In the consciousness hierarchy there are three stages:
1) Jivatman (individual soul). Is the one who identifies himself with the body-mind. One who thinks i am a body, a personality, an individual apart from the world. He excludes and isolates himself from the world as a separate personality because of identification with the body and the mind.
2) Next only the beingness, or the consciousness, which is the world. "I AM" means my whole world.Just being and the world. Together with the beingness the world is also felt - that is Atman (The Self).
3) The Ultimate principle that knows this beingness cannot be termed at all. It cannot be approached or conditioned by any words. That is the Ultimate state.
The Hierarchy I explain in common words, like: I have a grandson (that is jivatma). I have a son and I am the grandfather. Grandfather is the source of the son and grandson.
The three stages cannot be termed as Knowledge. The term knowledge comes at beingness level. I have passed on to you the essence of my teachings.
(Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj)