What Is Illusion? What Is Reality?
What Is Illusion? What Is Reality?
Created date15 June 2017
From time to time we share blogs from our partners on consciousness and its expression in science and spirituality. Today's post, provided by Light of Consciousness magazine, is from the book Consciousness: Where Science and Spirituality Meet, from the Wisdom Library of Swami Amar Jyoti. In this excerpt, he responds from a spiritual perspective to a scientific description of the Absolute.
Question: This morning, I read a quote from a scientist who said that Light is the closest science has come to the Absolute. He called Light the bridge between the material and the spiritual.
To say that light is bridging the material world and the spiritual is to divide them into two things. This is the fundamental fallacy. From the spiritual to the most dense matter, it is one continuity. This is the way conception creates its own reality. In dualism, in relativity, you have myriads of forms and names and each assumes individuality: matter is one individuality, the spiritual world is another, and a bridge is needed between the two. This is the basic fallacy inherent in intellect, which is itself the product of dualism. Intellect cannot go outside its own campus; it wants to explain, analyze and then synthesize.
If we start from this premise, then the statement that Light is the closest representation to the Absolute also falls flat. Even if we separate the material world and spiritual world conceptually, nothing in creation can exist without some Substance or Consciousness within it. That is, within all conception or illusion there is a degree of Light or Consciousness without which it would not exist. But it is so unmanifest, so concealed— yet so intrinsic—that to see it as Light is difficult. From gross matter to the ultimate Spirit, there is no gap. The difference is only in the degree of manifestation.
Matter’s own reality, if you care to find it, will be in atoms, particles, sub-particles. Go to any limit—that will be Light, Consciousness. To our conceptual view, matter looks inert, inanimate or dead. If it were dead, matter would crumble, disintegrate and then transform into something else again. But Light is throughout, continuous. That is why sages have said: “All is Divine.” When they say “all,” there is no exception; it includes illusions, conceptions, matter—everything is Divine. Everything is intrinsically made of Light. It’s a matter of finding that out. When you use the faculty of analysis you are bound to make mistakes because you divide and separate and compare, and then try to bridge it all up again.
Then what is illusion? If it is not Reality, then what is it? Because illusion, maya, is somewhat perceptible or conceivable, in a certain limited area of reality, it has its own existence of which you and I are a part. What is the reality of illusion, then? If everything is Divine and everything is Light, then illusion must have the same basis. Whatever the reality of its existence may be, it is something. If there is Light within illusion, then illusion assumes some kind of existence.
Shankaracharya, one of the most brilliant minds of ancient India, explained this very beautifully. He said: “Illusion appears to be real but is not really so.” It is an appearance only. It has some kind of formation, a temporary existence, but since it is not absolute or eternal, we cannot call it Reality. Still the question remains, what is illusion? We are part of illusion; that is the problem. Illusory beings are trying to understand illusion! One sage has given a very good reply: “If darkness is trying to understand darkness, it will never know since it is darkness itself. But bring in Light and darkness vanishes. It is simply not there.”
The mind cannot know or understand maya, its own illusory nature. To do that, it has to surrender or merge into Reality. It has to transcend ego, limited conceptual existence, in order to know the Reality.
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© Truth Consciousness. Excerpted from Consciousness: Where Science and Spirituality Meet, Wisdom Library of Swami Amar Jyoti, available in print and eBook throughtruthconsciousness.org, Kindle, iBook, and other digital booksellers.