Advaita Vision

Advaita for the 21st Century

Can the Truth ever be known?
by Dhanya

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Question and Answer

Q. I feel that 'All is One' is the truth, but that such a truth can never be known. Knowledge would be akin to a scientific discovery, which would always be subject to further revision.

Dhanya: It is true that anything which science can discover, being knowledge of something which is objectified by the senses, (or by the use of instruments), is always subject to further revision.

However, my self/atma/brahman, the nondual reality, isn't an object.

Once recognized, this recognition is not subject to further revision.

Such statements as the two above, initially would either need to be accepted or rejected, because until one recognizes what the self is, one might think of it as an object, and therefore one would think it would be known as an object, and therefore such knowledge (being knowledge of an object) would be subject to revision.

This isn't actually how the self is known. Do these words, 'I am. I exist. I am a conscious being,' make sense to you? Do they seem to match your experience?

Most people will easily affirm that all of those words are true. I exist. I am a conscious existent being.

Then if you ask them, 'Well, what is this conscious existent being that you say you are?' Most people would probably reply, 'It is a product of the body and the mind, and that body/mind is who I am. It is what makes me, me.'

What nondual teachings will show you is that this existence/consciousness, which indeed is yourself, is neither a product of the body or mind, nor does it depend upon them, nor is it affected by them.

So that's a big leap. A big leap to accept initially, because until you recognize the truth of those words, you have no way to verify that they are true.

And once you recognize that they are true, you will find that there is no way they can be negated.

Here are a few things to consider. Have you ever noticed that while your thoughts change, and your bodily sensations change, there is that about you which never changes? That there is that about you which is ever present to all changing experience?

Furthermore, have you ever noticed that the thoughts in your mind are known?

Known by whom, one might ask. If they are known by another part of the mind, then who is knowing that part, and then who is knowing that part, etc.? This type of logic is called 'an infinite regress,' and it doesn't resolve. (Also it isn't true.)

Thoughts in the mind are 'known' because they are 'illumined' as it were by the light of consciousness, and that consciousness, which never wavers, which is existence, always is exactly the same.

You already know that consciousness, you just take it to be dependent upon the body/mind for its existence.

It is this consciousness which remains the same when thoughts, moods and emotions change. It is this consciousness, that isn't a product of the body or the mind, which is ever existent.

There are methods for distinguishing this consciousness from any other thing which changes. Once recognized, consciousness is seen as it is, self-shining, self-evident, never changing.

It is the bottom-line as it were. It is where the buck stops. Nothing can 'get behind' it because it illumines all things, all cognitions.

Knowledge, or the recognition of the self is not subject to revision or correction. It is not a knowledge, or a recognition, or a cognition of an object, but rather it is a recognition of the ever present subject. And that subject is you, ever present you, always exactly the same despite every single changing experience the mind has.

This is where the inquiry begins. Who is that I, which is ever present to all changing experience? How is it that the thoughts in the mind are known, by whom?

That you intuit 'all is one,' that that thought has resonance for you, may be because it is true.

All is one. Who is that one? You are that one. You, shine, ever the same, in every thought, mood and experience that the mind has.

'Always I am. Always I shine. Never am I a source of sorrow to myself. Therefore, it is established that brahman, the nature of existence consciousness which is limitless, that I am alone.' (From: Advaita Makaranda, 'The Honey, The Nectar, of Nonduality'.)

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Page last updated: 10-Jul-2012