Image“Q: Is the sense ‘I am” real or unreal?

M: Both. It is unreal when we say: ‘I am this, I am that. It is real when we mean ‘I am not this, nor that.’

The knower comes and goes with the known, and is transient; but that which knows that it does not know, which is free of memory and anticipation, is timeless.

Q: Is ‘I am” itself the witness, or are they separate?

M: Without one the other cannot be. Yet they are not one. It is like the flower and its colour. Without flower – no colours; without colour – the flower remains unseen. Beyond is the light which on contact with the flower creates the colour. Realize that your true nature is that of pure light only, and both the perceived and perceiver come and go together. That which makes both possible, and yet is neither, is your real being, which means not being a ‘this’ or ‘that’, but pure awareness of being and not-being. When awareness is turned on itself, the feeling is of not knowing. When it is turned outward, the knowables come into being. To say ‘I know myself’ is a contradiction in terms for what is ‘known’ cannot be ‘myself’.

Q: If the self is for ever the unknown, what then is realized in self-realization?

M: To know that the known cannot be me nor mine, is liberation enough. Freedom from self-identification with a set or memories and habits, the state of wonder at the infinite reaches of the being, its inexhaustible creativity and total transcendence, the absolute fearlessness born from the realization of the illusoriness and transiency of every mode of consciousness – flow from a deep and inexhaustible source. To know the source as source and appearance as appearance, and oneself as the source only is self-realization.

Q: On what side is the witness? Is it real or unreal?

M: Nobody can say; ‘I am the witness’. The ‘I am’ is always witnessed. The state of detached awareness is the witnessed consciousness, the ‘mirror mind’. It rises and sets with its object thus it is not quite the real. Whatever its object and thus it is not quite the real. Whatever its object, it remains the same, hence it is also real. It partakes of both the real and the unreal and is therefore a bridge between the two.

Q: If all happens only to the ‘I am”, if the ‘I am” is the known and the knower and the knowledge itself, what does the witness do? Of what use is it?

M: It does nothing and is of no use whatsoever.

Q: Then why do we talk of it?

M: Because it is there. The bridge serves one purpose only – to cross over. You don’t build houses on a bridge. The ‘I am’ looks at things, the witness sees through them. It sees them as they are – unreal and transient. To say ‘not me, not mine’ is the task of the witness.”

All knowledge is ignorance – I am That

Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj