Now our understanding of mithyä has to be extended. If mithyä is anything that exists depending upon something, then as an individual, in my experience, I find not one type of mithyä, but two.
Vyävahärikam – objective-mithyä
Prätibhäshikam – subjective-mithyä
We understand the word mithyä as a word referring to our understanding of reality of an object, like pot. Mithyä is not an object. Similarly, satyam is also a word revealing our understanding of reality. Mithyä is understood as the “reality” of an object that has no being of its own. How do we understand it? That which has no being of its own, which has its being or basis in something else, and is not separate from the place where it has its being – adhishthäna-ananyatvam is mithyä. In other words, every product is mithyä. It is not separate from the material of which it is made. And satyam is the ‘reality’ – sad-vastu, in which all things have their being, otherwise called Brahman.
A simple example: – The tree is there, and I see. Whether I see the tree or not, the tree exists. That is why when I walk with my eyes closed, and do not see the tree, I bump into it. My not seeing the tree does not dismiss the tree. My not seeing the mountain, does not dismiss the mountain. My not seeing the wall, does not dismiss the wall. This happens all the time when we drive. When there is a pothole or a speed breaker, and I do not see it, it does not cease to be. I get a jolt. There are many accidents because we do not see what is there. Thus, my not seeing an object, does not dismiss the existence of the object. Therefore, I can say, the object is, and therefore I can see it. This is what we call objective. It is there; therefore, I see it. And whenever I see the object, of course the presence of Consciousness is there. Without the presence of Consciousness, I cannot see any object, even though I may call it mithyä. From the standpoint of Isvara, the Lord, everything is mithyä. In my experience also, I find that the object is seen by me, because it is there. Even if it is not seen by me, it is there. The pothole proves that. And we must understand that this is mithyä, because whenever I see the object, it is not separate from Consciousness. “It is; therefore, I see it.”
There is another type of mithyä – ‘I see it; therefore, it is’. This is what we call subjective. What is objective is mithyä. (We have discussed this). What is subjective is also mithyä. Thus, with reference to my understanding, i) I find that there is an object, therefore I see it; ii) then the other situation is, I see it, therefore, it is.
The dream world is the second type of reality subjective I see the mountain; therefore, the mountain is in the dream. I may be dreaming in the midst of the Indian Ocean. There are no mountains around, but I see a mountain. While I am in the dream, I do not take it as unreal or subjective. I take it objectively – that there is an object. But waking up, I say it is subjective. The mountain is, because I see it. Anything in the dream is because I see it. It is true in dream.
In the waking state also, the problem of subjectivity exists. We are not totally objective. Due to one’s own underlying pressure – one may call it unconscious, subconscious, fear, and so on – one tends to interpret. This interpretation is the worst thing that a human being is subject to. If one does not interpret, especially with reference to others’ attitudes and values, one is safe. But, we all interpret, and we cannot but interpret. Therefore, the problem is only oneself. In fact, one is driven to interpret, that is, one has the pressure to do so – pressure caused by fear and so many things. So, when one interprets, it is subjective; every interpretation is subjective. It may be true; it may not be true. More often than not, it is untrue. If it is an interpretation, that affects one, then generally it is not true. We read body language and all sorts of things, so that we tend to interpret in a way that may not have anything to do with the truth. Thus, when one is living in this world, one is not always in the world of Isvara. One is in the world of Isvara, plus one’s own personal projected world.
This subjective reality that is projection can also be divided into two types. When one projects a snake upon a rope, one projects something that is not there at all. This is one kind of superimposition – adhyäsa, a projection of something unpleasant or offensive – asobhana-adhyäsa. There is another kind – sobhana-adhyäsa.
i) Sobhana-adhyäsa – Positive Superimposition – Jivasrshti
There is a second type of superimposition. If one takes money as money, there is no mistake. But giving greater value to money than it has is a superimposition – sobhana-adhyäsa.
ii) Asobhana-adhyäsa – Negative Superimposition – Jivasrshti
One does not take Somadatta, for Devadatta; or John, for Tom. One takes John as John. But at the same time, there is asobhana-adhyäsa, if one takes John to be hostile to one, when really he is not. He has his own problems. His behaviour is inhibited by the problems he is dealing with. It has nothing to do with the perceiver. But related to the perceiver, his behaviour has changed. Therefore, the perceiver projects a person, who has nothing to do with John. Many a good relationship is destroyed because of this kind of projection. There is a need to project, and to project something, that is not good.
This asobhana and sobhana-adhyäsa are purely subjective. But for a person, it is very real. Why? Because one sees it, one feels it. Because one’s feeling is real, the cause is also presumed to be real. It looks as though it is coming from the other person. But no other person can cause such a feeling. It comes from inside. We refuse to accept that. We always say that the other person is the cause, but there may or may not be any truth to it. When this is the case, the benefit of doubt is to be given only to the other person, not to us. But we refuse to give that. In this situation, where one’s ‘subjectivity’ creates a ‘reality’, this ‘reality’ has nothing to do with Bhagavän, one cannot blame Him at all.
Isvara is what Is. Even the mithyä jagat is Isvara. And there is a kind of ‘reality’ about it. That reality is what we call objective. This does not mean that there is a real object there; every object is nothing but mithyä with its form and name depending upon the reality – vastu. It is non-separate from its cause. The reduction of subjectivity alone is a project in one’s life. One need not know Brahman or the meaning of ‘You are That’ – tat tvam asi. If one can reduce subjectivity, that itself is a great blessing. But one cannot completely reduce subjectivity unless one knows – “I am the whole”. This is another problem. There is a mutual dependence – anyonya-äsraya here. But, still to a great extent I can be objective in looking into myself. That objectivity is the qualification – adhikäritvam, to understand the sentence, ‘You are That’ – tat tvam asi. It is not an ordinary sentence. To understand it, the ‘rope-snake’ subjectivity, ‘John the bad person’ subjectivity, etc. has to be understood as subjective, a projection that is mithyä. That John is a person, is objective, but that he is a bad person, is subjective. I am conscious of John, and without my consciousness, there is no John. So John the person is also mithyä (objective – vyävahärikam). And John the person that I interpret him to be is my own creation. That part of it is there because I see it that way, and it is also mithyä (subjective – prätibhäshikam).
Thus we have two types of Mithyä – ‘It is; therefore, I see’ and ‘I see; therefore, it is’.