Prarbdhakarma fulfills itself only when one identifies the self with the body, but it is no good identifying with the body. Who wants to sever this identification and free himself of prarbdhakarma, illusion of the body, is the basis for the projection of prarbdhakarma.
But that which is projected or imagined by illusion can never be real. And how can it arise or manifest if it is not real? And how can it be destroyed if it is not manifested? How can the false, the unreal have the bondage of conditioning?
This body is the result of ignorance and knowledge destroys it fully. Ignorance then raises doubt as to how this body exists even after realization. To remove this doubt of the ignorant, the scriptures have ordained the concept of prarbdha externally.
In reality there is neither body nor prarbdha.
This sutra is very strange, but very true. To understand this sutra is to understand many, many things about scriptures, about teachers, about masters, methods, techniques, doctrines.
This sutra says that in reality there is no world, in reality there is no suffering; in reality, whatsoever you feel and know is not – but in reality, remember. As far as you are concerned, it is real.
As far as you are concerned, it is real.
We should try to understand it through dream, because the Eastern mind has been very much fascinated by the reality of dream. And this sutra can be understood only through dream.
You are dreaming. While dreaming you can never doubt that the dream is a dream. While dreaming, the dream is true, real, as real as any reality – even more real. Why do I say even more real? I say this because when you get up in the morning, you can remember your dream – but when you go into sleep you cannot remember what has happened, what was happening when you were awake. This is a rare phenomenon. In dream you forget your so-called reality completely.
You cannot remember that you are a doctor in the day while you are awake, or an engineer, or a minister. You cannot remember in your dream the facts of the day, when you were awake. The whole reality, the so-called reality of the day is completely washed away by the dream – it seems more powerful. But in the morning when you get up, when sleep has gone, you can remember your dream. It means the reality of your day is not strong enough to completely wash away the reality of the dream. In dream you forget your day completely, but in your day, in your waking state of mind, you can remember your dreams. Dreams appear to be more real – that’s why I say “even more real.”
In dream you can never doubt that whatsoever you are seeing is unreal or real; it IS real, it is felt to be authentically real. Why? Why does dream appear so real? – and this is not your first experience. You have been dreaming for your whole life, and every day in the morning you have come to know that the dream was unreal. Yet, when you go to sleep tonight and dream, you will not remember your whole life’s experience, that dreams are unreal. Again, you will fall into the illusion, and you will feel the dreams as real. In the morning again you will repeat that “it was just a dream, nothing real.” What is happening? So much experience of dreaming, still the dream remains real. Why? – because really, anything becomes real if you are absent.
Your absence gives reality to false things.
In the dream you cannot remember yourself – so whatsoever passes in front of your eyes becomes real because you are not. You are so unreal that anything can be felt as real. If you can remember yourself in the dream, the dream will drop; it will cease immediately.
Gurdjieff used to give this technique to his disciples: to remember themselves continuously. In the day go on remembering “I am, I am.” Do whatsoever you are doing but continuously make it a point to remember “I am” – not verbally, feel it – “I am.” Eating, go on eating, and simultaneously feel “I am.” Remember “I am.” You are walking, go on walking; remember “I am.” This Gurdjieff called “self-remembering.” Buddha has called it “right remembering” – samyak smriti.
Go on remembering – “I am.” If this feeling of “I am” goes deep, it will follow you in sleep also. And when there is a dream, you will remember – “I am.” Suddenly the dream will stop: if you are, then there can be no dream.
This is just to explain to you a greater truth: in this life, the world is because we are not. This is the Upanishad’s basic teaching. In this world, the world is, everything is – you are not. Only you are not; everything is.
That’s why you cannot feel whether it is real or unreal. Remember yourself, be centered in yourself, be conscious, aware. And as you become more intensely aware, you will feel simultaneously that the world is dropping its reality and is changing into a dream. When you become aware totally, the world becomes a dream. This means, if you are real, then whatsoever you experience is a dream – whatsoever, I say – if you are authentically real, conscious, alert, then all your experiences are dreams.
If you are unaware of yourself, then your own reality is projected onto the dreams, then your own reality is transferred to the dreams. Your own existence is transferred to dreams and experiences and thoughts, and they become real. They have a borrowed reality; your own reality has gone to them. They are not real.
For example, look in a mirror. Your face is there in the mirror; it looks real – it is not. It is just a borrowed reality; it is not real at all. You are real, the mirror reflection is just a dream. Forget yourself completely – as it happens particularly with women; they forget themselves completely – and the mirror figure becomes more real. Look at a woman looking into the mirror, observe her. What happens? She is no more – only the mirror is, and the mirror-woman has become real. She has completely forgotten herself. The mind is doing the same.
The world is just a mirror.
You have forgotten yourself, and the reflection has become real.
This is a borrowed reality.
Do it with a mirror and you will come to a deep realization. Do it with a mirror: gaze constantly into the mirror, gaze in your eyes reflected in the mirror continuously, for thirty minutes, forty minutes. Go on staring, and constantly go on remembering, “I am real. This is a reflection. This which is mirrored is reflection. I am real, not this reflection.” Go on remembering inside, “I am, I am, I am,” and go on staring into the eyes of the reflected figure – your own figure. Suddenly – any moment this can happen – the reflection will disappear. Suddenly the mirror will be vacant. It is a very strange experience when suddenly you are in front of the mirror, and the face has disappeared and the mirror is vacant. Why does it happen? If you go on remembering “I am, I am,” and this remembering becomes authentic, then the borrowed reality comes back to you and the mirror becomes vacant.
Even for a single moment if you can see the mirror as vacant – no face, nothing reflected – you will feel a sudden upsurge of reality in you. For the first time you may become aware that you are.
This same thing happens with the world when someone becomes a witnessing self. One day, this explosion comes to him – the whole world disappears, the whole world becomes just vacant; only I am, and the whole world has disappeared as if it was never there. This experience is the ultimate. Again, the mirror will reflect your face, but now you know it is just a reflection. Again, the world will come – for one moment you will see the world has disappeared, and again the world will be there – but now it will never be real again. It will be just a dream world, and all the figures will be dream figures. It will be a great drama.
But when you know it as a drama, a pseudo phenomenon, you are freed from it. Then there is no clinging, and then there is no slavery, no bondage.
From That Art Thou, Discourse #49
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