When we typically think of knowledge, there is a knower, a process of knowing (such as empirical observation, etc), and the objects which are known. However, adopting non-dualism requires one to reexamine all of this.
In a non-dual reality, there is only the Self, so there are no other things which can know Self; hence it is Self alone that knows Itself. Also, there is no way for Self to act because there are no other things to act upon; hence Self is actionless. So, Self knows Itself not by an act of knowing, but by simply being Itself. It follows that the very nature of Self is Itself knowledge. This lead Ramana Maharshi to say,
“… That which knows cannot be true knowledge …”
– Ramana Maharshi
If one takes Self-enquiry to its full conclusion, the real ‘I’ is a type of knowledge which knows neither other things nor itself. It just is.
I was primarily led to these thoughts while examining the foundations of quantum mechanics, the ultimate nature of myself, and consciousness. This is so different from the empirical scientific tradition I’ve believed in for pretty much my entire life that I’m hesitant to even comment on any of it; it’s all so new to me.
I’ve been searching for ways to silence the mind and this certainly does that. The scientific tradition I’ve always known and been a part of is an endless process of breaking raw perceptions into pieces, finding patterns, and then storing those patterns in the forms of symbols, algorithms, and memory fragments in a mind (our brains, computers, etc).
This process of inquiry into nature and reality led us to out-grow the processing power of our brains and now we’re struggling to build bigger and faster super-computers to process all these fragments and symbols. I used to wonder if that would ever end and if one could ever finally know everything. It seemed to be a losing battle. The more complex and accurate the simulations, we require giant super-computers the size of buildings and massive amounts of power. The simulations are also always based on a model which always leaves things out. So the more we learn and add into our models, the more computation power required to process all the data, and so we end up transforming more and more of the matter around us into larger and more powerful computers. Hence the more we try to know about reality by this method, the less there is to know. This type of knowledge consumes what it tries to know.
This process even ends up consuming us. We’re now coming to a point where our brains have become too slow to be useful anymore, so now we all must integrate with the computers, probably eventually ending up as nothing but a processes within these computers. If we try to know all of reality, we are left with a single giant computer and there is nothing outside of the computer to know. These A.I. super-computers will not being doing calculations about reality but will be thinking about itself within itself. It’s all very strange.
That got me thinking that there is a fundamental flaw to this entire approach to knowing reality, but I didn’t know what was wrong. Then I begin learning this non-dual way of thinking, or should I say non-thinking, and it rejects the validity of this entire process . All of the mathematics, statistics, logic, and the rest of it go out the window. To know something is to be something, and to experience it without filters and abstractions.