CAN PRATI-PRASAV, THE PROCESS OF GOING BACKWARDS, BE THAT OF UNLEARNING INSTEAD OF RELIVING?

They are both the same: when you relive, you unlearn. Reliving is a process of unlearning. Whatsoever you relive disappears from you. It has been unlearned, it leaves no marks, the slate is clean. You can call it a process of unlearning, it is the same.

ACCORDING TO PATANJALI, IF GOOD AND BAD ARE DREAM-LIKE, THEN HOW CAN KARMAS EXIST?

Because you believe in dreams, you believe that they are true! Karmas exist because of your belief. For example, in the night you had a nightmare: somebody was sitting on your body with a dagger in his hand and you were feeling that you were being killed, and you tried and tried to escape from the situation but it was difficult. Then just out of fear you woke up. You know now that it was a dream, but the body still continues trembling a little, perspiring. You are still afraid and you know that this was just a dream. But your breathing is not easy and natural yet. It will take a few minutes. What has happened? In the nightmare you believed that it was real. When you believe it is real, it affects you as reality.

Karmas are dream-like. You murdered somebody in your past life; that is a dream, because in the East the whole life is taken as a dream – good, bad, all. But you believe that it was real, so you will suffer. If you can come to understand right now that all that has happened was a dream, all that is happening is a dream, and all that is going to happen is a dream; only your consciousness is real, everything else that happens is a dream; the seeing is dream, only the seer is real; then suddenly all karmas are washed. Then there is no need to go into the process of prati-prasav. They are simply washed. Suddenly, you are out of them. This is the method of vedanta where Shankaracharya insists that the whole life is a dream. The insistence is not because he is a philosopher – he is not.

When he says that the world is maya, it is not a philosophy, it is not metaphysics.

It is a method. It is an understanding. If you believe in some. thing it affects you as real; your belief makes it real. If you believe that it is not real, it cannot affect you. It may even be real, but then too, it cannot affect you.

For example, you are sitting in a dark room and suddenly you see something in the room. You feel it is a snake… fear, panic. You put the light on but there is nothing, just a piece of newspaper that moved in the breeze. And you felt a snake was moving. What happened? You believed it was real, and your belief made it real – as real as any real snake – and you were affected by it. Just take the opposite case: a real snake is there the next night and you are sitting in the dark.

You see something moving and you think it must be the same piece of paper again, and you are not afraid, you are not affected. You go on sitting as if it is nothing. Reality doesn’t affect you. Reality is not the question. Belief makes it real; belief affects you. The more you become aware, the more life will look like a dream. Then, nothing affects you. That’s why Krishna says to Arjuna in the Gita, ‘You don’t be bothered, you kill. This is all a dream.’ Arjuna was afraid because he thought that these people standing in front were enemies, that they were real.

To kill them would be a sin, and to kill millions of them – how much sin would be on him! And how was he going to balance it with goodness? It would be impossible. He said to Krishna, ‘I would like to escape to the jungles. This fight is not for me. This war seems to be too much of a sin.’ Krishna went on insisting, ‘You don’t bother. Nobody dies because the soul is eternal. Only the body dies, but the body is already dead, so don’t be too disturbed. It is all like a dream, and even if you don’t kill those people, they will die. In fact, their moment of death has come and you are just to help. You are not killing them; through you, the whole is killing them. You take it as a dream. You don’t think about it as real.’

This is the whole attitude of Vedanta. Vedanta is a method in which, by and by, you become aware of the dream-like quality of life. Once you become attuned to this feeling, that all is dream, all karmas are finished. Whatsoever you did makes no sense. If in the night you were a thief or a murderer, in the night you were a monk, a saint, in the morning will it make any difference? Was the dream that you were a murderer sin, and the dream that you were a saint virtuous? Will it make any difference? Dreams are all dreams. Saint or sinner, both are dreams. In the morning both have disappeared, evaporated. You cannot make any distinction between a good dream and a bad dream, because to be good or to be bad a thing needs to be real. There is no need if you can look at life, watch it, understand it, and see that it is a great dream going on and on. Only the seer is the real, and all that is seen is the dream. Suddenly, you become aware and the whole world disappears. Not that these trees will disappear, not that you will disappear or I will disappear, but the world that you used to know disappears. A totally different reality is revealed. That reality is Brahman.

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