The ‘Real’ World

The Vedic scriptures offer a variety of enchanting accounts describing the nature of the metaphysical world. In that realm, every step is a dance, every word is a song, every action is motivated by pure love, and the atmosphere is infused with ever-increasing transcendental happiness. Sounds good… maybe too good. Of course, skeptics may posit that such ideas are embraced by escapists desperately seeking solace from the immediate aches and pains of life. Could such descriptions be ethereal concepts formulated to distract us from the ‘real’ world? Are they simply fairytale accounts which constitute nothing more than childish, naïve, wishful thinking?

Once, when asked whether the guru knows everything, Srila Prabhupada replied to the affirmative. The reporter proceeded to quiz the swami on the number of windows in the Empire State Building. Srila Prabhupada gravely looked back at the reporter and countered – “how many drops of water in a mirage?” Amidst constant change, can we identify anything to be really real? Although not illusory, nobody can deny the temporality of this world. For this reason, Vedic scriptures describe this physical world as unreal – although it can be perceived by our human senses, it is constantly changing and has no endurance in the context of eternity.

The Bhagavad-gita offers a revolutionary worldview, stating that far from the spiritual world being a distraction, the actuality is that the material physical world is a distraction. To live in reality means to be fully conscious and aware of one’s identity, purpose and true home. As spiritual beings, we are not residents of London, Leicester or Leeds, but rather residents of the spiritual world. No doubt, one must attend to the immediate demands, pressures and responsibilities of life, lest we become dysfunctional non-entities in this world. However, one would do well to avoid becoming overly engrossed and captivated by the changing fashions, constant conflicts and temporal affairs of worldly life. As a wise spiritualist once quipped “don’t take the illusion too seriously!”

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