Mithya for Beginners – Is the world illusory?

Advaita seekers in the West want to find out whether it is true that they are neither body nor mind, but in truth are one, eternal, free and all-pervasive. Most of all they are interested in the answer to the question: „Who or what am I?“ They do not really care what the world is.

But once the true import of the understanding that I am all-pervasive and One dawns, then we can no longer ignore the question about what appears to be a second thing: What about the world?

The knowledge that I am limitless in time and space (one and all-pervasive) is incomplete if no explanation is included in it of that ‘which somehow is also there’. My true nature is non-dual – but body/mind, other living beings, the ocean, the continents, space, objects and possible subtle beings – what about all that? After all this is pure duality, isn’t it! If the mind does not find an adequate explanation for it, a feeling of incompleteness of the Self-knowledge of non-duality is likely to persist. Continue reading

Science and the nature of absolute reality (Part 3)

Read part 2

The world is mithyA

The universe and everything in it, including the objects that are being investigated, the person doing the investigation and the discipline of science itself are all mithyA – they are not themselves real at all. Here is a short definition of mithyA that I give in the new edition of ‘Book of One’:

Literally, the word means ‘incorrectly’ or ‘improperly’ and this refers to our treating things as independently ‘real’ when they are not. The word ‘independently’ is important here, because we are not saying that the chair on which you are presently sitting is illusory – obviously it is not! What is being pointed out is that it is not a substance-in-itself. It is probably made of pieces of wood, connected together by special joints and adhesive. The final form is designed to be suitable for sitting upon comfortably. In theory at least, you could disassemble the chair and use the pieces to build a table. ‘Chair’ is simply the name that you give to this particular form. The actual substance is wood. Continue reading

Death and Deathlessness

Advaita Vedanta looks at death from 3 angles: as death of the gross body, death of the subtle body and no-death. All of us agree that the gross body dies, meaning that with death its present form is gone for good. It goes back to its basic components, in vedantic terms “to the elements”, which then take the shape of different forms: ash, earth, plants, worms etc.

In Christianity there is the belief of „resurrection in flesh“ which is supposed to happen for the virtuous ones after the last judgment day – although hardly anybody seems to take this seriously anymore, at least in Europe. In increasing numbers, people have taken to a sober viewpoint, basing their existence entirely on matter and considering themselves as merely flesh. For them there is only gross body, even what Vedanta calls subtle body functions – i.e. sense perceptions or thoughts or feelings – are believed to be operations of the gross body, nerves and brain in action. Continue reading