"The real and the illusory" by Dr. V. S. Shankar
Man’s quest for the real is legendary. This particular quest is present even in the present day, which only means that his quest is not over. But, interestingly, it seems to be over for a few men and they are known as sages or the enlightened beings. What is it that they know, or do not know, that makes them enlightened beings?
Is it a matter of knowledge or realisation? If it is knowledge, what more does man need to know to render enlightenment? Does he not know enough as it is? If what he has known is not enough what more does he need to know? Does man know the limits of knowledge required for him to be enlightened? If not, then what is the guarantee that knowledge will render enlightenment?
Maybe it is not about knowledge at all. It must be a matter of realisation then. But what is it that the enlightened beings have realised that makes them enlightened? More importantly, what could this realisation be?
To man the real is confined to what he sees, speaks or thinks. But could what he sees, speaks or thinks be real? How could it be real when the known is based on duality? Without duality the known cannot exist. The known is dependent on duality, and this dependency, and any form of dependency, does not permit independency. The real is independent and not dependent and this is the quality that makes it real. Real is that which does not change and is present everywhere and is eternal. The known and any form of it is nevertheless changing and temporary: present today but gone tomorrow or, more realistically, present this moment and gone the next, since life is a process of transformation of energy.
The real, therefore, cannot be written about, spoken about or thought about: it is only the illusory that can be. So, all knowledge about the real has, paradoxically, to be illusory – a beautiful story at that, which puts man to sleep. Man is filled with such stories in his mind, which he believes are real. The real cannot be anything but his thoughts and that is why he so treasures them. There are many men in this world and so, strangely enough, the real is also wide-ranging - inevitably. The question arises whether the real could be varied. Then who is to decide whose form or version is real? It all boils down to the majority versus the minority. Could that which has the support of the majority be real? In that case the minority are left to defend the unreal and the illusory, which to them, by the way, is real.
This means that to man the real, the unreal and the illusory co-exist. But does he know with certainty the precise boundary between the real, the unreal and the illusory. Logically, the real can exist, but if real is unchanging and eternal and also everywhere - the characteristics of the real - life would be impossible. The newborn would remain as the newborn and would not be able to develop in life. Activity in any form would not be possible. Life would be at a standstill; it could never begin to begin with. The unreal cannot exist for it is unreal. How could that which is unreal ever come into existence? Therefore, both the real and the unreal cannot exist: that leaves just the illusory. The illusory does exist for it is just an appearance of the real - a reflection of the real. Since the real is light, its reflection is purely an outcome of it.
So, we have the illusory and the real to contend with and the question of the unreal does not arise at all. But the real cannot be known by the mind, for the known is always changing and the real does not change and is eternal. The real, therefore, cannot be identified by the mind. This means that whatever is known by the mind is illusory and cannot be the real.
The real is pure intelligence and it is light. Science has revealed that information is in the form of light. Everything that exists in life is energy and energy is light. So information that is present within the mind has been built up from light. It is wise to understand that prehistoric man did not have a functioning mind to begin with and yet life happened to him. Information grew in the mind slowly but steadily, spinning its web of deception through the basis of duality that man thinks, speaks and does and is responsible for the present state of sophistication.
Life was alive before the advent of the mind and has sophisticated itself without the need of the mind. The mind merely reports to man the illusory sophistication that life projects. Life is a singular, transformation process of energy, which is spontaneous, uncontrollable and unpredictable. This process of light projects an optical and auditory illusion that appears as the realistic world to man.
Actions which are real to man are nonetheless an optical illusion. Speech and thoughts that are real to him are nevertheless an auditory illusion of sound, which is light again. Therefore, every form of the known, be it general knowledge, specialised knowledge, knowledge about everyday life, spiritual and religious knowledge have to be illusory for they are a function of light, which is intelligence. The actions which man believes ‘he does, must be done and not be done’ are nothing but an intelligent growth-process, for man ages every moment. Aging is all that is happening to him and it happens in the moment, and the moment is all that is present in life. Actions require time to complete, which is absent in life, nor can they happen at the same moment when aging is taking place. Life makes man age very intelligently and this aging phenomenon, which is a process of transformation of energy, appears as actions in thought-form, as duality.
Man, his actions, his speech and his thoughts are all illusory and so is the world. Only the illusory can be enjoyed and admired and not the real. The moment this understanding happens to man he will have become the real! He cannot try to become the real. The trying too happens so that he may understand illusoriness and its futility and the intelligence involved that convinces him of its ability to deliver the real. The real cannot be achieved, performed or practised. The real reveals itself the moment the illusory is understood.
Life manifests its brilliant illusion as science, every form of knowledge, religion and spirituality, and behind this tremendous illusion is the real for, without it, the illusory cannot be reflected. Every word spoken by life is illusory - even the words that explain the illusory - for it is neither word nor action that is present in life, it is just light and sound. Such is the real and its intelligent illusion.
© Copyright V.S. Shankar, 2008