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The Ruler , Governor , Controller of Maya in the Form of People !

The subject of tonight's discourse is Maya . This is a subject which superficial critics look upon as the weakest point in the Philosophy of the Vedanta . Today we shall take up that weakest point . All those philosophers and thinkers who have studied the Philosophy of the Vedanta say unanimously that if this Maya could be elucidated , then everything else in the Vedanta would be acceptable , everything else in it was so natural , so plain , so clear , so beneficial and useful . This is the one hitch , the one stumbling block in the way of students of the Vedanta .

This is a vast subject . In order that we may exhaust it thoroughly , about ten Lectures ought to be devoted to this subject alone and then can the subject be placed on such a clear , lucid basis that no doubt or question under the Sun or on the face of the Earth would be left unanswered ; everything can be made plain , but it requires time . Hurrying readers and hurrying listeners are not expected to understand that thoroughly .

The question is , " Why this world , whence this world ? " or to put it in Vedantic language , " Why this ignorance in the universe ? "

You know the Vedanta preaches that this universe is unreal , merely phenomenal . Ignorance is not eternal . All these phenomena are not real or eternal .

The question comes , " Why should this ignorance be ? "

Why should this ignorance which is the cause of these phenomena , or this Maya which is at the root of all this meum and tuam , difference and differentiation , why should this ignorance overpower the true Self or Atma ? Why should this Maya or ignorance be more powerful than GOD ?

In common language , in the language of other philosophers and theologians , the question is , " Why should this world exist at all ? Why should GOD have created this world ? "

The Vedanta says , " No , you have no right to ask that question . There is no answer to this question " .

The Vedanta plainly says there is no answer to this question . It says we can prove it to you experimentally and directly that this world that you see is in reality nothing else but GOD , and we can show to you conclusively through experiment that when you advance high enough in the realization of the Truth , this world will disappear for you ; but why does this world exist at all ? We desist from answering that question . You have no right to put that question .

The Vedanta plainly confesses its inability to answer that question , and herein all the other theologians and dogmatizers and all superficial philosophers come forward and say ,

" Oh , oh , the Vedanta Philosophy is imperfect , it cannot explain the why and the wherefore of the world . "

The Vedanta says , " Examine the answers that you yourself give to this question ' the why and wherefore of the world ' , examine them carefully and you will see that your answers are no answers at all " .

It is mere waste of time to dwell upon that question , sheer waste of time and labour . It is letting go a bird in the hand in search of two in the bush . They will fly away before you reach them and you will lose the bird in your hand . That also will fly away . The Vedanta says all Philosophy and all Science must proceed from , the known to the unknown . Do not put the cart before the horse ; do not begin from the unknown and then come to the known .

There was a river flowing , on the banks of which some people were standing and philosophising as to its origin .

One of them said , " This river comes from rocks , from stones , from hills . Out of hills , water gushes in spring , and that is the cause of this river . "

Another said , " Oh , no , impossible . Stones are so hard , so tough and so rigid and water is so liquid and soft . How can soft water come out of hard stones ? Impossible ! Impossible ! Reason cannot believe that hard stones are giving out soft water . If stones could give out water , then let me take up this piece of stone and squeeze it . Out of this no water flows . Thus the statement that this river flowed from those mountains is absurd . I have a very good theory . This river flows from the perspiration of a big giant somewhere . We see every day that when a person perspires , water flows from the body . Here is water flowing ; it must have flowed from the body of somebody who is perspiring ; that is reasonable , our intellects can accept it . That seems to be plausible ; that is all right . "

Another said , " No , no , it is somebody standing somewhere who is spitting and this is the spit . "

Another said , " No , no . "

Now these people said , " Look here , look here , all these theories of ours are feasible , all these theories of the origin of water are practical . Every day we see such things . These theories about the origin of the river are very plausible , seem to be good and grand , but the theory that water flows from stones , the ordinary intellect of one who has never seen water gushing out from stones , who has never been on the mountains , will not accept , and yet it is true . "

And on what does the truth of this theory rest ? On experience , on experiment , on direct observation .

Similarly , the origin of the world , why this world and whence this world , the origin of the stream of this world , the origin of the stream of the universe , the river of life , is described differently by different people . The origin of the world according to people of that kind of intellect which ascribed the origin of the river to spittle and to perspiration , is interpreted in much the same way .

They say , " Here is a person who makes boots , the boot could not be made without somebody with some intention or design of making . Here is a person who makes a watch . Now the watch could not be made without somebody with some plan or design of making it . Here is a house . The house could not be made without somebody having the plan and design . "

They see that every day , and then they say , " Here is the world . The world could not have been made without some kind of person of the same sort as the shoemaker , the watchmaker , the housemaker , and so there must be a worldmaker , who makes this world , and thus they say that there is a personal GOD , standing upon the clouds , not taking pity upon the poor being that might catch cold . "

They say some personal GOD must have made this world . Their argument seems to be very plausible and reasonable , to be of the same sort as the arguments of those people who said that the river flows from perspiration of somebody . The world also must have been made by somebody .

The Vedanta does not propose any theory of that kind . The Vedanta says , see it , make an experiment , observe it , through direct realization you see that the world is not what it appears to be . How is that ? The Vedanta says , so far I can explain to you that the water is coming out of those stones . How the water comes out of the stones , may or may not be able to tell you , but I know the water comes out of stones . Follow me to that place and you will see the water gushing out of the stones . If I cannot tell why the water comes out of the stones , do not blame me ; blame the water , it is coming out of the stones .

Similarly , the Vedanta says whether or not I am able to tell you why this Maya or ignorance is , it remains a fact . Why it came I may not be able to tell you . This is a fact , an experimental fact . The Vedantic attitude is merely experimental and scientific . It establishes no hypothesis , it puts forth no theory . It does not claim to be able to explain the origin of the world ; this is beyond the sphere of intellect or comprehension . That is the position of the Vedanta . This is called Maya .

Why does the world appear ? The Vedanta says because you see it . Why is the world there ? The Vedanta simply says because you see it . If you do not see , there is no world . How do you know that the world is there ? Because you see it . Do not see , and where is the world ?

Close your eyes , a fifth of the world is gone ; that part of the world which you perceive through your eyes is no longer there . Close your ears and another fifth is gone ; close your nose and another fifth is gone . Do not put any of your senses into activity and there is no world . You see the world and you ought to explain why the world is there . You make it there . You should answer yourself . Why do you ask me ? You make the world there .

There was a child . It saw in a mirror the image of a little child , the own image , and somebody told the child that in the mirror there was a very beautiful , dear little child , and when the child looked into the mirror , the child saw a dear little child , but the child did not know that it was the child's own reflection , taking it to be some strange child in the mirror . Afterwards the parent wanted to persuade that the child in the mirror was only a reflection , not a real child , but the child could not be persuaded , could not understand that in the mirror there was not really another child .

When the parent said ,

" Look here , here is a mirror , there is no child in it " ,

the child came up to it and said , " O look , O look , here is the child ! why ! the child is here . "

When the child was saying , " here is the child " , in the very act of saying " here is the child " , it cast its own reflection in the mirror . Again the parent wanted to persuade that there was not a real child in the mirror ; then again the child wanted to have a proof or demonstration .

The child went up to the mirror and said ,

" Look here , here is that child " ,

but in the very act of proving that there was a child in the mirror , the child put the object in the mirror .

Similarly when you come up and say ,

" why the world , whence the world , how the world " ,

the very moment you begin to investigate the origin and the why and wherefore of the world , that very moment you create the world there . So how can you know the origin and wherefore of the world ? How shall we know its origin ? How shall we know beyond it ? How shall we transcend it ? This ought to be made more clear , from both the microcosmic and metaphysical standpoints .

Some say that a mundane god created the world , that there is a creator standing somewhere . If they see a house , they know that it was made by someone ; so they say that this world was made by some body . Now the question is , this creator in order to create the world must have stood somewhere . Where did it stand ? If it stood somewhere , if it had a resting place , then the world was already present before it was created , because the resting place must be somewhere in the world . The world was present before it was created .

When you begin to examine when the world began , you want to separate two ideas , the idea of when , why , and wherefore on one side , and the idea of the world on the other side ; and the words why , when , and wherefore , the ideas of time , space , and causation , are they not a part of the world ? They are certainly . And here , you mark , you want to know the origin , the why and wherefore of the whole world . Time , space , and causation are also in the world , not beyond the world .

The very moment you begin to say when the world began , the world is on one side and the idea of when on the other side . There you keep the world before the world .

This is very subtle and very difficult , and you will kindly attend closely , most carefully .

The world began , when ? There you want to take away the world from itself ; you want to separate the idea of when from the world ; you want to measure the world by when and why , but you know that when and why are themselves the world . You want to transcend the world , go beyond the world , and there you place the world .

Once an Inspector came to a school and put this question to the children ,

" If a piece of chalk is allowed to fall in air , when will it reach the earth ? "

A child answered , " In so many seconds . "

" If a piece of stone is allowed to fall from such and such a height , in what time will it fall ? "

The child answered , " In this time . "

Then the Inspector said ,

" If this thing is allowed to fall , what time will it take ? "

The child answered . Then the examiner put a catch question ,

" If the earth falls , what time will it take to fall ? "

The children were confounded . One smart child answered ,

" First let me know where the earth will fall . "

Similarly we can put the question when this lamp was lighted , when this house was built , and when this floor was set , etc . But when we ask the questions ,

" When was the earth created , when was the world created " ,

this catch question is of the same sort as the question

" What time will the earth take to fall ? "
" Where will the earth fall ? "

Why , when , and wherefore are themselves a part of the world , and when we are speaking of this why , when , and wherefore of the whole world , then we are arguing in a circle , making a logical fallacy . Could you jump out of yourself ? No . Similarly why , when , and wherefore being themselves the world , are part of the world , they cannot explain the world , the whole universe . That is what the Vedanta says .

It will be explained in a different way now .

Here is a person asleep , and in sleep sees all sorts of objects . The person is the subject and the object ; the subject of the dream , I will say , the bewildered subject of the dream and the woods , rivers , mountains and other things . There the object of the dream and the subject make their appearance simultaneously , as was shown the other night .

Could the subject in a dream , the traveller in the dream , tell when these rivers , mountains , lakes , and other landscapes came into existence ? So long as you are dreaming , could you tell when these objects came into existence ? No , never . When you are dreaming , to you the rivers , dales , mountains and landscapes will appear to be eternal , to you all these appear to be natural , as if in existence from eternity . As the dreaming subject , you will never suppose that you ever commenced your dream , you will look upon that to be real , and all those dales , rivers , landscapes will seem to be eternal ; you can never know their origin ; you can never know the why , when , and wherefore of the dream so long as you are dreaming . Wake up , and the whole is gone , wake up and all disappears .

Similarly in this world you see all sorts of objects ; they seem to be real , and there seems to be no end to them , just as in a dream there is no end ; you cannot know when the dream began .

Can you tell when Time began ? This is an antinomy pointed out by Kant also . When did Time begin ? When you say Time began at that time , you posit Time . This question is impossible .

Where did Space begin ? The question is impossible . Beyond where Space began , you place a point where it began ; the beginning of Space is surrounded by the idea of " where " , and the idea of " where " includes that of place . The question is impossible .

Where did the chain of Causation begin ? The question is impossible . Why did the chain of Causation begin ? The question is impossible .

Oh , if you point out any beginning of the chain of Causation , you see that the idea of why is itself causation . It goes beyond you . This is a question which is unanswerable .

There is no end to Time , Space or Causation whether on this side or the other . Schopenhauer proves it ; Herbert Spencer proves it ; every thinker will show to you that there is no end to it .

In dreams also , there is no end to the particular kind of time which you perceive in the dream , whether on this side or the other ; in dreams also no end to the particular kind of space which you perceive in your dreams ; in dreams there is no end to the particular kind of causation which you see in them .

So it is in the wakeful state . All those people who try to answer this question empirically are losing their way and reasoning in a circle and confounding themselves . Thus all the empirical solutions of the problem are impossible . When the dreaming subject wakes up , the whole problem is solved ! And waking up , the dreaming subject says ,

" Oh , that was a dream , there was no reality all along " .

Similarly , in waking up to a realization of the Truth , on achieving that perfect state of liberation which the Vedanta holds up before everybody , you can see that all this world was a mere joke , mere plaything , mere illusion , nothing else .

The same question of Maya is put in this way also :

" If the human is GOD , why should It forget Its real nature ? "

The Vedanta answers : The real GOD in you never forgot Its real nature ; if the real GOD in you had forgotten Its real nature , It would not have been all the time controlling and ruling this universe ; the real GOD has not forgotten at all . It is still controlling and ruling this universe .

Then who has forgotten ? Nobody ; nobody has forgotten . It is just like a dream . In the dream , when you see different kinds of objects , in reality it is not you that see those things , it is the subject in the dream , which is created along with the other objects in the dream , which finds all that , which sees all those scenes , and dwells in those dales , mountains , and rivers .

The real Self , the Atma , the true GOD , has never forgotten anything . This idea of a false ego is itself the creation of Maya , or an illusion of the same sort as the other objects are . The true Self has not forgotten anything .

When you say , " Why did GOD forget Itself into a human , into a little egotistical self ? " ,

the Vedanta says , in this question of yours there is what logicians call the fallacy of a circle in the proof .

To whom are you putting this question ? Are you putting this question to the dreaming subject or to the wakeful subject ? To the dreaming subject you should not put the question because the dreaming subject has not forgotten anything . That is a creation like the other subjects it sees , and to the real subject in the wakeful state you cannot put the question .

Who will put the question ? You know the questioner in the dreams must be in the dream itself , and when the dreaming subject is removed , then who will put the question ?

All duality of questioning and answering is possible only so long as the dream of Maya continues or lasts . You can put the questions only to the dreaming subject , and the dreaming subject is not responsible for it ; let the dreaming subject be removed , and the whole panorama , the whole dream vanishes , and nobody is left to put the question . Who will put the question to whom ?

Here is a beautiful boat , and here is the picture of a boatperson , who ferries the boat across the river . The boatperson is a very good person and is the master of the boat , only so long as it is looked upon to be real ; the master of the boat is master in the same sense as the boat is a boat . In reality the boat is nowhere and the master of the boat is nowhere . Both are unreal . But when we point out to a child ,

" Come along , come along , what a beautiful master of the boat " ,

both the master of the boat and the boat are of the same sort . We have no right to call the master of the boat more real than the boat itself .

Similarly according to the Vedanta , the Controller , Governor , Master of the world , or GOD , the idea of GOD is related to this world as in that picture the boatperson is related to the boat . So long as the boat is there , the boatperson is , also there . When you realize the unreality of the boat , the boatperson also disappears .

Similarly the idea of a Controller , Governor , Creator , Maker , is real to you so long as the world appears to you to be real . Let the world go , and that idea also goes . The idea of the Creator implies creation , why , when , and wherefore .

The question of the why , when , and wherefore of the world is related to this world like the boatperson to the boat ; both of them are parts of one whole picture . If they are both of the same value , both are illusions . The question , the why , when , and wherefore also is an illusion . The question — why , when , and wherefore — is the driver , the boatperson , or the leader of this world . When you wake up and realize the truth , the whole world becomes to you like the boat drawn upon canvas , and the question why , when , and wherefore , which was the driver or the boatperson , disappears .

There is no why , when , and wherefore in Reality which is beyond Time , beyond Space , beyond Causation .

People say that the world is due to one personal Creator . The Vedanta says , nay ( Neti ) . This word " Neti " appears frequently in Sanskrit and has been corrupted by the Americans to " nit " , not that . The question is unanswerable .

Another person comes and says ,

" GOD fell in love with Itself and made this world , made this world like a mirror house , and wanted to see Itself in all these forms and made the world . "

The Vedanta says , " Neti " , nit , not that . You have no right to put such a hypothesis here .

Another person comes and says that the world was created so many years ago . The Vedanta says Neti , nit , not that . The real meaning of the " why " is Maya . Ma means not and ya means that , and Maya means not that . The question is such as you cannot answer . Not that .

Now the question is , Is the world real ? The Vedanta says Neti , Maya , not that , nit . You cannot call it real . Why not ?

Because Reality means something which lasts forever , which remains the same yesterday , today , and forever . That is Reality .

Now does the world last forever ? It does not last forever ; therefore it does not satisfy the definition of reality . In your deep sleep it disappears ; in your state of realization , perfection or liberation , it disappears . So it does not last forever , consequently you have no right to call it real . Is the world unreal ?

The Vedanta says Neti , not that , Maya , nit . This is very strange . The world is not unreal . The Vedanta says , No , it is not unreal , because unreal means something which never is , according to the definition of the Vedanta , like the horns of a person . Did a person ever possess horns like a cow ? Never . That is unreal , and the world is not unreal because it appears to you to be present just now . It appears to you to be present , therefore you have no right to call it unreal . Is the world real ? Neti , nit . Is the world unreal ? Neti , nit . Then is the world partly real and partly unreal ? The Vedanta says Maya , Neti , nit . Not that even . Unreality and reality cannot subsist together .

These answers to these questions are called the Maya theory of the Vedanta . Such answers to these questions have another name , " Mithya " ; it is a word which is cognate with your word mythology . It means something which we cannot call real and which we cannot call unreal , and which we cannot call both real and unreal . Such is your world .

Atheists say there is no GOD . The Vedanta says , Neti , nit , Maya . They are wrong , for they have no argument for saying that there is no GOD . Some people say there is a personal GOD . The Vedanta says Neti , nit , not that . You have no right to make a statement of that kind .

The Vedanta says here is a realm where you ought not to tread ; here is a realm upon which you cannot bring your intellect to bear . Your intellect has work enough to do in this world ; let it work there . " Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's , and render unto GOD what is GOD's . "

Your intellect has work enough in the material plane , in the empirical realms , but in the realms of metaphysics you have to come only by one way , and one way only , and that way is the way of realization , that way is the way of love , feeling , faith , rather knowledge . Strange kind of knowledge , strange kind of GOD-Consciousness . When you come to this region through the proper channel , all questions cease , all problems are solved . In the Kena Upanishad of Sama ( Veda ) , we have a passage which translated into English is something like this :

" I cannot say I know It , nor can I say I do not know It ; Beyond knowing and not knowing it is . "

This is exactly what the thinkers of today say , Herbert Spencer in the first part of the First Principles , " The Unknowable " , comes to the very same conclusion as that at which the Vedanta arrives . Rama need not read to you what is said , but a small passage might be read .

" There must exist some principle which being the basis of Science cannot be established by Science . All reasoned-out conclusions whatever must rest on some postulate . There must be a place where we meet the region of the Unknowable , where intellect ought not to venture , cannot venture to go . "

All the philosophers have something to say to the same effect on this point . Just mark . What a fallacy is committed by the people when they ascribe motives to GOD , when they say GOD must have done this , GOD must have mercy , GOD must have love , GOD must have goodness , GOD must have this attribute or that . What a fallacy is committed by such people , for all classification is limitation . You call GOD infinite and finite in one breath , you say on the one hand that GOD is infinite and on the other hand you say ,

" Oh , GOD possesses this quality and GOD possesses that quality " .

When you say GOD is good , GOD is not bad , then GOD is limited . Wherever there is bad , good is not . When you say GOD is the Creator , GOD is not the creature , then you limit GOD ; there you point out a place where GOD is not . GOD is the All . And again when you say GOD created the world for this and that object , you make GOD a somebody who can come up and give an account of Its doings , just as a person comes before a magistrate and gives an account of the doings .

Similarly when you hold GOD responsible for anything or attribute to GOD any motives , designs , or plans , you practically make yourself a magistrate or judge , and GOD a person who has done certain deeds , who has come before you to give an account of Its works . There you limit GOD . The Vedanta says you have no right to bring GOD before your tribunal . Give up this question ; it is illegitimate .

The word Vedanta means slavery to no particular individual . The word Mahomedan depends upon the name of Mahomed . Whatever Mahomed has done or said we must believe . The word Christianity is slavery to the name of Christ . The word Buddhism is slavery to a particular name , Buddha . The word Zoroastrianism is slavery to the particular name , Zoroaster .

The word Vedanta is no slavery to any particular personality or individuality . The word Vedanta literally means the end or goal of knowledge . The word Vedanta means the Truth and thus it has nothing of sectarianism in it . It is universal . Do not be prejudiced against it , because of its being a name which is unfamiliar to you . You might call it the truth as preached and understood by the Hindus .

You know all truth , wherever investigated , whether in Germany , or in America , comes to the same conclusion . Wherever a person looks at the Sun , it is seen to be bright and brilliant . Whoever throws aside one's prejudices and frees oneself from them will concur with the conclusions of the Vedanta . These are your own conclusions ; these are your own arguments and results , if you approach the question freely , literally , waiving all prejudices , predilections and preconceptions .

Now Rama will explain to you this problem of Maya in the way of the Hindus and how they have described and explained it in their old Scriptures . They explain it practically , experimentally . They call this Maya , Anirvachaniya , the limited meaning of which is illusion , and the explanation of which word is something which is indescribable , which cannot be called real and which cannot be called unreal , and which is not a combination of reality and unreality . This whole world is Maya or illusion , and this illusion is of two kinds . We might call it extrinsic and intrinsic illusion .

Suppose you see a snake in the dark ; it frightens you to death ; you fall down and are hurt . What was the snake ? Was the snake real ? The Vedanta says the snake is not real , because afterwards when you approach the spot where the snake was , it is not there . But is the snake unreal ? The Vedanta says , " No , no " . You have no right to say that the snake is unreal . Had the snake been unreal , you would not have received the injury . The snake is an illusion , and an illusion is not a reality , and it is not a non-reality either , because unreal means something which never appears to exist .

You see a rainbow . Is the rainbow real ? The rainbow is not real , because when we approach the spot , we do not find it , and if we change our position , we will find the position of the rainbow changed . Is it unreal ? No , no , because it appears to exist there , it produces some effect on us . It is not unreal either . It is an illusion .

You see in the mirror your picture . Is your picture unreal ? The Vedanta says ,

" No , it is not unreal , because it produces an effect on you ; you see it " .

Is it real ? No , it is not real either . You turn your face this way and it disappears . This is an illusion . Now this illusion is of two kinds , intrinsic and extrinsic ; intrinsic illusion as in the case of the snake , seen in the rope . A peculiarity of intrinsic illusion is that when the illusory object is there , the real object is not seen ; and when the object is seen , the illusory object is not there . Both cannot co-exist . In an intrinsic illusion the reality and the illusion cannot co-exist . The illusory object which is the snake , and the real object behind it , the rope , we cannot see them together . If the snake is there , the rope is not there ; and if the rope is there , the snake is not there . The one or the other must perish . The one or the other must exist .

But in the extrinsic illusion both co-exist ; the reality as well as the illusion , both can co-exist as in a mirror ; in the mirror , the object , the image is unreal , or , in the terms of Scientists , it is a universal image , unreal image , illusion . The face is the real object . Now the face as well as the image co-exist ; the illusory object which is the image and the real object which is the face , co-exist . This is the peculiarity of extrinsic illusion , and we see another thing about extrinsic illusion , a medium is seen , a medium like the mirror . The mirror is the medium and the illusory object is the image and the real object is the face . So in fact in an extrinsic illusion , three things are present for the time being ; in an intrinsic illusion , only one thing is present for the time being .

The experiments of Vedantins which prove to you the unity of the whole universe are of the kind which will be pointed out to you . Their experiments , experiences , and their religious development and realization of the truth prove this world to be made up of both kinds of illusions , extrinsic and intrinsic .

When a person begins religious life and to realize the Divinity within oneself , one overcomes only the extrinsic illusion . All the religions on the face of the Earth , Christianity , Mahomedanism , Buddhism , Zoroastrianism , all these excepting Vedanta , have done a great deal in overcoming the extrinsic illusion . So far as they overcome the extrinsic illusion , the Vedanta says they are all right , but the Vedanta goes one step further . It overcomes the intrinsic illusion also , and other religions as a rule stop short of it . There they say the Vedanta is opposed to us . No , no , it is not opposed ; it simply fullfils what they began , it supplements them ; it is not in contradiction to them , it is not opposed to them .

But you will say this is talking Sanskrit to us , this is talking Greek to us . What do you mean by that ?

Now something very subtle is going to be told . So attend most carefully .

A rope is mistaken for a snake or a serpent . In the rope there appeared a serpent . To what kind of illusion was the serpent due ? The serpent was due to the intrinsic illusion . You know if the serpent is there , the rope is not there ; if the rope is there , the serpent is not there . Only one thing is seen at one time . That is intrinsic illusion . Again you mark , this snake or serpent which appeared is an illusory object which owed its existence to intrinsic illusion . This snake serves the same purpose to the underlying rope as a mirror serves to you when you look into it . It is to be proved to you . You know that the mirror serves as a medium to you , and the mirror being the medium , you see in the mirror an illusory object , I say , an image . You have in the case of the mirror an extrinsic illusion .

Now it will be shown that in the rope the serpent appeared on account of intrinsic illusion ; this serpent will serve as a medium or as a mirror to the underlying reality , or rope and we shall have an extrinsic illusion also on the spot .

A child comes to you and says ,

" Papa , papa , I am frightened ; there is a snake there " .

We ask , " Child , how long was the snake ? " and the child says , " The snake was about two yards long " .

Well , how thick was the snake ? And the child says , " It was very thick . It was as thick as the cable I saw the other day in the ship which was leaving San Francisco . "

We ask , " Well , what was the snake doing ? " The child said , " The snake had coiled itself round . "

You know that the snake was not there ; the snake was unreal , only the rope was lying there . The rope was about two yards long , and was as thick as the cable which the child saw on the day when the ship was leaving San Francisco . The rope was coiled around on the floor , and there the properties of the rope , — its thickness , length , and position — have , as it were , mirrored themselves in the illusory serpent . There the rope casts its thickness , its width , and its position into the illusory serpent . The serpent was not so long , the length only applied to the rope ; the serpent was not of that thickness , the thickness only applied to the rope , the serpent was not in that position , the position only applied to the rope . So you mark that originally we had the serpent as the result of intrinsic illusion , and subsequently we have in the serpent created another kind of illusion , which we might call extrinsic illusion , the properties of one attributed to the other .

This is the second kind of illusion . In order to remove these illusions , what process is to be adopted ? We shall remove one illusion first and then the other . The extrinsic illusion will be removed first , and then the intrinsic illusion .

According to the Vedanta , all this universe is in reality nothing else but one indivisible , indescribable reality , which we cannot even call reality , which transcends all language , which is beyond Time , Space , and Causation , beyond everything . In this rope of a reality , in this underlying substratum , substance , or whatever you might call it , appear names , forms , and differentiations , or you might call it energy , activity , or vibrations .

These are like the serpent . There we see that after this intrinsic illusion is completed , the extrinsic illusion comes up , and on account of the extrinsic illusion , we look upon these names and forms , these personalities and these individualities as having a reality of their own , as subsisting by themselves , as existing by themselves , as real on their own account . Here is the second or extrinsic illusion put forth . You will understand it now when we reverse the process .

What have religions done ? Be it said to the credit of beloved Christianity , beloved Mahomedanism , be it said to the credit of these religions that they have done a great deal in removing extrinsic illusion , they have shown to humanity that if they live a pure life , a life of universal love , a life of divine ecstasy , if a person lives a life of hope , faith , and charity , unbounded love gushing forth from one in all directions filling the whole universe with divinity , then we find GOD in everything . Just mark .

The real saint or sage , the true Christian , the beloved Christian finds GOD even in the names ; one hates not the enemy , but loves the enemy .

Oh ! " Love your enemy as yourself . " That blessed saying of Jesus .

One finds the same GOD in the flowers . Have you ever realized that state ? The truly religious people have . Flowers speak to you ; and you find sermons in stones , books in the running brooks , the stars speak to you , and the Divinity looks at you through a person's face .

Does Divinity require an intellectual proof ? No , it carries its own proof with itself . It rests on a proof which transcends all worldly logic and worldly philosophy .

A person who feels GOD everywhere , lives , moves , and has the being in GOD , through this kind of religious life , through practice and through experience , through experiments , overcomes the extrinsic illusion . How is that ? You know you say that GOD is in all these forms , GOD is in all these phases and forms and differentiations . All these are like the serpent ; still if you look behind them , you see beyond them the underlying rope beneath the serpent . The length , breadth and thickness you attribute not to the serpent but to the underlying rope . There you dispense with one kind of illusion only .

You see GOD behind everything , and when you realize this state of religious life , you do not impute motives to your friends or foes , but you see Divinity in them , and you observe the finger of GOD , or the finger of Providence behind them , and you say that the one Divinity , or the one All , which is GOD , is doing all these things and I should not impute motives to my friends . There is one kind of illusion , the extrinsic illusion , overcome .

This is one step in your advancement , but the Vedanta goes beyond that , and tells you ,

" If you say that GOD is in all these , that is not the whole truth ; go beyond that . "

All these forms and all these images and differences or differentiations themselves contain GOD , but at the same time all these different illusions and forms are unreal and they are like the serpent in the rope ; go beyond that , and you reach the state which is beyond all that , beyond all idea , beyond all words . This is unreal even . There you see that the Vedanta is the fulfilment of all religions . It does not contradict any religion in this world .

It will be shown that it is unnecessary to say that this world must have been created by this GOD or that GOD . It will be proved that these forms and figures , these different figurations and situations are this world and nothing else .

Here are two triangles and one rectangle .


Both these triangles are isosceles , two sides are equal . The two equal sides are marked 3 , and the third side 4 . In the rectangle the shorter sides are marked 3 and the longer sides 4 .

These figures are cut out of paper or cardboard , or anything . Place them in such a way that they may form one figure , or the base of the triangle may co-exist with the one side of the rectangle . What will that become then ? We shall get a hexagon of which all the sides are 3 . You know the sides 4 came within the figure and they are no longer sides . How do we get this hexagon ? We get this from a different position or a different combination of the triangle and rectangle .

What about the properties of these figures and of the resulting figure ? The properties of the resulting figure are entirely different from those of the component figures . The component figures have acute angles ; the resulting figure has no acute angle whatsoever . One of the component figures has right angles , and the resulting figure has no right angle whatsoever .

The component figures had sides 4 in length ; the resulting figure has no side of that length . None of the component figures were equilateral . The resulting figure is equilateral ; it has got all its angles obtuse . None of the component parts had its angles obtuse .

Here we see a creation , all properties entirely unknown before . Wherefrom have these entirely new properties come ? Just mark , these entirely new properties have been created by no creator . These entirely new properties have not come out of the component elements ; they are the result of a new form ; they are the result of a new position , a new configuration , of what the Vedanta calls Maya . Maya means name and form ; they are the result of names and forms , mark that . Again see .

Let this triangle be H , hydrogen ; this one 2 , and a third O ; this gives you H2O , water . These original element , hydrogen and oxygen , had properties of their own , and the resulting compound is an entirely new Something . Hydrogen and oxygen give us water ; hydrogen is combustible , but water is not . Water has a property entirely unknown to hydrogen . Oxygen aids combustion , but water does not . It has a property of its own entirely new . We see again that hydrogen is very light , but oxygen does not possess the same lightness . Hydrogen fills balloons and takes you up to the skies ; but water , the resulting compound , does not .

The properties of the component elements are entirely different from those of the resulting compound . Wherefrom did the resulting compound get its properties ? Did it get these properties from the creator or from the component parts ? No , they came from form , from new form , from new position , configuration .

That is what the Vedanta tells us . It tells you that what you see in this world is simply the result of name and form . You need not posit the existence of a Creator for this and that which are the result of name and form .

Here is before you a piece of charcoal and there is a dazzling , bright diamond . The diamond has properties entirely different from those of the piece of charcoal . The diamond is so hard that it can cut iron ; the charcoal is so soft that it leaves its mark upon a piece of paper when you scratch it on the paper . The diamond is so priceless , precious and brilliant , and the piece of charcoal is cheap , ugly , and black . Mark the contrast between the two , and yet in reality they are one and the same thing . Science proves that .

Oh , you will say " My intellect will not grasp it . "

Whether you accept it or not , it is a fact .

Similarly the Vedanta tells you here is something bad and here is something good . The diamond is good and the charcoal is bad . Here is something which you call bad , and here is something which you call good . Here is something which you call friends and here is something which you call foes . But in reality there is one and the same thing underlying them , just as the same carbon appears in charcoal as in diamond .

So in reality it is only one and the same divinity that appears in both places . In name and form lies the difference , in nothing else . The Scientists tell you that the atoms of carbon in the diamond are differently situated , have a different form in making molecules from what they are in charcoal . The difference in the diamond and charcoal is due only to name and form , or to what the Hindus call Maya . All these differences are due to name and form .

Similarly the difference between good and bad is due only to Maya , to name and form , nothing else ; and these names and forms are not real because they do not last forever . They are unreal because we see them at one time and not at another time . This phenomenon of the Earth is nothing but names and forms , nothing but differentiations , variations , and combinations . And these different variations and combinations are due to what ? They are due to intrinsic illusion . In these names and forms which are due to intrinsic illusion , the One Divinity manifests Itself . GOD manifests Itself in these names and forms of the world , which are called Maya . This is due to intrinsic illusion .

Get beyond that and you are everything . One sees indeed who sees in all alike ; one is with eyes open who sees the One Divinity in all alike .

A few lines from the Gita will illustrate this to you :

I am the sacrifice ! I am the prayer !
I am of all this boundless Universe
The Parent , Ancestor and GOD !
The end of Learning ! That which purifies
In lustral water ! I am OM ! I am
Rig , Sama and Yajur I am
The way , the Fosterer , the Lord , the Judge ,
The witness ; the abode , the Refuge — house ,
The friend , the Fountain and the Sea of Life ,
Which sends , and swallows up seed and seed-sower ,
Whence endless harvests spring !
Sun's heat is mine ,
Heaven's rain is mine to grant or to withhold ;
Death am I and immortal Life I am !

The melodious song of the Ganges ,
the music of the waving pine ,
The echoes of the Ocean's war ,
the lowing of the kine ,
The liquid drops of dew ,
the heavy lowering cloud ,
The patter of the tiny feet ,
the laughter of the crowd ,
The golden beam of the Sun ,
the twinkle of the silent star ,
The shimmering light of the silvery moon
shedding lustre near and far ,
The flash of the flaming sword ,
the sparkle of jewels bright ,
The gleam of the lighthouse beacon light
in the dark and foggy night ,
The apple-bosomed Earth
and Heaven's glorious wealth ,
The soundless sound , the flameless light ,
The darkless dark , and wingless flight ,
The mindless thought , the eyeless sight ,
The mouthless talk , the handless grasp so tight
Am I , am I , am I .