Why the Self is Called the Knower

Hi, Ted.


I am seeing in my self and do think it is difficult to be clear on what is what. I thought the known was objects and knowing of them or knowing them as in seeing them was the self witnessing the jiva.


Ted: It is the intellect illumined by awareness that knows objects.

Ingrid: But it is the intellect that knows what is. When self-realized there is an understanding that one is the self.


Ted: Correct.

Ingrid: And if it is intellect that understands and NOT the self, understanding is taking place in the intellect and what is understood is being the limitless awareness.


Ted: Correct.

Ingrid: What knows then? The intellect knows itself.


Ted: The intellect knows the objects arising within it, including the thought that its true nature is limitless conscious existence.

Ingrid: Yet since I witness the intellect having this idea, I feel I am the awareness that knows the intellect.

Ted: Yes, because the ego, which is just a thought in the mind that believes it is an independently existent entity, thinks (or rather is the thought) that it is an awareness separated from the mind.
Ingrid: So if you can shed some light on this please.


Ted: The mind knows objects by virtue of being illumined by (or having been lent sentiency) by awareness, which is not a knower itself, but rather the knowing principle, or the “light” that illumines the mind and enables it to know objects.

Ingrid: It is said knowledge takes place in the intellect. Yet why is the self called knowing? Is it meaning seeing as in witnessing or is it meaning seeing as in understanding? Or both.


Ted: The self is called the knower or witness because it is the “light” that illumines the mind and thereby enables the mind to know objects. The terms “knower” and “witness” are purely figurative. But because we are limited by language, they are the best terms we can come up with to express the ever-present consciousness by means of whose “light” the mind is able to know objects.

Ingrid: Or is seeing and knowing not the same. I see both are used for pure awareness. I thought I knew this but I am confused now.  If understanding is what the intellect does.


Ted: Understanding is a function of the intellect. Seeing and knowing are both attributed to consciousness, but only in a figurative sense. Seeing (or witnessing) is perhaps more appropriate than knowing because it suggests passivity, so to speak, simply “observing” rather than actively engaging objects and gleaning information from and about them.

Ingrid: I thought the self was all knowing. But if so, it seems to be included Isvara and people meaning the intelligence of the total.


Ted: Isvara is the reservoir of all objective knowledge, or what we might figuratively call “the cosmic mind.” A certain portion of this total knowledge is known by each apparent individual via the intellect. The intellect is able to know information, or objects, because it is illumined by the “light” of awareness.

Ingrid: Thank you.


Ted: My pleasure.



Hi, Ted.


Thank you very much.

So the awareness is the light? The light of awareness? The knowing principle? Making knowing possible? Making also all life possible? So the light is aware? But cannot know anything? Or witness anything? What is then to be conscious?

Ted: Consciousness is consciousness. It is the factor that allows the inert mechanism of the mind to carry out the functions that we call knowing, which means the functions by means of which objects/information is known.

Ingrid: Or is the light not aware? The light is not conscious? If concious mean being able to know other things? Or itself?

Ted: The “light” of consciousness or awareness is just that: awareness or consciousness. This is what Vedanta means by the term consciousness. Being conscious of objects is a function of a mind imbued with consciousness. The mind is like a computer; consciousness is like wifi. Neither the computer nor wifi alone can compute. But put the two together and computing happens.

Ingrid: I understand it is light since I have been shown in a dream that it is a bright shimmering reflecting shining whiter than white light behind each person and behind the field. So I do not doubt that.

Ted: That image is just a personal representation of consciousness. Consciousness is limitless and has no attributes. The image may help you understand the principle of consciousness, but don’t mistake the image for consciousness itself.

Ingrid: I just wonder if it is aware and what that is on it’s own? Is there somewhere or some time possible for the light to be without creation? I know time and place is in creation so maybe not an adequate question.

Ted: Yes, during the cosmic dissolution all objective phenomena resolve into a state of dormancy within the Macrocosmic Causal Body, or so scripture tells us. To be honest, no one has been around to actually see it. It is like the macrocosmic version of the deep sleep state.

Ingrid: If so how would we know? When it is the intellect that can know so a human is the knower that could know if the awareness existed?

Ted: We know through logical analysis. Non-existence is not possible because something cannot come out of nothing. So, if awareness could cease to be, it would mean that the substrate of awareness was non-existence. But if non-existence was the fundamental reality, then nothing could have ever come to be nor could awareness exist because something cannot come out of nothing. Thus, awareness must be eternal (i.e., altogether beyond the limiting parameters of time and space, which are themselves objects in awareness). So, whether all objects ever cease to be makes little difference. Awareness always is.

Ingrid: To me it now seems like what Vedanta calls knower and witness is the intellect. Which they call the subject.

Ted: No, Vedanta calls awareness the knower, but only in a figurative sense, as I explained in my last reply.

Ingrid: Then Vedanta calls the intellect an object when it is witnessed. So then it is witnessed by the witness. The intellect is observed by itself.

Ted: Yes, but it can only witness itself because it is lent sentiency by awareness.

Ingrid: So the knower is the known. Intellect is the knower. So called subject. And intellect is the known object. Object sees object witnessed by nothing. Since awareness just is. The light.

Ted: Yes, the intellect is the relative knower and in this case the known object as well.

Ingrid: So maybe it is just Isvara that is  all there is.  Being illumined by the light. So it is just the light. Or just Isvara that shines in its own glory.

Ted: In a manner of speaking, yes. Isvara is the name we give to all objective phenomena, which includes not only tangible entities, but also subtle objects, including the knowledge that accounts for the structure and functioning of objects and the laws that govern the physical, psychological, and moral aspects of the manifestation.

Ingrid: Or is it an independent self apart from Isvara? That is pure awareness or limitlessness?

Ted: Awareness is not a self. It is the self. Thus, Isvara is awareness, but awareness is not Isvara in the sense that even the totality of objective phenomena do not comprehensively define or represent awareness. Awareness is the limitless conscious existence in which all objects, including Isvara, which is the grandest object of all, obtain.

Ingrid: If I should believe my dream it was a light outside the field and people.

Ted: So to speak, yes. Awareness is not actually a light, but it is the limitless conscious existence in which the field, or the manifestation, and people exist.

Ingrid: Yet I think it makes us conscious.

Ted: Yes.

Ingrid: How can we know that this light has no limits? How can we know it will always exist? As the light?

Ted: This was explained above.

Ingrid: And how can we know it is not intelligence and love?

Ted: It is intelligence. It simply is not the knowledge of objects. It is the intelligence that makes the knowledge of objects possible. And it is love, but it is not the emotional feeling of affection. It is the fundamental non-duality that gives rise to the feeling of affection when one feels a connection with another apparent entity. This feeling of connection is an experiential reflection of the underlying non-dual nature of reality.

Ingrid: Namaste.

Ted: Namaste.



Hi, Ted.


Thank you.


So then consciousness or our awareness is not light.


Ted: Light is a figurative term that represents the illumining factor of consciousness, the way it lends sentiency to the mind and thereby enables it to perform the function of knowing objects.


Hanne: It is seen as light in dreams and can also appear as light in epiphanies in waking state. The dream occurred to show me it was something that I see as the wifi explanation. I understand you could see it as personal image and of course it is meant for me since Isvara knows what I need in my process to understand. And this was early on in Vedanta studies before really knowing much about awareness and that it also was behind the field and everything. I do get it like this before I understand things as to understand them. That is why I can learn by it. And it is why I believe them because I know I do not come up with it myself. I did this before Vedanta too and can see it fits with the teaching. So I am used to seeing it as information or teaching, which I cannot use for others. It is like a film made to explain something, which I later can check if is correlating to the teaching. Otherwise how could I know it is awareness in all of us and that it is the same substance all is made of? I experience it but for people to distinguish awareness as the wifi factor from the computer when never seen or with no function without the computer it is difficult to know for sure that awareness exists outside the intellect or independent of it. But now you tell me it is not a light. It is just awareness, which is limitless and is love and intelligence. This is the Knowledge or Consciousness?


Ted: Awareness, consciousness, and the self are synonymous. All indicate limitless conscious existence.


Hanne: Or is Knowledge with the intellect attached as well? As the wifi?


Ted: The wifi analogy is limited in that awareness is not energy. Even energy is an object in awareness. So is the intellect. The intellect is an object (i.e., something knowable) that exists within the “field” of limitless conscious existence.


Hanne: Without own dream message I would be then maybe left with the example of deep sleep. There wee do not know anything when there is not appearance of dreams. Maybe it is because the intellect sleeps? Or is resting. Shut down to restitute.


Ted: Yes, during deep sleep the intellect has resolved into a state of dormancy within the causal body. It experiences only one baseline thought of limitless and bliss. But because it is dormant, it does not assimilate the knowledge that this limitless bliss is its true nature, and thus when it resumes cognitive activity, it is still ignorant of its true nature.


Hanne: I do not experience deep sleep other than I know I have slept without dreams, which is what I do most of the night except when messages/images. And some short dreaming. That deep sleep tells me it is awareness although not knowing of anything if intellect is not there. And when not any intellect creating dreams it is not sense of time either. Just nothing. How can we know for sure awareness is not gone? What about in coma? When in narcosis you are gone as well and it is like deep sleep. I do not remember anything then. But if feels like there has been experiencing of blackness or dark. Like in deep sleep. Are they not seen as aware when in coma? But awareness is always here so it is a strange question as well.


Ted: Awareness is present in deep sleep and coma. If awareness were not present, one would never wake up, and the world would cease. Moreover, if awareness could cease to exist, it could never have come into being in the first place, for the cessation of awareness would indicate that there was a more fundamental substrate into which awareness could resolve. But if that substrate were nothing, that nothing could have ever come into existence because something can’t come out of nothing. Thus, awareness must be the fundamental “ground” of being, and as such must be self-dependent and eternal.


Hanne: Awareness is not energy since it is not even light. It is not force since that is Isvara. Consciousness just is. But as humans we cannot experience or validate it. If experience in dreams and in waking state are not valid. Then we have deep sleep to rely on. Which is nothing happening. Since you as intellect and jiva in general or in dream body is gone. So we must understand that deep sleep awareness is intelligent and love. How can I know this for sure? I see only blackness in deep sleep. I feel dreams to me are pointers to the real. How could I else know that the real existed? I am just told actually.


Ted: The way you know is by heeding the indications provided you by your dreams and visions and then further validating their veracity through following the logic of the brief argument I just presented.


Hanne: As only god is real. While Isvara is showing itself partly. I do not see how people can believe in Vedanta if not shown in dream or waking state.


Ted: They are shown in the waking state through self-inquiry.


Hanne: I also know from dreams that scriptures is like a life rescue, like it is a rope that can take drowning people over to safe shore. Or these rings that are for rescuing lives. As if the sea is samsara. And shown to read the Gita, etc. So for me I do not doubt this. But how can people if not they are to trust dreams or if they have samadhi experiences have faith in the scriptures? Because they are religions? Or because it is so intelligent and making sense for them recognizing their self in the scriptures?


Ted: Yes, dreams, visions, and scripture are all great. But the truths revealed by these phenomena are supported by an analysis of one’s own experience, which is the point of the teaching methods, such as the analysis of the seer and the seen, the analysis of the three states of experience, etc. When you “see” the truth pointed to in dreams, visions, and scripture revealed through an analysis of your own experience, you no longer have to simply believe. You apprehend your true nature and know beyond a shadow of a doubt that your essential identity is limitless conscious existence.


Hanne: I wonder how other people that feel they are enlightened without scriptures can know they are. But it is sad if it is only by scripture or knowledge they can get enlightened. As if you ate born in the jungle or if you do not know English or Sanskrit you are doomed to samsara. It is the same as the missionaries say about Jesus. That everyone must get the bible to know about Jesus. As if redeemed without knowing about him. To be free from sin, etc. And eternal life. Can it be like that? That without scriptures people cannot get liberated? Moksha?


Ted: You can get enlightened without reading scripture, but the understanding that constitutes enlightenment is the same knowledge that is contained in the scripture. And actually it is this knowledge that is referred to when it is said that you can only get enlightened by means of scripture. It is not that you can only get enlightened by reading the Upanishads.


Hanne: If so, I have no other choice than starting to translate into Norwegian since there is many that do not know how to read this in English because it is too complicated for many, especially older people. I know many that are very open spiritually and seeing that they are god and could benefit from the knowledge to realize who they are.


Ted: By all means translate the scriptures into Norwegian. Just make sure that your translations correspond with the original Sanskrit meaning.


Hanne: I talked to a friend about it that is in Vedanta and he did not understand, so I feel I need to ask you about this to remove this ignorance about pure awareness. But no stress I can live with awareness being not the knower without the intellect. So intellect is intellect when it is paired with awareness. Called intellect. Also called the known. Called knower when awareness is paired with intellect. So basically identical. But called subject. But the subject is just real awareness without witnessing capacity. It is subject when just love intelligence in its purest form. But this intellect…


Ted: Awareness is not the intellect (though, of course, the intellect is awareness). It is the “light” that illumines the intellect and thereby enables the intellect to function.


Hanne: …does not know anything and cannot love either. Just exist. As the real. Not giving energy. Not light. But paired with the subtle body it starts happening life. I do not think it is possible to see it like this. For the manifest is not just there being coupled up with the wifi. The wifi is the reason for the existence of the computer. It would not exist if not for the wifi if it was in real life. So if a body dies, it dies and awareness is just in other bodies or the subtle body experience heaven, etc. Being aware still. I see it must just be models and the witnessing is the intellect. Being no other than the experiencer. If what I believed as jiva was witnessing me was the love light awareness and that that is not possible. It is just the intellect. Then I cannot know anything about the real. Maybe that is why I was taught only god is real. For maybe it is just Isvara, which is being sentient. Otherwise I must just trust scripture in that pure self is possible.


Ted: Yes, trust scripture. But verify what it says through a logical analysis of your own experience. This analysis will point the mind beyond objective phenomena, and you will know the truth.