Posted 16 March 2018 by Sal
Sensing vs. Knowing - Excerpt from The Way of Freedom
For a long time, I have felt that I was aware and I knew there was knowing. This weekend, I was having a holiday and I was definitely trying to confirm that understanding. What I could see was sensing: I could see objects; I could hear sounds, etc. There was sensing and I was wondering, is there a difference between sensing and knowing, or are they one and the same? Is knowing happening through the senses? Also, is this a small point or a bigger issue?
It’s a crucial point.
First of all, knowing is not known because of the senses. The senses are known to you, the knowing. Let’s say you were floating in a hermetically sealed, pitch black, soundproof, anti-gravity chamber, so that you had no tactile sensations, no sounds, no sights, no smell and no taste. In this situation, none of the five senses would sense any objects at all. Nevertheless, you would still know the felt sense of I Am. The knowing would know the object, the felt sense of I Am.
Knowing needs none of the senses. It is prior to the senses. Let’s go further and make it more recognizable.
You are saying that the senses are known too, they are experienced?
Yes. It is through the senses that you know the so-called world. The world is not separate from the senses or the knowing. Knowing is not separate from the senses or the objects that it knows. If we think, “I know because of the senses,” then we are not knowing Thyself, which is essential. We have to come to know the pure knowing that is prior to the senses, including the felt sense I Am. Let’s be on holiday, now.
I know I exist.
There are no senses involved in that knowing, are there?
This is extremely important, and this is the key. So, let’s take our time with it. This is the whole shift of knowing.
See now that knowing is not objectifiable. It is not an object. It is not a sense. It is just knowing. It is just self-effulgent or self-knowing. Have a holiday and see this.
That is clear, right?
Yes. So, nothing that is known could be the knower.
There is no object that is known that can be the knower. The first object is the felt sense of I Am. That is actually an object. You are prior to that, and we will explore that further in a moment. But the first object is the felt sense of I Am, which means the sense of being here in a body. It is not an object known by the five senses. It is just the felt sense of a self (localized consciousness) in the body. This is an experience that you know—you, the knowing, know the felt sense of I Am. When we relax the focus of attention from the felt sense of I Am, then knowing knows itself. It’s just I, knowing I. That I, knowing, is not localized.
This is where we see that knowing is ubiquitous. Let’s have a holiday.
Within knowing, all objects are included.
When you look in the night sky, even all
the stars and galaxies are included.
It is all happening here, in knowing.
It is not anywhere in distance.
It is here in knowing.
The primordial, or essential knowing,
which is prior to the felt sense of I Am,
is who you are essentially.
Is this clear?
If I say I don’t know, that probably means no.
Here’s the thing about this. You do recognize this, but the mind has doubts, that’s all. There are a lot of ideas about what should happen or how it should be. The mind has many “buts.” This is true for everyone. However, the more you have holidays, the more it becomes obvious that you do in fact recognize this.
Nisargadatta said to hold on to the felt sense of I Am, which is the first sense of self/ego, until that falls away and you go prior to it—to the true I. But I want to go directly there. Let’s be on holiday. Don’t attempt to figure anything out.
Being and knowing are the same.
Be the knowing.
Be who you are.
The way of freedom is to be who you are, knowingly.
Knowing is not confined to this body here, and you are the knowing whether you know you are it or not. The more you have holidays, the more you will be reconciled with that truth—you=knowing.
If I could formulate this, there are things that are known to me.
Yes. Everything is known to you. Knowing includes everything. That is why they say God knows everything. God knows all because God is knowing. Sat Chit is God.
For a moment, don’t attend to any objects. That does not mean to avoid them or pretend they are not there, or anything like that. Everything is still here, but I want you to know yourself, which is essentially knowing. Don’t bother with anything that is. Just be knowing itself (pause).
For our entire life, all we have known are objects, gross and subtle. And everything we have learned on the spiritual path suggests that we are going to gain a new object: a specific state of consciousness (bliss), or an experience (the great silence). Guess what? Any particular state of consciousness or experience is an object that you know. They are all objects.
For the purpose of this work, ignore all of the objects and don’t place any value on them. I don’t care what the object is. Just know. Be the knowing. You are the knowing.
Inquirer 2: I am confused about the I before the felt sense of I Am. Could you talk a little more about that?
I don’t like to talk about it. I prefer to assist with finding a way for you to recognize it yourself. Let’s do an experiment.
Have this felt sense of I Am, here.
It is not a sight, sound, taste, touch,
smell, thought or emotion.
It is none of those.
It’s a felt sense of I Am—located here.
There is a felt sense of I Am somehow in this body.
Be aware of that for a moment.
Feel yourself limited here within the body—
the feeling of I Am…
Is that recognizable?
Okay. Recognize the feeling of I Am which is clearly limited to this body. Is that true?
Yes. It seems like looking out of these eyes.
Yes. It can be like that and just have the sense of being in a body. Just a feeling sense of I Am, here in the body.
When you say feel within the body, I feel the body, very strongly.
You feel that there is a me—I Am this body. Not using any of the five senses: sight, sound, taste, smell or touch. It is the feeling of life or consciousness that is here in the body. It is a felt sense of I Am, here is this body. Obviously, this is limited; and it is what Nisargadatta wants you to hold on to—the felt sense of I Am. Now, ignore that. Just allow attention to be open, completely.
Recognize. Knowing is not limited to the body. Knowing is ubiquitous. It pervades everything. It knows everything. It even includes galaxies that you look at in the night sky that are ten billion light-years away. Those galaxies would be within knowing.
Yes. Everything is within knowing.
So, knowing is not limited to this body, is it? The felt sense of I Am or feeling of I Am is limited to this body, but knowing is prior to that. You see what I mean?
No, because knowing always seems to be physically located in this body.
That is not my experience. If you are looking at the moon, the moon is in knowing. It is not in the body, but it is in knowing.
It is a little easier for me with sounds.
Fine. As an example, the sound of a car going by outside is happening within knowing, right? But the sound is not located inside the body. The source of the sound is not located in the body.
It is all within knowing, but it is not within the body, is it?
The sound doesn’t even seem to have a location. It is just here.
That’s true. If you are really identified with the felt sense of I Am, here, limited, localized, then you can hear where a sound comes from in relation to the body. If you are not identified with the limited sense of I Am, then within the knowing everything is here.
Yes. I get that.
So then, knowing is ubiquitous. It is not actually localized here. The conscious aspect, which is the body, and which is limited here, you can’t deny. And the knowing is not limited, it goes in all directions…
Could another way of saying that be that it encompasses everything that appears as an object?
Yes. Knowing is all-inclusive, all-encompassing. Knowing is ubiquitous, it is everywhere. I also say that knowing permeates through all the objects. It permeates the body. It permeates everything. There is nothing that is separate from knowing. Nothing is separate from the knowing of it. That is why they say that God is within everything as well.
When you read this section again, don’t attempt to figure out, get or attain anything. Just keep being on a holiday and ignore the felt sense of I Am located here. Go prior to that, which is just to be the I, the knowing.
It is easy to do. Just ignore the felt sense of I Am. I don’t mean to deny it, get rid of it, or change it. Just don’t attend to it. Nisargadatta says to attend to the felt sense of I Am and keep holding on to it until you go prior to it. I say, “Why wait?” Be the knowing, now.
This makes sense and I may be trying too hard.
Yes. Don’t try at all. Don’t look for anything, try anything, get rid of anything, or expect anything. Just have a holiday and for a moment ignore the felt sense of I Am. Just know yourself as ubiquitous.
There is still going to be a subtle sense of being here in the body because this is where the function of consciousness is. To deny this or think that there is going to be no localized sensation of being here, is inaccurate. It will remain, and you know that localized sensation, as well as every other appearance.
You are not the felt sense of I Am. You know the felt sense of I Am. You are knowing.
Nothing to do…
I, knowing, can’t be reduced any further.
The senses can be reduced to the body.
The body can be reduced to the felt sense of I Am.
The felt sense of I Am can be reduced to knowing.
That is as far as it goes.
Knowing includes everything.
Knowing knows everything,
including the felt sense of I Am.