Knowing and the Known
Jan van Delden

Those who realized during the 'Musical Chairs' that they are the knowing and not that which is known, fall back most of the time into the safe chains of the known. Why is that? In order to answer this question let's choose a way to shake off those chains from now on.

As we already said, in spite of the insight that we are the knowing (or knowingness) itself, practice proves that the known is simply more appealing to us. Apparently we are dictated by the perceived objects that come and go in the knowing itself. And, knowing can never leave us. Therefore knowing is no physical thing; if it were, the knowing – including the waking state – would disappear the moment we fell asleep. And that's not the case. Neither can knowing be considered as something objective. We simply lack a sense for that. There is no way (with or without the known) that the knowing can be perceived. Yet it is always there. So, knowingness (or the knowing) must be subject and that is what we are each moment, now.

It is important to deeply investigate the fact that we can never leave the knowing. If we could, we must move into the known and then investigate if it is true that knowingness ever experienced the known; an experience that also must have been caused by the known. That investigation leads to the following question: Is it possible for the subject (the knowing) to move to the object (the known) as apparently claimed again and again by the object? This will probably lead to the question whether the known can still make us happy. Besides, where is happiness coming from?

Searching for happiness in known objects has brought us nothing but misery. Yet we keep searching there, even though the happiness we are looking for is never found. This is because we think that our experience is coming from the known world. We see such an experience as something that is achieved. It makes it look as if the known really exists in spite of the fact that we – as knowingness – can never deliver proof of that. However when knowingness has been seen, recognized and experienced – as what is, independent of the known – only then can happiness be a fact in our lives. What is 'knowing our existence' more than knowing? When we are going through a dip in our life, the knowing is witnessing effortlessly and detached. The same is true for an experience of bliss or any other experience in our life! Will it ever happen that we can leave the knowing or that it leaves us? No! Isn't then the real question: How can we and the knowing become one with happiness, even when our lead actor is happy or sad? The answer is not to be found in the known. Hence we should stop trying to find answers in the known. Because, when we let go of the known, we still exist. We are not the known, but without effort we do know the presence and the absence of this so-called known.

Although this may be clear to you in theory, in practice it will be hard for you to admit that it is really true. Living this understanding however requires a next step. Many follow a detour by trying to get rid of the known body-being. We would like to get rid of it by denying it or pushing it away. Or we say 'it is all consciousness', illusion, and thus try to make a new concept-coat. Ultimately this won't work, although temporarily it won't harm. In practice – apart from recognizing that the knowing is not embodied or cannot be something known – it means trying to make clear what the knowing really is. And that is so nearby that the known simply cannot ever understand it. Not one thought, not one feeling or emotion can express anything about it. None of those tools can be used by us. What then can we possibly do to know the knowing?

If we dive deep into this question, we will see that only the knowing itself is what is 'left over'. But can the knowing know the knowing? Is that at all possible? If the answer is yes, we can – without making this answer into a concept – stabilize this fact, this yes in us, by focusing our attention on the flavor of this being-there (the knowing) just long enough for attention and knowing to become one and the same. Often this last process (keeping the attention right there) is seen as an activity and therefore not used, this however is a misunderstanding.

Attention and knowing cannot ever be separated. Hence we should be alert not to use or believe in something known – such as our words and opinions about attention – in order to avoid that 'giving attention' is made into an activity. The only right answer is that the knowing knows the knowing without making it into an image. Recognizing that the known does not exist, but only knowing itself exists, completes the answer. All is knowing, and for knowing nothing else needs to be known but knowingness itself. In other words: everything is first cause and never ever is a second cause possible. Therefore the first cause knows nothing else but itself alone.

- Jan van Delden -, 2001