Nothing Is Real Part 2

June 25, 2009


One day, King Lavana was sitting on his throne when a juggler entered the court and said to the king, “I shall show you something wonderful!” As he waved a bunch of peacock feathers, there entered into the court a cavalier leading an exquisitely  beautiful horse. The juggler requested the king to ride that horse and roam freely throughout the world.  The king  closed his eyes and sat motionless. Seeing this, everyone in the court became silent; no one dared to disturb the king’s peace. After some time, the king opened his eyes and began to tremble as if in fear. As he was about to fall down, the ministers supported him. Dismayed to see them, the king asked  “Who are you,  and what are you doing to me?”  The worried ministers said to him, “Lord, you are a mighty king of great wisdom and yet this delusion has overpowered you. What has happened to your mind?”

“As soon as I saw this juggler wave his bundle of peacock feathers, I jumped on the horse that stood in front of me and went away on a hunting expedition. The horse took me into an arid desert…I rested under a tree, and while I was resting, the horse ran away. When I awoke, it was dark. Shortly after sunrise I saw a  girl dressed in black carrying a plate of food, she said, “I will give you food only if you will marry me.” “I consented;  survival was the foremost consideration then.  Soon I was a member of her tribe. My wife gave birth to a daughter and three more children closely followed… I spent many years among this tribe, suffering the agonies of a family man with a  wife and children to feed and to protect…Time rolled on and I became old… My heart had shed all compassion… I drifted like a dry leaf in the wind, as if my only mission in life was eating… Afflicted by famine, many people left the country and migrated elsewhere. I too left the country with my wife and children… I was moved by attachment and pity..I decided the best way to end these miseries was to end my life. So I raised a pyre and as I ascended that pyre, I shuddered and found myself in this court, being hailed and greeted by all of you.” As the king said this, the juggler vanished. The ministers said, “Lord, he cannot be a juggler, for he was not interested in money or a reward. Surely, some divine entity wished to demonstrate to you and all of us, the power of cosmic illusion. From all this, it is clear that this world we see is nothing but the play of the mind, and the mind itself is but the play of the omnipotent, infinite Being. The mind is able to fool even men of great wisdom. Otherwise, how could the king, who is well versed in all branches of learning, fall prey to his bewildering delusion?”

This story is from the Yoga Vasistha, one of many such stories in this narration of a dialogue between the sage, Vasistha and Prince Rama, who was an incarnation of God. These  teaching stories reveal that what we think is real is not necessarily so. Its teachings are simple: the world is nothing but Consciousness. This Consciousness becomes the mind when it identifies itself with separate objects which are only vibrations within its own being. From this tendency, the world is born. Sage Vasistha tells Rama that the world  we know only exists in the mind. “In the twinkling of an eye it creates countless worlds and in the twinkling of an eye it destroys them. Even as an able actor plays several roles one after the other, the mind assumes several aspects one after the other. It makes the unreal appear as real and vice versa; and on account of this it seems to enjoy and to suffer. ”

So what does it mean that the world is an illusion when it looks and feels very tangible, particularly when our emotions are in upheaval, seemingly caused  by the relationships we encounter within existence? In my experience, it is my  beliefs about the stories I tell myself about my existence that is not real. My thoughts create a version of reality based on my beliefs.  As I grow and change my beliefs and thoughts, my reality also changes. In the same way, every person’s experience is unique with its own personal nuances based on the sum total of their past experiences and no two people will have the same perspective in any given situation, no matter how similar their beliefs on the subject. We create our own realities, nothing is really, really real. 😀 Most of the time we are all under the illusion that we are other than the greatness of who we truly are, feeling separate, unloved, unworthy and powerless. That is what is referred to as illusion. When we have such a world view, then the world is unreal.

Vasistha says: “What is more mysterious, Rama, than that the mind is able to veil the omnipresent, pure, eternal, and infinite Consciousness, making you confuse it with this inert physical body?.. Just as an actor is able to portray different personalities, the mind is able to create the different states of  consciousness, such as the waking and dream states. How mysterious is the mind that is able to make the king,  Lavana feel that he is a primitive tribesman! The mind experiences what the mind itself constructs. The mind is nothing but what has been put together by thought: knowing this, do as you please.”

Prince Rama continues to listen to the moral of this story from the sage, Vasistha: “When the mind is fully awake to its own fancies and is filled with them, it is wakeful dream. The false notions of experiences during sleep, which yet appear to be real, are dreams. In the dream wakeful state, one recalls past experiences as if they are real now. When these are abandoned in favor of total inert dullness, it is sleep.”

The Yoga Vasistha is a remarkable Hindu Scripture that teaches the path to awakening to the truth of who we are, that we are that absolute Consciousness. It points us to the knowledge that the world is an illusion created by the mind and shows the way to liberation through contemplation and self-inquiry.

In  later posts I will be looking at other scriptures that reveal that nothing is real, that this world is but a play of Consciousness and we are the actors.


1 Nicole 06.29.09 at 2:15 pm

This topic makes me feel like I am free falling … If I don’t have my illusions, what do I have? If I don’t have “reality” then how do I exist? Is it the ultimate goal to shed ourselves of all our thoughts, perceptions and ideas? Or is having a goal also non-existent, something made up in my mind?

I personally want to enjoy the stories my mind creates! I love having a physical body that I can challenge, and a mind which creates. When I leave this body, I can experience the silence, the peace, the tranquility. For now I will be content to enjoy fleeting moments of peace … as often as I can.


2 Mark 06.30.09 at 8:17 am

I love this parable, thank-you for sharing. This is a fantastic illustration of how all is an illusion of our creation and that all is as fluid as water.

3 Miruh 06.30.09 at 5:11 pm

Hello Nicole,

I agree with what you say to some extent. I think that is the point of physical existence: “I personally want to enjoy the stories my mind creates!”
I think that the teachings of this scripture allows us to do just that. To recognize that what is, is only the creation of mind, and to not get too serious about it all. It helps us to let go of conflict and judgment, to rewrite our stories, to live in joy through creating what brings love to oneself and others.

I believe that the point of this physical existence is to create the reality that is in alignment with our truth. The narrative can be as simple or complex as we want to create it, but the essence would be of joy, peace and enlightenment. We can set goals with this perspective in mind; do they bring me closer to love or take me away from love. In this way we can have more peace and love, right here and now and not in some future nirvana.

It is not simple or easy since the mind is a great illusionist but we can hold ourselves with compassion and the intention to keep aligning with Truth.

As always, your thoughtful words provoke a deeper contemplation on the subject. Thanks!

Deep peace to you!

4 Miruh 06.30.09 at 5:17 pm

Hello Mark,

If only we can stay present to the stories we tell ourselves and recognize that we are the creators of this amazing physical reality! I believe that no matter what the story we have either chosen or been given, it is how we relate to what is, that will move us along to the next phase of our learning.

I am glad you liked it.

Deep peace to you!

5 Nicole 06.30.09 at 8:24 pm

Thank you, Miruh, for showing me the clarity in a seemingly chaotic topic. It absolutely makes sense to question whether our decisions will bring love to ourselves and others.

Sometimes I feel like I’m gathering this knowledge without the wisdom of how to apply it to my life. You bring clarity and love to these somewhat uncertain topics, and I truly appreciate your presence in my life. Thank you.

6 Miruh 07.01.09 at 10:25 pm

Hello Nicole,

For me, the beauty of the spiritual path is that there is no need to get there, the journey is the path and all of it, our wanting to understand is also the goal. There is no striving for in striving we lose the peace and innate wisdom that is already there.

Love and blessings!

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