WHY DO WE EXPERIENCE MULTIPLICITY?
All our scriptures say that there is no duality, everything is one. At the same time, they speak of three distinct entities—Isvara, jiva and jagat. How is this paradox to be resolved?
From an ordinary standpoint, the jivas have not created jagat and jagat did not create the jivas. So it is accepted that there is Isvara with infinite power Who is the cause of both jiva and jagat.
Suppose that there is a canvas with a scene embroidered on it with thread and in the scene there is also a person, a seer, looking at the scene. If you pull the thread the entire scene with all its mountains, rivers and also all the beings, including the seer will come into your hand. The thread can be compared to Isvara and jiva and jagat the embroidered scene. They are not three but are, in fact, one only. It is the one Isvara alone, who appears, as the seer and that which is seen. In fact, it is the one supreme Reality alone who appears as Isvara and also manifests as the seer and the scene.
If everything is one, then why does it appear as three? Why is there an experience of multiplicity and how does this experience of multiplicity dissolve?
Simply stated, as long as there is an I-notion, there is also a notion of ‘this’ and ‘that’.
In grammar, we speak of the first, second and third persons—‘I’, ‘you’ or ‘this’ and ‘he’, ‘she’ or it’. The first person is the reference point. When there is a reference point, then other points also appear. For instance, when we talk of the directions—north, south, east and west—there should be some reference point. Without any reference point, east, west etc. do not make any sense.
Suppose that you are up in space and moving everywhere because of zero gravity. In that zero gravity if you are asked, which is east, north or west, you cannot say because there is no reference point. But when you come down to earth, the earth becomes a reference point. From there, the sun rises in the east, the sun sets in the west. All the directions can be indicated.
Similarly, in that pure Reality, there is no division, because there is no reference point. Everything is equal everywhere. It is homogeneous pure Existence, pure Consciousness and pure Bliss. There is no I, there is no you, he, she and it.
At present we have an I-notion and since we have this notion of ‘I’ there is also the notion of ‘this’ and ‘you’. The I-notion is confined to the body. What is other than the body is called ‘this’ if it is inert and if it is a living entity that becomes ‘you’. The third person becomes ‘she’, ‘he’ or ‘it’. In these three persons—I, this and he—the third person, ‘he’ is Isvara, the second person, ‘this’ is jagat and the first person, ‘I’ is jiva. So, ‘I’ am the jiva, ‘you’ is the jagat and ‘he’ is Isvara. All these three come into existence together. It is like a mathematical equation. If one of these is there, the others come automatically. Therefore all the scriptures begin by first explaining these three.
If one talks of Isvara and of the jagat, then one also talks about various actions, the results of actions and other lokas like svarga and narak. All these concepts are born when the I-notion is born. When the I-notion is not there, like in the deep sleep state, there is no jagat and no Isvara also. This is everyone’s experience. So there is an experience within 24 hours, when temporarily for a short time, there was a state when all three were not there. If one can remain permanently in that state, all three would not have been there at all. Only when one is awake can one talk about jagat and Isvara. All these three are experienced when the I-notion is experienced.
It is the I-notion which gives rise to this notion of difference. When this I-notion dies in deep sleep, all the three get dissolved and we experience the bliss of sleep. So, the dissolution of this I-notion brings about the supreme state. And this is what all of us are directly or indirectly striving to attain. To dissolve this I-notion and remain as that non-dual Reality is our ultimate goal, because that is the Truth.
Differences are not real, they are mere appearances. If one can enjoy the appearance and nothing happens to one, then that is fine. But that is not the case. If one wants to be free of all problems, then one has to dissolve the I-thought.
With the deep sleep state, it becomes easy to understand that there is a state free of the I-notion. Therefore, everyone likes this deep sleep state. Dream states do not give us good rest. Only in the deep sleep state there is total rest. Everything gets suspended but it is only a temporary phase because the I-thought is not destroyed, it is only deactivated temporarily.
Even the state of death is not the ultimate. It is like sleep. We go to sleep in one body and wake up in another body. It is quite strange. One wakes up in a new body without even knowing that one had died. Only the others know. One knows only about one’s birth, because the deep sleep state is not something we can know. Every day we go into deep sleep but we cannot know what it is. Similarly, death is like deep sleep, we cannot know what it is. In death also the I-notion is not destroyed, so one is born again.
When we forget ourselves there is joy. This is every one’s experience. When we watch a cricket match, we forget ourselves. We have great fun. In self-forgetfulness there is joy. But if I have forgotten myself, who is enjoying? I become of the nature of joy. The I-notion goes away and joy alone remains. Suddenly you notice that your mobile phone has been stolen, then the ‘I’ comes back and so does the sorrow.
Normally we need some outer support to forget ourselves. In the pure present moment also there is no ‘I’. In adventure sports like bungee jumping, one intensely becomes aware of the present moment. For a fraction of a moment there is great joy. And for that people want to repeat the experience. Temporarily the ego stops functioning.
All the three—jiva, jagat and Isvara—are experienced when the I-notion is there. The I-notion can be dissolved permanently, through surrender or enquiry, or both and we attain the supreme state. That is the state of enlightenment. One becomes of the nature of peace and joy. There is no ‘I’ only peace and joy.