How do I know whether I am aware? || Acharya Prashant (2014)

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Question: How to know whether I am aware?

Speaker: What you call as ‘knowing’ is just thinking. It is a mental activity. Do you know of anything that is beyond the mind? You know of so many things in this world. Right? List them and see whether anything that you know is beyond time and space. Whatever you know of is a thing of thought.

You are asking, “How to know that I am aware?” You are asking, “How can I ‘think’ about awareness?” You have to see who is asking this question. Thought is asking this question so that it can capture awareness within its limits. Is that possible? Why are we interested in knowing that whether I am aware?

I recently received a message from a lady asking that how can I know whether I am enlightened. She had some sneaking suspicion that she is enlightened. She wanted a certificate that she is enlightened. What did she really want? She wanted something to ‘think’ about. That’s all. Thought gives pleasure, thought thrives on pleasure, all pleasure arises from the thought.

When I say ‘thought’, I am referring broadly to all the mental activity here. There is no point in this that how do I know whether I am aware. You will never know that you are aware because the ‘you’ that is asking this question will not be the aware ‘you’. The ‘you’ that is asking this question is the ‘you’ that is confused, doubtful, tangled in all kinds of suspicion.

The aware ‘you’, would that ask this question? Would that ‘you’ bother to ask this question? That’s a ‘knowing’ of a very different kind. There you do not know via thought. There you just know, it’s a thing of what you all call, soul. I am using the word ‘soul’, it’s a loose word but it would help you to understand in this context. You just know without the inter-mediation of thought.

All that we claim to usually know is via the mental apparatus, always. That is why we don’t really know anything, because it is always indirect knowledge coming to you via the mind.

Awareness is that the knower himself has changed; the knower is now the one who does not require the mind to know, he is realized.

Do you understand what is meant by ‘the realized one’? The ‘realized one’ means that he does not require knowledge anymore, he just knows. How does he know? He just knows. So it is a stupid question to ask that how does the realized one know. He just knows; he is realization himself. When you are ‘realization’, then you don’t require to know via the mind, and hence there is no proof.knows

If someone says that prove that you know or show the source from where you know, you cannot show that. Because there is no proof, and you yourself are the source. So how to show the source? All other knowledge that you have, because it comes to you via the mind, would always have some kind of source, located elsewhere. You can go and pinpoint that source, ‘I got to know from this’.

Awareness means- what I know is not a thing of the mind, it is emanating from within me. Even ‘within me’ is the loose usage of words. “I am that, I am that knowing. The knowing is not a part of me. I am it.”

Now this beats the imagination. You can’t imagine what I am saying, because if you imagine you will again use the mind. How can you use the mind to know that state where the mind is not involved? How can you do that? Getting it? There is no proof. There is no proof of meditative understanding except the meditation itself. When that understanding arises, only then you see that it is there. Nobody can convince you, and nobody can give you even a glimpse of it. Really. It can be induced, but nobody can hand it over to you.

Do you understand the difference between inducing and handing over? Inducing it means bringing you to a point where even if for a split second, even if very partially, you could ‘be that’. Remember, not ‘see that’, but ‘be that’. And giving it to you means- you are what you are, yet it can be handed over to you. That is impossible. you remaining what you are, it cannot be handed over to you, not even a small fraction of it.

See, our questions are our defence mechanisms. We ask them to protect ourselves. The question is- how do I know that I am aware? Do you know what you are doing? Remaining what you are, protecting what you are, keeping secure what you are or what you believe yourself to be, you additionally want awareness.

What to do with this kind of attempt? Remaining what you are, you additionally want a little bit of God. “Can I have two-fifty grams of Brahman please? That is the size of my pocket. Two-fifty grams is just all it can hold. Two meters of sky is what I want, remaining what I am.” Like the householder who looks at the house from his small window, two metres of sky. But he is better, at least he can look at the sky.

Remaining what you are, you can’t even look at the sky. You live in a cave, dark cave. No sky is visible from there. You can keep imagining, on the basis of some stories that you have heard from other dwellers of the cave. Somebody says that the sky spits fire, somebody says that the sky is greenish-yellow in colour. How do you know the sky? By hearing fantastic stories from other dwellers of the cave, and staying put firmly in the cave.

There is no way. Questions and answers can only prompt you. You will have to leave the cave, you will have to come out, and that will be all. Then there will be no need to ask any such questions. See, all scriptures are just an attempt to help you come out. No scripture gives you divine knowledge. All that the scripture says to you is, “It’s fantastic out here. Can you please join us?” They are just an invitation.

Somebody is calling you. You are attached to your cave. And somebody from outside is constantly inviting you. “Can you come out? Will you join me? It’s good fun here. The weather is so nice, life is cool. And what more, there is no death here.”

No scripture can give you anything inside the cave. It’s not home delivery. It is divine deliverance. Divine deliverance is not home delivery. It is deliverance. Do you understand ‘deliverance’? ‘Deliverance’ means- you understand, you are gone, relieved.deliverance2

Self-service. Go and get it. Yes, the menu can be served on your table, so that you are tempted to go and get it. So what are the scriptures? They are menu cards, with nice pictures and description of the dishes. Obviously you don’t know anything about the dish, but the description is done in such a way that you are tempted.

“O! Nice. No death. Let me go there.” You are troubled by death, that is the reason why the scriptures have to say, ‘no death’. You are troubled by the suffering, so the scriptures have to say, ‘no suffering’. It’s an invitation, a temptation. “come out, come out, come out.”

What happens after you come out? It’s good fun.

– Excerpts from Clarity Session held at Advait Sthal.

Edited for clarity.

Watch the session at: How do I know whether I am aware?

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