Paradox of the Self

Here is another excerpt from the Yoga Vasishta (trans. Swami Venkatesananda) which tries to describe through paradox what is the real nature of the infinite Self, our true nature.

That self is empty like space; but it is not nothingness, since it is consciousness. It is: yet because it cannot be experienced by the mind and senses, it is not. It being the self of all, it is not experienced (as the object of experience) by anyone. Though one, it is reflected in the infinite atoms of existence and hence appears to be many. This appearance is however unreal even as ‘bracelet’ is an imaginary appearance of gold which alone is real. But, the self is not unreal. It is not void or nothingness: for it is the self of all, and it is the very self of one who says it is and of one who says (or thinks) it is not! Moreover, its experience can be experienced indirectly just as the existence of camphor can be experienced by its fragrance. It alone is the self of all as consciousness; and it alone is the substance that makes the world-appearance possible…

Because this consciousness is beyond the reach of the mind and senses, it seems to be a void; but since it can be known by self-knowledge, it is not a void. On account of the indivisibility of consciousness, I am you and you are me; but the indivisible consciousness itself has become neither I nor you! When the wrong notions of ‘you’ and ‘I’ are given up, there arises the awareness that there is neither you, nor I, nor everything; perhaps it alone is everything.


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