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World is an Illusion

I

THIS world is a play of colours and sounds. This sense-universe is a play of nerves. It is a false show kept up by the jugglery of Maya, mind and nerves. You enjoy the sensual pleasures for a period of twenty years when the senses are strong. What is this short evanescent period of twenty years in eternity? What is this despicable, jarring, monotonous sensual life, compared with the eternal and peaceful life in the immortal Self within? If the nerve of taste, the glosso-pharyngeal gets paralysed, you cannot enjoy different kinds of palatable dishes. If your retina or optic nerve is paralysed, you cannot enjoy diverse beautiful forms. If the auditory nerve is paralysed, you cannot hear melodious music. If the olfactory nerve is paralysed, you cannot enjoy various kinds of sweet fragrance. If your sensory nerve of the hands is paralysed, you cannot enjoy soft things. If the nerve origin is paralysed, you cannot enjoy conjugal bliss. Do you not now clearly see that this world is a mere play of nerves? Do you not understand that this universe of opposites is illusory? You will have to depend upon these nerves and senses for your happiness. If these nerves go out of order, you become miserable, even though you possess enormous wealth. Can you call these little illusory sensual pleasures, which depend upon the play of nerves, as real lasting happiness? It is mere itching of nerves only, which tickles those deluded souls who have lost their power of discrimination and understanding.

You are deluded or deceived by the senses. That which is changing and perishable cannot be real. There is neither mind nor matter, neither world nor creation in reality. Brahman alone shines in His pristine glory. This is the absolute Truth.

The whole of experience consisting of perceiver and perceived is merely an imagination of the mind. That which exists only in imagination does not exist in absolute reality. Duality consisting of subject and object is a creation of the mind and the external senses.

As long as there is faith in causality, the world is eternally present. When this faith is destroyed the world is nowhere.

That which is nothing in the beginning and in the end does not necessarily exist in the present. Objects are all like ordinary illusions though regarded as real.

In deep sleep you have no experience of the world because there is no mind. This clearly shows that there will be world only if there is mind and that the mind alone creates this world. This is the reason why Srutis declare that this world is Manomatram-jagat and Manahkalpitam-jagat.

In Samadhi or super-conscious state, wherein there is annihilation of the mind, there is no world. Just as the snake in the rope vanishes when a lamp is brought, so also this world which is mere appearance or super-imposition disappear when one attains illumination, when the sun of knowledge dawns.

A liberated sage only has no world. This world is an illusion or unreal for a man of discrimination. For a passionate man who is ignorant this world is a solid reality. He is immersed in Samsara. This world is everything for him. There is nothing beyond this world. Because it is said that there is no world, young aspirants should not give up the practice of Karma Yoga. People in whom a little dispassion has dawned should not abandon the world. This world is the best teacher. You will have to learn many lessons from this world. Remain in the world but be not worldly-minded. View the world as Brahman only. Change your angle of vision. You will be happy and wise. If you constantly keep before the mind the idea that the world is unreal, you will develop dispassion and a burning desire for liberation.

II

Time is a mode of the mind. Time is a mental creation. Time is a trick or jugglery of the mind. Time is an illusion. Brahman is beyond time. It is eternity. There is local time. If it is 12 at Madras, it is 12-23 at Calcutta. 1 at Rangoon, 1-30 at Singapore, 6-30 at London, 12-30 at Chicago and 1-30 at New York. What is all this? There is no uniformity. Does this not indicate that time is a creation of the mind? Go beyond time and rest in the timeless, eternal, imperishable Brahman.

'Up and down', 'Within and without', 'high and low', 'big and small', 'thin and stout', 'virtue and vice', 'good and bed', 'pleasure and pain', 'beauty and ugliness', 'now and then', 'here and there' are relative terms. These are all mental creation only. 'Up' will come 'down' and 'down' will come 'up'. This stick is small when compared with that big stick. That big stick will become small when compared with another bigger stick. 'Within' will become 'without' and 'without' will become 'within'.

What is good at one time is bed at another time. What is good for one man is bad for another man. What is Dharma for one is Adharma for another. What is Dharma at one time is Adharma at another time. Brahman is neither thin nor stout, big nor small. In Brahman there is neither within nor without, virtue nor vice, pleasure nor pain, good nor bad. It is a homogeneous essence of bliss and knowledge, where there is no play of mind, neither time nor space, East nor West, past nor future, Thursday nor Friday.

Tomorrow becomes today and today becomes yesterday. Future becomes present and present becomes past. What is all this? This is a creation or trick of the mind only. Is Ishvara everything is present only, everything is here only. Brahman is beyond time.

There is neither day nor night, yesterday nor tomorrow in the sun. The mind has created time and space. When you are happy, time passes away quickly; when you are unhappy time hangs heavily. This is only a relative world. The theory of relativity by Einstein throws much light on the nature of Maya and this world.

How did space manifest in the spaceless Brahman? How did East, West, North and South come into existence? This is also a creation or trick of the mind. When you are tired, even a furlong appears to be a mile. When you are vigorous, a mile seems to be a furlong. For a Jivanmukta or seer there is neither time nor space. He beholds the one Brahman which is timeless and spaceless.

There is number two, because there is number one. If you start counting one from the little finger, the thumb will be number five and if you begin to count from the thumb, the little finger will be number five. One, two, three, etc., are only relative figures. There must be an unchanging, real, permanent substratum for this appearance. That substratum is Brahman or your own Self. In reality there is neither two nor three. There is only Existence or Truth or Brahman.

You see a waterfall. The water flows continuously. If you take a photograph, you see the waterfall in the picture, but there is no motion in the water in the picture. Motion is mental creation. It is a trick of the mind and the eye. Motion is a relative term. Only the object appears to move. Motion is an illusion. Behind the objects that move, there is the absolutely motionless Atman or Brahman. Where can this Brahman move, when He is all-pervading and infinite? Sitting He goes far; lying He is everywhere; because He is all-pervading and infinite.

There is deep silence behind the noisy, tumultuous sounds of this world. This deep silence is Brahman or Supreme Self. If you withdraw your attention there is no sound. Sound also is a mental creation. When the mind is connected with the organ of hearing, there is sound. When the ear is withdrawn from its object or when the mind is disconnected from the ear, there is no sound. Sound is a trick of the mind and the ear. So is colour and form.

Everybody has got a word of his own. The monkey or the dog has got its own world. A deaf man, a blind man, a mad man, a savage, a fashionable man, a child, an aspirant, a rogue, a thief, a king and a peasant - all have their own respective worlds.

If you are in Allahabad for a month, you forget all about your native place, your friends and relatives. You create a new world of your own at Allahabad. When you return to your own place you forget all about Allahabad. It is only the mind that creates a world. If you slay this mind which creates the illusion, there will be no world for you.

III

The dreaming world is separate from the waking one. The man sleeping in his bed in Calcutta, quite healthy at the time of going to bed, wanders in Delhi as a sickly man in the dream world and vice versa. Deep sleep is separate from both the dreaming and the waking worlds. To the dreamer the dream-world and dream-objects are as much real as the objects and experiences of the waking world. A dreaming man is not aware of the unreality of the dream-world. He is not aware of the existence of the waking-world apart from the dream. Consciousness changes. This change in consciousness brings about either the waking or the dream experiences. The objects do not change in themselves. There is only change in the mind. The mind itself plays the role of the waking and the dream.

The dreamer believes in the reality of the objects of the dream as well as the different experiences there. Only when he wakes up from the dream, he knows or realises that what he was experiencing in dream was a mere illusion. Similar is the case with the Jiva in the waking world. The ignorant Jiva imagines that the phenomenal world of sense-pleasure is real. But when he is awake to the reality of things, when his angle of vision is changed, when the screen of Avidya is removed, he realises that this waking world also is unreal like the dream world.

As in dream, so in the waking, the objects seen are unsubstantial, though the two conditions differ, the one being internal and subtle, the other external, gross and long. The wise consider the wakeful as well as the dreaming conditions as one, in consequence of the similarity of objective experience in either case. The Vedanta declares this cosmos to be, so say the wise, a dream and illusion or a castle in the air.

A magician throws a rope in the sky, climbs to the sky through it and disappears. After the five minutes he falls down to the ground dead with shattered limbs. In another five minutes the same magician stands before you. Now tell me whether the death of the magician is real or false. You have perceived the phenomenon with your own eyes. So is the tangibility of matter and the sense-contacts.

The Neem leaves are bitter when you are in normal health but if you taste them when you are bitten by a cobra they are sweet. Bitterness or sweetness does not lie in the leaves but they are in the subject. They are created by the mind. It is the mind that gives the qualities, shape, colour, etc., to the objects. Maya Plays havoc through imagination of the mind. Woman is not beautiful but the imagination is beautiful. Sugar is not sweet but the imagination is sweet. Food is not palatable but the imagination is palatable. Man is not weak but the imagination is weak. Understand the nature of Maya and mind and become wise. Curb this imagination of the mind by Vichara or right thinking and rest in Brahman wherein there is neither imagination nor Sankalpa or thought.

The vast sense-universe shines as Atma Sankalpa. If there is mind there will be this universe. There is no functioning of mind during deep-sleep. So there is no world. The more you think of the objects, the more this world will appear to you as real. The conception of the reality of the universe will increase if you think of sense-objects often and often.

Shut yourself up in a room for a month. Give up reading newspapers. Reading of newspapers revives the Samskaras or impressions of the universe agitates the mind, makes you emotional and sentimental and augments the restlessness of the mind. It makes you forget God and shows you that this world - a mere appearance is the only reality. Have two rooms, one for study and meditation and the other for bath and food. Never come out of the room. Spend the time in study and meditation. Do not correspond with anybody. Cut off all connections. Now see whether the world exists. At least it will not exert such a deep impression as it did before. If you continue your meditation and rest in the Self, this world will entirely disappear. It will be like a dream. It will have no allurement for you.

IV

Just hear this wonderful story:

Having bathed in the waters of the mirage, crowned with a garland of sky-flowers, this son of the barren woman is going, armed with a bow made of a hare's horn. How true it is! This world also is as real as this story.

Brahman or the Supreme Self is the only living reality. He is your own Innermost Self or Atman. He exists in the past, present and future. He is self-luminous, self-existent. He is existence, knowledge and bliss absolute. He is the substratum or support for this world. He is immortal, all-pervading, indivisible, eternal, birthless, changeless, deathless, timeless and spaceless. Purify your heart. Realise this Brahman through meditation and attain freedom, immortality and eternal bliss.


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