Activity of the human mind
Miguel Angel Carrasco
nisargadata at MX3.REDESTB.ES
Sun Dec 14 14:05:00 CST 1997
It is my impression that, not only in the current debate but in general,
much of the difficulty in agreeing on something is due to using common
daily-life words for specific, technical purposes. Take for example the
What is its ^Óreal^Ô meaning? Not one, apparently. But things get still more
complicated with its opposite: ^Óunreal^Ô. What do we mean when we say e.g.
^ÓThe world is unreal^Ô. I am sure that each of us has an at least slightly
different representation ot its meaning.
I will prove this with a story (please forget the Advaita, Absolute view
^ÓMy friend Maria, who is a widow, is very upset. She has just told me that
a few days ago she dreamed that her father had not died in an accident but
had been murdered by his boss, whose son would now be trying to kill her
too. I know that
neither version is true. Her father is just living abroad incognito to
avoid arrest for drug traffic.^Ô
In this story, we have many elements, each with different levels of
1 actual present entity : Meredith
2 actual past entity : her late husband
3 actual present non-entity : her unrest
4 actual past non-entity : her dreaming
5 imagined present entity : murderer^Òs son
6 imagined past entity : father^Òs murderer
7 imagined present non-entity : her danger now
8 imagined past non-entity : the murder story
9 false present non-entity : Meredith^Òs father^Òs death
10 false past non-entity : the accident
(Note: I could complicate the case a lot more, just by saying that Maria^Òs
story is a paragraph taken from a novel. Just imagine the consequences! )
To which of these 10 elements in the story should we grant the label of
^Óreal^Ô? I remind you that here we are speaking from a relative, not
absolute Advaita point of view, at leat momentarily.
It seems obvious that the further we descend in the list of 10 elements,
the less real it looks. But that is not very satisfying. Element 1 is
clearly real. Is 2 so too? Real but dead. And 3? Real but just a passing
quality. And 4? Real but both past and just an action, not a substance.
And what about ^Óunreal^Ô? Element 10 is clearly unreal : not only imagined
but a lie, false. And 9? A bit less unreal: it refers not to an aspect of a
substance but to the substance itself, though false. And 8? Unreal because
imagined, but not a lie, not counterfeit, just an innocent dream. And 7?
Unreal for me because imagined (maria is in no danger) but very real for
her (she truly believes to be). Etc.
What I have tried to prove is that, in my opinion, we may not differ so
much about the ^Óreality^Ô of things, now speaking from an Advaita point of
we are wasting a lot of time just by using words in different senses.
Shouldn^Òt we start by defining very exactly the meaning of the key words we
On Date: Thu, 11 Dec 1997, Gummuluru Murthy wrote: ^Ó [...] Whatever
activity the human mind indulges in, it is unreal. [...] Even its activity
of satsangh or attempts to absorb the scriptural writings are unreal."
Dear Gummuluru, what do you mean with ^Óunreal^Ô? Unreal grade 2, 3, 4... ?
That is, ^Óunreal^Ô in the sense of ^Ónot a substance, but just a quality,
something without individual existence^Ô, or ^Óimagined, an mental object^Ô,
or ^Óa mistake, a mirage^Ô, or ^Ófalse, a fake, a lie^Ô, etc, etc.?
I also think that the same problem (anbiguous words for very specific
elements) occurred during the debate about Consciousness, which btw kept on
changing its subject name, and the one about the many but similar dreams.
Is anyone ready to give us proper definitions of ^Óreal^Ô, ^Óunreal^Ô,
^ÓConsciousness^Ô, ^ÓAwareness^Ô, ^Ódreams^Ô, ^Óexperiences^Ô, etc?
The problem is compounded when we quote words translated from sages who
spoke in Sansktrit or other Eastern languages. For example, what is the
difference between chit, chitta, chaitanya, vijnana, prajnana, bodha,
bhava, matish, samvid, etc.?
That is why I think Nisargadatta was quite right when he said that he did
not intend to make us understand, but to _feel_ the truth. Because fighting
about words is just useless.
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