Shri Datta Swami

Posted on: 06 Apr 2021


Is the soul's imaginary world or dream as continuous as the external world created by God?

Note: This article is meant for intellectuals only

[An online spiritual discussion was conducted on March 06, 2021, in which several devotees participated. Some of the questions of devotees answered by Swāmi are given below.]

[Swami has said that the difference between the imaginary world of a soul and the external world created by God is that the imaginary world does not appear as real as this external world appears to God.

Śrī Lakshman commented: I also think that there is another difference. The imaginary world of a soul is not as continuous as this external world is. Yet another difference is that God can multiply Himself in His creation, which is imaginary to Him. He can simultaneously exist as many Human Incarnations of God. But a soul cannot do so in its dream.

Śrī Bharath Krishna asked: I can also think of one more difference. A soul cannot decide what kind of dream it will have when it goes to sleep. However, God can decide what should be there in His creation and how it should run. A soul does not have perfect control over its dreams, whereas, God has perfect control over His imaginary creation. Most of the time, the soul’s dreams happen involuntarily. Is my thinking correct, Swami?]

Swāmi replied: I compared the imaginary world of the soul with this real world, which is also the imaginary world of God. The comparison is valid only in one required aspect, which is that both worlds are imaginary to their respective creators. I concentrated only on that required aspect. When one says that the face of a beautiful lady is like the moon, the comparison is only valid in that one aspect of beauty. It only means that her face is as pleasant as the moon. You are bringing points of difference between the two such as the moon has black spots while the lady’s face does not have them etc. These other aspects are not necessary in that context. My only point is that although both worlds are imaginary, the imaginary world of God appears real and clear to God, whereas, the imaginary world of the soul appears to be very unclear and unreal to soul. This difference is due to the omnipotence of God and the negligible potence of soul.

Another difference is that this world, which is the imaginary world of God, is essentially unreal with respect to God, but it appears to be absolutely real to Him to give real entertainment to Him. The imaginary world of the soul is made of the soul’s own awareness and hence, it is not basically unreal to the soul. The soul is awareness. The soul’s imaginary world is a tiny part of that awareness. It is very weak compared to the soul, but its existence is at par with the existence of the soul. In this sense, there is a similarity in both cases. This external world exists in a state that is as real to God as Himself (absolute reality). The imaginary world also exists in a state that is as real to the soul as itself. In both the cases, the commonality is that the cause grants its own level of reality (existence) to its effect. God and the soul are causes and their respective imaginary worlds are the effects.

Both the causes grant their own level of existence to their corresponding effects, in order to get real entertainment. Yet, both the effects are unreal in essence. This is because, the existence of both the effects is granted by their causes and is not inherent of the effects. This is another similarity between the imaginary worlds created by God and the soul. Hence, the cause has the freedom to withdraw its existence from the effect, whenever it wishes. Since the effect has no inherent existence, the poor effect disappears, whenever the cause withdraws its existence from its effect. Due to this basic fact, the cause can perform any miracle in its effect. Hence, the cause is the absolute reality while the effect is the relative reality.

Due to this analysis, the effect can neither be said to be existent nor can it be said to be non-existent. It is not existent because it does not have its own inherent existence. It is not non-existent because the effect is presently perfectly existent, owing to the borrowed perfect existence of the cause. In that case, why is there a difference in the entertainment of God and the soul? Why does God obtain real entertainment from His imaginary world, whereas the soul is not able to obtain real entertainment from its imaginary world? The reason is that God only has His imaginary world as the single effect. The soul is observing not only its imaginary world, but also God’s imaginary world outside. The soul has this second reference of the external world. In comparision with the external reference of God’s imaginary world, the soul feels that its imaginary world is almost unreal. This is because the soul compares its own imaginary world with the external imaginary world of God.

The soul enjoying its imaginary world in its waking state alone is compared with God enjoying creation, which is His imaginary world. The sleeping soul experiencing a dream is not compared with God. This is because, God never has any ignorance, unlike the soul which is in ignorance while it is asleep and seeing a dream. When God wants to enjoy the world to the climax extent, God imposes ignorance upon Himself. The soul being entertained by its own imaginary world in the waking state (daydream) also imposes ignorance upon itself for better entertainment. But the soul that is asleep and seeing a dream is under forced ignorance. It does not have any second external reference since it is disconnected from the body, the senses and the external world during sleep. Hence, it feels that its dream-world is as real as the external world. That dream state of the sleeping soul cannot be compared with God, in any situation. Hence, the dream-state of the soul is totally irrelevant in the context of this discussion.