Vedantins go on saying the world is illusory, but look at them. Throw a stone at them and they will get angry, they will start fighting with you. The world is not illusory; they just have a concept, a philosophy. And philosophers can be very cunning.
It happened once…
A follower of Nagarjuna… Nagarjuna was one of the greatest mystics India has given birth to. He realized his infinite being – the world dissolved. Then followers came, and followers are always carbon copies, are bound to be unless they try to penetrate the reality themselves and don’t take their master’s word on trust.
The master’s word simply inspires, provokes, helps, but it should not be taken on trust, otherwise it will become a philosophy. You have to realize it. And when you realize, only then can you say, “Yes, the master was true.” How could you say it before? But it is easy to nod your head philosophically: “Yes.”
Followers came, and one of the followers – who was a great philosopher, a very argumentative man – proved in many ways that the world was not real.
The king of the country called him, because his name reached the court, and the king said, “Really, you think that the world is unreal? Think twice, because I am a dangerous man. And I am not a man of words, I am a man of action. I will do something which will prove that the world is not unreal. So think twice.”
The man said, “There is no question of thinking twice. I have thought millions of times and I have every proof that the world is unreal.”
But even the philosopher was not aware of what the king was going to do. He had a mad elephant. So the mad elephant was brought into the courtyard, and this philosopher was also thrown into the courtyard. He started screaming and running, with the mad elephant behind him. The mad elephant caught hold of him. At that moment he started saying to the king, “Save me! The elephant is real. I withdraw my statement!”
He was saved. Again the king called him, when he came to his senses – because he was trembling and perspiring and bruised all over and bleeding in many places. The king said, “Now what do you say?”
He replied, “The world is unreal.”
The king said, “What do you mean? At the moment when the elephant was just going to kill you, then you said that the world is real. Now you change again?”
The philosopher said, “The elephant, the man, the assertion, all are unreal. The elephant, the madness of the elephant, the man you are seeing before you, the man who asserted that the world is real – all are unreal.”
The king said, “Then I will call that mad elephant again.”
And the philosopher said, “Then the same will happen again: I will say it is real. But again, what can I do?”