Ahymsin Newsletter: Yoga is Samadhi

The Real and Un-real

by Swami Rama

[This passage has been taken from the book Sacred Journey, by Swami Rama, published in 2001 by Full Circle, New Delhi, India]

The treasure according to Vedanta is Atman, the Self or absolute Reality, that exists within all individuals. In the language of the Bible, Atman is the image of God, that which is identical to Brahman, pure consciousness, ultimate Reality, or however else we attempt to express with words that which is indescribable. Atman and Brahman are one, just as Jesus said, “I and my Father are one.

Be perfect as your Father in heaven is perfect,” Jesus told his disciples. Know your identity with God. You are the same but have forgotten it, is the message. So remember. Do that essential work of remembering, of getting the clutter removed so you can remember.

Let’s define some terms here, with the understanding that words are subject to limitations, whereas what we are talking about is beyond words and intellect. As the book of Tao says, the Tao that can be spoken of is not the real Tao. Similarly the Buddha instructed his disciples not to think or argue about God. Because of this instruction, Buddha and Buddhism are misunderstood as being atheistic. What the Buddha meant was that God, or pure consciousness, is beyond the limited mind, beyond the intellect. As soon as God is considered and defined by the limited mind, God becomes limited. So Buddha told his disciples to concentrate on removing the barriers that separated them from the true Self. When that is done, then whatever we call the ultimate Truth reveals itself.

With that said, the Vedantins nonetheless made a valiant effort to give these ideas perspective. Brahman is absolute existence, knowledge and bliss, the summum bonum of the life of all creatures. According to Vedantic terminology, Brahman is real and all else is unreal. That which is not subject to death, decay and decomposition is real, and that which changes is temporal and unreal. The universe is not real. It cannot be real if it is only temporary. Another way of saying this is that the universe is not non-existent, but it is not real in the same sense as Brahman.

When you dream, for the extent of the dream, the world that is created within the dream and the people and events in in are real. When you wake up that reality disappears. The worldly plane of the universe is considered by Vedantins to be as a dream. It is real within its own context, and it has a purpose. Vedantins call it maya, an illusion. It is neither absolutely real, nor absolutely non-existent. Maya or this dream of worldly life is instructive. That which is subject to time, space and causation, to change and relativity, has value but not permanence. As a dream helps you work through emotions and desires, the worldly dream, maya, creates opportunities for you to grow and work through habits and desires. You wake from it, and it disappears. You wake into realizing Atman, and this plane of existence disappears into a misty memory.



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