satyam.
These two orders of reality satyam and mithya are the basis of Advaita. Satyam is the changeless, absolute reality that is limitless consciousness. It is the very content of the changing, dependent empirical reality, without whom, the empirical reality consisting of the three-fold factors of experience, experience and experienced has no being.
We cannot say it is intellectual and dismiss it. The oneness of water and wave lies in understanding wave to be non-seperate from water, dependent on water its source, wheras water, the source is independent.
The systematic study of the tradition of teaching of Vedanta gives us knowledge that confers moksha or liberation. This knowledge may be assimilated knowledge – which is our own confirmed, ascertained knowledge that I am immediate, direct, self-revealing, self-existing, ever-present, unchanging, limitless consciousness, in whose presence the whole universe apparently comes into being, is sustained and resolves. This knowledge can also be fraught with obstacles, in which case it is unassimilated knowledge. Some teachers refer to unassimilated knowledge, when they negate intellectual knowledge. Further they condemn the systematic study of Vedanta viewing it as incapable of giving ‘direct, intuitive’ knowledge. This view is wrong and should not be promoted. What they mean by intuitive knowledge is well-ascertained and confirmed for oneself as one’s reality. This is the same as the assimilated knowledge that Vedanta reveals.
It is true that unassimilated knowledge cannot confer moksha and so efforts must be made to remove the obstacles whatever they are.
Have ascertained that the invariable nature of I is unchanging limitless consciousness, one’s understanding is incomplete, until one recognizes that the empirical reality that one transacts with on a daily basis, consisting of experiencer and experience, is dependent on and non-seperate from its source, the absolute, unchanging Consciousness, which is indeed the truth of the confused and ignorant experiencer.
Om Tat Sat