Thoughts on Consciousness

It doesn’t come from anywhere, but is everywhere, pervading the whole universe as its essence. Consciousness is you, and you are consciousness. All phenomena appear to be just that – appearances; but in reality, being the expression of consciousness, they are only consciousness. There is no other reality.

Realization of witness consciousness is not brought about by anything or ‘anybody’. Consciousness does not perform any function, and there is nothing beyond or other than it. Finally, only intuition can nudge one towards it.

“I am the Witness-Self; I am the basis of all experience; I am the light that  makes experience possible.” Yoga Vasishta.

17 thoughts on “Thoughts on Consciousness

  1. Just a couple of quibbles, Martin (in my usual pedantic manner!):

    Consciousness cannot ‘pervade the whole universe’ since there is nothing other than Consciousness!

    You need to define ‘intuition’ if you are going to use it in this context. Only Self-knowledge can bring about Self-realization.

    Best wishes,

    • My def. of intuition: ‘clearly seeing’, which may be a redundancy.

      SSSS: <>… <>… From ‘Articles and Thoughts on VEDANTA’, by SSSS (he repeats the same word (intuition) more than once. ‘Articles and Thoughts on VEDANTA’, by SSSS (he repeats the same word (intuition) more than once.

  2. [Dennis says] “Consciousness cannot ‘pervade the whole universe’ since there is nothing other than Consciousness!”

    There are precedents for this locution. For example,

    The metrical section of Shankara’s Upadesasahasri begins with this verse: “Salutations to the all-knowing Pure Consciousness which pervades all, is all, abides in the hearts of all beings, and is beyond all objects [of knowledge].”

    There is also his invocation to the Mandukya Upanishad: “I bow to that Brahman that (during the waking state) after having experienced all gross objects by pervading the entire universe…”

    Verse 8 of the Isha Upanishad reads: “It is He who pervades all – He who is bright and bodiless, without scar or sinews, pure and by evil unpierced; who is the Seer, omniscient, transcendent and uncreated. He has duly allotted to the eternal World-Creators their respective duties.” Shankara comments, “This text describes the real nature of the Atman, spoken of in the previous texts. Sah means ‘the Atman previously spoken of.’ ‘Paryagat means went round.’ The meaning is ‘he is all-pervading like the Akas.’ “

    The Svetasvatara Upanishad (6.11) states, “The non−dual and resplendent Lord is hidden in all beings. All−pervading, the inmost Self of all creatures, the impeller to actions, abiding in all things, He is the Witness, the Animator and the Absolute, free from gunas.” Shankara cites this verse approvingly at BSB 1.1.4 and 2.3.21 (Sruti texts like, “He is the one God . . . all-pervading” (Svet. 6. II), refer not to the individual soul, but to the Supreme Lord, who is other than the individual soul and forms the chief subject-matter of all the Vedanta texts; for that is the one thing that is to be known, and is therefore propounded by all the Vedanta texts..”)

    “Having realized the vast, all-pervading Atman, the calm soul does not grieve.” (Katha Upanishad 2.1:4)

    “Brahman alone pervades everything above and below; this universe is that Supreme Brahman alone.” (Mundaka Upanishad, 2.2:11)

    Now when my body falls may my breath return to the all-pervading Prana! May this body, reduced to ashes, return to the earth! (Brihadaranyaka Upanishad, 2.15:1)

    When commenting on Brihadaranyaka Upanishad 5.1.1 Shankara equates ‘all-pervading’ with ‘infinite’ – “That is infinite, not limited by anything, i.e. all-pervading. The suffix ‘kta’ in the word ‘Pūrṇa’ (lit. complete) has a subjective force. ‘That’ is a pronoun denoting something remote; it means the Supreme Brahman. It is complete, all-pervading like the ether, without a break, and unconditioned. So also is this conditioned Brahman, manifesting through name and form and coming within the scope of relativity (the universe), infinite or all-pervading indeed in its real form as the Supreme Self, not in its differentiated form circumscribed by the limiting adjuncts.“

    Verse 2.17 of the Bhagavad Gita says: “(O Arjuna!) Know that Atma by which the whole universe is pervaded is indestructible. No one can cause the destruction of the imperishable.”

  3. Thanks for that, Rick. Always rely on you to pick me up on my pedanticness! (Is that you being pedantic, I wonder? 😉 )

    But it is interesting to note that original texts and Shankara also occasionally fall into a colloquial form rather than sticking strictly to the truth of their own teaching. I.e. it is not only modern teachers who can trigger confusion. A bit worrying, that!

    Do you know for certain that these quotations are accurate translations and not themselves colloquial?

    Best wishes,

  4. Hi Dennis,

    To be fair, your statement was not pedantic, merely at odds with what believers take to be sacred revelation.


  5. Pedantic beiievers cannot believe that, can they? Brahman pervading the universe would be (at least) two things. Like salt pervading the ocean. There are two things there – NaCl and H2O.

    If they understand that the universe is Brahman, it would be somewhat superfluous to say that Brahman is pervading Brahman.

    We clearly have to accept it as an adhyAropa teaching for beginning seekers. First we say that Brahman pervades the universe. Later, that is taken back and we admit that the universe is just name and form of Brahman.

    Best wishes,

    • Another explanation is that the authors of these scriptures were not aware that every one of their statements, however tentative and speculative, would be expected to conform centuries later to a single-minded scholastic interpretation.

  6. That is not a possible Advaitic explanation, is it. The Vedas are said to be apaurusheya; certainly not either tentative or speculative.

  7. Thanks for that, Ramesam. Swami S is indeed brilliant!

    This was the most incredible synchronicity incidentally. I am currently writing my next book – a follow-up to Back to the Truth, which looks particularly at misleading teaching from modern teachers. And I am just finalising a list of current teachers, together with links and sample quotes. I was literally just processing Swami Sarvapriyananda.

    But that is not the conicidence. I was looking through an interview given by Swami S to Rick Archer on ‘Buddha at the Gas Pump’ ( and the quotation I had just read was:

    “Well ultimately, Maya is nothing different from the absolute, whose power Maya is, and so ultimately the answer would be this seemingly dualistic universe which seems to be as far from God as possible is actually nothing other than God. You would not say that it is God, but it’s nothing other than God. There’s a very interesting distinction.

    “Mary Hale, one of the disciples of Vivekananda in the late 19th century, she wrote in a poem to Vivekananda,: ‘you have taught us that all is God’ and Vivekananda wrote back: ‘I have never taught such strange doctrine that all is God’. And she said: ‘you said it’. He said: ‘no, I never said that all is God. God only is, the all is not’, which is an important distinction in nondualism.”

    And then Swami S quotes the same anecdote in the talk!

    Best wishes,

  8. Thank you, Dennis, for letting us know that you are now preparing a sequel to “BTT.”
    Another “synchronicity”!
    Just yesterday some of us were discussing a Table given by you in BTT comparing Traditional, DP and N – Advaita approaches. I said that you wrote to me that you were revising the book with updations based on a change in your own perspectives. Dr. Greg Goode added that you were likely to be more “critical” of the ‘direct approaches’ in your revised book and he also added that you would “run by him (Greg)” the new draft. So, all in all, I thought you are working on the revision; but it’s news that you are preparing a ‘sequel.’
    Does that mean that you completed the revision of the BTT?


  9. No. I have given up the idea of a straight revision to BttT.

    I began the revision before starting on the ‘Confusions’ books. I finished Vol. 2 of ‘Confusions’ but my publisher thinks 4 volumes will put people off. He wants me to cut this down to 3. This means revising (and reducing) the content. He also wants to delay publication of the second volume.

    So, whilst thinking about all this, I returned to BttT. But, with all of the Confusion topics fresh in my mind, I realized that most modern teachers are contributing to this confusion. So I do not really want to continue to promote them by carefully selecting good quotations! Instead, I thought it would be only fair to do the opposite and point out some of the myriad ways in which they are adding to the confusion!

    Accordingly the new book will be constructed in a similar way to BttT, looking at all the main topics in Advaita. But, instead of giving clear explanatory quotes from lots of sources, it will give quotations that mislead and confuse. These will, of course. then be followed up with explanations of how and why they are wrong, together with correct teaching from traditional sources. It will do this in a ‘chatty’ manner as in BttT, though, rather than the more academic style of ‘Confusions’. E.g. no Sanskrit!

  10. No hurry. Assuming I finish in the next 6 months, it still wouldn’t be in the shops before mid 2025. I will announce on the website with extracts before then.

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