Vedanta reiterates in each line and each statement that what we see is unreal. Adi Sankaracharya's Vivekachoodamani says that from the point of view of the Self, that is the individuality in all beings, Sarvatman - everything that is seen, heard, tasted, smelt, touched or thought about is only an appearance. It comes and goes. There is no steadiness to it, like waves in the ocean.
In this state of illusion there is no discounting anything. It is a total washout. The whole physical world of matter, the situations happening in our life, the people around us and the day-to-day objects we use have only a momentary existence.
More than any ancient book today, particle physics is proving it. Quantum physics says that everything we see around us has a wavy movement at the sub-atomic level. However, when you focus on something, it ceases to function as a wave and behaves like a particle.
In the whole flux of illusion, even the person or the individual that you call "I" is an illusion. There is no person called I, actually speaking, even though we are constantly saying, I go, I come, I speak, I feel happy, I feel sad.
The going, coming, speaking, happy and sad are all temporary actions and emotions, superimposed on the locus called I all the time. The I has no temporary and changing reality. It is permanent and one consciousness.
That this whole universe is only in the form of waves but which functions as a solid particle cannot be known by us directly. We can only read and listen to what the scientists say and make an attempt to understand it.
In the same way the reality that we see around us is only an illusion that cannot be directly seen by us. The masters who explain the words of the Upanishads can speak and write about it or try to explain it. We cannot logically understand it too, but only accept it as we accept the words spoken by someone we love and admire, meditate upon it and realise it.
We keep saying all the time that I know this, I know that. However, actually we know only this and that, but we do not know the I. Why is it so? This word I and mine etc have only a momentary identification with all the objects known.
What is the result of this understanding of the difference between what is permanent and what is temporary? Liberation from limited identification and concepts, says the Acharya. Why should I be liberated?
If that question is asked, it is like a person in prison saying, "Why should I be released from jail?" If we want to help ourselves, we have to seek liberation and that does not come without seeking or asking. Seek the Self within you, be free and experience the bliss of pure existence.
(The writer is a Sevika at Chinmaya Mission, Coimbatore and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)