"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

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Manifestation, a Dream

Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj

Manifestation is a Dream

Numerous casual visitors come to visit Maharaj just for a darshan, perhaps because someone in their group spoke highly of him and, having nothing better to do, they thought they might as well drop in and see what the whole thing was about. But there are many who are deeply interested in the one subject about which Maharaj talks. Quite a few of them have attended several sessions and they honestly believe that they have a firm grasp of what Maharaj so earnestly talks about. Perhaps in answer to a query from Maharaj, if they have understood what he has been trying to convey, one of them would say: "Oh yes Maharaj, I have clearly understood it. But I have only one last question..."

The last question often happens to concern manifestation of the noumenon as phenomena. The questioner might say: Maharaj, you have said that the Absolute-noumenon  is unaware of its awareness until consciousness begins to stir and the first thought I AM arises; and then the wholeness is broken up into duality and manifestation of the universe takes place. My question is: Why did the first thought arise and why manifestation took place at all?

Maharaj would look at the question with an expression indicating several reactions. A mixture of compassion, appreciation of the questioner's sincerity, a certain amount of amusement at the confidence with which he thinks he has understood the subject, but - most important - a disappointment that the questioner had not understood the point after all. Another failure!

Maharaj would then say, very softly: I am afraid you have not really grasped what you have been hearing. You have been hearing, but not listening. You have been hearing what I have been saying, as a collection of little bits and pieces, not listening to the whole; hearing words with the divided mind of the individual instead of listening to the meaning with the whole mind; hearing as a separate hearer, not listening after integrating yourself with the Guru. And I do not mean the physical, individual guru which you have in mind but the Sadguru within. Otherwise, this question would not have arisen. But, in a way, I myself am rather fond of such enquiry because it exposes the usual way of thinking; or rather, the thinking exposes itself.

Consider, to whom did this question occur? Where did it occur? Did the question not occur to a 'you' who considers himself an entity with an independent existence? And did it not occur in consciousness? There would be no entity - this supposed pseudo-entity - in the absence of consciousness, and consciousness is only a concept without any objective quality whatsoever, and as such without any phenomenal existence.

What we have arrived at, then, is this: In the absence of the substratum of consciousness there is no manifestation, and therefore, no separate pseudo-entities to ask any questions at all! And consciousness is only a concept. Therefore, I call this entire manifestation 'the child of a barren woman'. In these circumstance, can this-which-is, this-that-we-are, ever be understood by the tainted mind of a conceptual pseudo-entity? Indeed, it is only when this entity disappears that the mystery dissolves, for the simple reason that the searcher is what he is searching for!

Your question, moreover, assumes that basically manifestation and non-manifestation are two different things but they are not. They are essentially the same state, like waves on an expanse of water. When colored by a sense of feeling, it is consciousness in which manifestation appears with its limitations; when colorless and limitless, it is the Absolute, unaware of its awareness. The phenomena are only the mirroring of the noumenon; they are not different. Noumenon is like the one source of electricity passing through a number of exhibits such as lamps, fans, motors etc. or like the one source of light reflected in myriad of mirrors - consciousness manifesting itself through millions of sentient forms.

Now, do you see your question in the correct perspective? A shadow wants to know why? One of the characters played by a single actor taking various roles in a one-man play wants to know why? The answer could well be: why not? Actually there could not be any question - neither why nor why not - because there really is no questioner at all, only a concept. Manifestation is like a dream. Why does a dream occur?

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सर्वभूताधिवासं यद्भूतेषु च वसत्यपि।
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