How do I know whether I am aware?

Acharya Prashant
6 min readJun 23, 2022

The following is an excerpt from a samvaad (dialogue) session with Acharya Prashant.

Questioner (Q): How to know whether I am aware?

Acharya Prashant (AP): What you call as ‘knowing’ is just thinking. It is a mental activity. Do you know of anything that is beyond the mind? You know of so many things in this world. Right? List them and see whether anything that you know is beyond time and space. Whatever you know of is a thing of thought.

You are asking, “How to know that I am aware?” You are asking, “How can I ‘think’ about awareness?” You have to see who is asking this question. Thought is asking this question so that it can capture awareness within its limits. Is that possible? Why are we interested in knowing whether I am aware?

I recently received a message from a lady asking, “How can I know whether I am enlightened?” She had some sneaking suspicion that she is enlightened. She wanted a certificate that she is enlightened. What did she really want? She wanted something to ‘think’ about. That’s all. Thought gives pleasure, thought thrives on pleasure, and all pleasure arises from the thought.

When I say ‘thought’, I am referring broadly to all the mental activity here. There is no point in this that “How do I know whether I am aware?” You will never know that you are aware because the ‘you’ that is asking this question will not be the aware ‘you’. The ‘you’ that is asking this question is the ‘you’ that is confused, doubtful, and tangled in all kinds of suspicion.

The aware ‘you’, would that ask this question? Would that ‘you’ bother to ask this question? That’s a ‘knowing’ of a very different kind. There you do not know via thought. There you just know, it’s a thing of what you all call, soul. I am using the word ‘soul’, it’s a loose word but it would help you to understand this context. You just know without the inter-mediation of thought.

All that we claim to usually know is via the mental apparatus, always. That is why we don’t really know anything because it is always indirect knowledge coming to you via the mind.

Awareness is that the knower himself has changed; the knower is now the one who does not require the mind to know, he is realized.

Acharya Prashant