Each thing is perceived through knowing.
The Self shines in space through knowing.
Perceive One Being as knower and known.
Whenever you know something, it is known through knowing. The object comes to your mind through the faculty of knowledge. You look at a flower. You know this is a rose flower. The rose flower is there and you are inside. Something from you comes to the rose flower; something from you is projected on the rose flower. Some energy moves from you, comes to the rose, takes its form, color and smell, and comes back and informs you that this is a rose flower.
All knowledge, whatsoever you know, is revealed through the faculty of knowing. Knowing is your faculty. Knowledge is gathered through this faculty. But knowing reveals two things: the known and the knower. Whenever you are knowing a rose flower, your knowledge is half if you forget the knower who is knowing it. So while knowing a rose flower there are three things: the rose flower – the known; and the knower – you; and the relationship between the two – knowledge.
So knowledge can be divided into three points: knower, known and knowing. Knowing is just like a bridge between two points – the subject and the object. Ordinarily your knowledge reveals only the known; the knower remains unrevealed. Ordinarily your knowledge is one-arrowed: it points to the rose but it never points to you. Unless it starts pointing to you, that knowledge will allow you to know about the world, but it will not allow you to know about yourself.
All the techniques of meditation are to reveal the knower. George Gurdjieff used a particular technique just like this. He called it self-remembering. He said that whenever you are knowing something, always remember the knower. Don’t forget it in the object. Remember the subject. Just now you are listening to me. When you are listening to me, you can listen in two ways. One: your mind can be focused towards me – then you forget the listener. Then the speaker is known but the listener is forgotten.
Gurdjieff said that while listening, know the speaker and also know the listener. Your knowledge must be double-arrowed, pointing to two points – the knower and the known. It must not only flow in one direction towards the object. It must flow simultaneously towards two directions – the known and the knower. This he called self-remembering.
Looking at a flower, also remember the one who is looking. Difficult, because if you do try it, if you try to be aware of the knower, you will forget the rose. You have become so fixed to one direction that it will take time. If you become aware of the knower, then the known will be forgotten. If you become aware of the known, then the knower will be forgotten.
But a little effort, and by and by you can be aware of both simultaneously. And when you become capable of being aware of both, this Gurdjieff calls self-remembering. This is one of the oldest techniques that Buddha used, and Gurdjieff again introduced it to the western world.
Buddha called this samyak smriti – right-mindfulness. He said that your mind is not in a right-mindfulness if it knows only one point. It must know both. And then a miracle happens: if you are aware of both the known and the knower, suddenly you become the third – you are neither. Just by endeavoring to be aware of both the known and the knower, you become the third, you become a witness. A third possibility arises immediately – a witnessing self comes into being – because how can you know both? If you are the knower, then you remain fixed to one point. In self-remembering you shift from the fixed point of the knower. Then the knower is your mind and the known is the world, and you become a third point, a consciousness, a witnessing self.
This third point cannot be transcended, and that which cannot be transcended is the ultimate. That which can be transcended is not worthwhile, because then it is not your nature – you can transcend it.
I will try to explain it through an example. In the night you sleep and you dream. In the morning you wake and the dream is lost. While you are awake there is no dream; a different world comes into your view. You move in the streets, you work in a factory or in an office. Then you come back to your home, and again you fall asleep at night. Then this world that you knew while you were awake disappears. Then you don’t remember who you are. Then you don’t know whether you are black or white, poor or rich, wise or foolish. You don’t know anything. You don’t know if you are young or old. You don’t know if you are man or woman. All that was related with the waking consciousness disappears; you enter the world of dreams. You forget the waking world; it is no more. In the morning, again the dreaming world disappears. You come back.
Which is real? – Because while you are dreaming, the real world, the world that you knew when you were awake, is no more. You cannot compare. And while you are awake, the dreaming world is no more. You cannot compare. Which is real? Why do you call the dreaming world unreal? What is the criterion?
If you say, ‘Because it disappears when I am awake,’ this cannot be the criterion, because your waking world disappears when you are dreaming. And really, if you argue this way, then the dreaming world may be more real, because while you are awake you can remember the dream, but while you are dreaming you cannot remember the waking consciousness and the world around it. So which is more real and more deep? The dreaming world completely washes away the world that you call real. Your real world cannot wash away the dreaming world so totally; it seems more solid, more real. And what is the criterion? How to say? How to compare?
Tantra says that both are unreal. Then what is real? Tantra says that the one who knows the dreaming world and the one who knows the waking world, he is real – because he is never transcended. He is never cancelled. Whether you dream or whether you are awake, he is there, uncanceled.
Tantra says that the one who knows the dream, and the one who knows that now the dream has stopped, the one who knows the waking world, and the one who knows that now the waking world has disappeared, is the real. Because there is no point when it is not; it is always there. That which cannot be cancelled by any experience is the real. That which cannot be transcended, beyond which you cannot go, is your Self. If you can go beyond it, then it was not your Self.
This method of Gurdjieff’s, which he calls self-remembering, or Buddha’s method, which he calls right-mindfulness, or this tantra sutra, lead to one thing. They lead within you to a point which is neither the known nor the knower, but a witnessing self which knows both.
This witnessing self is the ultimate, you cannot go beyond it, because now whatsoever you do will be witnessing. Beyond witnessing you cannot move. So witnessing is the ultimate substratum, the basic ground of consciousness. This sutra will reveal it to you.
Each thing is perceived through knowing.
The Self shines in space through knowing.
Perceive One Being as knower and known.
If you can perceive in yourself one point which is both knower and known, then you have transcended object and subject both. Then you have transcended the matter and mind both; then you have transcended the outer and inner both. You have come to a point where the knower and the known are one. There is no division.
With the mind, division will remain. Only with the witnessing self, division disappears. With the witnessing self you cannot say who is the known and who is the knower – it is both. But this has to be based on experience; otherwise it becomes a philosophical discussion. So try it, experiment.
You are sitting near a rose flower: look at it. The first thing to do is be totally attentive, give total attention to the rose, so that the whole world disappears and only the rose remains there – your consciousness is totally attentive to the being of the rose. If the attention is total then the world disappears, because the more the attention is concentrated on the rose, the more everything else falls away. The world disappears; only the rose remains. The rose becomes the world.
This is the first step – to concentrate on the rose. If you cannot concentrate on the rose, it will be difficult to move to the knower, because then your mind is always diverted. So concentration becomes the first step towards meditation. Only the rose remains; the whole world has disappeared. Now you can move inwards; now the rose becomes the point from where you can move. Now see the rose, and start becoming aware of yourself – the knower.
In the beginning you will miss. When you shift to the knower, the rose will drop out of consciousness. It will become faint, it will go away, it will become distant. Again you will come to the rose, and you will forget the self. This hide-and-seek play will go on, but if you persist, sooner or later a moment will come when suddenly you will be in between. The knower, the mind, and the rose will be there, and you will be just in the middle, looking at both. That middle point, that balancing point, is the witness.
Once you know that, you have become both. Then the rose – the known, and the knower – the mind, are just two wings of you. Then the object and the subject are just two wings; you are the center of both. They are extensions of you. Then the world and the divine are both extensions of you. You have come to the very center of being. And this center is just a witness.
Perceive One Being as knower and known.
Start by concentrating on something. When the concentration has come to be total, then try to move inwards, become mindful of yourself, and then try to balance. It will take time – months, even years. It depends on how intense is your effort, because it is the most subtle balancing to come between the two. But it happens, and when it happens you have reached the center of existence. In that center you are rooted, grounded, silent, blissful, in ecstasy, and duality is no more. This is what Hindus have called samadhi. This is what Jesus called the kingdom of God.
Just understanding is verbally will not be of much help, but if you try, from the very beginning you will start to feel that something is happening. When you concentrate on the rose, the world will disappear. This is a miracle – when the whole world disappears. Then you come to understand that it is your attention which is basic, and wherever you move your attention, a world is created, and from wherever you remove your attention, the world drops. So you can create worlds through your attention.
Look at it in this way. You are sitting here. If you are in love with someone, then suddenly only one person remains in this hall; everything else disappears, it is not there. What happens? Why does only one person remain when you are in love? The whole world drops really; it is phantom-like, shadows. Only one person is real, because now your mind is concentrated on one person, your mind is totally absorbed in one person. Everything else becomes shadow-like, a shadow existence – it is not real for you.
Whenever you can concentrate, the very concentration changes the whole pattern of your existence, the whole pattern of your mind. Try it – on anything. You can try it on a Buddha statue or a flower or a tree or anything. Or just on the face of your beloved or your friend – just look at the face.
It will be easy, because if you love some face it is very easy to concentrate. And really, those who tried to concentrate on Buddha, on Jesus, on Krishna, they were lovers; they loved Buddha. So it was very easy for Sariputta or for Modgalayan or for the other disciples to concentrate on Buddha’s face. The moment they looked at Buddha’s face they were easily flowing towards it. The love was there; they were infatuated.
So try to find a face – any face you love will do – and just look in the eyes and concentrate on the face. Suddenly the whole world drops; a new dimension has opened. Your mind is concentrated on one thing – then that person or that thing becomes the whole world.
When I say this, I mean that if your attention is total towards anything, that thing becomes the whole world. You create the world through your attention. Your world you create through your own attention. And when you are totally absorbed, flowing like a river towards the object, then suddenly start becoming aware of the original source from where this attention is flowing. The river is flowing; now become aware of the origin.
In the beginning you will get lost again and again; you will shift. If you move to the origin, you will forget the river and the object; the sea towards which it is flowing. It will change: if you come to the object, you will forget the origin. It is natural, because the mind has become fixed to either the object or to the subject.
That’s why so many persons go into retreat. They just leave the world. Leaving the world basically means leaving the object, so that they can concentrate on themselves. It is easy. If you leave the world and close your eyes and close all your senses, you can be aware of yourself easily, but again that awareness is false because you have chosen one point of duality. This is another extreme of the same disease.
First you were aware of the object – the known, and you were not aware of the subject – the knower. Now you are fixed with the knower and you have forgotten the known, but you remain divided in duality. And this is the old mind again in a new pattern. Nothing has changed.
That’s why my emphasis is not to leave the world of the objects. Don’t leave the world of the objects. Rather, try to become aware of both the subject and the object simultaneously, the outer and the inner simultaneously. If both are there, only then can you be balanced between them. If one is there you will get obsessed with it.
Those who go to the Himalayas and close themselves, they are just like you standing in a reverse position. You are fixed with the objects; they are fixed with the subject. You are fixed with the outer, they are fixed with the inner. Neither you are free nor they, because you cannot be free with the one. With the one you become identified. You can be free only when you become aware of the two. Then you can become the third, and the third is the free point. With one you become identified. With two you can move, you can shift, you can balance, and you can come to a midpoint, an absolute midpoint.
Buddha used to say that his path is a middle path – majjhim nikaya. It has not been really understood why he insisted so much on calling it the middle path. This is the reason: because his whole process was of mindfulness – it is the middle path. Buddha says, ‘Don’t leave the world, and don’t cling to the other world. Rather, be in between. Don’t leave one extreme and move to the other; just be in the middle, because in the middle both are not. Just in the middle you are free. Just in the middle there is no duality. You have come to one, and the duality has become just the extension of you – just two wings.’
Buddha’s middle path is based on this technique. It is beautiful. For so many reasons it is beautiful. One: it is very scientific, because only between two can you balance. If there is only one point, imbalance is bound to be there. So Buddha says that those who are worldly are imbalanced, and those who has renounced are again imbalanced in the other extreme. A balanced man is one who is neither in this extreme nor that; he lives just in the middle. You cannot call him worldly; you cannot call him other-worldly. He is free to move; he is not attached to any. He has come to the midpoint, the golden mean.
Secondly: it is very easy to move to the other extreme – very easy. If you eat too much you can fast easily, but you cannot diet easily. If you talk too much you can go into silence very easily, but you cannot talk less. If you eat too much, it is very easy not to eat at all – this is another extreme. But to eat moderately, to come to a midpoint, is very difficult. To love a person is easy; to hate a person is easy. To be simply indifferent is very difficult. From one extreme you can move to the other.
To remain in the middle is very difficult. Why? Because in the middle you have to lose your mind. Your mind exists in extremes. Mind means the excess. Mind is always an extremist: either you are for or you are against. You cannot be simply neutral. Mind cannot exist in neutrality: it can be here or there – because mind needs the opposite. It needs to be opposed to something. If it is not opposed to anything it disappears. Then there is no functioning for it; it cannot function.
Try this. In any way become neutral, indifferent – suddenly mind has no function. If you are for, you can think; if you are against, you can think. If you are neither for nor against, what is left to think? Buddha says that indifference is the basis of the middle path. upeksha indifference – be indifferent to the extremes. Just try one thing: be indifferent to the extremes. A balancing happens.
This balancing will give you a new dimension of feeling where you are both the knower and the known, the world and the other world, this and that, the body and the mind. You are both, and simultaneously neither – above both. A triangle has come into existence.
You may have seen that many occult, secret societies have used the triangle as their symbol. The triangle is one of the oldest occult symbols just because of this – because the triangle has three angles. Ordinarily you have only two angles, the third is missing. It is not there yet, it has not evolved. The third angle is beyond both. Both belong to it, they are part of it, and still it is beyond and higher than both.
If you do this experiment you will help to create a triangle within yourself. The third angle will arise by and by, and when it comes then you cannot be in misery. Once you can witness, you cannot be in misery. Misery means getting identified with something.
But one subtle point has to be remembered – then you will not even get identified with bliss. That’s why Buddha says, ‘I can say only this much – that there will be no misery. In samadhi, in ecstasy, there will be no misery. I cannot say that there will be bliss.’ Buddha says, ‘I cannot say that. I can simply say there will be no misery.’
And he is right, because bliss means when there is no identification of any type – not even with bliss. This is very subtle. If you feel that you are blissful, sooner or later you will be in misery again. If you feel you are blissful, you are preparing to be miserable again. You are still getting identified with a mood.
You feel happy: now you get identified with happiness. The moment you get identified with happiness, unhappiness has started. Now you will cling to it, now you will become afraid of the opposite, now you will expect it to remain with you constantly. You have created all that is needed for misery to be there and then misery will enter, and when you get identified with happiness, you will get identified with misery. Identification is the disease.
At the third point you are not identified with anything: whatsoever comes and passes, comes and passes; you remain a witness, just a spectator – neutral, indifferent, unidentified.
The morning comes and the sun rises and you witness it. You don’t say, ‘I am the morning.’ Then when the noon comes, you don’t say, ‘I have become the noon.’ You witness it. And when the sun sets and darkness comes and the night, you don’t say, ‘I am the darkness and the night.’ You witness it. You say, ‘There was morning, then there was noon, then there was evening and now there is night. And again there will be morning and the circle will go on and I am just an onlooker. I go on witnessing.’
If the same becomes possible with your moods – moods of the morning and moods of the noon and moods of the evening and the night, and they have their own circle, they go on moving – you become a witness. You say, ‘Now happiness has come – just like a morning. And now night will come – the misery. The moods will go on changing around me, and I will remain centered in myself. I will not get attached to any mood. I will not cling to any mood. I will not hope for anything and I will not feel frustrated. I will simply witness. Whatsoever happens, I will see it. When it comes, I will see; when it goes, I will see.’
Buddha uses this many times. He says again and again that when a thought arises, look at it. A thought of misery, a thought of happiness arises – look at it. It comes to a climax – look at it. Then it starts falling down – look at it. Then it disappears – look at it. Arising, existing, dying, and you remain just a witness; go on looking at it. This third point makes you a witness, sakshi, and to be a witness is the highest possibility of consciousness.
From The Book of Secrets, Discourse #61
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Here you can listen to the discourse excerpt Perceive One Being as Knower and Known.