Chapter 11: The Lion and the Fox
What do I mean by discovery? The first thing to remember is that you already have the self. You are. That needs no proof. That is indubitably there, you cannot even doubt it.
The great European philosopher, Descartes, says, “The only indubitable fact about life is that I am.” Only this cannot be doubted; everything else can be doubted. You can doubt the world; it may not be, it may be just a dream, as Hindus say - that it is maya, an illusion, a dream in God’s mind. Maybe, possibly; it cannot be denied, there is no way to deny it. That’s exactly what Berkeley says - that the world is not a real world, it is a fantasy, a thought, not a thing. Nobody has ever been able to refute Shankara or Berkeley. It cannot be refuted. How to refute it?
Berkeley was walking with Doctor Johnson. Doctor Johnson was a realist. He was very offended by the Berkelinian idea that the world is only a thought, not a thing; that it is just a fiction, a mind projection - there are no trees outside, there are no people outside; only I am. Johnson, being a realist, was getting very angry, more so because he could not find how to refute this man logically, how to prove that the tree outside there was really there..
How to prove it? - because in the dream also we see trees, and they look almost the same as these trees. And in the dream also we think that they are there; only in the morning when we wake up do we find that they were not there. Who knows? - when death comes and we wake up finally, we may come to know that all those trees, and the people, and the world, and the earth, and the moon, and the sun, were all just a long, long dream. How to prove it?
.He took a rock from the road and hit Berkeley’s feet with the rock. Blood started oozing and Berkeley was in great pain and very angry too. He said, “What kind of behavior is this? What wrong have I done to you? Why have you hit me with the rock? I don’t see the point.”
Johnson laughed and he said, “This is to refute your so-called idealism. Now if the rock is unreal, why are you crying? Why are there tears in your eyes? How can I hit with an unreal rock?”
Berkeley started laughing. He said, “But my pain is unreal too, and my tears are unreal too. Only I am real. Who knows that the tears are flowing, that the blood is oozing, that the feet are hurting like hell? Only I who knows, the witness, is real. Everything else, Doctor Johnson - you and your rock and the world - is all unreal.”
Now how to prove it? Johnson was not capable of proving it. His realistic argument had failed, utterly failed. No, it cannot be proved, it is always doubtful.
For example, you are listening to me: maybe you are just dreaming. Maybe many have fallen asleep; maybe with closed eyes you are asleep, and you are having a dream. The other cannot be proved.