Q. I don’t understand this. Why does the consciousness or oneness, as you describe, create the universe, stars, planets, and humans and trap itself into psychophysical limitation when it can stay blissfully the way it is? I mean, why all this suffering as humans, animals, and rebirths only to get back to the same thing? What’s the point of all this?
A. If you magically went back in time and asked this same question to Ramana Maharishi, I’m sure he would reply, “Who wants to know?” The first thing to understand is why this question comes up in the first place.
Before we proceed further, let me make something clear. I’m not telling you that I know you better than you know yourself. I’m not interested in you or what you believe or disbelieve. I’m simply introducing a concept. It’s just a concept. What you make of it is up to you.
You want to know the answer because you want to ensure some continuity – consciously or subconsciously. Therefore you wish to trace your origin because that gives your mind the hope that there’s is something beyond this life.
Perhaps, an afterlife of sorts that gives some psychological comfort by providing hope of continuity. Whatever the ego or what you call “me,” does everything in its capacity to ensure its survival. Although it may claim to yearn for truth, deep down, it fears annihilation.
Therefore, it wants to know why oneness creates duality. And I’m sorry to disappoint; you cannot know that. Why? Because your intellect is a product of duality. It is severely limited (I don’t mean it in the worldly sense, so please don’t take offense), and it is firmly bound to the sense of personal self.
Till that identification is dominant, and you’re tied up to the idea of yourself as the psychophysical organism living in the world only for survival, there’s no hope.
It’s like asking what was before time. Or what is outside of space. You see, these questions are wrong. There cannot be a talk of anything existing before time because existence itself is time-bound. Similarly, there can’t be anything outside space.
What would you say if I asked why do you dream? What would be your explanation? Well, you can give me a scientific reason for how it happens, but there’s no explanation of why it happens. It simply happens.
Nisargadatta Maharaj said that every cause, even the most insignificant happening around you, will eventually lead you to the origin of the universe. When you accidentally drop something like your coffee drink or pen, do you ask why?
We don’t inquire about such trivial occurrences because they are inconsequential for the ego—even the questions of god, creator, source, consciousness spring up when the mind is unsettled. Investigate into your own mind, and the answer will come.
According to Hindu scriptures, there’s a concept that the consciousness or oneness, through its will, creates a veil known as Maya. Maya creates the illusion of space, time, and causation, or duality as we know it. It projects the one consciousness as the world of names and forms.
I usually avoid talking about scriptures and traditional beliefs. When I mention words like Brahman (consciousness) or Maya, people begin intellectualizing this whole process.
Apparently, there’s something bigger than this vast creation of billions of stars, galaxies in a boundless universe. It is the human ego that is concerned about how all of this is of any purpose. There are lots of forums where people argue on these issues, which turns into a never-ending debate.
The intellect is a product of illusion, and therefore, it can never figure it out. Any explanation is just another concept to define the unknowable. The great sages say it’s possible to break the illusion, but it’s impossible to figure out how it works.
Ramesh Balsekar would often say, the created object can never know the will of the creator source. As a painting can never know why and how the painter created it.
All the concepts of suffering, rebirth, purpose, and this eternal quest to figure out life are of the illusory “me.” It wants to know because there’s a fear or a hidden desire deep down.
But the thing is that the ego can never get what it wants. It keeps chasing things, concepts, ideas in search of eternal happiness. Such questions do not come up in deep sleep because there’s no “me” to ask anything in that state.
Again, there’s nothing right or wrong about asking such questions. That will happen if it’s the will of the source or consciousness. It’s all a part of the seeker’s journey.
So to answer your question in a nutshell (and to deliberately further confuse you), there’s no point in anything, yet, in the point is everything.
Q. Does this consciousness evolve?
A. Evolution is part of phenomenality. We introduce consciousness or oneness as a concept only to explain the unexplainable. It is beyond space and time, so there’s no question of evolution.
There’s no easy way to explain this because we usually tend to think in terms of a substance occupying a physical space. But how do we conceive of something that occupies physical, psychological, including all that is known, unknown, or unknowable? It is nothing and everything at the same time.
It is all there is. It permeates all dimensions – even those that the mind can’t grasp. So how does such a “thing” evolve or expand. It simply “IS.” We occasionally use the phrase, “expand our consciousness.” It is not the consciousness that expands, but the mind. However, the mind is only an appearance or expression of consciousness.