The one who is the experiencer, the object of experience, and the experiencing in all the three states of waking, dreaming and sleeping – this I am not. I am pure consciousness. I am the wondrous witness that eternally emanates grace and goodness.
I am the non-dual brahman. All is born in me, all is sustained in me, and all dissolves again in me.
In the final sense, the search for the self is a search for a reality in front of which all experience happens. It is a search for the watcher of all experience. It is the reality which sees the whole panorama, the whole unfolding of the universe.
A stone exists, but it has no experience of its own existence. Nothing is lacking as far as the stone’s existence is concerned, but it has no awareness of its existence. Then there are animals: they exist, and they are also conscious of their existence. An animal exists and also experiences its own existence. A stone exists but it has no experience of it, the animal exists and experiences it.
In man, a third dimension of consciousness begins. Man exists just as a stone exists, he experiences his is-ness just as any animal does, but man can also be aware of the other two states. Man can exist, he can know that he exists, and he can also know that he knows that he exists. This experiencing at the third point is called the witness.
A stone is unconscious, an animal is conscious, but man is even conscious of his consciousness. He is aware of his consciousness. But this is only a potential in man; everybody is not already in this state. It could be so, but it is not already the case. Most human beings are at the level of animals: they exist, they experience that they exist, but they have no experience whatsoever of the third state, of the witness. But this is only true in their waking state. In the sleep state, they fall back to the same state as the stones – existing, but not aware of it.
When you are asleep, then there is no difference between your state and the state of a stone. In your deep sleep you are just like a stone. If you like, you can also say it in the opposite way: a stone is the same as you are except that the stone is always in deep sleep. When you have no experience of the witness but you are conscious of your existence, then you are in the same state as the animals. Again, you can say it in the opposite way: an animal is in the same state as you are because he has also not experienced the witness. And the birth of the real human being begins with witnessing.
Try to understand the meaning of the word witnessing. Perhaps this is the most important word in the whole human language, especially of the words that have been used in the spiritual search. We can talk about the process of witnessing later on, but first, it will be very good if you can understand the meaning of this word.