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Q: Why do we see the world as something real?


M: We see so much on a cinema screen, but it is not real. Nothing is real there except the screen. In the same way, in the waking state, there is nothing but the adhistana. Knowledge of the waking state is knowledge of the knower of the waking state. Both go away in sleep.


Q: Why do we see such permanency and constancy in the waking state?


M: It is seen on account of wrong ideas. When someone says that he took a bath in the same river twice, he is wrong because when he bathed for the second, time, the river was not the same as it was when he bathed for the first time. Somebody may say that he is seeing the same fruit every day, but really, a lot of changes are taking place in the fruit. On seeing the brightness of a flame, a man says that he sees the same flame, but the flame is changing every second. As the oil gets less and less, the flame keeps on changing. The waking state is also like this. The stationary appearance is an error of perception.


Q: Whose is the error?


M: Pramata [the knower].


Q: From where did the knower come?


M: On account of the error of perception. In fact, the knower and his false knowledge appear simultaneously, and when the knowledge of the Self is obtained, they disappear simultaneously.


Q: From where did the knower and his ignorance come?


M: Who is asking this question?


Q: I.


M: Find out that ‘I’ and all your doubts will be solved. Just as in a dream, a false knower, knowledge and known rise up, in the waking state the same process operates. In both states, on knowing this ‘I’ you know everything, and nothing remains to be known. If, in the waking state, there is enquiry into the ‘I’, everything can be understood and nothing else will remain to be known. In deep sleep knower, knowledge and known are absent. At the time of experiencing the true ‘I’ they will also not exist. Whatever you see happening in the waking state happens only to the knower, and since the knower is unreal, nothing in fact ever happens.


Q: After waking from sleep, why does the world of the previous day appear the same?


M: The world seen on the previous day was not real. It was the knowledge of an unreal knower. In the same way, the world of the next day is also is the knowledge of an unreal knower. For the ajnani the world is experienced at these times [yesterday and today]. But for the jnani the world is not there at any time, past, present or future. What appears separate from us is called by us ‘the world’. It appears separate from us due to ego-consciousness [ahankara]. When ahankara goes there is nothing separate; there is no world. Time also arises from pramata, the knower. Because pramata is not real, time is also not real. Professor Einstein has also stated this in his theory of relativity.


Q: How then do the affairs of daily life go on?


M: At present the Viceroy has changed the time by putting it an hour in advance. Though the new time is false, daily life still continues.


Q: In Panchadasi there is an example that if you wish to hear the music of your son who is singing along with the other boys attending the same school, you have to ask the other boys to be quiet. In the same way, to hear the voice of Self, you have to stop all other activities.


M: In this particular example, even if your son is not present you will hear the music of the other boys. So since this is a different situation, the analogy does not fit well. According to another example, if we fix our attention on the main tune of the harmonium, there will be no difficulty in listening to that tune, even if many other tunes are going on along with it.


Q: Just as a mirage, though believed to be unreal, appears again, similarly, though the world is believed to be unreal, it reappears.


M: Just as the knowledge of the water in the mirage is not true, similarly, the knowledge of the world in Brahman is not true. All is one Brahma-rupa [form of Brahman]. That alone is true knowledge.


Q: According to the old system of Vedanta, it seems that ignorance arises first, and then arises the idea of individual existence, but according to the new system there seems to be no before or after. The idea of individual existence, ignorance and the world arise simultaneously, and on attaining knowledge, all of these three disappear.


M: It is true. See the world as consisting of Brahman after making your vision jnanamaya [full of knowledge].


Q: Such a state can only be obtained by satsang [association with holy men].


M: Do not think that satsang means only talks and conversations. It means abidance in being as the form of the Self.


Q: What is the meaning of ‘Atman is swayam prakasa’ [The Self shines by its own light]?


M: Just as the sun has never seen darkness, similarly, the Self has never seen ignorance. The Self is unknowable, but it can be experienced by aparoksha anubhava [knowledge of the Self by direct perception]. This is called swaprakasatwa [Self-illumination].


David Godman Books


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

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