Question 103: The Seen World: what is its reality?

spirial galaxy
The Young Rama sits, asking questions to Sage Vashishtha. He is asking how the world is manifest without any cause; how do you, I or the young Rama – and the Sage – experience this manifestation, encompassed, surrounded by the phenomenal world? There is a base, as the Sage explains.

param – Hin. adj. parama– San. prefix (superlative of para) supreme, best, perfect, most glorious, in the highest degree, most excellent, ultimate, transcendental, mightiest, most remote, further than.
tanmatras the five tanmatras are potential elements or generic essences of sound, touch, colour, taste and smell. These are very subtle and cannot be ordinarily perceived.
vasana: tendencies or desires
chitta: San. noun. the mind (the seat of understanding and awareness, of intellect and will); memory, thought, reflection; the soul, heart. It is the individual consciousness, composed of intelligence and intellect (buddhi), ego (ahamkara) and mind (manas). In Vedanta, chitta is one aspect of Universal Consciousness (chit). The world hangs on the thread of consciousness – without consciousness, there is no world.
Brahma Creator: born out of the golden egg produced in the boundless causal waters. His consort Vak or Sarasvathi was manifested out of him. From their union was born all the creatures of the world


Question 103: Sir, how is the vast illusion of the Universe – encompassing me, you and others – manifest in Paramatma without any cause?

Answer: Ramji, this entire manifest universe of matter and causality is experienced due to the cognitive power of the ideational potency in Atma; in reality nothing but Atma exists. This conversation and activity, too, are an aspect of Atma. Just as the ornaments are not distinct from gold, even so the universe is not distinct from Atma, but is an aspect of Atma. The universe and Atma are as interrelated as are ornaments and gold.

When a sankalpa arises, the subtle essences (tanmatras) are created. Thereafter, with the manifestation of gross elements, diverse objects with names and forms are visualised and experienced. Ideation results in the experience of the universe; quiescence or cessation of ideation results in the dissolution of the universe, and then Atma only, that is – Pure Consciousness – is sustained. On attaining freedom from ideation, when a jiva is established in the Atmic state, he does not experience the ideational universe, but realises the omnipresence of Atma. Just as seed and tree, honey and sweetness, waves and ocean. motion and wind, are not distinct from each other, even so are Atma and the universe. Just as heat is natural in fire, so is the manifest universe in the Absolute Atma. Ideation is the seed cause of all vasanas and the universe.

O Ramji, strive for the extinction of ideation, and when ideation stops, the delusion vanishes on its own. In reality, nothing has been created and nothing dies. Innumerable are the experiential creations due to ideations in the chitta (consciousness). And this, too, is not outside Atma. When the chitta is free from desire or vasana, think that the Atmic state is attained. As and when the idea of the universe vanishes, so does an individual attain freedom from bondage and becomes liberated. Ramji, the primeval ideation in the Pure Consciousness has assumed itself as Brahma. The secondary ideations in the Brahma-like ideation, assume the form of the variegated universe, as do the waves arising out of waves in an ocean. This Brahma-ideation cognises the ideational universe and in this illusory universe there arise somewhere the experiences of a universe in an instant, and somewhere else the experiences of an instant in a universe.


Deep Field photo
The Deep Field photo taken by the Hubble Telescope – showing universes and galaxies

Whatever originates does degenerate. All things seen as objects lose their identity in the bottomless pool of Time. Man, however wanders about in the objective world presented before him as form, and name, seeking to extract therefrom permanent peace and unalloyed bliss. He is engaged in fallow pursuits and nefarious tactics, which fail to provide him the key to the Absolute and the eternal. Does the key exist in the outer world or in the inner? So long as man embroils himself in the ‘Seen’ he cannot see the ‘See-er’. So long as your attention is caught by the flowers in this garland, you cannot cognise the string that holds them together. Inquiry is essential to discover the base which upholds the garland. So too, inquiry alone can bring into human experience the Atmic base which upholds the objective sensory world.

The world can confer, at best, only momentary joy. Happiness, prosperity and power are but flashes amidst the dark clouds of misery, poverty and defeat. Kith and Kin of whom we are proud and in whom we lay our trust succumb to death and depart without a word of farewell. But we do not learn the lesson; we cling to the belief that the outer world is the treasure-chest of peace and joy.

Atma alone is the ever-full and ever-fresh spring of Bliss. The Atma is the motivator of the physical machine known as the body. It can be inferred only through the performance of the machine. The Atmic Energy motivates every being in the Universe – Man, animal, bird, worm, tree and grass. Once man contacts It, he is blessed with Universal vision, absolute delight and eternal wisdom. Everyone has the thirst to realise It and be with It; but, only very few take steps to reach It. Thousands proclaim the glory of the Atma but only a handful strive to attain it.

Of course, the Atma is everywhere, at all times. It is like milk and its colour. It is white, everywhere, at all times, under all conditions, as milk or as butter, cream or ghee. So, too, the Atma persists unchanged, however many changes the thing motivated by It might undergo. The Atma contacts the senses of perception and affects the mind; it awakens the intellect to discriminate and decide upon the lines of action. The Atma activates the instruments of thought, speech and action, of expression and communication. The eyes see; but which is the force that prompts them? You may have ears but who endows them with the power of hearing? Words emanate from the mouth; but which is it that urges us and frames the manner and content of the speech? That force acts like the cells in a torch which provide the bulb with the current to illuminate it. Doctors know that the body consists of cells, billions of them, alive and alert, busy and active. Each cell is motivated by the Atma; it is immanent, all over. The Atma is in each of them as well as in every spot of space. When we realise it as such, it is experienced as Effulgent Total Splendorous Light; Endless, Incomparable, Unique Light.

The ancient seers ignored the World as irrelevant and immersed themselves in inner inquiry until they contacted the Universal Atma and filled themselves with Bliss. They had to limit desires, control their cravings and live in the conviction that the destiny of Man is to divest himself of the animal heritage and to sublimate his innate humanity into Divinity.