A Dream Within A Dream

All that we see or seem is but a dream within a dream (Edgar Allan Poe)

Nothing, whatsoever, is born either of itself or of another. Nothing is ever produced whether it be being or a non-being or both being and non-being.

Śaṅkara: For this reason, also, nothing whatsoever is born. That which is (supposed to be) born cannot be born of itself, of another or of both. Nothing, whether it be existing or non-existing, or both, is ever born. Of such an entity, birth is not possible in any manner whatsoever.  Nothing is born out of itself, i.e., from its own form which in itself has not yet come into existence.

Unborn Commentarius: For this section it’s best to bear in mind the above quote from Edgar Allan Poe. We are nothing but the dreams of a Buddha, no more, no less. The above kārikā could equally have been stated by Nāgārjuna: no-thing is born of being nor non-being, or [neither both being and non-being]. Thus, as stated in our introductory blog to this series this final section undoubtedly has considerable Buddhist influence and terminology. There is no existence or non-existence, or both existence nor non-existence. Nothing can be born out of nothingness. Hence, there is no birth, there is no death—none but in the depths of the dreaming mind.

The mind is not related to the (external) objects. Nor are the ideas which appear as external objects, reflections upon the mind. It is so because the objects are nonexistent and the ideas (which appear as external objects) are not separate from the mind.

Śaṅkara: Because there are no external objects as cause, the mind does not relate itself to external objects which are supposed to be the cause of the subjective impression. Nor is the mind related to the ideas which appear as external objects, as the mind, *like the dream-mind, is identical with such ideas. It is because the external objects such as sound, etc., perceived in the waking state, are as unreal as dream-objects, for reasons stated already. Another reason is that the ideas appearing as external objects are not different from the mind. It is the mind alone which, as in dream, appears as external objects such as the jar, etc.

* Like, etc-—In dream one experiences various external objects. But it is found in the waking state that it is mind alone which appears as objects seen in dream. The mind is identical with these ideas. Therefore there cannot be any causal relation between the mind and the ideas.

Unborn Commentarius: The old notion of cause and effect is rendered moot in this passage. How can a non-existent cause produce an equally unreal effect? All there is in apparent sensual realms (or even in the non-form realms) are not based on something substantial. They are figments of a dreaming mind in pluralized stenosis. Yet, one can argue that solidity exists in the waking state—how can one argue against this assertion? Thus, the Zen Master “asks the adept ‘What is the hard and fast body of reality?’ ANSWER and I will hit you ten times, fail to answer and I will still hit you ten times!” The answer behind this koan demonstrates that even an illusion can hit back hard and fast! Yet, physical laws do not deter from the hard body of Reality THAT is divorced from all physicality, since the latter is subject to finite principles which dissipate in time—there is no dissipation in the Unborn, since IT is the hallmark of Prior-ness Itself.

The body active in dream is unreal as the other body, quite distinct from it, is perceived. Like the body, everything, cognised by the mind, is unreal.

Śaṅkara: The body, which appears to be wandering in the dream, is unreal; for, another body, quite different from it, is seen in the spot where the dreamer lies. As the body perceived in the dream is unreal, so also all that is cognised by the mind, even in the waking state, is unreal; for, all these perceived objects are mere different states of the mind. The significance of this chapter is that even the waking experiences, on account of their ‘being similar’ to the dream experiences, are unreal.

Unborn Commentarius: Cognition cannot be trusted. It is merely a mechanism of the imaginative-mind lost in its own phantasmagoric substructure. What is apparently cognized are perceptions drawn upon from prior experiences within the Alaya-receptacle. Whereas Supra-cognition is a faculty of the Tathatic Mind THAT perpetually and Solely Recollects the Unborn Principle in the Undivided spirit of Bodhi in the realm of Dharmadhātu.

As the experience (of objects) in dream is similar to the experience (of objects) in the waking state, therefore it is thought that the waking experiences are the cause of the dream-experiences. On account of this reason, the waking experiences (supposed to be the cause of the dream) appear as real to the dreamer alone (but not to others).

Śaṅkara: For this reason also, the objects experienced in the waking state are unreal. The dream experiences, like the waking ones, are characterised by the subject-object relationship. *On account of this similarity of perception, the waking state is said to be the cause of the dream state. In other words, it is contended that the dream state is the effect of the waking one which is the cause. If that be the case, i.e., if the dream be the effect of waking experiences, then the waking experiences are real to the perceiver of the dream alone (i.e., who takes the dream to be real) and to no one else. The**purport of this Karika is that the dream appears to us real, that is to say, dream objects appear as objects of common experience and therefore real to the dreamer alone. So also the experiences of the waking state, being the cause of the dream, appear as if they were within the common experience of all and therefore real. But the objects perceived in the waking state are not the same to all.

* On account, etc.—In the dream state, dream objects appear as real. To the dreamer, the dream state is the waking state. One knows the dream state to be unreal only from the waking state.  As a matter of fact, we are aware of a succession of waking states alone. When we know a previous, waking state to be unreal, we call it dream state. Without dream one could not know the waking state to be real. Similarly one could not know the waking state as real without the unreal dream state. We speak of the waking state as the cause of the dream state on account of the cognition of the subject-object idea present in both the states. But, really speaking, there is no causal relation between the two states. The waking state appears real only to him who looks upon dream also as real and who seeking a cause for the dream, takes the waking state as the cause of the dream.

** The purport, etc.—It may be contended that dream experience is private, its objects and actions being cognised by the dreamer and none else. But the waking experience is not private. It is universal. But this is not a fact. The dream universe has not only its suns, moons, and stars, but also its human denizens who perceive them as our fellow-beings of the waking universe do in the waking world. The distinction of private and public to mark the objects of one state from those of the other is futile. The truth is that as in the dream, the action of the mind creates the idea of a universe with the sun, the moon, friends and foes, etc., similarly in the waking state also the mind creates the idea of a universe with all its contents.

Unborn Commentarius: It’s all a dream within a dream. The dreaming mind is constitutive of night-consciousness and the wakeful mind is constitutive of day-consciousness—but it’s all one-consciousness just being played out on different planes of awareness.

Thus the mind is never subject to birth or change. All beings are, thus, free from birth. Those who know (the Truth) are never subject to false knowledge.

Śaṅkara: Thus, that is to say, for the reasons stated above, the mind is free from birth. Similarly the Dharmas, that is, the Jivas, are also unborn. This is the statement of the Knowers of Brahman. The *word ‘‘Dharmāh” (i.e., “Selves’’) is metaphorically used in the plural sense; in consequence of our perception of variety which is, in reality, the appearance of the non-dual Ātman as different corporeal beings. Those who know the consciousness stated above, which is the essence of the Self, non-dual and free from birth, etc., and, accordingly, renounce the hankering after all external objects,–they do not fall any more into this ocean of the darkness of Avidya. The Sruti also says, “Where is grief or delusion for the one that realises non-duality?”

*The word, etc-—The Ultimate Reality cannot be said to be one or many. For, these predicates, being correlatives, apply to the relative world. The word ‘‘Dharmāh”’ has been used in the plural number to indicate that all that exists is Ātman. If one sees multiplicity, it is also the non-dual Ātman. The reflections of the sun, caught in the millions of waves and bubbles, are nothing but the reflection of the self-same sun. Similarly the same Ātman alone is perceived whether as objects of our waking state, or the ideas of dream or the undifferentiated, consciousness of dreamless sleep.

Unborn Commentarius: Truth be told, the Unborn is neither one nor many—these terms only apply to relative planes. The Unborn is plane-less (both in the Absolute and relative sense) and thus is subordinate to no-one. Best to dissolve Ātman as well since it can be perceived as objective in both sleep and waking states. This is where the rubber meets the road as Buddhaic-truth leaves Advaita notions of One in the dust; since it is still dependent upon two or many for its contrasted meanings. You see, there’s still a bifurcation between [non-dual] Ātman and its purported manifestations in the created order.

As a fire-brand, when set in motion, appears as straight, crooked, etc., so also Consciousness, when set in motion, appears as the perceiver, the perceived, and the like.

Śaṅkara: In order to explain the truth regarding the Ultimate Reality already stated, it is thus said:—As in common experience it is noticed that a *fire-brand  when moved, appears straight, crooked, etc., so does Consciousness appear as the perceiver, the perceived, and the like. What is that which appears as the perceiver, the perceived, etc.? It is Consciousness set in motion. There is no motion in Consciousness. It only appears to be moving. This appearance is due to Avidya or ignorance. No motion is possible in Consciousness which is ever immovable. It has already been stated that Consciousness is unborn and immovable.

* Fire-brand, etc.—If a fire-brand be moved swiftly it makes a circle, a straight line, or a crooked line according to the movement. When the fire-brand is moved, it does not really make any figure. In reality, there is only a point which appears as various figures.

**Consciousness: Motion in Consciousness makes it appear as the perceiver, the perceived, etc. There is no motion, really speaking, in Consciousness. The ignorant only imagine illusory subjects and objects which are the basis of our sense-perception.

Unborn Commentarius: A “fire-brand” can be any object that can be sent ablaze from one originating-point. The Amala-consciousness cannot move; it only appears as such when some modus operandi is propelled into motion. IT is motionless yet can be swift as a lightning-flash when self-induced; this is a tiny marvel in itself as a simple profanity uttered in your mouth can transform IT into so many Self-Empty images—a real spit in the face of the Unborn Essence.

They alone are said to be of the highest wisdom who are firm in their conviction of the Self, unborn and ever the same. This, ordinary men cannot understand.

Śaṅkara: That this knowledge of the Supreme Reality is incapable of being understood by the poor intellect, by the unwise, i.e., by persons of small intellect who are outside the knowledge of Vedanta,—is thus explained in this verse. Those few, even though they may be women or others, who are firm in their conviction of the nature of Ultimate Reality, unborn and undivided, are alone possessors of the highest wisdom. They alone know the essence of Reality. Others, i.e., persons of ordinary intellect, cannot understand their ways, that is to say, the Supreme Reality realised by the wise. It is said in the Smriti:—‘‘Even the gods feel puzzled while drying to follow in the footsteps of those who: leave no track behind, of those who realise themselves in all beings and who are always devoted to the welfare of all. They leave no track behind like the birds flying through the sky.”

Unborn Commentarius: This speaks volumes in itself and is clearly in league with our teachings on the Unborn. Yea, even the gods are left scratching their heads as to the wonderment of any man, woman, or simple child who is akin to this Unborn and Undivided Reality. Yea, they are neither conceivable nor perceivable—soaring like nuclear birds on the trackless sky.


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