What Is Real

“As I recalled Bhagavan saying sometimes that unreal (mithya, imaginary) and real (satyam) mean the same, but did not quite understand, I asked him about it. He said, ‘Yes, I do sometimes say that. What do you mean by real? What is it that you call real?’

I answered: “According to Vedanta, only that which is permanent and unchanging can be called real. That is the meaning of Reality.”

Then Bhagavan said: “The names and forms which constitute the world continually change and perish and are therefore called unreal. It is unreal (imaginary) to limit the Self to these names and forms and real to regard all as the Self. The non-dualist says that the world is unreal, but he also says, ‘All this is Brahman’. So it is clear that what he condemns is, regarding the world as objectively real in itself, not regarding it as Brahman. He who sees the Self sees the Self alone in the world also. It is immaterial to the Enlightened whether the world appears or not. In either case, his attention is turned to the Self. It is like the letters and the paper on which they are printed. You are so engrossed in the letters that you forget about the paper, but the Enlightened sees the paper as the substratum whether the letters appear on it or not.

This is still more succinctly stated as follows:

The Vedantins do not say that the world is unreal. That is a misunderstanding. If they did, what would be the meaning of the Vedantic text: ‘All this is Brahman’? They only mean that the world is unreal as world but real as Self. If you regard the world as non-self, it is not real. Everything, whether you call it illusion (Maya) or Divine Play (Lila) or Energy (Shakti) must be within the Self and not apart from it.”

“The Teachings of Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi in His Own Words,” edited by Arthur Osborne


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17 Responses to What Is Real

  1. Awesome, awesome share Monika. Thanks as always!


  2. Reblogged this on Sindy's Saturday Satsang and commented:
    I constantly allow reality to be mutable in my mind.


  3. Yippee! Love this post. I love that you paired the Tarot image with the words of Osborne and Ramana – very cool 🙂

    I love Osborne, he has such a cool story of his own, and his writings about Ramana really make the great sage accessible to Western audiences. Osborne’s work is chock full of vibrations, not to mention the sages he writes about! Phew! 🙂 My favorite Osborne work is a wonderful tiny book about Sai Baba, the outrageously lovable “bad-boy” of Indian saints. 🙂 just thinking of him makes me grin 🙂

    The way we remember dreams so vividly, the way dreams can affect us, and infuse images and tones into our bodies and minds, as intense, (if not more so) as waking moments, has always left me in awe of “What is Real”….

    Hugs (and thanks for the smiles!),


  4. Maia T. says:

    “If you regard the world as non-self, it is not real.”

    Thi calls to mind Buber again, doesn’t it? I think we had that conversation from a slightly different angle about a year ago. 🙂 This idea is also at the core of interconnectedness meditation, which I find one of the most rewarding forms of meditation, especially given the shape my shamanic work appears to be taking now.


  5. A simple man’s perspective here, Monika… While I appreciate the insights that many more enlightened than I share here and in vast readings, incomprehensible complexities can lean one anxious, For me, reality is what I choose: my way of being, interacting with Source and other sentient beings, my beliefs and conscious/unconscious interactions. To each of these I can connect, relate, and appreciate — as real. 🙂


    • Thank you for sharing your perspective, Eric. Reality is what I choose – I think so, too. But I also believe there is the Self that is more powerful than “I” and it also chooses things for us. But I appreciate fully the empowering message that you bring. We can change our lives and dysfunctional patterns if we choose to.


  6. kimfalconer says:

    Reblogged this on The 11th House and commented:
    The Symbolreader considers what is ‘real’ and ‘unreal’ according to Vedanta. My deliberate creation friends will find this relevant, especially ideas about Self and non-self. Thank you, Monika!


  7. Pingback: What Is Real | lampmagician

  8. lampmagician says:

    Reblogged this on lampmagician and commented:
    once somebody said; we might be dreaming now, and when we’re dead, we’d wake up!!


  9. Loved this. The whole concept of the real and the unreal are so fascinating to me. I think they are intertwined: the self and the not-self, I and Other, subjective and objective, the human and divine–a continuum, like space and time, matter and energy. It’s all so thought-provoking. Thanks for sharing.


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