Who Creates What?

Hi Ted
I am a student of shining world since 3 years ago- that’s where I found your brilliant satsangs and a link to your website.

I have read “your story” today and, wow, it looks like exact copy of “my story” :-).  I even have similar photo from my yoga obsession times but in lotus headstand :-).

I need help with practical understanding of objects, perception and Ishvara. I had read all satsangs and books, watched all Ramji’s videos 100 times and still can’t get few things.

My confusion started with location of object exercise. To put it simply, I am not sure now, when I look through the window, if I see a world of objects or thoughts/vrittis in my mind?


Ted: What you see directly are vrittis, or thought-waves that have modified to the form of the objects perceived by the eyes. These objects are not simply projections of the apparent individual, but are themselves dependently-existent entities within the context of vyavaharika satyam, the transactional order of reality that is accessible to all apparent individuals—who are themselves apparent objects existing within the transactional reality. Vyavaharika satyam is what we conceive of as God’s creation or Isvara-shrishti. It is Brahman or pure awareness conditioned by maya in its most dense manifest form.


Vlad: Ramji often says that there is nothing outside my perception, objects are just thoughts of objects and if I am not aware of something, it doesn’t exist. It seems very subjective. I can infer that there is a world outside of my mind?


Ted: Assuming the last sentence was a question rather than a statement, the answer is, yes, you can infer that there is a world outside the mind associated with the mind-body-sense complex of the apparent individual person you seem to be, the one asking the question.


What James means when he equates the existence of an object with your awareness of it is that, as explained, we only indirectly experience objects as thought-forms appearing in our mind. And when he says that any object of which you are unaware doesn’t exist, he means that for you the object is “as good as” non-existent or “as though” non-existent.


To be honest, there is no way to verify that anything exists outside of the apparent individual’s mind. But, assuming that history has happened and stretches further back in time than the present individual’s date of birth, inference—which is a valid means of knowledge—would seem to suggest that the “surrounding” world in which the apparent person finds himself situated enjoys a greater expanse of existence than the range of that apparent individual’s perception.


Scripture corroborates this view through its presentation of three orders of reality: vyavaharika satyam, pratibhasika satyam, and paramarthika satyam.


As explained, vyavaharika satyam is the transactional order of reality. It is the gross, physical reality whose existence is not dependent on the perception of apparently sentient beings. The objects inhabiting the transactional reality are accessible to everyone living within its context. It is what we most commonly think of as the manifest universe—although, technically, even subtle objects, such as thoughts and feelings, are manifest objects. It is referred to as Isvara-shrishti or God’s creation.


Pratibhasika satyam is the subtle order of reality that comprises the apparent individual’s “inner” experience. It includes sensations, emotions, cognitions, memories, dreams, fantasies, desires, fears, beliefs, opinions, and judgments. These phenomena arise from the apparent individual’s vasanas and are further colored by his raga-dveshas (i.e., likes and dislikes) and vasana-influenced values. The objects appearing within this order of reality are available only to the apparent individual within whose mind they are arising. They are, moreover, highly subjective in the sense that they constitute the apparent individual’s subjective or personal vasana-influenced interpretation and evaluation of God’s creation. And since the apparent individual’s interpretation and evaluation of the objects he encounters is what basically determines the quality of his experience, pratibhasika satyam is referred to as jiva-shrishti or the apparent individual’s creation.


Paramarthika satyam is pure awareness. It is the “light” of consciousness that lends existence to all objective phenomena, subtle and gross, appearing within its scope. It is the vastu, the one real “thing,” whose nature is sat-chit-ananda and whose limitless conscious being is the adhishthanam, the substratum, upon which all objects depend for their existence, but whom itself is entirely independent of all objects. It is the unborn, eternal being in which exist both orders of apparent or dependent reality—vyavaharika satyam and pratibhasika satyam.


Though it is not true to say that all objects are the projections of a particular apparent individual’s mind, it is true that all objects arise within and depend for their existence upon pure, limitless awareness. Moreover, given the non-dual nature of reality—what is real, after all, is by definition the irreducible foundation of all that is—awareness is necessarily the nimitta-karana, the intelligent cause, as well as the upadana-karana, the “substanceless substance” that is the material cause, of the manifest universe. And since your own true identity can only be pure, limitless awareness, the essential being of everything that is, all objects can only be considered existent inasmuch as they exist within you.
Vlad: Vedanta says – jnani sees objects as mirage.
Is it because he sees that objects are vrittis in the mind or because he understands that objects are made of elements, which are awareness?


Ted: Both. And in either case, the essential nature of the objects is the same awareness. Vrittis are composed of subtle elements and tangible objects are composed of gross elements.


Just as waves are modifications of the water that comprises the ocean, so vrittis or thoughts are modifications of pure awareness effected by vikshepa shakti, the projecting power of maya. Similarly, the gross elements are nothing other than awareness after its having undergone the process of grossification known as panchikarana and, thus, the objects composed of them are essentially nothing other than modifications of awareness as well.


Vlad: It’s like there are 2 mayas and 2 types of objects (mind and physical reality) and I can’t put it together.


Ted: Hopefully, the previous explanation helps make sense of it. There is only one maya or conditioning agent, which effects the manifestation of awareness at two different levels of densification.

Vlad: If I accept that mithya is only what appears in my mind, and world of objects is made from sense perception by sense organs conditioned by vasanas like it is with thoughts and emotions, that’s easy to accept.


Ted: Mithya or apparently/dependently-existent is the ontological status of both what appears in the mind and what appears in the surrounding world. Neither vyavaharika satyam nor pratibhasika satyam are actually sat. Brahman-atma or pure, limitless awareness is the only reality.


Vlad: I never had problem with negating sheaths.


Ted: Just remember that annamaya kosha (i.e., the food sheath or physical body) is gross matter, while pranamaya kosha (i.e., the vital air sheath), manomaya kosha (i.e., the non-discriminatory mind-emotion-memory sheath), and vijnanamaya kosha (i.e., the discriminative intellect-ego sheath) are subtle matter.


Vlad: I can also just negate this confusion because it is made of thoughts in me…


Ted: Yes, this confusion is not real. Nevertheless, the apparent individual does experience it…until it is mentally resolved into awareness.


Vlad: …but then Vedanta accepts the empirical world beyond the mind of jiva like in a creation theory and I keep reading about how elements evolved before jivas and I don’t know how to relate to it.


Ted: The jiva or apparent individual is nothing more than an object appearing within you, awareness. The elements necessarily evolved before the jiva, of course, otherwise there would be neither any subtle or gross substance of which the jiva’s mind-body-sense complex could be composed. Still, you, awareness, had to exist prior to the elements, for all objects—even time and space themselves, which are the two subtlest objects—require a “field” of being in which their existence can be recognized and measured.

Vlad: Do objects depend on jiva/perceiver/subtle body or only on awareness?


Ted: The material existence of all objects depends only on awareness. Subtle objects are colored by the raga-dveshas and vasana-influenced values of the jiva.


Vlad: When we talk about clay and pot, is it about vrittis in the mind or “creation” in general?


Ted: As an analogy, the image refers to both levels of existence or ontological orders. The clay represents awareness and the pot represents the modification of awareness brought about by the conditioning influence of maya. The modification may be either a tangible or a subtle object. In either case, however, the modification has only apparent status. Thus, the clay is sat or real and the pot is mithya or apparent (i.e., dependently real). Both the tangible objects that comprise vyavaharika satyam or “creation,” which is actually experienced as vrittis in the mind, and the subtle objects that comprise pratibhasika satyam or subjective psychological phenomena, which are also experienced as vrittis in the mind, are mithya. The “light” of awareness that illumines the mind is that which alone is sat.

Thank you


All the best,