The Unconditioned Self And The Source

This is a dialog Nisargadatta Maharaj had with a man who came to ask him questions.  They ended up having a discussion of the true nature of Self and the Source.

Q: Can the unconditioned be experienced?
M: To know the conditioned as conditioned is all that can be said about the unconditioned. Positive terms are mere hints and misleading.
Q: Can we talk of witnessing the real?
M: How can we? We can talk only of the unreal, the illusory, the transient, the conditioned. To go beyond, we must pass through total negation of everything as having independent existence. All things depend.
Q: On what do they depend?
M: On consciousness. And consciousness depends on the witness.
Q: And the witness depends on the real?
M: The witness is the reflection of the real in all its purity. It depends on the condition of the mind. Where clarity and detachment predominate, the witness-consciousness comes into being. It is just like saying that where the water is clear and quiet, the image of the moon appears. Or like daylight that appears as sparkle in the diamond.
Q: Can there be consciousness without the witness?
M: Without the witness it becomes unconsciousness, just living. The witness is latent in every state of consciousness, just like light in every colour. There can be no knowledge without the knower and no knower without his witness. Not only you know, but you know that you know.
Q: If the unconditioned cannot be experienced, for all experience is conditioned, then why talk of it at all?
M: How can there be knowledge of the conditioned without the unconditioned? There must be a source from which all this flows, a foundation on which all stands. Self-realisation is primarily the knowledge of one’s conditioning and the awareness that the infinite variety of conditions depends on our infinite ability to be conditioned and to give rise to variety. To the conditioned mind the unconditioned appears as the totality as well as the absence of everything. Neither can be directly experienced, but this does not make it not-existent.

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