Photo shows Annamalai Swamy standing on left with arms crossed, and Major Chadwick (in white) sitting on steps.
(69) BRAHMAN IS REAL --- THE WORLD IS AN ILLUSION
24th August, 1946
Sometime ago a new arrival to the Ashram asked Bhagavan something in English, which I could not follow, being ignorant of the language. But Bhagavan replied in Tamil, and I give below his reply to the extent that I am able to grasp.
Bhagavan said, “It is said that Brahman is real, and world an illusion; again it is said that the whole universe is an image of Brahman. The question arises: how are these two statements to be reconciled? In the sadhak stage, you have got to say that the world is an illusion. There is no other way, because when a man forgets that he is the Brahman, who is real, permanent and omnipresent, and deludes himself into thinking that he is a body in the universe which is filled with bodies that are transitory, and labours under that delusion, you have got to remind him that the world is unreal and a delusion. Why? Because, his vision which has forgotten its own Self, is dwelling in the external material universe and will not turn inward to introspection unless you impress on him that all this external, material universe is unreal. When once he realises his own Self, and also that there is nothing other than his own Self, he will come to look upon the whole universe as Brahman. There is no universe without his Self. So long as a man does not see his own Self which is the origin of all, but looks only at the external world as real and permanent, you have to tell him that all this external universe is an illusion. You cannot help it. Take a paper. We see only the script, and nobody notices the paper on which the script is written. The paper is there, whether the script on it is there or not. To those who look upon the script as real, you have to say that it is unreal, an illusion, since it rests upon the paper. The wise man looks upon both the paper and script as one. So also with Brahman and the universe.
“It is the same in the case of the cinema. The screen is always there; the pictures come and go, but do not affect the screen. What does the screen care whether the pictures appear or disappear? The pictures depend upon the screen. But what use are they to it? The man who looks only at the pictures on the screen and not the screen itself, is troubled by the pains and pleasures that occur in the story. But the man who views the screen, realises that the images are all shadows and not something apart and distinct from the screen. So also with the world. It is all a shadow play,” said Bhagavan. The questioner took leave and went away, happy at the reply.