“O mind, everything of this world is tasteless and in Rama there is full sweetness. Tulsi gives this advice to you day and night.” (Dohavali, 51)
re mana saba soṃ nirasa hai sarasa rāma soṃ hohi |
bhalo sikhāvana deta hai nisi dina tulasī tohi ||
In Vedic philosophy the material existence is likened to a dream. We have no control over what happens during the dreaming state. It occurs during a period of rest, where the subtle body consisting of mind, intelligence and ego become the shelter for the soul. The escape from the gross senses is so strong that an alarm may not even be loud enough to break the sleeping state.
Within a dream so many things happen. The scene seems real and the emotions surely are. The latter we know because when we wake up our heart can be pounding. We can be emotionally affected by the dream throughout the day. Yet the objects and settings vanish upon waking up. It is then realized that the objects only existed temporarily. They weren’t real.
“How is this an accurate comparison to the material existence? Isn’t the dream part of that existence? If I can make a distinction between sleeping and being awake, doesn’t it mean that I exist? If the whole thing is a dream, what is the opposite state? What is real if everything is an illusion?”
The comparison to the dream is used because matter is temporary in its manifestation. Matter is dull and lifeless. These descriptions have meaning only when there is something that is vibrant and full of life. The presence of the shadow means that light must be somewhere. The dreaming means there is a state of full alertness also. In the same way, when there is something that is inanimate, there must be something that animates it.
That animating force is the spirit soul. We learn of its qualities in the Bhagavad-gita, which summarizes Vedanta philosophy. The soul is full of life, blissful and knowledgeable. It can never be destroyed. There is no such thing as dreaming for the soul, since it never goes dormant.
acchedyo 'yam adāhyo 'yamakledyo 'śoṣya eva canityaḥ sarva-gataḥ sthāṇuracalo 'yaṁ sanātanaḥ
“This individual soul is unbreakable and insoluble, and can be neither burned nor dried. He is everlasting, all-pervading, unchangeable, immovable and eternally the same.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 2.24)
Then what is the sleeping state? It describes a difference in condition for the material body only. The soul is alive throughout. Moreover, the comparison to the dream helps to give the conditioned soul information on how to reclaim its constitutional position. The soul is always an animating force, but depending on where it ends up it could have its properties covered. A person may be very strong in real life, but in the dream they could get overpowered by something much weaker. The dream means that the change in situation is not permanent, and in the same way the soul may find itself in different material bodies, but it is not affected.
anāditvān nirguṇatvātparamātmāyam avyayaḥśarīra-stho 'pi kaunteyana karoti na lipyate
“Those with the vision of eternity can see that the soul is transcendental, eternal, and beyond the modes of nature. Despite contact with the material body, O Arjuna, the soul neither does anything nor is entangled.” (Lord Krishna, Bg. 13.32)
Since matter is temporary in its manifestation, there are many ways to compare the material existence. We can use the example of a movie. Let’s say that we are watching one. We may be in the middle of it; a fact we know based on the allotted time given. Though we are at some point in the timeline, the movie is actually over. It has ended already. We simply haven’t reached that point in our viewing experience yet. The movie was shot previously, and it has its final destination set. There is nothing we can do to change it.
In the same way, our life is already over. In fact, everything we see around us is destroyed. It has vanished into thin air. That giant building we see in the horizon has crumbled to the ground. The torrential downpour outside has moved on and left sunlight in its wake. The snow remaining from yesterday’s blizzard has melted away. All of our possessions are gone and we have moved on to another body.
dehino 'smin yathā dehekaumāraṁ yauvanaṁ jarātathā dehāntara-prāptirdhīras tatra na muhyati
“As the embodied soul continually passes, in this body, from boyhood to youth to old age, the soul similarly passes into another body at death. The self-realized soul is not bewildered by such a change.” (Lord Krishna, Bg. 2.13)
A wise person doesn’t put too much value in something that will not remain for long. In fact, if I know that something won’t be important to me in the distant future, I might not keep it with me. Goswami Tulsidas says that everything of this world is devoid of taste, nirasa. This word can also mean “detachment.” In this verse from the Dohavali the poet gives advice to the mind, saying that everything of this world is tasteless. We should not have attachment to things that are temporary.
On the flip side, Tulsidas says there is full taste in Shri Rama. As sarasa is the opposite of nirasa, this word can also mean “to have attachment.” The poet gives this advice to the mind day and night. Repetition is necessary to get a point across. As this material existence is like a dream or a movie that has already finished, it is not surprising that we are victims of forgetfulness. We hear that matter is temporary, but we soon forget, as our mind moves on to thinking about something else.
Rama is full of sweetness, as He is the Supreme Personality of Godhead. He will remain with us in the future. This is the law that He has created. He travels with every creature through His expansion of the Supersoul. The Supersoul rests within the heart of every living entity, regardless of whether they are awake or dreaming. Whether they believe in Him or not, Shri Rama accompanies them wherever they go.
Attachment to Rama means finding happiness that transcends birth and death. Since He appears to us in this dreamlike existence, He is the only reality. He is the cause of the creation, and He annihilates it as well. He can permanently remove our ignorance and rescue us from this constant dreaming, this illusion that we’ll be happy without consciousness of Him.
Though now in movie’s timeline some,
Know that its end has already come.
Previously shot the scenes each,
Just that point we have yet to reach.
Material existence, of everything we’re fond,
Of the same nature, already gone.
Supreme Lord and soul objects real,
Escape the dream and real sweetness feel.