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Both Real and Unreal

| Nirmala | Miscellaneous

Both Real and Unreal

Published on
23 June 2009

Please feel free to contact me with email questions or comments that I will address in this blog.

Here is a question I received in an email:

I guess if I had to frame a question it would be: how can life, me, the world, etc. be so real but at the same time be so illusionary? Sometimes I see that I am just a presence, no one, and this is full and peaceful, other times I am very solid, so pulled in by it all. This is challenging.

And here is my response:

You are clearly describing the situation. This reality is kind of like a one way mirror that is transparent when you see it from one direction, but opaque and seemingly solid when you view it from the other side. From the inside of the illusion it looks solid and real, and from a more expanded and subtle perspective the same reality suddenly appears transparent and as insubstantial as a pure illusion. And no matter how many times you have experienced the bigger truth where it appears as an illusion, when you contract back into identification it all appears solid and real again.

But just as when you have been on both sides of a one-way mirror, you can begin to remember that someone might be watching you from the other side even if you can't see them, so too you can develop a sense of trust in your more subtle and clear perceptions. Then you can simply know they are real even if you are not experiencing them in this moment. We have this trust when it comes to physical objects. Even if you are not experiencing your car right now, you probably still trust that it exists. You can also trust your deeper knowings. They are even more real than physical objects, even if the experience of them comes and goes

PS: There is a wonderful article about this same topic by Alan Jacobs at I especially appreciate his point in the article that "Maya or Illusion, the powers of veiling and projection are inherent powers in Brahman". It gives a sense of how even though illusion is not real (especially in the Advaita sense where the real is that which is eternal and does not come or go), illusion is still a part of Brahman or the ultimate Reality. It is not some separate problem or mistake that needs to be rejected or denied, but an integral power or capacity of the Real that can be honored and respected and even treasured, even as its nature as illusion is discriminated. Thank you Alan for sharing your perspective.