The Question at # 340 is, IMO, a landmine!
It sounds quite innocuous but barely conceals the explosive depths of its profundity.
It’s a cleverly worded question on the very origins of you and me, of the world, nay, of the “creation” itself, pregnant with implications on what comes first – the ‘witnessed’ or the ‘witnessor.’
The answer would inevitably be a replay of the classic debate on perception-based-creation (dRshTi-sRshTi-vAda) vs. creation-based-perception (sRshTi-dRshTi-vAda). But Advaita holds, contrary to either view, quite counterintuitively, that nothing has ever originated (ajAti vAda).
Some Pundits interpret sRshTi-dRshTi-vAda and dRshTi-sRshTi-vAda as the steps by which the seeker reaches the final Non-dual position of ajAti vAda, thus sublimating the sting of debate within these various doctrines of creation.
Drawing upon dRshTi-sRshTi-vAda, we have the doctrine of eka jIva vAda, developed by Vimuktatman, considered by many to be a prakriya par excellence in arriving at Pure Knowing of who Really I am. Others think that we have the shades of eka jIva vAda in the Mandukya karika in its 4th Chapter, alAtashanti.
With regard to the Question # 340, Swamini Atmaprakashananda rightly brought back the focus of the ‘spotlight’ onto where it should really belong, vide Peter’s Comment of 9th March 2013 (in the words of Peter): “When you say ‘witness’, know that there is no witness apart from consciousness. The term is used to indicate the knower of the knower. …….. though they are superficially similar, understanding the subtle difference is profound.”
(I would have preferred to capitalize the two words — Consciousness and the first Knower — to indicate that they imply Brahman).
And so, we should take a closer look at the three terms – witness, Witness-Consciousness and Consciousness – the respective Sanskrit equivalents being: sAkshi, sAkshi-chaitanya and Brahman.
sAkshi implicitly means not merely a beholder, an onlooker. (S)he has to satisfy, as in legal requirements, at least two criteria: (i) Uninvolvement in the scene, event, activity being witnessed and (ii) Disinterest in the final outcome of the scene, event, activity.
sAkshi-chaitanya refers to ‘that’ undefinable ability, sensing quality, in a detector probe – something like the ‘ability’ of a TV antenna which can detect a programme, irrespective of the language, content, quality, mood etc. It is totally non-objectifiable.
Brahman is the ineffable Beingness-Knowingness-Happiness.
So if one talks of ‘witnessing’, there has to be something to be witnessed. In the absence of anything to be witnessed, there cannot be a ‘witnessor.’
You cannot brand me a ‘murderer’ when it is clearly known that I am alone and that there is none else around to be murdered.
Obviously then, to talk of a ‘witness’, the world must have pre-existed to be witnessed!
The question then is : Am I born into an already existing world or have I created the world along with myself, my I-consciousness.
That is the reason why I said in the beginning that Q # 340 is a question on “creation” itself.
Vimuktatman in his Istasiddhi says:
brahmaiva avidyayA ekam ced
badhyate mucyate dhiyA
eka muktau jagan mukteh
na mukta anya vyavasthitiH
“Brahman alone gets entangled in one avidya and is liberated through knowledge. When a single person gets liberated, the world itself is liberated. There is no other explanation of liberation and bondage.”
Anand Hudli explains eka jIva vAda very clearly: “Some say that the lone jIva is HiraNyagarbha, some say it is the inquirer who is this jIva. For example, if I am the inquirer, I am this jIva. If you are the inquirer, you indeed are this jIva. What this amounts to is that for me, you are not an independent jIva but part of my dream, where I have created this universe, and Ishvara Himself. (Note that in this eka-jIva vAda, it is the jIva that creates the world and Ishvara as part of his dream.) And you can say the same about me. But then the question arises: who is correct? This is an irrelevant question because the ekajIvavAda holds for the person who is the inquirer and does not admit more than one inquirer. I can hold that you are part of my dream and you can hold that I am only a part of your dream. For me, even when you say to me, “You are part of my dream, not a real jIva.”, I can dismiss it as being part of *my* dream. It so happens that a so-called jIva who is no different from a dream object is making a statement in my dream that I belong to his dream! And it does not matter even if the rest of 7 billion people in the world tell me that I am part of each person’s dream. I can dismiss all these statements as coming from people in *my* own dream. They are not different from any other dream object. All this seems to border on absurdity, but as the siddhAnta-lesha saMgraha says about the eka-jIva vAda:
“atra ca sambhAvitasakalashaMkApaMka prakShAlanaM svapnadR^iShTAntasaliladhArayaiva kartavyamiti “.
Any doubts that arise (in the ekajIvavAda) should be washed away with the water of the dream analogy!
He adds in a later post: “I must also add that the dRshTi-sRshTi-vAda is as logically unassailable as it is absurd. The sRshTi-dRshTi view is, in this respect, less absurd, and fits well with commonsense notions of God, jIvas, and the world.”