In this life, the most permanent thing we experience is witnessing awareness. It begins when we are born and it goes away when we die. But beyond this witnessing, beyond the most permanent thing that is part of our life, is that which truly is.

That which we ultimately are cannot be described, yet it is a foundation of everything that is, will be or has ever been. What we experience is witnessing, but the knower and the known arise out of our ultimate true self. It’s similar to when we are asleep. We may not be aware of it, but after we wake up we are aware that we were asleep.

Another example is being in a dark cave. I love caves and can remember once being in a cave when the lights were turned off and everything was completely black, as black and as dark as possible. There was absolutely no light but that didn’t mean that seeing wasn’t occurring or that seeing wasn’t possible.

This is a good analogy for what we are discussing about witnessing because we can see before seeing and hear before hearing. There is something that is before time – it is that which we truly are. It is beyond all concepts and reality, but it is what we are.

When death occurs to a particular body, what appears to have unity and integrity breaks down. It begins to tear apart. What we identify with at birth also fades with the body at death. Though apparent life continues, in order for it to be known, another body, another entity, another consciousness needs to be created. What this ultimately means is that without the knower, there’s nothing that can be known.

The ultimate, that which we are, continues to create everything that exists out of the nothingness. But it is a creation – it is not what we really are at our core. It’s not our true self; it’s rather our false self. We identify with it to the point where we might forget who we are or we forget that we are that from which everything originates. We are the ultimate truth, the ultimate reality, out of which the entire universe is constantly being created.

Sometimes I compare it to a water droplet that feels separate from the vast ocean. We adopt an identity as a water droplet but when we die, though that water droplet still moves on, has always been and will always be, instead of identifying itself with the water droplet, its identity has taken on the vast, infinite ocean. Throughout life we get confused. We identify ourselves with that which is only an illusion, that which is temporary, like the water droplet. Instead we should submerge ourselves into the witness state.

The suffering of life dissipates when we take on the witness state and stop identifying with everything that’s happening. When you do this, you can be unattached and free. When we’re free, we’re also in a position to identify with our ultimate self which is vast like the ocean, infinite, beyond all description, and is that on which everything is created. The key here is to stop identifying with the egoic mind and realize who we really are.

Who are we before we are born? Who will we be after we die?
What is it that is truly permanent? What part of us has always been and will always be? We should strive to be that.

When we identify with what never sleeps, what never is awake, and on which everything is formed, then we are home. We have discovered our true self. Freedom and peace can then settle in.

We unfortunately identify with such a small part of who we are. Again, it’s like the water droplet in the vast ocean thinking, “I’m a water droplet! I’m a water droplet! Wow!” Yet, when we identify with who we really are – the vast ocean – and realize the illusion of our water droplet, we are free. We’ve always been free but we’ve limited ourselves so much that we’ve lost our true selves. What we truly are is still there, though, but we just seem to have forgotten it.

The key to finding it is earnestness. If we truly want to discover who we really are, we must be earnest. This is the most beautiful gift that was given to me. I just never gave up on finding out who or what I am. I kept searching and when I found the truths that I discovered were limited or were the ultimate truth, even though it was difficult at times, I kept going. We have to be honest and keep going. Let us never give up but rather keep moving forward until we discover our ultimate, true selves.

Not being honest is one of the key things that keep people from truly finding awakening, because it can be subtle in its trap. They want to teach and help others, but they haven’t finished helping themselves. It’s a painful, challenging, difficult process. But if we’re truly earnest we will find the truth. The point is never to give up. The ultimate focus needs to be on “I am” beingness. Who am I? If you keep returning to this question everything can be found in the “I am.” All our answers and searching dissipates in the “I am” because we learn how to just be.

Though this may seem challenging at times, it truly is the simplest and easiest way to discover who we are.

Author's Bio: 

Dr. Robert Puff, Ph.D. is a meditation expert, international speaker and creates a podcast and articles that explores the world of Enlightenment available at 
He also has a blog at He is the creator of the weekly Meditation For Health Podcast, available at He has a weekly podcast that explores the world of Happiness at If you would like to contact Dr. Puff, his e-mail address is