Whatever we experience in the world through our eyes, ears, nose, tongue, skin and thoughts is called ‘Jagat’. It is called so because these perceptions are constantly changing. Jagat means something that moves. Brahma is that which is very big—bigger than everything that moves or doesn’t. The Atma Bodha of Sri Adi Sankaracharya identifies this Brahman as something different from this world of movement. It is that which perceives movement.
However, everything we experience in the world is constituted of movement in various frequencies—slow or rapid. Everything, in fact, is only a moving object. And the first statement says that the Brahman is different from all that which moves. So what about all that we see?
The second line of the verse states clearly, if something appears to our perception, other than Brahman, or if any object, person or situation is subject to change, transformation and variation, then it is mithya or transient. It is ephemeral. To say so does not mean that the object, people and situations are non-existent. They do exist but they do not impact us in anyway. We accept their existence as easily as we accept the untruth that the sky is blue, even though we know that it is colourless.
When we say that all appearances in this world of names and forms are illusory, what does it really mean? The master gives the example of a desert. How much ever we may go behind a mirage to quench our thirst, we are never going to find any water because it is not actually there. It only appears to be there.
The vapour molecules in the immediate atmosphere of the earth on a hot summer afternoon begin to reflect the light generated by the heat caused by the refection of the sun off the ground. The molecules are just reflecting particles and cannot conglomerate into one mass to fall as rain.
Whatever happens, whatever objects you come across through your senses, whatever situations that may confront you, especially when they become unbearable or intolerable, just know that you, the self or Brahman, is different from that. While the pain of the experience is there, the mind is calm.
How does this actually work? Suppose there is some difficult situation to deal with. There are two approaches. The first is to fret about it, contort the body and mind with disgust and approach the issue. The other is to know that the self is different from it and accost the situation with a calm state of mind, where there are no complaints and criticism but just plain action that is necessary at that time.