"The very first step in understanding what this is all about is giving up the concept of an active, volitional 'I' as a separate entity and accepting the passive role of perceiving and functioning as a process." - Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Waking and Dream States Equally Unreal

Sri Ramana Maharshi

D.: Is there any genuine difference between dream experience and waking state?

M.: Because you find the dream creations transitory in relation to the waking state there is said to be a difference. The difference is only apparent and not real.

D.: Is the waking state independent of existing objects? 

M.: Were it so, the objects must exist without the seer; that is to say, the object must tell you that it exists. Does it do so? For example, does a cow moving in front of you say that she is moving? Or do you say of your own accord “There is a cow moving”? The objects exist because of the seer cognising them.

D.: Gaudapada in Mandukya Karikas says that there is no difference between the two states from the standpoint of Reality-Absolute. 

M.: Of course not.

D.: I believe Bhagavan also says so. Prof. Radhakrishnan in his Indian Philosophy says that in his Brahma Sutra Commentary Sri Sankara makes a distinction between the two states. Is it a fact? If so, what is it? How can there be any distinction from the viewpoint of reality? So long as the mind exists in any form there will be distinction. But from the standpoint of Atman, non-dual Brahman, can there be any distinction? 

M.: The dream is for the one who says that he is awake. In fact, wakefulness and dream are equally unreal from the standpoint of the Absolute.

D.: In pure Advaita can evolution, creation or manifestation have any place? What about the theory of vivarta according to which Brahman appears as the world without forgetting its essential nature, like the rope appearing as snake?

M.: There are different methods of approach to prove the unreality of the universe. The example of the dream is one among them. Jagrat, svapna and sushupti are all treated elaborately in the scripture in order that the Reality underlying them might be revealed. It is not meant to accentuate differences among the three states. The purpose must be kept clearly in view.

Now they say that the world is unreal. Of what degree of unreality is it? Is it like that of a son of a barren mother or a flower in the sky, mere words without any reference to facts? Whereas the world is a fact and not a mere word. The answer is that it is a superimposition on the one Reality, like the appearance of a snake on a coiled rope seen in dim light.

But here too the wrong identity ceases as soon as the friend points out that it is a rope. Whereas in the matter of the world it persists even after it is known to be unreal. How is that? Again the appearance of water in a mirage persists even after the knowledge of the mirage is recognized. So it is with the world. Though knowing it to be unreal, it continues to manifest.

But the water of the mirage is not sought to satisfy one’s thirst. As soon as one knows that it is a mirage, one gives it up as useless and does not run after it for procuring water. 

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सर्वानुग्राहकत्वेन तद्स्म्यहं वासुदेवः॥

That in whom reside all beings and who resides in all beings,
who is the giver of grace to all, the Supreme Soul of the universe, the limitless being:
I AM THAT. -- Amritabindu Upanishad