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Waking Experience is as False as Dream Experience

by Swami Sivananda


Both in waking and in dream
Objects are 'perceived' or 'seen' As different from the subject.
The character of 'being seen' Is common to both kinds of experience.
There is subject-object-relationship
In waking as well as in dream
This is the similarity between the two.
Something is seen as an object means
Something is other than the Self.
The experience of the not-self is illusory.
For, if the not-self were real,
The Self would be limited and unreal.
The illusory experience of the not-self
Is common to both waking and dream.
In waking, the mind experiences through the senses;
In dream, the mind alone experiences.
In both the states, the mind alone experiences
Whether externally or internally.
Dream is transcended by waking;
Waking is transcended by Turiya.
Hence, both dream and waking are contradicted.
Waking contradicts dream,
And dream contradicts waking.
When the one is, the other is not.
Neither of the two is continuously existent.
This proves the unreality of both.


Duality is not real,
Because duality is the opposite of eternity.
Without duality there is no perception.
Hence, anything that is perceived is unreal
Whether in dream or in waking.
Dream is real when there is no waking.
Waking is real when there is no dream.
Hence, both are unreal experiences.
They depend on one another for their existence.
Come cannot say whether he is dreaming or waking
Without referring one state to another state.
Desires are the rulers of all experiences
In waking and also in dream.
Waking is physical functioning of desires,
Dream is mental functioning of desires.
The senses are moved by desires in waking,
The mind is moved by desires in dreaming.
Both the states are like flowing streams
They do not persist for ever in one state
That which persists for ever is real.
Dream and waking have a beginning and an end.
Change is the character of all perceived objects.
Change implies nonexistence at the beginning
And also at the end.
That which does not exist at the beginning
And does not exist at the end
Does not exist in the middle also.
Therefore waking is unreal like dream.


It may be objected by some that
Waking is real, because it is the cause of dream,
And dream is not the cause of waking.
But this objection is without support.
If waking is a cause, It must be real;
If it is real, It must exist for ever.
Waking itself is without reality,
For it does not exist always.
If the cause itself is unreal,
How can it produce a real effect?
Both these are unreal states.
One who eats bellyful in waking state
May feel hungry in the dream state
And vice versa.
Things appear to be real only
In a particular condition.
They are not real always.
That which is not always real,
Is an appearance and so unreal.


Anything that has got a form
Is unreal.
Forms are special modes of cognition and perception.
They are not ultimate.
In waking there are physical forms.
In dreaming there are mental forms.
Anyhow all are forms only
Limited in space and time.
A form lasts only so long
As that particular mental condition lasts.
When there is a different mental condition
The forms of experience also change.
This is why the form of the world vanishes
When Self-realisation is attained.


Both in dreaming and waking
External perceptions are considered as real
And internal functions as unreal (i.e., they are ignored).
If in waking we make a distinction
Between real and unreal,
In dream also we do the same thing.
Dream is real as long as it lasts,
Waking also is real as long as it lasts.
Dream is unreal from the standpoint of waking,
And equally so is waking to the dreamer.
From the standpoint of the highest Truth,
Waking is as false as dream.


It may be said that objects in waking state
Serve some definite purpose
And those of dream do not serve a purpose.
This argument is incorrect.
Because, the nature of serving a purpose
Which is seen in objects in waking
Is contradicted by dream and vice versa.
The utility and objective worth
Of things, states, etc., in waking
Are cancelled in the dream state,
Even as the conditions and experiences in dream
Are invalidated in waking.
Objects act as means to ends
Only in a particular condition
And not in all conditions.
The causal relationship of waking
Is rendered nugatory in dream and vice versa.
The logical sequence of waking
Is valid to itself alone and not to dreaming.
So is dream valid to its own state.
Waking and dreaming have their own notions of propriety,
And each is stultified by the other,
Though each appears to be real to itself.
Thus the validity of both the states
Is rejected.


It may be contended that
Objects of dream are queer, fantastic and unnatural,
And, hence, waking cannot be like dream.
But the experiences in dream,
However grotesque or abnormal,
Are not abnormal to the dreamer.
They appear fantastic only in
A different state, viz., waking.
One cannot say what is really fantastic
And what is normal and real.
The mind gives values to objects
And its conception of normality and abnormality
Changes according to the state in which it is.
There is no permanent standard
Of normality, beauty or decorum,
Either in waking or in dreaming,
Which may hold good for all times;
The dreamer has his own conception
Of space, time and causation,
Even as the waking one has his own notions.
One state is absurd when compared to the other.
This shows that both states are illogical
And, therefore, absurd from the highest standpoint.


The world of waking experience is unreal,
Because it is the imagination of the cosmic mind.
The fact that in Self-realisation
There is absolute cessation of phenomenal experience
Shows that all phenomena are unreal.
Eternal forms are the expressions
Of the internal Sankalpas or willings.
Therefore, external objects have no real value.
They appear to exist only
As long as the Sankalpas exist.
The senses externalise the internal ideas
And present them in the forms of objects.
When the Sankalpas are drawn within
The world of objective experience vanishes in toto.
The Infinite Subject, viz., the Self alone remains.
There is no such thing as
Externality and internality in reality.
The ego and the non-ego,
The subject as well as the object,
All are imaginations of the mind alone.


It may be said that
Objects seen in waking are not
Mere mental imaginations,
Because the objects of waking experience
Are seen by other people also,
Whether or not one's mind cognises them.
But it is seen that
In the dream state also
Objects of experience are open to
The perception of other people,
Though the people as well as the objects;
Are all subjective imaginations.
It may be said that in waking
We perceive through the sense-organs
And not merely through ideas.
But it is seen that in dream also
We perceive through the sense-organs
Belonging to the dream-state,
Which are not less real than those of waking state.
As dream is unreal,
Waking also must be unreal.


The objective world of waking experience
Cannot have independent existence,
Because it is relative to the subject
Which cognises or perceives it.
The object is called an object
Just because there is a perceiving subject.
Similarly, a subject is called a subject
Just because there is a perceived object.
Neither of the two is self-existent.
And, therefore, both prove themselves to be unreal.
Subject and object appear
In the form of cause and effect.
Without a cause there is no effect.
Without an effect nothing can be a cause.
The conception of causation itself is illogical.
The mind perceives and recognises objects
Only by relating one thing to another.
The whole world of perception
Is a bundle of unintelligible relationships
Which the mind tries to organise into causes and effects.
Further there is no causation at all,
Because, cause and effect are continuous.
There cannot be a lapse of time
In which the cause remains unchanged.
If the cause can exist unchanged for some time
There is no reason why it should change at any time at all.
Either there is continuous causation,
Or no causation at all.
If causation is continuous
Cause and effect become identical
Being inseparable from one another.
If they are identical
It means there is no causation at all.
If there is no causation
There is no world of experience also.
The whole causal scheme is illogical
Because it either requires the existence
Of a first uncaused cause
Or it itself is meaningless.
There is no meaning in saying that
There is a first uncaused cause
For, thereby, we create a beginning for time.
If causation were real
It would never be possible to get rid of it.
But Self-realisation breaks the chain of causation.
Hence, causation is false,
And consequently, the world of experience
Also is false.
As in dream also there is experience
Of the causal series,
The waking world is false like the dream world.

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