Shri Shankara Acharya’s Vakyavritti Verse 22
“He who cognizes the waking, dreaming and sleeping states of consciousness, who is immutable, who witnesses the presence and absence of objects – that am I. This you must understand”.
People ask: “What is Self? What am I?” They often confound Self with mind and attribute changes of the mind to the Self. Here is a direct explanation of the nature of the Self in so far as it concerns our daily life.
The Self is that element in man which knows the presence of objects and also their absence.
Objects exist in time and space and are subject to change. No change is possible in the Self, which is the subject of all changes taking place in time and space. Man is either in the waking, dreaming or dreamless sleep state.
The waking condition is absent in dream, the dream is absent in dreamless sleep.
None of the three states can be the subject of any of the others.
Thus it is the Self, called Turiya or the Fourth, which witnesses the three changing conditions of consciousness.
This verse advances a strong reason for establishing the existence of the Self as the witness which is “beyond any change and immortal”.