How does your explanation of consciousness differ from Nisargadatta's?

How does your explanation of consciousness differ from Nisargadatta's?

I have a problem in understanding the difference between Nisargadatta’s and your explanation of consciousness. The maharaj says this consciousness is not there when we are not there (bodily death), whereas you seem to say that once we realise this awareness and live in it as such (standing as awareness), we realise our eternal existence.

Also the maharaj says we are actually something prior to this consciousness, which he calls the absolute. He says that this consciousness (or ‘I am-ness’ or ‘beingness’) is itself the problem, and in order to realise our true nature we have to transcend this and become the absolute.

I have truly enjoyed your book and DVDs, but they are not helping me get over this hump. It might just be semantics but I would deeply appreciate some insight into this.

Thank you,


Dear Kirk,

The problem is one of semantics. You are confusing consciousness with mind, at least in the way I use the terms.

In order to legitimately claim that consciousness disappears with the body at death, something must be present there as the witness of its disappearance. Whatever it is that witnesses the disappearance of the body, the apparent disappearance of consciousness or indeed the disappearance of anything else, must itself be conscious. In other words, it is impossible to be conscious of the disappearance of consciousness.

Likewise, if consciousness disappears, it must have first appeared. In order to appear and disappear, consciousness would have to be an object, because only an object can appear or disappear. Whatever it is that is seeing these words is both conscious and present (and hence it is called conscious-ness) but it cannot be found as an object, nor can any objective qualities be attributed to it. The same is true of that which is aware of these words, i.e., awareness (the word Nisargadatta uses for that which is prior to consciousness). Check that out in your own experience.

Both consciousness and awareness are present now. But as neither has objective qualities, they must be identical. There cannot be two distinct, non-objective realities present at the same time. If they were not present at the same time, both would be temporal. To be distinct or different, each would have to have at least one defining and therefore objective quality, and therefore neither would be what we know to be unlimited consciousness or awareness.

We cannot go farther back in our experience than consciousness or awareness (in the ways the terms are used here), and therefore they are absolute.

With kind regards,


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