When we perceive the external world with our eyes, it assumes the qualities of having form and color. These are the visual images of what is seen. We do not know whether the external world has the forms exactly as we see them or has the colors it seems to have. After all, our visual world results from the impact of light, and that light appears to us as objects.
The fact that we see objects does not alter the substantial reality of light. This is why Vedanta qualifies the world as existing as eidetic or representational, which they call vivartam, and that the world is not a real transformation of any substance as such.
The psychobiochemistry of the brain is such that the quality of “red” arises when the impact of light on it is of a certain quantum. What is it that really makes a red rose — ‘red’? It is the pigments which are controlled by their genetics. Red roses have two main color pigments. Pink and yellow. When these are layered in the right way and where the pigments are intense, we get a bright red rose.
Now the question arises why do these pigments give rise to a certain color? What establishes the reality of a thing is a sound knowledge of the feasibility of a system which reveals its coordinated structure which reasonably explains its function. Thus, reality has an innate integrity. It can be seen in the inherence of an operational force with which a minute particle preserves its nature and identity. The intrinsic identity of a thing’s uniqueness is its dharma.
Dharma is not subject to change. It is defined in Sanskrit as ‘Dharyate iti Dharma:’ — That which makes a thing unique. The common irrefutable experience of all of us is that we exist. There is no one who can say that he or she doesn’t exist. Therefore, existence becomes a common ground for all our experiences and transactions.
In deep sleep there is no objective world of dream or waking since there is no conscious mind to experience an objectivity. We may say that sleep is mind at rest, but every morning we experience a contiguity. We remember a state of non-existence of objectivity as this contiguity. Thus, it is evident that we existed as the witness of non-existence of objectivity and even a resting or unconscious mind.
Who is the “I” that witnessed, what is its nature? If we scrutinize it can be seen that this “I” existed at all times as the witness of all ranges of experiences from waking to deep dreamless sleep. Therefore, its nature must be pure existence or “Sat” as vedantins call it. We also see that it engaged in the act of “witnessing”, therefore its nature must also be that of consciousness or “Chit”. There is also a value factor existing as the nucleus in all our experiences. In deep sleep this value is unconditioned and exists in its pure form which Vedanta calls “Ananda”. In waking or dream this value is conditioned by coloration of our psyche and also the arrangement of objects or situations and thus can be seen to modulate between extreme agony to the highest form of happiness of mystical exaltation.
Hence, we come to the conclusion that the nature of Absolute reality is Existence-Consciousness-Value or Sat-Chit-Ananda. We have seen from the example of the red rose that it must remain in its original configuration as a red rose, therefore nature of a thing cannot undergo any kind of modification or cannot be conditioned. Applying the same logic to the witnessing conscious principle “I”, it must remain as Existence-Consciousness-Value at all times, even after bodily death.
To say that Existence of the witnessing Self “I” changes to Non-existence is absurd. The Self existed as the witness of total non-apprehension of deep sleep which naturally concludes that the Self is something apart from these alternating states, whether conscious or unconscious. The seer cannot be same as the seen.
Therefore, we can say that the Absolute Self retains its true nature at all times, this idea is expressed in the famous verse of the Gita, we read:
na jayate mriyate va kadacin
nayam bhutva bhavita va na bhuyah
ajo nityah sasvato ‘yam purano
na hanyate hanyamane sarire
He (the Absolute Self) is not born, nor does He die; after having been, He again ceases not to be; Unborn, Eternal, Changeless and Ancient, He is not killed when the body is killed. (2.20)
From Vedantic perspective, what undergoes change cannot be ‘Real’, and thus what is changeless must be ‘Real’. Therefore, the only Reality must be the witnessing Absolute Self and not the ephemeral world and the conditioned ego-self which is identified with the body-mind complex. The sage-bard Vyasa expresses this idea in his immortal Bhagavad Gita, we read:
nasato vidyate bhavo
nabhavo vidyate satah
ubhayor api drsto ‘ntas
What is unreal cannot have being, and non-being cannot be real; the conclusion in regard to both of these has been known to philosophers. (2.16)
The Vedantic-philosopher (Rishi) in this realization calls out to the world:
शृण्वन्तु बिश्वे अमृतस्य पुत्रा
Shrinwantu Vishwe Amrtasya Putra
“Hear! Ye Children of Immortality”