Q: Does that mean that, although people have all three states, wakefulness, dream and deep sleep, these do not affect them?
Sri Ramana Maharshi :Yes, that is it.All these states come and go.The Self is not bothered; it has only one state.
Q: Does that mean that such a person will be in this world merely as a witness?
Sri Ramana Maharshi :That is so; for this very thing, Vidyaranya,in the tenth chapter of the Panchadasi,gives as example the light that is kept on the stage of a theatre.When a drama is being played, the light is there, which illuminates,without any distinction, all the actors,whether they be kings or servants or dancers,and also all the audience.
That light will be there before the drama begins,during the performance and also after the performance is over.Similarly, the light within, that is, the Self,gives light to the ego, the intellect, the memory and the mind without itself being subject to processes of growth and decay.
Although during deep sleep and other states there is no feeling of the ego that Self remains attribute less,and continues to shine of itself.
Actually, the idea of the Self being the witness is only in the mind;it is not the absolute truth of the Self.
Witnessing is relative to objects witnessed. Both the witness and his object are mental creations.