Question 166: How does imagination arise in the non-dual Atma?

block of stone
The young Rama continues with his questions. If the Atma is non-dual, and everything is created in Atma, how is it that the imagination arises in the seer?

avidya San. f. ignorance, especially in a spiritual sense arising from the illusion of maya, the veil of separateness. The darkness of ignorance veils our perception, so that we see a snake in a rope and are deluded by our senses into believing the world is real; we are unaware of the true Reality that underlies and sustains it.
vidya Hin., San. f. learning, study; education; science; knowledge, especially of the vedas; wisdom, understanding. Vidya is moksha, avidya is samsara.

sat: real
asat: unreal

vichara: self-inquiry; contemplation, thought

brahman, brahma San. N. the impersonal Absolute – a supreme, unmeasurable and transcendent essence that exists simultaneously with all of creation; the ultimate Reality, the Source, Consciousness not aware of itself, all-pervasive and self-existent. (V. 663) Brahman envelopes and permeates everything: ‘Brahman is all there is’ (sarvam brahman-mayam). Creation is but a reflection in brahman.
Question 166: Sir, how does imagination arise in the non-dual Atma that is of the nature of effulgence and is free from the idea of untruth (asat)?

Answer: Ramji, whatever I have told you so far is truth; there should be no doubt about it. Only he in whose mind these ideas are firmly rooted, attains to the Atmic state. You will realise the truth of my words when these are firmly assimilated by your mind. When you go beyond the verbal meanings and assimilate their true spirit, you will automatically realise the non-dual power. Only a wise person experiences Atma perennially. There are no desires or imaginations in Atma. Atma only is manifested as a universe. An individual soul does not witness the illumination of Atma within until the purport of the idea of identity between the individual and Atma becomes clear in his mind. Therefore, abandoning all other ideas and doubts, you reflect upon and follow my teachings properly so that you may attain salvation. The darkness of ignorance can never be removed without the practice of the Truth (Sat).

The ideation arising with the power of pure Atma is called avidya (ignorance). There are two aspects of ignorance (avidya) — superior and inferior. The ideation arising for the annihilation of ignorance is superior; it is also called vidya. It helps in the removal of sufferings. The ideation directed to the world is inferior or impure. Both types of avidya are just ideations. Therefore, destroy avidya with avidya. Just as a divine weapon can he destroyed with a divine weapon only, and an enemy can be destroyed by an enemy, so you should destroy avidya with avidya and attain tranquillity.

Just as darkness cannot be seen if observed with light, so if you look at the darkness of ignorance with the light of contemplation (vichara), the ignorance will disappear. Atma is ever effulgent but the ignorant jivas cannot know that. Avidya is too powerful and many highly intelligent persons have perished under it; he who has understood avidya correctly is a superior being and a wise person. An individual has to know nothing after understanding avidya, and he should strive for that.

Ramji, till you are awakened in the Self, you should apply your mind to what I tell you and firmly believe that ignorance is destructible; rather it is non-existent. When you resolve firmly to annihilate ignorance, you will be worthy of liberation. Believe firmly that the ideation of mind that has turned into the universe is entirely an aspect of Brahman. He who has no such firm belief is thrown into bondage.


5-6. “Regarding your final question, which is very important, know this : whoever remembers Me at the time of death will no doubt come to Me. That person’s consciousness will merge into My cosmic consciousness.

“This is the universal law, Arjuna. The sum total of all thoughts and feelings during the whole span of your life condense into a single state of mind at the time of your departure from the body. You assume a particular mental makeup at the instant of death. Whatever occupies your attention throughout life will inevitably be your consciousness at the moment you die – and to that realm of consciousness you will go. Then, some time later, that same mental structure is manifested back into the world. This is called the next birth.

7. “So what should you do? Throughout life, prepare for the death moment. Actually, the moment of death does not mean some future instant in time, it means this very moment! Any moment may be your last, so treat each as the last because your thought at that instant is the foundation on which your next birth is assembled.

“Live in a state of constant spiritual awareness. Do everything for God. Think of the Divine every minute. Like the street musician who artfully plucks the guitar and at the same time plays the pipes fastened to it, do your earthly duties well, but simultaneously be aware at every moment of the Godhead. Do your duty, Arjuna, fight, but do it with your mind and heart fixed on Me. Then you will surely come to Me. (Bhagavad Gita 8:5-7)


block of stone Just as an artist sees form and creates from a block of stone, so also, the Atma creates bodies with the same mental structure from the last life. /caption]



Hamsa Gayatri
Om Hamsaaya Vidmahe
Paramahamsaya Dheemahi
Tanno Hamsa Prachodayat

“May we realise Hamsa that is our own Self as the Swan. Let us meditate on that Paramahamsa, the Supreme Self. May Hamsa illumine us.”