The Direct Method Of Atmananda Explained

Atmananda from Notes on Spiritual Discourses of Shri Atmananda. What follows, beneath the first “*,” is the entire text from note 71. What follows after the second “*” is my brief commentary.


71. The Direct Method Explained

1. By examination of the subjective element in man, from the body backwards to the I-principle, it is proved to be Knowledge or Consciousness itself.

2. Similarly examining the gross objective world, it is found that since the gross object cannot exist even for a moment apart from the perception concerned, the object is clearly the perception itself.

Similarly, taking one’s stand in the mind and examining perceptions, it is found that perceptions are nothing but thoughts.

Lastly, examining thoughts and feelings, by the use of vidya-vritti or ‘functioning Consciousness,’ it is found that they are Consciousness itself, the ultimate subject.

Thus both subjective and objective worlds, when properly analysed, are reduced into the Ultimate–which is neither subject nor object. To know this beyond all doubt, and to establish oneself there, is the direct method.


The Subjective Element Examined

1. Here, Atmananda encourages us to ask, “Who am I?”

2. It will be seen that (i) I am not the body, (ii) I am not the senses, and (iii) I am not the mind.

3. This is because I must be the Witness to whom the body, senses, and mind all appear.

4. Yet when I inquire into the nature of the Witness, I find that it is Consciousness.

5. So, I (the I-principle, as Atmananda terms it) am Consciousness.

The Objective World Examined

1. Here, Atmananda is inviting us to ask the metaphysical question, “What is there?”

2. Starting off with gross physical objects, I see that each can be reduced to forms. For I cannot see a tree without the concepts of shape and color (and shape is reducible to color).

3. Soon I understand that form can be reduced (here) to seeing. For can there be any direct experience of color in the absence of seeing?

4. Understanding that I am only “seeing seeing” or that there is “just seeing” (in the language of Zen), I then realize that seeing is appearing to the Witness.

5. But then the Witness is nothing other than Consciousness.

6. Furthermore, I know that since “[c]onsciousness cannot perceive anything but Consciousness,” it’s clear that seeing is Consciousness itself.


Therefore, the question, “Who am I?,” turns out to yield the same answer as the one discovered from asking “What is there, really?” In short, who is what. That is, the I-principle is Consciousness, and Consciousness (chit) is Reality (sat). So, I am Reality.