“Mithyaa” is a concept seldom understood. According to our sashtras: “Sat” or “real” is defined as that which can never be absent; “asat” or “unreal” is that which can never be present. Anything we perceive in the world does not belong to either of these two categories. They are neither sat nor asat. They are there, but they will not be there. Also, they were not there. That which is neither sat nor asat, is called “mithyaa” or “illusory”.
Why illusory? First let us look at the world from the point of view of Science. The world is not at all what it appears to be. The various so-called solid objects are conglomeration of only a few kinds of elementary particles who themselves are not at all solid, and not even particles as we think. What is felt as heat, becomes, on deeper inspection, only our response to molecular motion. What is seen as multifarious colours, is only a creation of our rods and cones reacting to very limited portion of the vast electromagnetic spectrum. Similar is the case with sound and smell. In brief, the world as we see is determined by our five senses. It would have been entirely different if we could sense, say magnetic field, or infra-red or ultra-violet waves, or different kinds of forces, etc.
Now, let us try to go deeper into our perception. Beyond retina, middle ear, skin, tongue, and nose – the signals carried by the nerves to the brain are all electrical pulses. There is no colour, sound, touch, taste or smell even at this level. In the brain also, the activities are all electrical in nature. Only, the electrical pulses from different senses excite different regions of the brain in different manners. Then where from does the world picture come? It is all in the conscious mind.
It is the “revealingness” or “knowingness” that represents Consciousness. That is what makes Consciousness different from the entire material world. It reveals the world impressions; It reveals the thoughts; It reveals reasons; It reveals Itself. When we express like this, it may appear that the “revelator” is different from the “revealed”. It is not. There is nothing different from consciousness. The whole world is a jugglery in the consciousness. So, we may call it “substance”, but certainly with reservation and caution.
The world may exist outside. But what we are experiencing is all inside. Like writing in air, all the world impressions are “written” in consciousness. The world we perceive is this consciousness-world. Solid, gaseous, spatial, gross, subtle – all are concepts written in the mind with the same “mind-substance”.
Now, the final “involution”: Is not our body-mind personality an object of the world we perceive, a miniscule part of the universe? That means, the world, which includes my body-mind personality, is an appearance in the Consciousness. So, can we call the consciousness within the body? Is not the body also appearing in consciousness, like the dream-body appearing in the dreaming mind? Consciousness is within the body and without. Truly speaking, there is no within or without. It is consciousness and consciousness alone. All the objects, space, time, thoughts, even the concept of God or Reality – are appearances in the Consciousness.
If we succeed in this “involution”, the whole world (including our body-mind-intelligence personality) will vanish, leaving the Consciousness shine in its own lustre. There will not be any thoughts either.
The world is “mithyaa” in this sense. If we understand this truth deeply, and contemplate on what it means, then we will be freed of all kinds of sanga (clinging to what we like) and bhaya (fear of what we don’t want to face). Solid will remain solid, space will remain spatial, world will remain worldly with all its infinite variety, but the reality of the one uniform Consciousness on which all these varieties appear, will overwhelm the multiplicity. The Knowledge will not change the sense perceptions, but it will revolutionize our world-vision.