Bhagavad Gita: Chapter 2: Verse 16
The unreal has no existence, and the Real never ceases to be; the reality of both has thus been perceived by the seers of Truth.
How can Reality be known?
In this verse, Supreme Lord Sri Krishna refers to two opposite concepts of real and unreal. It is to be understood that whatever is real is permanent, unreal is always temporary. The real does not undergo any change and it is the very cause for change. It instigates change. But, is unseen, cannot be perceived through the senses. It can only be realized if intelligence is purified and sharpened through sadhana.
If the real were not to be present or existent, there would be no scope to sense the unreal. The environment weather changes, body, etc changes. But, it is also a matter of perception that these ever-changing entities reflect in the light of something which does not change. Many generations have come and gone. The present becomes Past and the Future transforms into the Present. But this change is noticeable and perceived. Perception can happen only if there is a point of reference.
Unreal exists due to Reality
For example: When traveling in a car we notice closely the scene outside the window. After long hours of staring, it appears that the scene is traveling in the opposite direction. Now, is it the car moving or the scene? Who can tell us the reality?
The reality of the situation can only be gauged by someone who is stationary and does not move. A person standing outside can only determine that it is the car that is moving and not the scenery. The same can be said about the rotation of the planets around the Sun. Unless there is something that is considered as an absolute frame of reference, one can never locate the point of change.
All observable phenomena change and this change is detected only by the entity that is changeless. That changeless entity is the unchangeable Reality. Reality is not definable on its own. It is only inferred from that which is changing. All that is unreal has no separate existence. It is just a transformation of energy from one form to the other and noticed by the real. Without the real, the unreal would have never existed.
Bhagavad Gita: Chapter 2: Verse 17
Know that alone to be imperishable, which pervades the universe, for no one has the power to destroy the indestructible substance.
Nature of Pure Consciousness
In the light of Reality, the unreal appears. We discussed this fact in the previous segments of this article.
The apparent unreal is just a shadow of Reality. It has no separate existence of its own. Our bodies undergo constant change. Times change. People around us and their behavior towards us also undergo dramatic changes. It is in the light of consciousness that the whole dance of life occurs. We are able to perceive changes due to unchanging consciousness. Consciousness is that reality that remains unaffected. It is imperishable and cannot be perceived. But, it is that which gives scope for perception. When perception occurs, there is a split in consciousness. The observer observing the changes is Pure Consciousness. It is independent and requires nothing external to function. However, it expands. These expansions result in mind, body, senses, sense objects, sensory perceptions, thoughts, feelings, emotions, ideologies, etc. It is the shadow of consciousness which is the body, mind, and the universe. This is not pure consciousness, but a by-product.
What is the nature of Reality?
Just like in a dream, we see ourselves and others. We see, feel, smell, hear and taste in dreams. The person seeing the dream does not undergo change. He is apart from the person present in the dream. This individual reality is Pure consciousness. But, the different experiences we undergo in our dream are products of pure consciousness which undergoes change. Experiences of the senses are simple transformations within the field of consciousness. Also, it is consciousness alone that perceives these transformations.
All experiences which include our dreaming and waking states are unreal. They simply happen in the light of consciousness where consciousness is the subject, the experiencer, that which is real. That which is experienced is unreal and changeable or transformable. Consciousness is permanent and it is the substrate of the universe or even the multiverse if it were to exist.
It is that entity where there can be no change and hence it is indestructible. It is imperishable and the supreme subject. Once this becomes a realization, one will start moving towards permanence and imperishability not in terms of body or mind but in terms of knowing and towards destruction of all fear which is associated with change.
Bhagavad Gita: Chapter 2: Verse 18
All these bodies pertaining to the imperishable, indefinable and external soul are spoken of as perishable.
All possessions of Consciousness are perishable
That which animates the body is only that one Consciousness. Consciousness by itself is only one and cannot have several categories. It is like this. When the Sun shines in the sky it casts its reflection on several thousands of pots of crystal clear water placed in the open. Now, the reflected sun cannot be declared as the Sun itself. There cannot be thousands of Suns. It is the one Sun that is shining brightly outside the pot, which seems to animate in thousand different ways through the waterpots. Similarly, consciousness is only one and it is in the light of this single point that living entities appear and disappear.
Although a person dies, his body is said to be invested with several unseen and minute living entities which are animated by the same consciousness. The representation of that one consciousness has withdrawn itself. It has decided to hand over the body to the other living entities which are animated by the same consciousness. If one does not attend to the dead body, it shall decompose on its own by other minute living entities. But, if we attend to the dead body it means that other superior living entities animated by the same consciousness cremate the body and dispose of it thus. Hence consciousness presents itself in various sizes, forms, and numbers. The dead body, minute living entities, superior living bodies, etc are various forms of the One, same consciousness.
A man of high intelligence realizes that it is that one consciousness alone that has been transmuting and itself, creating the illusion of change, growth, and decay. Hence the bodies, mind, intellect, memory are perishable and all of these belong to that one imperishable and eternal consciousness alone that never changes.
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