In Woods of God - Realization Vol.3

In Woods of God - Realization Vol.3
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In Woods of God – Realization Volume 3 Swami Rama Tirtha Pratishthan Maya or the when and the why of the world Lecture delivered by Swami Rama on January 15, 1903, in the Golden gate Hall, San Francisco The Ruler, Governor, Controller of Maya in the form of ladies and gentlemen, The subject of tonight’s discourse is Maya. This is a subject which superficial critics look upon as the weakest point in the Philosophy of Vedanta. Today we shall take up that weakest point. All those philosophers and thinkers who have studied the Philosophy of Vedanta, say unanimously that if this Maya could be elucidated, then everything else in Vedanta would be acceptable, everything else in it would be so natural, so plain, so clear, so beneficial and useful. This is the one hitch, the one stumbling block in the way of the students of Vedanta. This is a vast subject. In order that we may exhaust it thoroughly, about ten lectures ought to be devoted to this subject alone and then can the subject be placed on such a clear, lucid basis that no doubt no question under the sun or on the face of the earth would be left unanswered and unmet; everything can be made plain, but it requires time. Hurrying readers and hurrying listeners are not expected to understand that thoroughly. The question is ‘Why this world?’ ‘Whence this world? Or to put it in Vedantic language, ‘Why this ignorance in the universe?’ You know, Vedanta preaches that this universe is unreal, is merely phenomenal. Ignorance is not eternal. All these phenomena are not real or eternal. The question comes, ‘Why should this ignorance be?’ Why should this ignorance which is the cause of these phenomena or this Maya which is at the root of all meum and tuum, differences and differentiation, Why should this Maya or ignorance overpower the true Self or Atman? Why should this Maya or ignorance be more powerful than God? This is the question. In common language, in the language of other philosophers and theologians, the question is, ‘Why should this world exist at all?’ Why should God have created this world? Vedanta says, “No, brother, you have no right to ask this question. There is no answer to this question.” Vedanta plainly says, there is no answer to this question. Vedanta says, we can prove it to you experimentally and directly that this world that you see, is in reality nothing else but God and we can show to you conclusively through experiment that when you advance high enough in the realization of Truth, this world will disappear for you; but why does this world exist at all? We desist from answering the question. You have no right to put that question. Vedanta plainly confesses its inability to answer that question, and herein all the other theologians and dogmatizers and all superficial philosophers come forward and say, “Oh, Vedanta philosophy is imperfect, imperfect, it cannot explain “the why and wherefore of the world.” Vedanta says, “Brother, examine the answers that you yourself give to the question ‘the why and wherefore of the world’, examine them carefully, and you will see that your answers are no answers at all.” It is mere waste of time to dwell upon that question, sheer waste of time and labour. It is letting go a bird in the hand in search of two in the bush. They will fly away before you reach them and you will lose the bird in your hand. That also will fly away. Vedanta says, all Philosophy and all Science must proceed from the know to the Unknown. Do not put the cart before the horse; do not begin from the Unknown and then come to the Known. There was a river flowing, on the banks of which some people were standing and philosophizing as to its origin. One of them said, “This river comes from rocks, and stones, from hills. Out of hills, water gushes in spring, and that is the cause of the river.” Another man said,” Oh, no, impossible. Stones are so hard, so tough and so rigid and water is so liquid and soft. How can soft water come out of hard stones? Impossible, impossible. Reason cannot believe that hard stones are giving out soft water. If stones could give out water, then let me take up this piece of stone and squeeze it. Out of this no water flows. Thus the statement that this river flows from those mountains is absurd. I have a very good theory. This river flows from the perspiration of a big giant somewhere. We see every day that when a person perspires, water flows from his body. Here is water flowing; it must have flowed from the body of someone who is perspiring; that is reasonable, our intellects can accept it. That seems to be plausible, that is all right.” Another man said, “No, no, it is somebody standing somewhere who is spitting and this is the spit.” Another man said, “No,no. There is somebody who is vacating his water, making water, this is the cause of the river.” Now these people said, “Look here, look here, all these theories of ours are feasible, all these theories of the origin of water are practical. Every day we see such things. These theories about the origin of the river are very plausible, are very feasible, seem to be good and grand, but the theory that water flows from stones, the ordinary intellect of a man who has never seen water gushing out from stones who has never been on the mountains, will not accept, and yet it is true.” And on what does the truth of this theory rest? On experience, on experiment, on direct observation. Similarly the origin of the world, why this world and whence this world, the origin of the stream of this world, the origin of the stream of the universe, the river of life, the origin is described differently by different people. The origin of the world, according to the people of that kind of intellect which ascribed the origin of the river to spittle and to perspiration, is taken to be something of the same sort as they observe everyday around them. They say, “Here is a man who makes boots, the boots could not be made without somebody with some intention or design of making. Here is a man who makes a watch. Now the watch could not be made without somebody with some intention or plan or design of making it. Here is a house. The house could not be made without somebody having the plan and design. They see that every day, and they say, “Here is the world. The world could not have been made without some kind of a person of the same sort as the shoemaker, the watchmaker, the house-maker, and so there must be a world-maker, who makes this world, and thus they say that there is a personal God, standing upon the clouds who does not take pity upon the poor fellow. It is also a wonder that he does not catch cold, while he should have on such great height. Yet they argue that there must be some personal God who must have made this world.” Their argument seems to be plausible, very feasible and very reasonable. It seems to be of the same sort as the argument of those people who said that the river flows from perspiration of somebody, who looks upon the origin of the river to be of the same sort as the water coming out of the bodies. The world also must have been made by somebody. Vedanta does not propose any theory of that kind. No, no, it does not. Vedanta says, see it, make an experiment, observe it; through direct realization you see that the world is not what it appears to be. How is that? Vedanta says, so far I can explain to you that the water is coming out of those stones. How the water is coming out of the stones, I may or may not be able to tell you, but I know the water comes out of stones. Follow me to that place and you will see the water gushing out of the stones. If I cannot tell why the water comes out of the stones, do not blame me, blame the water, it is coming out of the stones. I am unable to tell you how the water comes out of the stones, but it remains a fact, you can verify it yourself. Similarly, Vedanta says whether or not I am able to tell you why this Maya or ignorance is, it remains a fact. Why it came, I may not be able to tell you. This is a fact, an experimental fact the Vedantic attitude is merely experimental and scientific. It establishes no hypothesis, it puts forth no theory. It does not claim to be able to explain the origin of the world; This is beyond the sphere of intellect or comprehension. That is the position of Vedanta. This is called Maya. Why does the world appear? Vedanta simply says, because you see it. If you do not see it, there is no world. How do you know that the world is there? Because you see it. Do not see it and where is the world? Close your eyes, a fifth of the world is gone; that part of the world which you perceive through your eyes is no longer there. Close your ears and another fifth is gone; close your nose and another fifth is gone. Do not put any of your senses into activity and there is no world. You see the world and you ought to explain why the world is there. You make it there. You should answer yourself. Why do you ask me? You make the world there.
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