Tuesday, May 4, 2010

How Unreal is this Illusion?

The ultimate truth about the reality is that the world as we perceive is an Illusion and that I am the only reality.

While conceptually , and at times for convenience, this explanation might be appealing, there are questions that make us think deeply about this explanation.

We see the world full of people, all independently living, thinking, interacting, progressing etc. Similarly there are so many other living and non living things, all in action, all in their own trajectory of life. We can easily see that we all do have a say in the happenings of the world. There is apparent ability to change the course of things. One can control another person etc.

Also more interestingly we see several people trying to understand the truth and getting enlightened. If the idea of enlightenment is to simply realize the truth that I am the only reality, how is it possible for several people to get enlightened? Absurd indeed. It is said in the Vedantic tradition one needs to surrender to a living Guru and help getting enlightened, and also that the Guru must himself be an enlightened one! If I am the only reality then the Guru must be part of the illusion. And if I am the Guru then the student must be part of the illusion.

All these seemingly difficult issues can be addressed if we consider three approaches to the illusory nature of the world.

(1) Many people exist: . All that we perceive through our senses, including our minds forms part of the relative reality. Within the relative reality, everything is real. My Ego is a real entity having its independent existence. so does all other people. This gives room to the existence and functioning of God. Here we can see people doing various things, and some trying to learn the truth. Some of them get enlightened. And we can see some becoming teachers, some other continuing their lives post enlightenment. All as real , as far as the relative reality is concerned. Much like one accepts everything within a dream to be real, as long as one does not wake up. After enlightenment, one continues to experience the world, and the relative reality, with a knowledge of the absolute reality. Similar to being aware that one is dreaming from within the dream itself. The ultimate truth, the enlightenment does not make the unreal world disappear, much like the knowledge of the mirage does not remove the mirage. The mirage continues to be perceived, and the individual entities within the mirage such as the reflection of a mountain, trees, water etc, will continue to exist and project individuals as though they are real. But the knowledge that it is a mirage will eliminate all sufferings that arise due to the events of the mirage.

(2) Only I Exist: The world is nothing but the Lokha. Lokha is all that is perceived or experienced. It includes everything , such as people, living and non living , etc. All events and happenings are simply experienced only by me. As long as I do not experience them they do not happen, or exist. people trying to learn the truth, Teachers who have learnt the truth, My won Guru, are all part of the illusion and they do not exist in reality. I exist as the individual and once I get the ultimate knowledge I am enlightened, and all other 'enlightenments' are simply part of the illusion. Probably they exist just to let me know about such as thing as enlightenment.

(3) Nothing exists and Nothing happens: The world is an illusion. and I, as an individual is part of the illusion. So such an I does not exist. Since I as an individual does not even exist, then so does all others and things. This means then there is nobody out there to actually learn and get enlightened. Nor anyone who is to teach anyone else. the whole world is an illusion, not existing in reality, and no events whatsoever happened or happens. The enlightenment that I get itself is illusory. All that exists is the only absolute reality that is I.

Taking either of these three viewpoints clarifies the doubts regarding the anomalies about a extremely realistic looking illusion.

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