Advaita Vision

Advaita for the 21st Century

The Mystery - Part 4

Rarely Asked Questions
Bimal Prasad

Bimal Behari Prasad (60) is a government servant in the Government of India. As a student of Advaita, he also works for the cause of Advaita.




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5. We Are Unborn

Q27: If the substratum is Consciousness, how has the material world arisen?

Answer: There are different theories (vada). According to satkaryavada, the effect pre-exists in the cause. It was already there (sat). The sculpture pre-exists in the stone. The sculptor has only chiseled the stone so as to bring forth the sculpture. A school of thought believes that creation is similar: the non-manifest has been transformed into the empirical world. The empirical world pre-existed in the non-manifest. Contrarily, the dualism theory holds that effect is a new thing. It does not pre-exist in the cause. Thus dualism holds that the world has been created anew. On the other hand, Advaita (non-dualism) postulates vivartavada: the effect is only a manifestation or an apparent transformation of the cause. The world is a manifestation of the non-manifest, i.e., Self. The oft-quoted example is of gold and ring. Ring is essentially gold; it is only a manifestation of gold. The substratum is gold. Ring is a form superimposed on the gold. The same gold can be transformed into necklace. Existence of ring or necklace is relative and is dependent on gold.


Q28: Does it mean that there was never any creation?

Answer: Yes. The ultimate explanation is that there has never been any creation at all. This is called ajativada: the 'unborn' theory. There is no creation:-, the world is non-different from the Self.


Q29: How is the no-creation theory consistent with the theory that the substratum of everything is Consciousness? Answer: Consciousness is the substratum of everything. It follows that essentially there is no duality. Everything is Consciousness. Everything is the manifestation of the Self (Consciousness). Now the Self is ever-existent. It is unborn. One which is ever present cannot be born. Who will give birth to or create the Consciousness? Whatever there seems to be has to be Consciousness only.


6. Ego


Q30: Ego is a much talked about subject, yet there is confusion. Can you explain what it is?

Answer: There are many definitions of Ego in circulation. Dictionaries define the Ego in some manner; philosophers and psychologists have different takes for Ego. Religious scriptures have also commented on what the Ego is. The Concise Oxford English Dictionary defines Ego as “a person's sense of self-esteem or self-importance”. Our mind is conditioned by various ideas, opinions, beliefs, which we have piled up over a period through various sources: parents, teachers, society etc. These are registered in our memory. We identify ourselves with these memories and we assume our personality accordingly. The mind is a storehouse of memories. And ego is a function of mind. Thus modifications (vrittis) in the mind determine the nature of ego.


Q31: Is there any mechanism to control the ego?

Answer: Ego is a function of mind. The best way to control the ego is by watching the thinker. What happens then is that Consciousness gets disengaged from mind and is not identified with prejudices etc. We are in a position to understand that the emotions are arisings within the Consciousness and are transient. As a result, the ego loses its intensity.


Q32: What is the connection between ego and negative emotions?

Answer: Whenever we are under the influence of negativity, such as anger and jealousy, the higher faculty of intellect takes a back seat which leads to a wrong notion that negativity will get us what we desire. And paradoxically, we ‘enjoy’ the negativity. The reason for this paradoxical situation is that we are not alert. We should be alert the moment the ‘desire’ arises. Then we will be able to deal with the negativity in an appropriate manner.


Q33: Is ego not the driving force of action? Why should it be controlled?

Answer: Skeptics would argue that if we do not have an ego (read self-esteem or self-identity) there is no driving force for our action. We will become lazy and non-performers. This apprehension is misplaced. What happens is that when we are free from ego, we are free from our prejudices and are more objective. Action is not given a go-by. Action is there but our viewpoint is action oriented and not result oriented. We act in the best possible manner as per the demands of the situation.


Q34: What is the relationship between ego and unhappiness?

Answer: Unhappiness is an ego-created mental-emotional phenomenon. It is the inner equivalent of the environmental pollution of our planet. Emotions can emanate from the ego and also, when the mind is free from ego, we are more objective. Ego based emotions have negative effect; whereas, ego free emotions have positive effect, i.e., unhappiness and happiness respectively.


Q35: What is the relationship between love and ego?

Answer: In the book, Back To Truth: 5000 years of Advaita, Dennis Waite has stated: “In the material world, what is taken as love tends to be ego-related, as is the case with most other aspects of life. We need to feel that our existence has some meaning. Being loved and valued makes our lives seem worthwhile. In true love we lose our sense of ego. When love transcends its narrow egotistical sense, it is yet another facet of truth, happiness and beauty. Love of another person is then the recognition of our Being in the presumed 'other'.


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Page last updated: 22-May-2016