Chapter 11: The Choice Is Always Yours
At the meditation camp in Dwarka you mentioned that all sadhanas, all spiritual disciplines are false, because we have never been separate from the ultimate reality. Does that mean the state of unconsciousness is false? Is the growth of body and mind false? Is the cessation of conditioning false? Is the endeavor of moving from the gross to the subtle false? Are all the systems regarding the journey from the first body to the seventh body false? Is the long process of the discipline of kundalini all a sham? Please explain.
First of all, when I call something false, untruth, it does not mean it is nonexistent. Even a falsehood has its own existence. One could not call it a falsehood if that were nonexistent. A falsehood has its own existence and so does a dream. When we say a dream is false, it does not mean a dream has no existence. It only means that the existence of a dream is psychological, not real. It is a whim of the mind, not a fact.
When we say the world is maya, illusion, it does not mean the world is nonexistent, because if the world does not exist then whom are you addressing? Who is talking? And why? When one calls this world an illusion, he at least assumes that the speaker exists and so does the listener. He also assumes that somebody needs to explain, and someone needs to understand. At least this much is true. But when we call this world an illusion, it does not mean the world does not exist. It means the world appears to have an existence. Calling his world maya simply means the world is not what it looks like; rather, it is merely an appearance. It does not look the way it actually is, and it appears to be what it really is not.
For example, a man is walking down the street when it is almost dark. He sees a piece of rope lying there and, mistaking it for a snake, runs for his life. Someone tells him it wasn’t a snake, that what he saw was all false, that he ran for no reason. Now what does this mean? To say the snake was false does not mean the man did not see the snake. He would not have escaped had he not seen it - he did see the snake. As far as the question of his seeing the snake is concerned, the snake was there.
Since he saw. And, had the rope not been there, he could not have seen the snake in an empty space. So the rope undoubtedly gave credence to his illusion. What he saw inwardly was different from what existed outside. A rope was lying there and he thought it was a snake. He did not see the rope as a rope - which it was; the rope appeared to him like a snake, which it was not. So he did not see that which was, he saw that which was not. Actually, that which did not exist was superimposed on that which did.