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Chapter 4: From Dreams toward Truth

This earth is so small, but it appears so big to us. The sun is thousands of times as big as the earth, but in the galaxy of stars, it is a small body. The stars in the sky are much bigger than the sun. They appear small because of their distance from us. The sun’s rays take ten minutes to reach the earth, even though they travel at the speed of a hundred and eighty-six thousand miles per second. The sun is faraway, yet not so faraway when we know that the next nearest star takes four years to send its rays to the earth; and these rays travel at the same speed as the sun’s. There are other stars, whose rays take a hundred years, two hundred years, a thousand, a hundred thousand years to reach the earth. There are stars, which were formed four hundred thousand years before the earth, whose rays have yet not reached the earth. And there are stars yet, whose rays will never reach the earth - so say the scientists.

In such an infinite vista, where does the earth stand? And where do we stand vis-à-vis the universe? We, who are but a tiny speck compared to the world. But we attach a lot of value to ourselves, and the more value we attach to our little selves, the more restless we become; and the more we suffer and the possibility of realizing truth gets less and less.

He who is tranquil and filled with peace can realize truth. The first rule for obtaining tranquility is not to consider that life which we lead, as real. Attach no more importance to it than you would to a dream. The moment life begins to appear as a dream, the mind becomes quiet. Until then, it is impossible, for we attach such importance to trivial things. We take even dreams to be real and suffer on account of them. A man sees a ghost in his dream and gets up with a fright, his chest pounding; his sleep is broken, the dream is no more, yet it has seemed so real that the heart beats faster!

We are such, we even get carried away by theatrical performances. You will see many people wiping their eyes in cinema houses; whereas on the screen there is nothing but the play of electricity. Knowing full well that it is the current of electricity forming pictures on a blank screen, yet we laugh or cry or get frightened with the different scenes! The drama becomes a reality, whereas actually, the first rule in the quest of truth is to consider as play what we take to be a reality in life. Then only does truth reveal itself.

There was a great thinker in Bengal by the name of Ishwarchandra Vidyasagar. He went to see a play. In the play, the hero is after the heroine. He does everything to harass and trouble her. Then one day, in the dead of night, he jumps into her bedroom and catches hold of her. Vidyasagar could bear it no longer. He jumped onto the stage, took out his shoe and beat up the hero - completely forgetting it was a play on the stage! Everybody was shocked, but the hero took the shoe and holding it to his chest, bowed reverently to Vidyasagar. He turned to the audience and said: “Never have I received so great an honor. That anyone should be so carried away by my acting and that too, a great thinker like Vidyasagar. It is the biggest award I have ever received. I shall always prize this shoe.”

Vidyasagar felt ashamed. He went quietly back to his seat. Later on, he told his friends that the play appeared so real that he completely forgot it was a drama.

If a play looks real, man gets disturbed, but if life appears a play, man becomes tranquil. Where is the need to be agitated by a dream? Then if poverty comes, it is a dream; even riches are a dream. Then sickness and health, honor and dishonor, are all dreams. As this truth becomes clearer to us, the mind starts to get restful. Truth is hidden because of our restlessness.

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