Reality is Being-Consciousness
Devotee: The world may not be conscious of itself, yet it exists.
Maharshi: Consciousness is always Self-consciousness. If you are conscious of anything you are essentially conscious of yourself.
Unselfconscious existence is a contradiction in terms. It is no existence at all. It is merely attributed existence, whereas true Existence, the sat, is not an attribute, it is the Substance itself. It is the vastu. Reality is therefore known as sat-chit, Being-Consciousness, and never merely the one to the exclusion of the other. The world neither exists by itself, nor is it conscious of its existence. How can you say that such a world is real?
And what is the nature of the world? It is perpetual change, a continuous, interminable flux. A dependent, unselfconscious, ever-changing world cannot be real.
D: Not only does Western empirical science consider the world real, but, the Vedas etc., give elaborate cosmological descriptions of the world and its origin. Why should they do so if the world is unreal?
M: The essential purpose of the Vedas etc., is to teach you the nature of the imperishable Atman, and to declare with authority “Thou art That”.
D: I accept. But why should they give cosmological descriptions spun out at great length, unless they consider the world real?
M: Adopt in practice what you accept in theory, and leave the rest. The sastras have to guide every type of seeker after Truth, and all are not of the same mental make-up. What you cannot accept treat as artha vada or auxiliary argument.
The Jnani and the World