From illusion to Knowledge!
The sage Ramana who was always abiding in the SELF!
Every thing here is illusion!
First, let us examine the term 'illusion'. It is nothing but 'imagination'. It is not real. Reality is hidden behind the illusion. Then how can we see the reality behind the illusion, is a great question. There is a prayer in Hinduism. Many seekers of God in India repeat these verses every time they start learning real knowledge from a preceptor. It was more relevant in the ancient "Gurukul", the hermitages where all students study under a preceptor, staying with the preceptor. It is purely 'residential'. The students are expected to serve the preceptor in many ways, attending to the cores as directed by the preceptor. They dine and sleep in the hermitage itself. Thus, the preceptor will have a close control over the behavior of each student.
Discipline is ensured and every student should obey the instructions of the preceptor. Here, the prince and pauper studied together doing all the manual works including collecting twigs from the forest for the hearth and also for the fire ritual. All were treated equally by the preceptor. At the end of the period of studies, which may be around 10 years, the students were allowed to return to their home, after paying "Guru Dakshina". It need not be cash or kind. The preceptor may ask anything and the student was supposed to provide it. But the preceptors during that time were never money minded. They demanded only such things which the students can provide without any difficulty. By undergoing the training there, all illusions that assail the mind of students used to vanish and the Guru taught them real Knowledge, the "Atma Vidya", which pertains to Self-Knowledge! Though the students were taught secular knowledge as well to earn their livelihood, paramount importance was giving for inculcating Self knowledge.
We have seen that illusion is nothing but imagination created by the mind. You see a 'snake' coiled in the middle of the pathway during twilight hours. You are frightened to proceed further,lest the snake may bite you. Fortunately, some one bring a torch light. You request the other man to focus the light on the 'snake' to find out whether it is of a poisonous category. But the light has revealed a coir rope left by somebody on the path. Your mind has played all the mischief.It was only coir all along which gave the impression of a snake due to poor light. In this example, perceiving the snake, when there was only a rope is an "illusion'. Now, how you are rid of the illusory fear? A light was focused on the spot to reveal a coir. Likewise, the world we see around and all the mundane activities in the world is a 'figment of imagination of the mind" It is not real.
People may doubt my sanity but i am not worried. You assert that the eyes see everything around, the ear hears all sound, you feel every thing with your skin and nose. How can we categorize this as "illusion'?. Yes Sir, I accept your argument. But listen to me kindly. In the night time, you go to bed and sleep. In the sleep, you experience many dreams which seems to be perfectly real as in the waking state. But once you wake up, you realize that every thing is a dream, an illusory experience created by the mind! You have not stirred out from your bed. Yet, you went to places, you dined with your girl friend and enjoyed all those experiences. But as you wake up, you started feeling about these illusory experiences.
The scriptures assert that when you wake up in the Self, you will find that the waking state is also akin to a dream. There is no movement in the Self since the self is all pervasive and there is no place where it is not. Hence the Self never undergoes any of the illusory experiences of the waking state. It is always FREE and FULL. It needs nothing since it is already FULL. Also the SELF alone exists and there is no second entity! Hence there is "nothing' to desire by the Self. The entire creation and Cosmos can well be explained as a 'dream of God!