See verse 368 where a similar idea is expressed. Pramada is another key word in the text. It denotes the forgetfulness of the Self that arises when one puts one’s attention on anything that is not the Self. When attention is wholly on the Self, ‘this world, a vast and harmful illusion’ ceases to exist. The world only comes into an apparent existence when Self-awareness is absent.
Bhagavan: Through forgetfulness the villainous mind will throw away the Self, that which is, and will get agitated.
In the state in which one has known the truth without any pramada, all names and forms are Brahman.
The reason why the state of Brahman has become different from you is nothing other than your deceitful forgetfulness of the Self. (Padamalai, p. 72, vv. 86, 87, 88)
This worldly life is a dreamlike appearance, sapless and deluding, that functions through the mixture of the pairs of opposites such as desire and aversion. It appears as if real only as long as one is under the spell of the maya-sleep. It will end up being totally false when one truly wakes up into the maya-free Self.
One’s true nature is consciousness, the supreme. When the mind is extinguished in that Self, the several saktis, beginning with iccha, which are said to exist, will completely cease, being [known to be] an unreal superimposition upon the perfectly pure consciousness that is one’s true nature.
The three saktis, or powers, are iccha sakti (the power of desiring), jnana sakti (the power of knowing), and kriya sakti (the power of doing).
Sivam, which is consciousness, the supreme, abides as the substratum for the entire universe. Consisting of the triputis, this world picture that appears in it is the sport of the supreme power of consciousness. Like a cinema show, it is a superimposed illusion. This you should know.
The triputis are the groups of three elements that are essential for perceiving an external world: seer, seeing and seen, and knower, knowing and known. Sivam is another key word in Guru Vachaka Kovai. Siva is the personal God, whereas Sivam is the formless consciousness of Siva. As such it can be equated with other synonyms for the Self such as Brahman.
The world does not exist in the state of ultimate truth [paramartha]. Its appearance, its [apparently] existing nature in maya, is like the imagined appearance of a snake in a rope, a thief in a wooden post, and water in a mirage. Their essential nature is delusion.
This world that consists of diverse moving and unmoving objects, which arise and shine in the Self, is like the various ornaments that arise from gold and shine, taking gold as their basis. Just as the ornaments that shine as many are, in truth, only gold in essence, the world is not separate and distinct from the Self, consciousness.
The Supreme is concealed when the world is seen, and conversely, when the Supreme is seen, the world disappears. Both cannot be seen distinctly, as two separate entities, at the same time, [just as] in a carved statue of a dog, the dog and the stone cannot be seen as two separate entities simultaneously.
Bhagavan: The triputis and their source, pure consciousness, can, under no circumstances, appear simultaneously. Like the wood and the elephant in a wooden elephant, when one appears, the other will disappear. (Padamalai, p. 270, v. 7)
Bhagavan: Just as when you see a stone carved into the form of a dog and you realise that it is only a stone, there is no dog for you; so also, if you see it only as a dog without realising that it is a stone, there is no stone for you. If you are existent, everything is existent; if you are non-existent, there is nothing existent in this world. If it is said that there is no dog, but there is a stone, it does not mean that the dog ran away on your seeing the stone. There is a story about this. A man wanted to see the king’s palace, so [he] started out. Now, there were two dogs carved out of stone, one on either side of the palace gateway. The man standing at a distance took them for real dogs and was afraid of going near them. A saint passing along that way noticed this and took the man along with him, saying, ‘Sir, there is no need to be afraid’. When the man got near enough to see clearly, he saw that there were no dogs, and what he had thought to be dogs were just stone carvings. In the same way, if you see the world, the Self will not be visible; if you see the Self, the world will not be visible. A good teacher [Guru] is like that saint. (Letters from Sri Ramanasramam, 12th September, 1947)
The world that veils the Self through names and forms, and appears to be real, is only a dream-like appearance. If, instead, that very same world gets veiled by the Self and appears as consciousness alone, then, as the Self, it too is real. The world of triputis is only the play of the power of consciousness.
This world, an infatuating throng of triputis, bewilders the minds of people into believing that it has an independent existence distinct from swarupa. However, it is all only the play of the power of consciousness that, not existing apart from that supreme non-dual swarupa, always remains one with it.
God, the light of consciousness, shines as Atma-swarupa to one whose attention is focused within. For those who look outwards, he is shrouded by the world, which is a collection of tattvas. This is like a fire that glows brightly within but is covered on the outside by smoke. If, by divine grace, which is the very nature of God, the mind is cleared of the confusion that is suttarivu, the beauty of the world will not be a mental hallucination, an imaginary appearance, but ultimate reality itself.
Tattvas is a term that is used extensively in Indian philosophy. It denotes the categories, entities or principles that the world, and the power that manifests it, can be divided up into. Systems of tattvas are generally hierarchical and reductionist. They divide the world into an elaborate series of subdivisions, which then have further subdivisions, and so on. As Bhagavan notes in this verse, a world-view that comprises tattvas can only be sustained when attention is fixed on external objects instead of the Self.
Muruganar: The word ‘world’ includes the body also. The body veils the Atma-swarupa, and the world veils the form of God. As both the body and the world are a collection of tattvas, they are identical in their nature. Similarly, the individual and God are identical in their true nature. In Ulladu Narpadu, verse 5, Bhagavan wrote, ‘Does the world exist apart from the body?’ and in Upadesa Undiyar, verse 24, he wrote, ‘in the nature of their being, God and individual souls are one and the same’.
Since divine grace is indeed the shining of God as pure being, which is the Atma-swarupa in the heart of the individual, the radiant light of consciousness is known as ‘grace, noble and holy’. The pure mind that, by divine grace, shines as the Self, without suttarivu, will also see the world as the Self and remain still, without pursuing it as mere names and forms. Therefore it has been said that the world is reality itself, and to emphasise it further it has been said, ‘will not be a mental hallucination, an imaginary appearance’.
To the steadfast jnanis who do not abandon the Self-consciousness that is the substratum for all the imaginary and differentiated forms of knowledge, these [forms of knowledge] are all wholly Self. From this standpoint they [the jnanis] declare that these [differentiated forms of knowledge] are also real. How is it possible for ignorant people who have not attained Self-knowledge to understand the true meaning of this statement?
True consciousness shines by itself, without limitation, and without clinging to the world. By the shining of this consciousness the power that the maya-defilement [exerts] over the mind perishes. Only those people who have a defilement-free pure mind, and who therefore know the transcendental consciousness, in addition to awareness of the world, can know with certainty the true import of the statement ‘the world is real’.
If one corrects one’s gross vision, transforming it into the eye of jnana, and if one attentively views [the world] with that eye of truth that is wholly jnana, then the world which was previously seen as the form of the five elements, beginning with space, will be only the Brahman that is wholly consciousness.
This idea appears in Ulladu Narpadu, verse 4:
Bhagavan: If one’s self is a form, then it follows that the world and the Supreme will have form also. If one’s self is not a form, who is there to see their forms, and how? Is there anything that is seen whose nature is other than that of the eye [that sees]? That eye is in reality the Self, the infinite eye.
Bhagavan elaborated on this in an explanation he gave to Lakshman Sarma:
If the eye that sees be the eye of flesh, then gross forms are seen; if the eye be assisted by lenses, then even invisible things are seen to have form; if the mind be that eye, then subtle forms are seen; thus the seeing eye and the objects seen are of the same nature; that is, if the eye be itself a form, it sees nothing but forms. But neither the physical eye nor the mind has any power of vision of its own. The real eye is the Self; as he is formless, being the pure and infinite consciousness, the reality, he does not see forms. (Maha Yoga, p. 83)
If one corrects one’s defective vision, transforming it into the form of true jnana, the Supreme, and if one then sees with that jnana vision, the world that appeared as a sea of sorrows will exist as a sea of supreme bliss.
Question: In this life beset with limitations can I ever realise the bliss of the Self?
Bhagavan: That bliss of the Self is always with you, and you will find it for yourself, if you would seek it earnestly.
The cause of your misery is not in the life without; it is in you as the ego. You impose limitations on yourself and then make a vain struggle to transcend them. All unhappiness is due to the ego; with it comes all your trouble. What does it avail you to attribute to the happenings in life the cause of misery which is really within you? What happiness can you get from things extraneous to yourself? When you get it, how long will it last?
If you would deny the ego and scorch it by ignoring it, you would be free. If you accept it, it will impose limitations on you and throw you into a vain struggle to transcend them. That was how the thief sought to ‘ruin’ King Janaka.
To be the Self that you really are is the only means to realise the bliss that is ever yours. (Maharshi’s Gospel, pp. 47-48)
The jnani’s vision matures into being-consciousness-bliss, the eye of truth, because the mischievous movements of the ego-mind have ceased completely. Since the nature of the seen is not different from the nature of the eye that sees, to the true jnani the world too is definitely being-consciousness-bliss.
Verses 51, 52 and 53 are, respectively, about the world being sat (being), chit (consciousness) and ananda (bliss). Verse 54 combines the components and expounds on the nature of the world as sat-chit-ananda.
The world scene that unfolds like a dream is nothing other than the mind, a deluded perspective. Its true nature will appear as it really is only to the true awareness, the distilled being-consciousness that shines, transcending the mind-maya.
Foolish and deceitful mind, you who every day become greatly deluded upon seeing as different from yourself the dream [of the waking state], which occurs as wholly yourself! If you realise your true nature as it actually is, will this world be different from that reality, being-consciousness-bliss?
Just as the yolk of the egg of the many-hued green peacock is only one [in colour], the original state of this insubstantial world, which appears to be distorted into teeming multiplicity, is pure and unalloyed happiness. By abiding in the state of the Self, know this truth now, even while that Self, appearing as an effect, takes the form of the world manifesting through the power of maya.
Bhagavan made a minor correction to this verse. Muruganar wrote, ‘which shines as teeming multiplicity’. Bhagavan’s correction indicates that it is the Self alone that shines, not the distorted and fragmented unreal world that is projected by the individual self.