Reflections on Talks with Ramana Maharshi – Self or Reality

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Chapter 9

The Self or Reality

15. “There is no being who is not conscious and therefore who is not Siva. Not only he is Siva but also all else. Yet he thinks in sheer ignorance that he sees the universe in diverse forms. But if he sees the Self he will not be aware of his separateness from the universe. Siva is then seen as the universe. But (unfortunately) the seer does not see the background. Think of the man who sees only the cloth and not the cotton of which it is made; or the pictures and not the screen; or the letters which he reads and not the paper on which they are written. Siva is both the Being assuming the forms in the universe as well as the consciousness that sees them. That is to say Siva is the background underlying both the subject and the object – Siva is repose and Siva is action. Whatever it is said to be, it is only Consciousness, whether in repose or in action.”

Note: It is now evident that Siva is not other than the seer. The last part of this text which makes the absolute consciousness to be “in repose” as well as “in action” is a good answer to the doctrinaire theory that Chaitanya does not include the active senses. If it does not include them, whence then do they arise and enact a world? They answer that the senses do not exist at all – all is Maya, which implies that Maya is the creator of the senses, which is absurd. The senses are, like memory, space-sense, time-sense, etc., undeniable, for they are responsible for the appearance of an external world, whereas Maya is the name given to this appearance, this illusion. Maya is thus not the parent but the offspring of the senses. Therefore, the senses are the activity of Chaitanya, the Pure Consciousness, but, to repeat, an APPARENT activity, which displays a world that does not exist, like a dream. It is an activity which is within the consciousness, though it appears to be without it, an activity which does not affect the consciousness itself. And, being an appearance within the consciousness, it is the consciousness itself, that is, of the same nature as its substratum; for it cannot be of an alien nature, since there exists nothing but pure consciousness. Thus the world is Siva Himself. He is BEING as well as DOING – Repose as well as Action. And this will not be realised as such until Siva is first realised as BEING, because BEING is His very nature, whereas DOING is only an appearance in Him.

Unless action is understood to be a mere appearance in Being, the true nature of the object will ever remain a puzzle to the student of metaphysics. This is of fundamental importance for the proper comprehension of the relation of the perceptions to their seer, of the changeless Self to the ever-changing phenomena, of the screen, to use Bhagavan’s analogy, to the pictures which move on it.

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