Objective Reality of the World
Devotee: As I said before, we see, feel and sense the world in so many ways. These sensations are the reactions to the objects seen, felt etc., and are not mental creations as in dreams, which differ not only from person to person but also with regard to the same person. Is that not enough to prove the objective reality of the world?
Maharshi: All this talk about inconsistencies and their attribution to the dream world arises only now, when you are awake. While you are dreaming, the dream was a perfectly integrated whole. That is to say, if you felt thirsty in a dream, the illusory drinking of illusory water did quench your illusory thirst. But all this was real and not illusory to you so long as you did not know that the dream itself was illusory. Similarly with the waking world; and the sensations you now have, get coordinated to give you the impression that the world is real.
If, on the contrary, the world is a self-existent reality (that is what you evidently mean by its objectivity) what prevents the world from revealing itself to you in sleep? You do not say you have not existed in your sleep.
D: Neither do I deny the world’s existence while I am asleep. It has been existing all the while. If during my sleep I did not see it, others who are not sleeping saw it.
M: To say you existed while asleep, was it necessary to call in the evidence of others so as to prove it to you? Why do you seek their evidence now? Those ‘others’ can tell you of having seen the world (during your sleep) only when you yourself are awake. With regard to your own existence it is different. On waking up you say you had a sound sleep, so that, to that extent you are aware of yourself in the deepest sleep, whereas you have not the slightest notion of the world’s existence then. Even now, while you are awake, is it the world that says “I am real”, or is it you?
D: Of course I say it, but I say it of the world.
M: Well then, that world, which you say is real, is really mocking at you for seeking to prove its reality while of your own Reality you are ignorant.
You want somehow or other to maintain that the world is real. What is the standard of Reality? That alone is Real which exists by itself, which reveals itself by itself and which is eternal and unchanging.
Does the world exist by itself? Was it ever seen without the aid of the mind? In sleep there is neither mind nor world. When awake there is the mind and there is the world. What does this invariable concomitance mean? You are familiar with the principles of inductive logic, which are considered the very basis of scientific investigation. Why do you not decide this question of the reality of the world in the light of those accepted principles of logic?
Of yourself you can say ‘I exist’. That is, yours is not mere existence, it is Existence of which you are conscious. Really, it is Existence identical with Consciousness.
The Jnani and the World