Chapter 4: The Unknowable Self
The eyes cannot approach it, neither can speech nor mind. We do not, therefore, know it, nor do we know how to teach it. It is different from what is known and it is different from what is unknown. Thus we have heard from our predecessors who instructed us about it.
What speech cannot reveal but what reveals speech - know thou that alone as Brahman and not this - anything objective - that people worship here.
What mind does not comprehend but what comprehends the mind - know thou that alone as Brahman and not this that people worship here.
The deepest mystery of existence is the phenomenon of knowledge. You can know everything except your own self. The knower cannot be known because to know something means to reduce it to an object. The very process of knowledge depends on duality. I can know you because I am here, inside, and you are there, outside. You become an object. But I cannot know my self because I cannot make my self an object. I cannot encounter my self in any objective way. I cannot put my self in front of me. And if I could put my self in front of me then that which is put in front of me would not be my self. How can that which can be put in front of me be my self? Really, the inner one which will look at it will remain my self.
Self is subjective, and this subjectivity cannot be made objective. Hence, the paradox: that which knows all cannot know itself; that which is the source of all knowledge remains unknowable. If you can understand this, then this sutra will reveal much. This is one of the most profound sutras. It goes deeper than all that the mystics have said. It says self-knowledge is impossible. You have heard, it has been preached, it has been told everywhere, “Know thyself.” But how can you know your self? You can know everything other than you. One point will always remain unknown, unknowable. That point is you.
The word self-knowledge is not good at all. Knowledge of the self is not possible. But this may create a deep pessimism in you. If knowledge of the self is not possible, then the whole of religion becomes absurd because this is what religion is meant to do - to give you self-knowledge. Then there must be some other meaning to the word self-knowledge. Then there must be something, a hidden dimension, through which you can know the self and still not make it an object. Knowledge must be possible in an altogether different sense.