A visitor: The saints Sri Chaitanya and Sri Ramakrishna wept before God and achieved success. Is that not the path to follow?
M.: Yes. There was a powerful force (sakti) drawing them on through all those experiences. Trust in that huge power to take you on to your goal. Tears are often considered a sign of weakness. These great persons were certainly not weak. These manifestations are only passing signs of the great current carrying them on. We must look to the end achieved.
D.: Can this physical body be made to disappear into nothingness?
M.: Why this question? Can you not find out if you are the body?
D.: Can we have disappearance from sight (antardhana) like the yogis Vasishta or Viswamitra?
M.: These are only physical matters. Is that the essential object of our interest? Are you not the Self? Why trouble about other matters? Take the essence; reject other learned theories as useless. They who think that physical disappearance counts in freedom are mistaken. No such thing is needed. You are not the body; what does it matter if it disappears in one way or another? There is no great merit in such phenomena. In what does superiority or inferiority consist? Achievement of the Real alone matters. The loss of the ‘I’ is the main fact, and not the loss of the body. Identity of the Self with the body is the real bondage. Leave off the false notion and perceive intuitively the Real. That alone matters. If you melt a gold ornament before testing it to be gold, what matters it how it is melted, whole or in parts, or of what shape the ornament was? All that you are interested in is if it is gold. The dead man sees not his body. It is the survivor that thinks about the manner in which the body is parted from. The realised have no death with or without the body, the realised man is equally aware and sees no difference. To him the one state is not superior to the other. To an outsider also the fortunes of a liberated one’s body need not be of any concern; mind your business. Realise the Self; after realisation there will be time to think of what form of death is preferable to you. It is the false identity of the Self with the body that causes the idea of preference, etc. Are you the body? Were you aware of it when you were fast asleep last night? No! What is it that exists now and troubles you? It is ‘I’. Get rid of it and be happy.
A visitor: “The Supreme Spirit (Brahman) is Real. The world (jagat) is illusion,” is the stock phrase of Sri Sankaracharya. Yet others say, “The world is reality”. Which is true?
Maharshi Both statements are true. They refer to different stages of development and are spoken from different points of view. The aspirant (abhyasi) starts with the definition: that which is real exists always. He then eliminates the world because it is changing [‘not this, not this!’]. The seeker ultimately reaches the Self and finds unity. That which was originally rejected as being unreal is found to be a part of the unity. Being absorbed in Reality, the world is also Real. There is only Being in Self-Realisation, and nothing but Being. Again Reality is used in a different sense and is applied loosely by some thinkers to objects. They say that the reflected (adhyasika) Reality admits of degrees which are named:
(1) Vyavaharika satya (everyday life) - this chair is seen by me and is real.
(2) Pratibhasika satya (illusory) - Illusion of a serpent in a coiled rope. The appearance is real to the man who thinks so. This phenomenon appears at a point of time and under certain circumstances.
(3) Paramartika satya (ultimate) - Reality is that which remains the same always and without change.
If Reality be used in the wider sense the world may be said to have the everyday life and illusory degrees (vyavaharika and pratibhasika satya). Some, however, deny even the reality of practical life - vyavaharika satya and consider it to be only projection of the mind. According to them it is only pratibhasika satya, i.e., an illusion.