The conscious subject persists in the state of release.
To maintain that the consciousness of the 'I' does not persist in the state of final release is again altogether inappropriate.
[paragraph continues] It in fact amounts to the doctrine--only expressed in somewhat different words--that final release is the annihilation of the Self. The 'I' is not a mere attribute of the Self so that even after its destruction the essential nature of the Self might persist--as it persists on the cessation of ignorance; but it constitutes the very nature of the Self. Such judgments as 'I know', 'Knowledge has arisen in me', show, on the other hand, that we are conscious of knowledge as a mere attribute of the Self.--Moreover, a man who suffering pain, mental or of other kind--whether such pain be real or due to error only--puts himself in relation to pain--'I am suffering pain'--naturally begins to reflect how he may once for all free himself from all these manifold afflictions and enjoy a state of untroubled ease; the desire of final release thus having arisen in him he at once sets to work to accomplish it. If, on the other hand, he were to realise that the effect of such activity would be the loss of personal existence, he surely would turn away as soon as somebody began to tell him about 'release'. And the result of this would be that, in the absence of willing and qualified pupils, the whole scriptural teaching as to final release would lose its authoritative character.--Nor must you maintain against this that even in the state of release there persists pure consciousness; for this by no means improves your case. No sensible person exerts himself under the influence of the idea that after he himself has perished there will remain some entity termed 'pure light!'--What constitutes the 'inward' Self thus is the 'I', the knowing subject.
This 'inward' Self shines forth in the state of final release also as an 'I'; for it appears to itself. The general principle is that whatever being appears to itself appears as an 'I'; both parties in the present dispute establish the existence of the transmigrating Self on such appearance. On the contrary, whatever does not appear as an 'I', does not appear to itself; as jars and the like. Now the emancipated Self does thus appear to itself, and therefore it appears as an 'I'. Nor does this appearance as an 'I' imply in any way that the released Self is subject to
[paragraph continues] Nescience and implicated in the Samsâra; for this would contradict the nature of final release, and moreover the consciousness of the 'I' cannot be the cause of Nescience and so on. Nescience (ignorance) is either ignorance as to essential nature, or the cognition of something under an aspect different from the real one (as when a person suffering from jaundice sees all things yellow); or cognition of what is altogether opposite in nature (as when mother o' pearl is mistaken for silver). Now the 'I' constitutes the essential nature of the Self; how then can the consciousness of the 'I,' i.e. the consciousness of its own true nature, implicate the released Self in Nescience, or, in the Samsâra? The fact rather is that such consciousness destroys Nescience, and so on, because it is essentially opposed to them. In agreement with this we observe that persons like the rishi Vâmadeva, in whom the intuition of their identity with Brahman had totally destroyed all Nescience, enjoyed the consciousness of the personal 'I'; for scripture says, 'Seeing this the rishi Vâmadeva understood,I was Manu and the Sun' (Bri. Up. I, 4, 10). And the highest Brahman also, which is opposed to all other forms of Nescience and denoted and conceived as pure Being, is spoken of in an analogous way; cp. 'Let me make each of these three deities,' &c. (Kh. Up. VI, 3, 3); 'May I be many, may I grow forth' (Kh. Up. VI, 2, 3); 'He thought, shall I send forth worlds?' (Ait. Âr. II, 4, 1, 1); and again, 'Since I transcend the Destructible, and am higher also than the Indestructible, therefore I am proclaimed in the world and in the Veda as the highest Person' (Bha. Gî. XV, 18); 'I am the Self, O Gûdâkesa.' (Bha. Gî. X, 20); 'Never was I not' (Bha. Gî. II, 12); 'I am the source and the destruction of the whole world' (Bha. Gî. VII, 6); 'I am the source of all; from me proceeds everything' (Bha. Gî. X, 8); 'I am he who raises them from the ocean of the world of death' (Bha. Gî. XII, 7); 'I am the giver of seed, the father' (Bha. Gî. XIV, 4); 'I know the things past' (Bha. Gî. VII, 26).--But if the 'I' (aham) constitutes the essential nature of the Self, how is it that the Holy One teaches the principle of egoity (ahamkâra) to belong to the sphere
of objects, 'The great elements, the ahamkâra, the understanding (buddhi), and the Unevolved' (Bha. Gî. XIII, 5)?--As in all passages, we reply, which give information about the true nature of the Self it is spoken of as the 'I', we conclude that the 'I' constitutes the essential nature of the inward Self. Where, on the other hand, the Holy One declares the ahamkâra--a special effect of the Unevolved--to be comprised within the sphere of the Objective, he means that principle which is called ahamkâra, because it causes the assumption of Egoity on the part of the body which belongs to the Not-self. Such egoity constitutes the ahamkâra also designated as pride or arrogance, which causes men to slight persons superior to themselves, and is referred to by scripture in many places as something evil. Such consciousness of the 'I' therefore as is not sublated by anything else has the Self for its object; while, on the other hand, such consciousness of the 'I' as has the body for its object is mere Nescience. In agreement with this the Reverend Parâsara has said, 'Hear from me the essential nature of Nescience; it is the attribution of Selfhood to what is not the Self.' If the Self were pure consciousness then pure consciousness only, and not the quality of being a knowing subject, would present itself in the body also, which is a Not-self wrongly imagined to be a Self. The conclusion therefore remains that the Self is nothing but the knowing 'I'. Thus it has been said, 'As is proved by perception, and as also results from reasoning and tradition, and from its connexion with ignorance, the Self presents itself as a knowing 'I'. And again,'That which is different from body, senses, mind, and vital airs; which does not depend on other means; which is permanent, pervading, divided according to bodies-that is the Self blessed in itself.' Here 'not dependent on other means' means 'self-luminous'; and 'pervading' means 'being of such a nature as to enter, owing to excessive minuteness, into all non-sentient things.'