In Ulladu Narpadu he [the narrator of this story] found as 'the world is false' and ‘what exists is only one.’ These ideas puzzled the young man All that he had learned at the university rose up in his mind: the nature of the atom and the universe, the wonderful and great power that was stored in them; and the means employed by scientists to harness this power for everyday use.
He began to think about the book he was reading and the academic knowledge he had acquired: I am like a tiny atom in this vast universe. Why should God create me here? Where was I before I was born? Where will I be after I die, and why should I be here now? Is not everything that I see real? Am I not aware of the existence of things through my five senses?
The Maharshi says that none of these things exists. Am I not seeing the Maharshi himself sitting in front of me?'
Thoughts such as these churned his mind until he could no longer continue reading the book. He became lost in
The Maharshi then looked at the young man and asked, 'What is your doubt?'
The young man immediately sat up and, looking at the
Maharshi, replied, 'A form exists on the sofa, and another
form exists on the floor. If I open my eyes and look, the two of them are clearly visible. But you are teaching that what exists is only one. How can this be true?'
The Maharshi laughed a little and then kept quiet for some time. A few minutes later he gave the following reply.
'Don't you perform experiments in the laboratory when
you are at the university? Let us suppose that you are researching into some topic. To whatever extent the equipment you use in the experiment is subtle and precise, to that same extent the real nature of the things being studied will be known. But even if the equipment is highly sophisticated, if your vision is not normal, then the true nature of the things being studied will not be known. Even
if the vision is normal, if the brain itself is not normal,
then also the true nature of the object being studied will not be known clearly. And even if the brain is normal, if the mind does not engage itself with full attention on the experiment, knowing the truth will not be possible. So, ultimately, ascertaining the truth of an object of study is
dependent on the mind.
What is this thing that we call "mind"? Only thoughts.
But all thoughts expand from one and the same thought.
That one thought is the primary cause and basis of all other thoughts. It is the "I am the body" thought. Unless thought occurs first, the appearance of the many external objects, and the accompanying thought that they are different from oneself, will not occur. In deep sleep, where the ‘I am the body’ idea is absent, the world does appear.
Nor do other thoughts appear there. When one wakes up, it is the thought ‘I am the body’ that rises first. In this thought there are two components: one is the body and the other is ‘I’.
The body is something that appears and disappears. It keeps changing all the time and its existence is dependent on outside materials such as food.
However, the characteristic of ‘I’ is directly opposed to this.
That which truly exists must exist all the time, but the
body does not exist all the time. Therefore, it cannot be real. The ‘I’, though, exists all the time in all the three states of waking, dream and sleep. It is therefore real, whereas the body is unreal. Furthermore, these two joined together cannot constitute a real entity. How can night and day, darkness and light, exist together? If light exists, there is no darkness; if there is darkness, there is no light.
In the same way, no entity comprising the body and ‘I’ exists. Therefore, the "I am the body" thought is itself false.
If you begin to research into the world with this false
thought as the instrument, how can the truth be
discovered?' asked Bhagavan.
At that very moment the obsession that the young man had had for modern, western, scientific methods completely vanished. He understood that truth cannot be known
Mountain Path, 2004