The Flaming Bush
The Flaming Bush

Tracing Consciousness Back to the Source

Let’s "reverse engineer" Consciousness, tracing it back to the Source, the origin of the world. And, to address the modern skeptic and materialist – who the author often tried to communicate with in his line of work and interest – let's examine what happens in experience, if we start from our outward perceptions and our conceptions or presumptions about ourselves as material objects or as biological organisms, as machines. From that perspective, we can be seen as "holding" awareness, or "having" awareness, or creating awareness somehow – or awareness emerging from brains, or from minds: that is, from objects somehow (which obviously are already in consciousness, since we are talking about them). Does this lead to an inherent contradiction, or lead anywhere that answers the question?


If I point a digital camera or video camera at my eye, no matter how close I zoom in, it will not show me the origin of seeing. Likewise, if my brain were to be opened up, no one could see the seeing, or the awareness of seeing. Even if they were to scan the brainwaves with an advanced computer, and somehow reconstruct the scene seen by the eyes, it still would not be the source of My seeing – "My" in the sense of the raw experience of it — the seeing itself — it would only be a construction of an outward scene as seen from the outside, or the perspective of a biological camera. That outward view is not what I see, and certainly not the (absolute) seeing of what I see.

Which could bring up the question, then where is the see-er? More generally, where is the perceiver of any thing: be it vision, hearing, smell, taste, touch, feeling of body sensations, or the solar plexus of emotion and intuition? If it’s not in the brain, where then? Stop and ponder that for a minute. Since we cannot see it, cannot find it objectively, looking from the outside, where is it to be found? And here, I am not referring to what one imagines or conceives, or what others say about it. Since thinking is already perceived (what we are calling an "object" or "content" here) then obviously no thinking, conceiving or imagining will get you there.

You can know for yourself. Having the intimate experience of experiencing vision, there is no farther back that you can go that to be It, the seeing of "it". Because you are It.

That is, instead of focusing on, or paying attention to, being interested in the contents of consciousness, or any sort of psychology, such as a process, be interested in awareness itself (I use the words consciousness and awareness interchangeably). In other words, before or behind anything happening in awareness, what is this awareness-ing, so to speak?

And by this is not meant theoretically, such as ideas or concepts you have about it, or models and theories about it, from the outside. What is being asked, inquired into, is not what are your ideas, assumption, images or theories about what is aware. That, again, would be content of awareness. We are here to look at the “raw experience” as it were. Unfiltered.

Now that we have the groundwork established (hopefully), how do we do it?

As a shortcut, let’s call everything that is contents “mind” – all perceptions, sensations, and thoughts that arise in awareness now, in the moment, this moment. It is always this moment, yes?

Read the AKM quote that started the article: “going back along the same path” to remove the “superimpositions” that create “The illusion of the world”.

Here, again (as in previous articles, and for other presenters), the metaphor of the dream is very useful.

If you are in a dream, or “having a dream”, and you become aware that it is a dream, then an interesting question could arise: who or what is doing the dreaming? Regardless of how that question is answered, the fact that one is in a dream has vast implications. For instance, if you were to ask another character in the dream, “This is just a dream you know. Who or what do you suppose is doing the dreaming?” they might respond by either denying that it was a dream, or if they agreed, and we’re interested in the question of the dreamer, might respond in various ways. They might say I don't know" or "God" or "Ralpsh" or "someone's mind"... anything could happen. Regardless, any response they give will still be part of the dream, coming from a dreamed-up character. So what does it matter what they say?

The reason it doesn’t matter is because they are (of and in the) content of the dream — you , as the dreamer, made them up, so to speak — so it still leaves the question unanswered for you of who the dreamer is.

The illusion of the world which comes about by these successive superimpositions can be removed only by going back along the same path.

– Atmananda Krishna Menon, Atma Nirvriti

This is pointing to the fact that what we are after in our “going back to the source” or “going back along the same path … to remove the superimpositions” is not just about what is "subjective" in the way people normally use that word, but of a fundamentally different order of reality than about questions or considerations of or regarding the contents of the dream.

What’s being pointed to is the source of experience itself – what is aware, awareness itself, the very fact of it and the fact of existing, and being aware of existing. This never changes, is timeless, is always present, not matter what the experience, be it waking life, dream life, unconsciousness, or so-called death. After all, what is aware of the total play of all that? Has the real "you" ever not existed? How would you know? The "knowing" is what is being pointed to, not of contents, but of "knowing" in this sense, itSelf, or Self-knowing. It is always Now, present. No past and no future, no person, no world, as those are mere memories, thoughts, or imagination. All is This.

As a convenient shorthand, we can call what’s being pointed to “pure consciousness”.

Eric Platt


  1. Lyn Deadmore on March 26, 2024 at 12:39 am

    Hi Eric,
    Have you seen this Atmananda Audio Book on YouTube?


    • Eric Platt on April 13, 2024 at 1:23 pm

      Thanks. Yes I’ve seen it. I didn’t listen much because it’s an AI voice. I could tell from the first couple of words.

      Lyn you can find the book as a PDF on the web and download it.

      (I will remove the Atmananda quote at the beginning of the article, which apparently is distracting from the thrust of the article).

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