Advaita Vision

Advaita for the 21st Century

The Dream Problem
Part 16

by Dr. R.V. Khedkar, edited by Ram Narayan


flower picture


The Dream Problem, by Dr. R. V. Khedgar, edited by Ram Narayan, published 1922 by Practical Medicine, Delhi.

Read Part 15

(Compiled from the Dreamer’s notebook and elucidated by the editor)



(Not included in the 3 dialogues of the Dreamer and Vasishta)

SAGE: Now, tell me the result of your meditation on our last discourse. I hope to find you this time greatly improved and fairly advanced in knowledge.

DREAMER: To tell you the truth, the more I study philosophy and ponder over the subject, the more am I confounded. It seems to me that the knowledge of the Ultimate Truth is beyond human conception and it is only beating about the bush to search after a thing that is inaccessible. By this, I do not mean to say that Truth does not exist, but that the claim of one who says that he has known it, is a self-deception. After taking so much pain and spending a vast amount of brain energy, a philosopher, I think comes to know only that he knows nothing. He may be proud of this knowledge and call himself superior to an ordinary man who does not know that he knows nothing, but truly speaking, there is no difference between the two.

SAGE: Your definitions of a philosopher and an ordinary ignorant man are quite correct, but don’t you be deceived by the idea that because the Reality can not be handled, touched, smelt, tasted, heard, or seen as a material object, it is unknowable. With the help of your five senses, you can know the objects of this world that surrounds you, but the underlying Reality, the noumenon or support of the phenomenal world, is beyond the reach of the senses, and as the material scientist relies on his senses alone, he cannot know it. The philosopher, who has progressed a step higher than the scientist, relies on his intellect and as the intellect also has a limited power beyond which it cannot go, the philosopher, too, at times feels disheartened and thinks that the Ultimate Truth is unknowable. I assure you, on the authority of my own intuitional knowledge as well as that of other illumined souls, that man can realize the Reality. But one who has known cannot communicate it to others for want of means. Even the knowledge acquired by the five senses that are common to all cannot be communicated to others. You cannot tell the taste of butter to a man who has never tasted it or communicate the idea of colors to a man born blind. All that a teacher can do is to tell his disciple that method of knowing the Truth or the path that leads to the unfoldment of intuitional faculty. In your case, I tell you that you are pursuing the right course most suitable to your temperament and are very near the goal and as soon as the last obstacle of doubts in your path is removed, you are sure to develop the intuitional knowledge in you provided you do not stop short and give up the search. I wonder what has discouraged you at this stage of your progress.

DREAMER: The cause of my disappointment is, I think, my fondness for the study of western sciences and philosophy. When I read works written by the most advanced scientific philosophers of the day and find them declaring that either there is no Ultimate Reality, or if there is, it can never be known by mortals, I feel quite discouraged and think that when men like the authors of these books could not fathom the Truth, how could I, who know so little of the recent advances made in science and philosophy, discover it.

SAGE: In the first place, do not think that all the authors of the books that you have read failed to know the Truth. Many who adopted the right method of research might have realized it, but for want of suitable means, have failed to explain it to your satisfaction, or it may be, that some defect in you prevented yourself from comprehending their meaning and so their books failed to produce an impression upon your mind.

Science, philosophy, and religion, are all good means for developing intuitional knowledge. The method of science is experiment and its success is based on the right use of senses. The method of philosophy is speculation and the success in it is dependent on the right exercise of the intellect. And, the method of religion is emotional and its success depends on the strict adherence to certain moral and esthetical rites. They all lead to one result, viz., to develop in you the power of intuition, which means direct cognition of the inner or true nature of things. In the case of the five senses, you cannot see a thing without the help of the eye and light, nor can you hear a sound without the ear and the air, but intuition gives you the power of sensing direct without any medium.

One class of scientists, the so-called positivists or realists, who rely on their senses alone and would not listen to any authority, are creating doubts in you. They go on searching after the Truth in the objective or outside world and believe that if they have not yet been able to discern the final cause of creation, it is because they do not yet possess sufficiently powerful instruments and that when such means or instruments are discovered, they will be able to see the Reality just as clearly as they see the inner structure of a cell with the help of a microscope. When they are told that the Ultimate Reality is immaterial and too subtle to be known by their material instruments, they argue as follows: ‘Science going by the same path that it has traversed up to now, will discover the Ultimate Truth, also. Five hundred years ago, they say, they did not know of the existence of America. Fifty years ago, they did not know of the existence of bacteria. Fifteen years ago, they did not know of the existence of radium. But America, bacteria, and radium, have all been discovered now. Similarly, and by the same methods, and by such methods only, will be discovered everything that is to be discovered. The apparatuses are being perfected and the methods, processes, and observations, are being improved. What they did not even dream a hundred years ago, has now become common knowledge and a well understood fact. Everything that is possible to be known will become known in this manner.’

With such reasoning, the astronomers are busy making more and more powerful telescopes to discover all the stars in the heaven, and in fact, they do see new stars each time they construct a more powerful telescope. But will they succeed by this process in finding out even the entire group of stars in the sky, what to say of their Creator? No; the more powerful a telescope is used, the more new stars will come into view. This branch of the experimental science is very interesting, no doubt, in so far as to keep men engaged and to have the pleasure of being called discoverers of new stars, but it can never solve the problem of Ultimate Reality by this method.

We do not deprecate the scientific method. We admire its so-called practical utility and what the scientists are doing. They have achieved great things in all departments. They can photograph the skeleton within the human body and find out the bullet lodged in deep tissues invisible to the naked eye. They can cure diseases that were once considered incurable, by electricity and other new means and devices they have now discovered. They can make a floating mine that can be controlled from a distance by means of electrical waves and can thus annihilate in a moment, hundreds of lives. They can communicate with people thousands of miles away by wireless telegraphy. But can they tell what the man standing near them is thinking about? They may weigh, sound, or photograph the man as much as they like, but can never know his thoughts unless he himself tells them.

The sphere of action of the scientist is confined to the objective world. In the subjective world, he can never penetrate unless he changes his method of investigation and turns his attention in the opposite direction. The eastern investigators, who penetrated deep into the subjective world, tell you to direct your searchlight or investigating faculties towards the center, or origin of the objective world, which lies inside yourself and where the seer and the Creator of the outer objects is lying hidden. With the knowledge of the knower, or sakshi, the mystery of the known will be cleared up. The method of science, by the study of the objective world alone, will take you far away from the Reality.

Imagine a man sitting in a moving picture show who knows nothing of the mechanism of the cinematograph working behind him. Suppose he wants to find out the cause of the appearance of the scenery in front of him. He may spend his whole life in studying and analyzing the moving figures and the screen upon which they appear and may form all sorts of theories and hypotheses, but he can never know wherefrom the pictures are coming, where are they going, and why are they changing. The study of the pictures and screen will never disclose the source from which they originate. Turn your back towards the picture show, says the inventor of the cinematograph, and see what is going on in the lantern behind you. Similarly says the Creator of the phenomenal universe, as well as those who have heard and known Him, the cause of the objective world lies inside you and can be known by what is called introspection. The cinematographic machinery is your head and the big projecting lenses represent your eyes through which the spiritual light (consciousness) and the images of the pictures (mental impressions) are thrown forward on the screen (space or akasha). Inside the lantern (your head), lies rolled up the film (brain cells or mind) and, behind all in the center, is the electric flame (atman), the source of light. This analogy of the cinematograph is meant to give you a conception or an idea of the origin of the phenomenal world. It explains its nature in many respects, but it should not be carried too far.

Read Part 17

Page last updated: 03-Nov-2013