In the spiritual philosophy literature we encounter the term “witnessing entity” quite often. I made comments elsewhere implying that I am not in favor of using this term. Here I provide reasons for my objection.
In the spiritual philosophy literature, “witnessing entity” refers to an aspect of God that simply watches the Cosmos. This is closer to the idea of Deism which claims that God does not intervene with the functioning of Cosmos. Although I am sympathetic to Deism I cannot accept a concept of God that says that God is not involved in the affairs of the Cosmos. My views are closer to Theism. I don’t see Cosmos as separate from God. I believe that God (Cosmic Consciousness, Parama Purusha) is immanent in creation and therefore fully involved in the affairs of the Cosmos. I call my version of Theism Soul Monism.
In my opinion, the “witnessing entity” refers to the Cosmic Soul (please see my summary for a definition of the term “Cosmic Soul”).
Cosmic Soul (Cosmic Consciousness, Parama Purusha, God) witnesses, substantiates and controls the entire Cosmos. Cosmic Soul knows our innermost feelings, and thoughts. He is the soul of our soul. Cosmic Soul is the supreme subjectivity. Cosmic Soul (Parama Purusha) is God.
If the term “witnessing entity” refers to the Cosmic Soul then “witnessing entity” is a misnomer because the concept of “witnessing” does not include the meanings “substantiating” or “life giving.” These are very important aspects of the Cosmic Soul.
Life cannot start without a soul. This is a universal principle. Eternal Life (Cosmos) cannot start without the Cosmic Soul. The process of divine transformation cannot start without the Cosmic Soul.
The confusion about the term “witnessing entity” arises because there is confusion about the Sanskrit terms Atman and Parama Purusha. The Atman is (misleadingly) translated as “witnessing entity” and the Parama Purusha is (correctly) translated as Cosmic Soul. In passing, I should also mention that the Sanskrit word “purusha” perfectly corresponds to the English word “soul.”
Philosophically speaking, Atman may be the inactive witnessing aspect of God but philosophical concepts that are not useful in spiritual practice should not be emphasized. The term “witnessing entity” can be wrongly generalized to mean that God simply watches the Cosmos. This would be the wrong conclusion.
Instead of identifying the English term “Cosmic Soul” with the Sanskrit “Atman”, I identify “Cosmic Soul” with the Sanskrit “Parama Purusha.”
Ontologically speaking, there is Unity of Being which is God. Analytically speaking, God has infinite number of aspects but these differentiations are not ontological. These so-called “aspects” are internal views (perspectives) formed during the stages of divine transformation. The infinite potential of Absolute Being is transformed into Infinite Life (Cosmos). During this divine transformation certain “aspects” of God become visible to the common view of that stage. In the current stage of Cosmos humans have the ability to think and be aware of the very limited number of “aspects.” We take few aspects from this available set and present our collection as “ism” (as in Deism, Theism, Soul Monism, etc.) which is fine but we should be clearly aware that the “ism” is a very LIMITED view. In the introduction to Soul Monism I say that there is no revealed truth in spiritual philosophy . The synthesis presented in Soul Monism should not be taken as revealed truth. A particular synthesis of spiritual philosophy serves only as a source of inspiration.