|Vedanta Spiritual Library|
Module - M
Unit - M01
Lesson M0103: ONE and the Universe
By Raja Subramaniyan
Bliss is the illusory material cause of the universe. Bliss is different from the universe and it does not undergo any change when the universe is manifested, sustained or dissolved.
Consciousness is the illusory intelligent cause of the universe. Consciousness is not a part or product or property of the universe. The living beings in the universe are inert objects. Since they reflect the consciousness, they appear to be alive.
Pure existence is the substratum on which the universe is projected as an illusion. Universe is just a name and form that appear to be real since it has borrowed the existence from ONE.
Thus, existence, consciousness and bliss are the powers of ONE which is non-dual, ever perfect and unchanging. The universe is ever changing, never perfect and exists only for appearance.
During deep sleep there are no dreams. All dream objects are available in potent form within our mind which is not functioning during the stage of deep sleep. Similarly, prior to manifestation of the Universe, it was in latent form within ONE.
The power to manifest a dream-world is inherent in the dreamer. Similarly, the power to manifest this world is inherent in ONE.
The power to dream is different from the dream. Similarly, bliss is different from the universe.
When this power of dreaming is exercised from deep sleep stage we move on to dream stage. Many dream objects appear and a dream world is projected in our mind. This dream world is the product produced by the power to dream. Similarly, the universe is the product produced by bliss.
Dream world is not real. The real world consisting of the person sleeping on the bed remains outside the reach of the dream objects. The dream events cannot affect the substratum, the person sleeping on the bed. Similarly, the world and the events happening in them cannot affect the substratum, SELF/ONE.
Thus, universe is not real although it appears to be real with many objects of varying forms and names. Such names and forms are available only in the minds of people. A tree is a tree even before it was named as a tree. So it can be said that when man began to evolve a language, giving labels as names to the objects, the 'real' world is created. The whole creation will continue to exist as an illusion even if there are no living beings to name them. However, the illusory world becomes a real world only when people started naming the objects in it. Such labeling is essential for the development of science and technology leading to comforts in life. However, this practice of labeling is the cause of our bondage.
When children play make-believe game, they make imaginary coffee by imitating the hand movements of the mother. A child offers this imaginary coffee in a non-existing cup, the guest is supposed to say that it is too hot to drink or the sugar is less. If the guest says, 'where is the coffee, I do not see it', he will be dismissed as an unsupportive person and the children will disregard him. On receiving proper response, the child may add more imaginary sugar and serve the coffee again. After drinking the coffee, the guest is supposed to return the non-existent cup and comment that the coffee was good or horrible. A child playing this game well is supposed to enjoy the game irrespective of the comments, whether positive or negative. As long as the make-believe game goes on well, the child should be happy. It should not matter to the child whether the guest enjoyed the coffee or not. However, if the child starts crying because the guest did not like the coffee then the suffering caused is not because of the comments of the guest but because of the fact that the child gave more reality to the make-believe game than it really warrants.
Similarly, wise people live in this world without dismissing it and at the same time knowing it to be an illusion. Ignorant people give the status of reality to the make-believe world and suffer until they learn the truth. Most people are not matured enough to learn the truth and therefore they should continue to play (live) by involving in many actions. For example, if the guest is unhappy with the coffee, the child may decide to cook a very good meal so that the guest can be made happy. Wise people have no such desires. They are aware that the world does not exist, the objects in the world are not real and the objects/ events of this world cannot affect them. They will live joyfully.
Thus, people who gain the knowledge are liberated. They do not deny the appearance of the world. They are aware it is an illusion of name and form. They are also aware of the existence of the reality, ONE which is the substratum. Therefore, there is no more suffering to them. Events in the illusory world do not affect them and they do not have any desire for any objects in the world.
However, they continue to be involved in action and live life like anyone else because they are aware that they are the ONE and their body/mind complex is part of the illusory world. Their body/mind complex will continue to be imperfect and be involved in action all the time. However, they are aware that in essence they are the ever witnessing joy, which is the only reality. They also know that the changes in the body/mind complex have no impact on their real SELF. Just as the guest is aware that drinking poison in the make-believe game will not kill him, as a good player he may drink the poison and act as if he is dead or refuse to drink it saying that he does not want to die. Similarly, wise people respond to the events in the world appropriately without any fear, worry or feeling of insecurity. They are always aware that they are complete, perfect, eternal and joyful all the time.