How to discover the world is an illusion? Discovering the truth of the world.

Ramana_3_sw

Here Sri Ramana not only outlines how we can discover for ourselves the truth of the world, but also he succinctly outlines the path to liberation:

If, on the contrary, you withdraw your mind completely from the world and turn it within and abide thus, that is, if you keep awake always to the Self, which is the substratum of all experience, you will find the world, of which alone you are now aware, just as unreal as the world in which you lived in your dream.
~Ramana Maharshi, Maharshi’s Gospel

The above was an excerpt taken from the following post: Ramana Maharshi: ‘…unless you give up the idea that the world is real…’

Also see Ashtavakra Gita – all is illusion, I am the Self

Ramana Maharshi: ‘…unless you give up the idea that the world is real…’

ramana maharshi eyes of grace

Question: I cannot say it is all clear to me. Is the world that is seen, felt and sensed by us in so many ways something like a dream, an illusion?

Sri Ramana Maharshi: There is no alternative for you but to accept the world as unreal, if you are seeking the Truth and the Truth alone.

Question: Why so?

Sri Ramana Maharshi: For the simple reason that unless you give up the idea that the world is real, your mind will always be after it. If you take the appearance to be real you will never know the Real itself, although it is the Real alone that exists. This point is illustrated by the analogy of the ‘snake in the rope’. As long as you see the snake you cannot see the rope as such. The non-existent snake becomes real to you, while the real rope seems wholly non-existent as such.

Question: It is easy to accept tentatively that the world is not ultimately real, but it is hard to have the conviction that it is really unreal.

Sri Ramana Maharshi: Even so is your dream world real while you are dreaming. So long as the dream lasts, everything you see, feel, etc., therein is real.

Question: Is then the world nothing better than a dream?

Sri Ramana Maharshi: What is wrong with the sense of reality you have while you are dreaming? You may be dreaming of something quite impossible, for instance, of having a happy chat with a dead person. Just for a moment you may doubt in the dream saying to yourself, ‘Was he not dead?’, but somehow your mind reconciles itself to the dream vision, and the person is as good as alive for the purposes of the dream.

In other words, the dream as a dream does not permit you to doubt its reality. Even so, you are unable to doubt the reality of the world of your wakeful experience. How can the mind which has itself created the world accept it as unreal? That is the significance of the comparison made between the world of wakeful experience and the dream world. Both are but creations of the mind and so long as the mind is engrossed in either, it finds itself unable to deny the reality of the dream world while dreaming and of the waking world while awake.

If, on the contrary, you withdraw your mind completely from the world and turn it within and abide thus, that is, if you keep awake always to the Self, which is the substratum of all experience, you will find the world, of which alone you are now aware, just as unreal as the world in which you lived in your dream.

The above excerpt was taken from Maharshi’s Gospel

‘Life is a dream…’

We have been given such a gift to have dreams. In the dream entire reality is created and projected by our minds, by our consciousness, and everything we see in the dream is our mind.

In this video Tom explains how taking on this conceptual view regarding waking life can help you to see your body mind as a projection and not what we truly are. The Guru is a projection, the teaching is a projection, the seeker is a projection – they are all ‘part of the dream’.

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Ashtavakra Gita – all is illusion, I am the Self

Janaka ashtavakra

The following verses are read on this video here (a couple of the verses are in a slightly different order):

Sage Ashtavakra, the young boy with contorted limbs, teaches King Janaka, and the result is the Song of Ashtavakra, or Ashtavakra Gita. Here are some selected verses, enjoy:

2.1. Oh, I am spotless, tranquil, Pure Consciousness, and beyond Nature. All this time I have been mocked by illusion.

Tom – Now the triad of knower/knowing/known are said not to exist. Note that this triad essentially encompasses all arising or objective phenomena:

2.15. Knowledge, knower and the known – these three do not exist in reality. I am that stainless Self in which this triad appears through ignorance.

Tom – here the remedy is prescribed:

2.16. Oh, the root of misery is duality. There is no other remedy for it except the realisation of the unreality of all objects of experience and that I am One, Pure Consciousness, and Bliss.

2.18. I am neither bound nor free. My illusion has ended. The world, though appearing to exist in me, has in reality no existence.

2.19. My conviction is that the Universe and the body have no reality. The Self is Consciousness alone. How can the world be imagined in it?

2.20. I am the Self, and my nature is pure Consciousness. The body, heaven, hell, bondage, freedom, and fear are merely imagined, and I have no relationship with them.

3.13. Knowing the object of perception to be naught by nature, that steady-minded one neither accepts this nor rejects that.

5.3. Though the Universe is perceptible by the senses, it has no factual existence, like the snake in the rope. Therefore, enter into Laya, the state of dissolution.

Tom – Again the essential teaching is dispensed:

11.8. He who is convinced that this manifold and wonderful Universe has no real existence, becomes free from desire, is pure Consiousness, and finds peace in the Knowledge that nothing is real.

15.16. The world is the result of ignorance of your own nature. In reality, you alone exist. There is neither jiva (the individual person) nor Ishvara (God), nothing other than thyself.

15.17. He who has fully realised that the Universe is a pure illusion, becomes desireless and Consciousness Itself – such a one abides in peace.

16.11. Even though Shiva, Vishnu, or Brahma instruct you, unless you regard the world as unreal, and dismiss all sense of egotism, you will not become established in your own nature (the Self).

17.19. Devoid of the feeling of ‘This is mine’ and ‘This I am’ and knowing for certain that nothing objective exists in reality, the knower of Truth is at peace within himself, his desires have subsided. Though appearing to act, in fact he does not engage in action.

18.14. Where is delusion, where is the universe, where is renunciation, moreover where is liberation for the great-souled one who rests beyond the world of desires?

Tom – the implication in verse 18.14 above is that all the items listed – namely ignorance, the universe, renunciation and liberation – all of these are illusion.

18.28. That man of peace, beyond distraction and contemplation, is neither an aspirant for liberation, nor is he bound. Knowing the Universe to be an illusion, though perceiving it, he remains in the absolute state.

18.70. The pure one knows for certain that this universe is nothing but the product of illusion and that nothing exists. The Imperceptible Self is revealed to him, and he naturally enjoys peace.


Tom – As if the above verses were not enough, here, in the last chapter, chapter 20, the point is driven home again. Everything in the phenomenal world is negated as being mere dream-like illusion, a product of imagination, from the scriptures, to the seeker, from the teacher to the teaching. Even notions of liberation, bondage, knowledge, ignorance, time and space and lastly even duality and non-duality – all these are said to be mere illusion.

20.1. In my Perfect Self (Atman), neither the elements, nor the body, nor the sense-organs, nor the mind, nor the void, nor despair, exist.

20.2. Where are the scriptures, where is Self-Knowledge, where is the mind not attached to sense-objects, where is contentment, and where is desirelessness for me who am ever devoid of the sense of duality?

Tom – ie. scriptures, self-knowledge, the unattached mind, happiness and desirelessness are all illusory

20.3. Where is knowledge and where is ignorance; where is ‘I’, where is ‘this’, and where is ‘mine’; where is bondage and where is liberation? Where is an attribute to the nature of my self?

Tom – ie. knowledge, ignorance, bondage, liberation, subject and object are all illusory. And so the verses continue in the same fashion:

20.6. Where is the world and where is the seeker of liberation; where is the Yogi and where is the Jnani; where is bondage and where is liberation for me who am non-dual by nature?

20.7. Where are creation and destruction; where is the end and where the means; where is the seeker and success for me abiding in my non-dual nature?

20.8. Where is the knower, the means to knowledge, the object of knowledge or knowledge itself; where is anything, and where is nothing for me who am ever pure?

20.9. Where is distraction, where is concentration; where is knowledge, where is delusion; where is joy and where is sorrow for me who am ever actionless?

20.13. Where are instruction and scriptural injunction, where is the disciple and where is the guru; where, indeed, is the object of life for me who am absolute good and free from limitation?

20.14. Where is existence, where is non-existence; where is unity, where is duality? What need is there to say more? Nothing emanates from me.

Ramana Maharshi: The world should be considered like a dream

ramana umbrella


The following are explained in this post:

  1. The world should be considered like a dream
  2. The external guru that appears as an external form is a dream-guru
  3. The guru does not need to teach others or ‘spread the word’
  4. The false ideas ‘I do not want liberation’ and ‘Let all others be liberated before me first’ are discussed
  5. Other people do not need to be saved, ie. the focus should be on your own realisation
  6. There is only one jiva (seperate ego-self) – ie. eka jiva vada

The Dream

Here is an essential instruction from Ramana Maharshi:

‘The world should be considered like a dream’
Who Am I?


The following are supportive quotes:

Waking is long and a dream short; other than this there is no difference
Who Am I?

The present waking state is no more than a dream
Talks 244

The so-called waking state is itself an illusion
Talks 199


The Dream Guru

In the following two quotes we see that Ramana is describing the Guru or Teacher or Teaching as a mere dream-guru or dream-teaching, a part of the illusion. There is no real teaching, no real teacher, no real seeker, no real liberation. These are all illusion. The example given is that we dream the guru up, rather like dreaming of a tiger that then causes us to awake from the dream:

A man dreams of a tiger, takes fright and wakes up
Talks 473

It is said that awaking from ignorance is like awaking from a fearful dream of a beast
Talks 627

In the following dialogue this is also made clear:

A Swami asked: I feel toothache. Is it only a thought?
Ramana Maharshi: Yes.
Questioner: Why can I not think that there is no toothache and thus cure myself?
Ramana Maharshi: When engrossed in other thoughts one does not feel the toothache. When one sleeps toothache is not felt.
Questioner: But toothache remains all the same.
Ramana Maharshi: Such is the firm conviction of the reality of the world that it is not easily shaken off. The world does not become, for that reason, any more real than the individual himself.
Questioner: Now there is the Sino-Japanese war. If it is only in imagination, can or will Sri Bhagavan imagine the contrary and put an end to the war?
Ramana Maharshi: The Bhagavan of the questioner [ie. Sri Ramana Maharshi] is as much a thought as the Sino Japanese war. (Laughter.)

Talks 451


The Guru does not need to teach others

In the following excerpt Ramana points some flawed reasoning. Firstly why does a liberated sage not need to go out and preach to the world?

People often say that a mukta purusha [ie. liberated person; mukta = liberated, purusha = person] should go out and preach his message to the people. They argue, how can anyone be a mukta so long as there is misery by his side?

True. But who is a mukta? Does he see misery beside him? They want to determine the state of a mukta without themselves realising the state.

From the standpoint of the mukta their contention amounts to this: a man dreams a dream in which he finds several persons. On waking up, he asks, ‘Have the dream individuals also wakened?’ It is ridiculous.

Talks 498


Two false teachings

Secondly, the flawed thinking in those who say to themselves:

a) ‘I don’t mind if I don’t get mukti’ or

b) ‘Let me be the last person to be liberated and instead help all others become liberated first’. (ie. what in Mahayana Buddhism is known as the Bodhisattva ideal)

Again, a good man says, “It does not matter even if I do not get mukti. Or let me be the last man to get it so that I shall help all others to be muktas before I am one.” It is all very good. Imagine a dreamer saying, “May all these wake up before I do”. The dreamer is no more absurd than the amiable philosopher aforesaid.

Talks 498


Others do not need to be saved

Does a man who sees many individuals in his dream persist in believing them to be real and enquire after them when he wakes up?
Talks 571


There are not many jivas/egos/people

Here a questioner asks are there not many jivas? Ramana informs the questioner there is only one jiva:

A question was asked why it was wrong to say that there is a multiplicity of jivas. Jivas are certainly many. For a jiva is only the ego and forms the reflected light of the Self. Multiplicity of selves may be wrong but not of jivas.

M.: Jiva is called so because he sees the world. A dreamer sees many jivas in a dream but all of them are not real. The dreamer alone exists and he sees all. So it is with the individual and the world.

There is the creed of only one Self which is also called the creed of only one jiva*. It says that the jiva is only one who sees the whole world and the jivas therein.

Talks 571

*This is called the doctrine of eka jiva vada (the view there is only a single jiva/ego/person). Our own body-mind, and the body-mind of apparent others are all projections of the Self. Like a dream, it appears we are many, but actually this entire dream world is an illusion, and there is only the Dreamer, the Self, the Consciousness from which all is projected. Tat Tvam Asi, You are That.


Ramana Maharshi:

The world should be considered like a dream’

Waking is long and a dream short; other than this there is no difference.
Who Am I?

The present waking state is no more than a dream.
Talks 244

The so-called waking state is itself an illusion
Talks 199

Yoga Vasishta clearly defines Liberation as the abandonment of the false and remaining as Being.
Talks 442

A man dreams of a tiger [the guru], takes fright and wakes up
Talks 473

It is said that awaking from ignorance is like awaking from a fearful dream of a beast.
Talks 627

Does a man who sees many individuals in his dream persist in believing them to be real and enquire after them when he wakes up?
Talks 571

Jiva is called so because he sees the world. A dreamer sees many jivas in a dream but all of them are not real. The dreamer alone exists and he sees all. So it is with the individual and the world.
Talks 571

There is the creed of only one Self which is also called the creed of only one jiva. It says that the jiva is only one who sees the whole world and the jivas therein.
Talks 571

Shankara: the world or universe is a projection of the mind

Shankara bondage is a mirage

From Shankara’s Vivekachudamani:

170. In dreams, when there is no actual contact with the external world, the mind alone creates the whole universe consisting of the experiencer etc. Similarly in the waking state also; there is no difference. Therefore all this (phenomenal universe) is the projection of the mind.

171. In dreamless sleep, when the mind is reduced to its causal state, there exists nothing (for the person asleep), as is evident from universal experience. Hence man’s relative existence is simply the creation of his mind, and has no objective reality.