Knowing the Unknown and Unknowing the Known

What is the known? It is name, form and number, which are the main determinative factors or coordinates of the mind. The known is the mind and is held as memory down to a subconscious level.


Yet the known is not static. It continues to evolve as more information and ideas occur in the mind. The known is the conditioned mind and its developments. We can expand the field of the known, but we will not get beyond the inherent conceptual limitations of the mind. What is knowable to the mind remains name, form or number to various degrees. This can lead to technological expertise in the external world but remains in ignorance of the higher truth that is boundless.


The known as the conditioned mind consists of karmic patterns or samskaras that repeat themselves automatically and compulsively. As long as our awareness is held in the field of the known we are trapped in karma and the mind’s reactions whether mental, emotional or sensory. We are not Self-aware in the present but act out of patterns set forth in the past that may be useful at an outer level, yet miss the limitlessness that surrounds us on every side and dimension. The mind remains a prisoner of its knowledge unless we learn how to question the mind itself.


The Great Unknown and Self-evident Mystery


What then is the unknown, not as something the mind has yet to know but what the mind can never know? The great unknown is pure Seeing and Being in the present, not as a moment of time but as the presence of pure consciousness beyond the mind. The unknown is direct awareness that cannot be circumscribed by name, form and number. The unknown has no conceptual content, and can only be directly experienced, not defined in the field of the mind. It puts the mind to rest.


We can call the unknown a “Self-evident Mystery” as the mind only has a superficial or practical value but can never reveal the eternal truth of existence. When we dwell in the great unknown of Being-Consciousness-Bliss or Brahman, the mind is put aside like an instrument to be used as needed but otherwise of no value of its own. We are content with our own Self-knowing that the mind cannot reach.


Dwelling in the unknown cleanses the mind of the known, freeing us from the burden of memory and conditioned responses. This is the secret power of deep meditation to heal the mind. It takes us beyond the known mind to the unknown presence of consciousness that is pure light. This light of consciousness like a mirror reflects the cosmic reality without any need of thought. It holds everything in a limitless space. It does not regard the mind’s knowledge as anything more than shadows.


Transcending  the Known


Dare to go beyond the known, which is your own mind, to the great unknown that is the cosmic reality at the core of your inner being. Only then will you know the truth of who you are and what this blissful universe really consists of. You need no theology for this, nor any science, philosophy or psychology. It is the self-evident light of awareness underlying the world of nature, connecting us with the universal, infinite and eternal at every point in time and space.


The known is ignorance or avidya, which is a partial and separative knowledge of name, known and number limited by the mind. The unknown is true knowledge or Atma-vidya, gnosis or Jnana in which we know our Self and true nature that is all-pervasive like space.


There is ultimately nothing to know, no one who could know it, and no reason for anything to be known. The purity of the Great Unknown is that it is self-sufficient, content and overflowing with creativity. The entire universe is its manifestation. To know that we do not know and cannot know through the mind is the highest knowledge. This is the Samadhi that all Yoga practice directs us towards.


Instead of trying to measure the waves, which is the action of the mind, let us be the Ocean! We can overflow into the bliss of the unknown at any moment, forgetting the limitations and sorrow of the known. All this requires is to see and to be without any identification with body and mind. The distant horizon is but you looking at yourself from your own deeper cosmic reality. The supreme and most rewarding venture is going beyond the mind to your true Self that is pure light.


David Frawley (Vamadeva Shastri)

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