Following the previous Advaita logic of the opposition between the world and jiva, or the higher “I” with the lower, now the teachers of non-duality have attacked the mind. The idea of the lower “I,” which is almost never spoken of now, but which is based in the mind, leads to the mind, its thoughts and in general everything connected with it, becoming one of the main objects of Advaitist renunciation. The mind has become the main Advaitist illusion of our time, and here we cannot help but note that the modern level of knowledge has forced them to reject even the classic “correct” claims of Shankara. It is rather stupid now to call the world an illusion, whereas almost everyone is familiar to various degrees with the illusions produced by the mind. All the more because modern teachers of non-duality do not bother themselves with explanations of the structure of the world, considering them their thoughts as well, which must be renounced. Everything must be renounced, except Atman, which now is also seemingly identified with consciousness, although the Upanishads meant all the same higher “I” and the Absolute, being conscious of itself.
One must look at one’s own little Atman, and that leads to awareness of the greater Atman, that is, to the awareness that you and the Absolute are one and the same. This is the good old dream of the Advaitists. For its realization now – aside from the methods cited above – it is proposed to become aware of the witness, or to become aware of awareness. But that is from what generally can be called at least some sort of practice. Because sometimes, it is simply proposed to understand here and now that you are not a body, not a mind – and so on, down the list. But the understanding itself will indeed lead you to the desired result. A kind of “jnana-yoga-lite” results.
From my perspective, the term “consciousness” more accurately describes that what is, but the use of ancient terms lends the speeches of new teachers greater significance. But let us return to the recommendations to become aware of consciousness or to “turn attention on who is watching.” Logically, one must turn attention inside or somewhere else and direct it to the same source. Osho often spoke of such things, but the problem is that this in principle is not possible to do.
The channeler of attention, which is the function of Consciousness, is the mind and nothing more. If it knows what to look at and where the object is located that requires attention, there are no particular difficulties. But if the object is located in an unknown place, then the mind becomes useless, and attention itself does not have its own active power. It always shift toward the strongest irritant – whether a loud sound or an irresistible desire. What is Consciousness and what is attention are passive, and you cannot force attention to move, if you do not use the mind. But if you cease to use it, then attention begins to wander by itself to and fro, outwardly or inwardly, depending on where new irritants arise. You cannot think up or invent anything more here, and the entire essence of the work with consciousness is to ensure that your channel of attention is expanded to the maximum, and the passive light of Consciousness has begun to be present constantly in all your bodies simultaneously. When you are filled with the energy of Consciousness, when it has appeared in you in all its possible power, then the mind, as a channeler of attention, ceases to be greatly needed, because everything inside, including it as well, is already in its field. This then occurs and there is no possibility at all to change this situation with sort of superpower. Therefore, the task of awareness of an incomprehensible internal object most often leads to this object being created inside the mind, and there, too, the process of its “observation” occurs.
Consciousness also cannot be observed because attention is the light coming from it, which it is also impossible to turn back. There is no center in Consciousness, because its power is the same at each point of its presence, but this is realized in full measure only when it is manifested in your being to a high degree. The witness is an intermediary link, a temporary fixation, but it is impossible to look at it as well, because it rises when a person is already to a sufficient degree disidentified with the mind, and as soon as the mind begins to fulfill the function of channeler of attention, the witness successfully escapes. And then, upon return to the effort of disidentification, once again begins to be felt. And only very conditionally can it be called the higher “I” in relationship to the lower “I” of the mind.
If we are to speak about the higher “I” seriously, then it must be admitted that this concept is from the outset conditional. It was introduced so as to somehow indicate what is eternal and unchangeable in the human being, and which is inherent in a person only in part. And here the problem is that Consciousness does not need self-identification, such as, for example, is needed by the human personality. “I” emerges as a consequence of the necessity of separating oneself from others – for appropriate communication with them, for self-awareness and self-definition. This division appears as a consequence of a person’s maturity, as one of his important stages.
Everything can be denied – as the proverb says, a bad business is a stupid business. But to go against the mind completely – as a certain source of duality and the division of things – is completely unreasonable. The mind is needed for survival in the world, and if you do not want to use it, then go out of the world – either as a total recluse, or to the next world. But even as a hermit, you will have to use your mind, or someone must feed you and give you something to drink and maintain you at their own expense.
Thus, the lower “I” is necessary for life in the world, and the higher “I” was invented by ancient wise men as a means of indicating what is eternal in us. If this certain higher “I” had a center, then likely it could be realized, seen or felt. Maharshi (and others before him) taught that if you are able to bring the mind to a calm state, to a state of silence, then Selfhood can be felt. But if we verify this claim, then it becomes clear that aside from the peace which Bhagavan so loved to point, the sense of presence in oneself appears. Thus Consciousness is sensed, manifesting in our internal space, but this presence also does not have a center, and furthermore, it has no “I” in it at all. But even this presence at first is difficult to sense, because it develops to the extent of the growth of awareness, to the extent of the increasingly full manifestation of Consciousness in a person’s being. And at first, truly, aside from a certain peace in the background of the mind, which has slowed its movement, nothing more can be felt. Although, in order to be able to calm the mind, without suppressing its activity, and simply leading attention from it, by virtue of which is gradually calms itself – one must already have a high level of awareness.
But even acquiring the entire fullness of Consciousness, with the disidentification from the mind and everything else accompanying it, does not guarantee the acquisition of non-duality in its original sense – the experience that your Consciousness and God are the same.