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Q: Just as in a rope the knowledge of the serpent is false, so in Brahman the knowledge of the world is false.
M: That is correct. It is not necessary to keep knowledge of a thing that is not real.
Q: It could be said the window has come out of the wood, but still it is not separate from the wood. If one can give up the knowledge of the work done on the wood, then it is wood only.
M: That is true.
Q: In a rope a snake is seen. It is possible to argue that, for the illusion to be effective, one must have seen a real snake at some other place and time in order to know what a snake looks like. Only then can the illusion occur. In the same way, if at some place the real world is seen, then only can an illusion of it appear in Brahman.
M: That [analogy] is known as anyatha khyati [an argument put forward by the Nyaya school of philosophy], but it has no validity.
Q: In the alatha-shanti of Gaudapada’s Karika [v. 97], it is said that if the slightest vaidharmata bhava [the attitude that there is something that exists other than the Self] remains, then oneness will not be established and the breaking of the veil that covers the Self will not take place. In that context, what is the meaning of vaidharmata?
M: In that verse the term vaidharmata should be understood to be parichinna bhava [an attitude of restriction]. If you want God, he is there all the time. So long as the world is not realised to be false, thoughts of the world will keep on coming. So long as the snake is seen, the rope does not appear. The mind that creates the world will not be able to take the world as false. As it happens in the dream state, so it also happens in the waking state. Without the mind there is no world. In sleep, since there is no mind, there is no world. Therefore it is not necessary to think of the world that is imagined by the mind.
That which is nitya nivritta [always removed, that is, never existing] need not be given any thought to. A barber, after having thrown out someone’s hair does not count how many are black and how many are white as all of them have to be thrown away. Similarly, it is not necessary to count imaginary things. It is only necessary to cease to imagine that they are true. To remove the snake from the rope, it is not necessary to kill the snake. In the same way it is not necessary to kill the mind. By understanding the complete non-existence of the mind, the mind will go away.
The experience that is without the seer and the seen, that is without time and space, is the real experience. When we have a dream, we see many varieties of forms. Out of them we believe one form to be ‘my’ form and we also believe that ‘I am that’. If we are the manufacturer of the dream, then we are the actor in all the forms in the dream as well as the actor in our own form. The one who has the dream believes that all the forms [in the dream] are real, and that they are separate from each other. And he also believes that in the dream he himself has a form. He is not aware that he is both the actor of the dream and all the other forms [that he sees]. He realises on waking that everything in the dream was he and he alone. In the same way, a jnani knows that the world [being only a dream] is never created. Whatever is there is all his own Self, one and undivided.
Q: In golden ornaments both the gold and the ornaments seem to be real. The only difference is that the piece of gold does not have the same beauty as the ornament. Likewise, both Brahman and the world appear to be real.
M: Whether you keep the gold or the gold ornaments, in both, the basic material is the same. The name given to a form is for everyday activities. If there were a lot of gold ornaments lying around, and if we were to say, ‘Please get the gold’, the job could not be done. Similarly, there is only one ‘I’ and it is the same in all people, but for worldly activities we cannot say, ‘Please call that “I”’. That is why some ‘I’s are called ‘Ramachandran’ and some ‘Krishna Lal’. Even so, there is only one ‘I’.
Q: If the ‘I’ at one place calls the ‘I’ at some other place ‘you’, many mistakes will happen.
M: During worldly activity, if your attention is fixed on the fundamental reality, there is no difficulty. But ordinary people forget the reality and take the name alone to be real. The different ‘I’s are not real. There is only one ‘I’. The separate ‘I’ is like a watchman in a fort. He is like the protector of the body. The real owner in everybody is only the one real ‘I’. So, when the separate ‘I’ surrenders to the real ‘I’, then, [because the idea of a separate self who ‘owns’ the body disappears], ‘I’ and mine are eliminated. The true state comes into existence when, after sorting out what belongs to whom, the ego ‘I’ surrenders itself to the real owner.
Q: If such teachings are spread in the world there will be no wars.
M: [No reply.]
David Godman Books
Books by David Godman on Ramana Maharshi, his devotees and his teachings
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