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24 You who believe that the world, which is experienced merely as an object of the senses, is real, and who cherish it as something worthwhile, come ultimately to grief, like the parrot that waits for the silk-cotton fruit to ripen! If this world is real merely because it is perceived, then water seen in a mirage is also real because it too is perceived.


The fruit of the silk-cotton tree is a large pod that always remains green. When it finally ripens, it bursts open, revealing its insides – an inedible, white, fluffy mass of fibre. Expecting the world to produce real benefits is compared to the fruitless vigil of the parrot that ignorantly expects something delicious to come out of the silk-cotton tree’s pod.


25 Do not get confused by abandoning the state of clarity, the swarupa perspective, and then pursue appearances, taking them to be real. That which appears will disappear, and hence it is not real, but the true nature of the one who sees never ceases to exist. Know that it alone is real.


26 Since the world appears only to mind-consciousness, the distortion produced by maya, and not to the Atma-swarupa that exists as the source of that mind, can there be any world that truly exists?


27 Do not be confounded by this worthless samsara that appears as a dream in the deluding [sleep of] ignorance. In a mind that has an intense desire for reality – consciousness, the supreme – it is impossible for the binding mental delusion that arises in the dense darkness of ignorance to remain.


Samsara is the continuous round of birth and death to which the jiva is subjected until it attains liberation. In a more general sense it denotes worldly life.


28 You who shrink from the world, trembling in fear! There is definitely no such thing as a real world. Therefore, to be afraid of the imaginary world that appears to be real is like fearing the imaginary snake [that is misperceived] in a coiled rope.


29 The world is seen fully and distinctly only in the waking and dream states in which sankalpas [thoughts] have arisen. Is it ever seen during sleep, where there is absolutely no arising of thoughts? Therefore, sankalpas alone are the material substance of the world.


Bhagavan: Sankalpa [thought] creates the world. The peace attained on the destruction of sankalpas is the [permanent] destruction of the world. (Padamalai, p. 264, v. 6.)


30 If the perceived world is only the glorious play of thought, why does it still appear as it did before – albeit like a dream – even when the mind remains tranquil, without thoughts? This is because of the unexhausted momentum of the previous imagination.


31 Like a spider that has the wonderful power to extrude the strands of its web from its mouth and then withdraw them back there, the mind unfolds the world from within itself and then withdraws it back into itself.


Bhagavan: Just as the spider spins out the thread from within itself and again withdraws it into itself, so the mind projects the world from within itself and again absorbs it into itself. (Who am I? essay version, The Path of Sri Ramana Part One, p. 184.)


Question: What is the relation between mind and object? Is the mind contacting something different from it, viz., the world.


Bhagavan: The world is ‘sensed’ in the waking and the dream states or is the object of perception and thought, both being mental activities. If there were no such activities as waking and dreaming thought, there would be no ‘perception’ or inference of a ‘world’. In sleep there is no such activity and ‘objects and world’ do not exist for us in sleep. Hence [the] ‘reality of the world’ may be created by the ego by its act of emergence from sleep; and that reality may be swallowed up or disappear by the soul resuming its nature in sleep. The emergence and disappearance of the world are like the spider producing a gossamer web and then withdrawing it. (Talks with Sri Ramana Maharshi, talk no. 25.)


32 When the mind emerges first through the brain and then through the senses, along with it names and forms are pushed out from within. Conversely, when the mind rests in the Heart, they enter and subside there again.


33 Through names and forms the world appears in all its discordant diversity. When names and forms cease forever, it [the world] is Brahman. A person with a limited mind masks the true God [Brahman] with concepts of name and form, sees it as a world, and is bewildered and frightened.


Bhagavan: It is said that Brahman is real, and [the] world an illusion; again it is said that the whole universe is an image of Brahman. How are these two statements to be reconciled? In the sadhak stage, you have got to say that the world is an illusion. There is no other way, because when a man forgets that he is the Brahman, who is real, permanent and omnipresent, and deludes himself into thinking that he is a body in the universe which is filled with bodies that are transitory, and labours under that delusion, you have got to remind him that the world is unreal and a delusion. Why? Because, his vision, which has forgotten its own Self, is dwelling in the external material universe and will not turn inward into introspection unless you impress on him that all this external, material universe is unreal. When once he realises his own Self, and also that there is nothing other than his own Self, he will come to look upon the whole universe as Brahman. There is no universe without his Self. So long as a man does not see his own Self which is the origin of all, but looks only at the external world as real and permanent, you have to tell him that all this external universe is an illusion. You cannot help it. Take a paper. We see only the script, and nobody notices the paper on which the script is written. The paper is there, whether the script on it is there or not. To those who look upon the script as real, you have to say that it is unreal, an illusion, since it rests upon the paper. The wise man looks upon both the paper and script as one. So also with Brahman and the universe. (Letters from Sri Ramanasramam, 24th August, 1946.)


34 The world that associates with us as an appearance of names and forms is as transient as a lightning flash. The faltering understanding ‘I am the body’ is the deceptive device that makes us desire the world as if it were real, [thereby] entrapping us instantaneously in the powerful snare of bondage.


Muruganar: Since the world does not appear without the body, the confused belief ‘I am the body’ is said to be the maya that projects the appearance of names and forms. The delusion that causes the name-and-form appearance to be seen as different from swarupa is that which insists that the world is real. It’s root is the primal ignorance ‘I am the body’.



The slide show comprises photos of Muruganar, the author of Guru Vachaka Kovai.

David Godman Books


Books by David Godman on Ramana Maharshi, his devotees and his teachings

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