Self as Infinite Consciousness

An article on the understanding of Self as Infinite Consciousness, in the light of the non-dual teachings. 

Our life is full of purposes. When we rise each day, our aims, small or grand, routine or exceptional, stream into our mind, and our body moves to accomplish them. We can usually say what we are going to do and why, though often there is little time or need to explain; we just get on with our tasks. As regards the ultimate purpose of our life, our comprehension is not so sure; we may indeed have no idea at all.

The ancient philosophies of the east and west made understanding life’s overall purpose a primary concern. Plato sought to identify the supreme Good, and Aristotle, in his Ethics, puts forward the view that life is a quest for happiness, which may ultimately be approached through quiet contemplation. In the classical texts associated with the Vedic culture of what is now India, the ascertainment of life’s purpose is pivotal—otherwise life is not worth living. That purpose is to awaken the highest potentialities of our nature, and uncover in our own depth of consciousness a knowledge that satisfies for ever. We are in this life to realise our own true nature.

In the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad (3:9:34) one of many expressions of this teaching is given in the words

vijnanam anandam brahma
The absolute is pure consciousness and bliss.

This higher knowledge (vijnanam), denoted by the words ‘pure consciousness’, is not something that is separate from our own being. It is identical with the conscious principle that makes our experience possible. It is our Self when realised as free from the apparent limitations imposed on the human consciousness by the body and mind. It is nearer than thought, and cannot itself be thought of, because this consciousness is the underlying reality that provides the space and light, so to say, that makes thought possible.

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This article is from the Spring 2018 issue of Self-Knowledge Journal.