Shri Datta Swami

Posted on: 30 Mar 2021


Can You explain with examples how we can experience both real and unreal things?

Note: This article is meant for intellectuals only

[An online spiritual discussion was conducted on March 27, 2021, in which several devotees participated. Some of the questions of devotees answered by Swāmi are given below.]

[Śrī Anil Antony asked: Pādanamaskāraṃ Swāmi! You have said that we can experience both unreal and real things, giving the example of a rope which appears to be a snake. We can experience the real rope as well as the unreal snake (illusion) due to dim light. What exactly do the snake and the rope refer to? Can You please give another practical example to explain how we can experience both real and unreal things? Can a soul experience the unreality of creation at any time?]

Swāmi replied: Soul can never experience the fundamental unreality of the creation. The reality of a snake seen in the illusion is not the fundamental reality. It is only the apparent reality of the superimposed snake, which is not the fundamental reality of basic creation. When you see a real snake, its existence is the fundamental reality of the creation. The example of illusory snake appearing on the real rope is taken as an example to explain how the unreal world appears as real world to God by His will of entertainment. The soul can’t keep itself in the place of God to see this fundamental unreality of the world because the soul itself is a part of the fundamentally unreal world. The example of unreal snake and real rope is given with reference to the soul so that the soul can understand the case of God for whom alone the fundamental unreality of the appearing world is explained for the sake of His divine entertainment. You can more clearly understand the case of God by really seeing the rope and assuming it as the snake. Since you are not omnipotent, the assumed snake does not appear as real snake, but, the omnipotent God can enjoy with the assumed snake appearing as the real snake. This difference is due to the difference between least powerful Avidyā (imposed ignorance) of soul and most powerful Māyā (imposed ignorance) of God.