Test Your Understanding of Reality Using This Test (Real vs. Unreal)

Look at some object in the room. Now please.

Is it “over there”, or is it in you (Consciousness)?

Even “in” is a cautionary word because it implies separation.

If it’s “over there”, that means space and time is real. In which case you’re fooled by Maya. In reality there is no “over there”. Everything is HERE appearing as THIS.

Which also means there is no time. Therefore nothing actually ever moves. Only changes from one form to another.

And because forms are changing, it appears like there is genuine movement.

For example, when you’re dreaming, things appear to move in the dream world. But in reality, nothing ever happened! At least you know this upon waking.

Waking state too is like a dream.

Ignorant person believes dreams are unreal – and waking is real.

When both are equally UNREAL. Or apparently real.

Ok, this brings up another important teaching…

What does UNREAL (apparently real) mean?

In short, Unreal is anything that MOVES or CHANGES in your experience.

Meaning it does not last forever in the exact SAME state.

 Tell me one thing that lasts forever, is always present, never leaves your attention and remains EXACTLY the SAME from birth to death? 


Sun? It’s inside-outside temperatures are different. Sun spots come and go. Flares. Lot of movement and changes! Where’s the sun when you’re inside the room? Hence it’s not ALWAYS PRESENT in your experience.

Your body? Your fingernail are 0.004 inches (0.1 millimeters)  longer today then yesterday.  Body lost +-950 million cells in last 3-5 minutes. Myriads of changes.

Mind? Where’s the taught “I’m hungry” now? Gone!  Are you still thinking about your x-partner? No. Has the intensity of that amazing epiphany you’ve once had, still present at same identical intensity and clarity THIS MOMENT? No. In fact you don’t even remember what was the last epiphany about.

Getting it?  Anything that once was, but is no longer THAT in the exact same condition – is Unreal. Or apparently Real which means… it certainly felt and seemed Real at that time it was experienced, but in time… something or everything about IT is different.

Atoms? Arranged in different (meaning change) formations to form elements, the world, the Universe.

Subatomic particles? Consists of proton and electron. Meaning dependence. Meaning difference. Which is Change. What’s more, it’s as far as Scientific instruments can see. What’s more, the scientific instruments themselves are made of different formations of Atoms.

God (Īśvara)? When you’re not thinking about “God”, is “God-thought” present? No. Remember reading “never leaves your attention from birth to death”. Was God known to you when you were 9 years old? Probably not. And even if you said “yes“, understanding of God since then has changed throughout life.

Anything that CHANGES by any shape, time, space, size, form, condition, quality, quantity, attribute, relationship, connection… is Unreal (apparently real).

By the way, we’re not saying God doesn’t exist. Because everything is God (Īśvara). However everything is constantly CHANGING – which nobody can deny. (Even denial itself is subject to change.)

Even your own inquiry about this post about God is inclusive of definition of “everything“. And everything IS God. Hence this everything (God in form of your inquiry/judgement) will end or change perspective within moments from now. Hence apparently real (Unreal).


Ok, we get the idea.

So What’s the Conclusion?

 All experience (including the world, thoughts, emotions, feelings, epiphanies, ANYTHING WHICH CAN BE WITNESSED/OBSERVED) is “apparently real” (mithyā) – which is as good as calling it UNREAL. 


This too shall pass. – Persian proverb by Sufi saint Fariduddin Attar

In other words,  Unreal is whatever is NOT constantly in your attention every millisecond unceasingly from birth to death… in waking state, while dreaming, and during deep sleep.  Unreal is whatever can be modified. Unreal is whatever fluctuates.

This naturally leads us to asking…

What IS Real?

Do you know what is Real?

(Experienced spiritual types will answer “Yes” almost 99% of time to this question… but 99% of those 99% actually are as Ignorant as ordinary worldly citizens. Continually fooled by Māyā in subtle ways. IE: adhyāsa).

If no, thanks for honesty. 😀 It’s first step to Liberation.

In this case you don’t know what and who you are. Still discovering the permanent solution, right? (If you said no, that’s fine too.)

And likely have traces of deep-seated belief “I am my body-mind and this world is real”… despite intellectually saying/knowing you’re not your body-mind, and the world is not what it seems.

Basically knowledge still remains at mind-intellect level (where 99% of Spiritual seekers are – without realizing it).

For the ignorant, the Supreme Reality (satya) is not directly known, as non-separate from self.

The ignorant is still in dualistic belief. Which is basically affirmed by…

I am Limited, separate, small, inadequate, incomplete. So to feel fulfilled… or experience sense of completion/empowerment/connection/strength/divinity… I have to perform this sadhana, that yoga, this mantra, that practice, this japa, that prayer, this modality, etc”.

Also, ignorant person is attached to something. If not sex, power, loving relationships, beautiful woman, financial freedom… then… silence, peace, Love, Joy, mental sharpness, “helping the world”, doing good, being kind-compassionate, knowledge acquisition.

Basically there is still somebody left who is DOING/ENJOYING the love, the helping, the kindness, the knowledge acquisition, etc.

And  this unreal-somebody must completely go. This is mokṣa (Liberation). 

Good news is – this Ignorance is not your fault. Everything that is born is innocently ignorant by default.

Maya tricks EVERYTHING that is born into believing it is Limited, small, incomplete, separate.

This is why you can’t even blame your parents. They too are under spell of Maya. So they taught you Ignorance, because they were taught ignorance by their parents. This is eternal! At least until you Realize the Truth… as Katha Upaniṣad 1.3.14 says:

uttiṣṭhata. jāgrata. prāpya varān nibodhata – “Arise! Awaken! And Realize the Truth!”


Got that.  You are COMPLETELY innocent to your Ignorance! 

In fact Ignorance is so subtle and tricky… that  most spiritual teachers at any moment of history (including today) are also fooled by Māyā … hence unknowingly teaching mixture of Truth and Falsehood. Despite their BEST intentions for the student.

And even if one know the Absolute truth, so what. Is there a proper teaching style presented which accurately and efficiently transfers that understanding to the listener?

For example…

Nithyananda, Osho, Mooji, Gangaji, Papaji and likes – use mix-and-match method. Cherry picking from different philosophies.

One moment something profound is said from one philosophy, but then followed by another contextually unrelated philosophy. This has no stability nor sense of continuity for the sincere listener.

Case of modern-day spiritual distraction:

Nithyananda is the best modern-day example I know of… mixing various schools of thought and possibly discrediting their true depth simultaneously. For example…

He throws in all sorts of teachings. Like opening 3rd eye, cow’s talking Sanskrit, Advaita Vedanta, super-consciousness, levitation, siddhis, etc. No sense of stability or continuity in the teaching.

It’s beyond words appalling, disrespectful and unfair to the school of thought, because it doesn’t deserve to be mixed with other schools.

Listener/follower then gets distorted impression about what Vedānta is.

In Wikipedia page it’s written Nithyananda teaches “Philosophy: Advaita Vedanta“. In truth, it’s anything BUT Advaita Vedānta. Ordinary person can’t tell the inconsistency. However the real schools of Advaita, wouldn’t even make a comment about Nithyananda types. Only silent compassion for their self-glorified delusion. “Let the child play“. It’s ongoing. Every generation has one or another type like this.

Unfortunately ego loves these “self-proclaimed incarnation of God” types. There’s nothing much one can do about this truth-falsehood phenomena. Only wait patiently until follower matures enough to naturally move away from these half-truth-half-charlatans – and find the Guru who reveals the final Reality.

This mix-and-match style does NOT work for mokṣa. 

For example to become a competent mathematician… would you appreciate it if your teacher has no structure to their delivery?

While these guru mix-and-match types, including the Truth/Falsehood teachers… play a significant role to one’s spiritual evolution… you have to MOVE ON.

Getting back to innocence of human ignorance…

Here’s an example how Māyā works and how INNOCENT we are to it:

What is this?…


Got it?

If you said “Table”, that’s correct.

But why didn’t you say “wood”? After all, it is just wood that looks like a table because of it’s 4 legs attached to a rectangular wooden plank.

If I take the legs off, the “Table” label is no longer correct.

Hence it’s an apparent table. It’s a table as long as it looks like a table, until it no longer looks like a table.

That’s a simple example how duality operates. You see one side of the coin, at expense of not seeing the other. This is Ignorance (I don’t know that I don’t know about the other half – so the chance of further investigation doesn’t even arise).

Same applies with teachers of Truth. Because of Māyā, they do their best to teach you about the wood, innocently failing to address the table. And vice versa. So you walk away with partial teaching, still carrying a doubt because the other half wasn’t addressed.

Then you innocently keep looking for MORE knowledge… somehow knowing-feeling the full picture isn’t full after-all.

 This sense of incompletion is what motivates the continued seeking .

Seeking does not end until you have the FULL picture, with zero doubts and TOTAL certainty. This is Vedanta’s job. And it’s been one of most successful teaching systems for ending the search. At least if it’s taught properly by a qualified teacher.

In summary…

To answer WHAT IS REAL takes a careful and precise teaching methodology.

And  it can’t be done on your own.  This is kick-in-the-nuts for the Ego! 😀 (There are very few exceptions like Ramaṇa Maharshi – who himself actually performed Self-inquiry sādhana for 10+- years alone in a cave at Arunachala – so that too wasn’t instant as many imagine).

Why? Because ignorance is only capable of interpreting through an ignorant mind (false notions).

For example, upanishads (which you’ve likely heard of) means “sitting near to”. Essentially sitting near and listening to a wise person teaching an Ignorant person about nature of reality. This is the proper means of removing Ignorance.

Otherwise, it would be as easy as popping on headphones, playing an audio book of Bhagavad Gita, or reading a chapter of upanishads. And journey’s over!


YOU are the problem.

A problem can not solve the problem. This is common sense. Because we are SUBJECTIVE. Hence we need a teacher who sees and knows the Ultimate Reality OBJECTIVELY.

In other words, one who doesn’t contaminate Eternal Truth with their own subjective ideas or false notions based on limited personal experiences… or incorrect utilization of language to guide the student(s).

Because every word when helping you “get out” of Maya, counts! It can either MISLEAD or REVEAL.

Unfortunately modern spiritual teachers don’t take this into consideration. They believe their Self-Realization of Truth and ability to speak English is suffice authority to teach. Nonsense! Would you rather learn from a simple maths teacher who follows a proven step-by-step curriculum… OR some math-Einstein-genius who haphazardly “dumps” his/her knowledge onto you?

Otherwise if mislead by one who hasn’t gotten the full picture and unknowingly utilizes improper use of linguistics/grammar – you’ll interpret Objective Reality (Universal as-it-is) through Subjective eyes (personal preferences). Then live in another illusionary world – convinced one’s figured it out!

What’s more…

Mushroom, Ayahuasca, LSD, DMT, Iboga, San Pedro induced experiences also result in mixing Subjective/Objective realities. Because the one whose undergoing the experience is still ignorant. So basically ignorance is tripping on another form of “better” ignorance.

Conclusion: Their Oneness epiphanies eventually end. And intensity subsides. Therefore another UNREAL phenomena. However for mind purification, they can be one of most useful resources. But for Liberation, they’re dangerous distractions.)

Only Knowledge can remove ignorance and reveal the Ultimate Reality as non-separate from yourself.

This is why Vedānta exists (which is comprised of Bhagavad Gītā, Upanisads, Brahma Sutras, Panchadasi, Narad Bhakti Sutras, and similar texts).

Vedanta (as far as we know through thousands of years of Spiritual texts) is the only complete teaching which removes any doubts about who you are, and who you are NOT.

We’re not implicitly demolishing other systems. Only saying if there is something better and faster then Advaita Vedānta at PERMANENTLY shifting “I” identity to it’s original ‘place’, and providing full picture of the entire Universe – not leaving any doubts or unanswered questions… I’d be onto it a long time ago.

And it transfers this methodology systematically onto you.

We’ll conclude with this essential understanding…

 Knowing the difference between Real (satya) and Unreal (mithyā) is Enlightenment (mokṣa) .

And Vedānta’s sole purpose is to clearly teach you to discriminate this absolute difference. This causes seeking to end permanently.

Yes, “difference” in above statement implies another duality. That’s why Vedanta is systematic. We FIRST start with discriminating the difference. Then we collapse the differences – including the inquirer that’s discriminating (non-duality; advaita).

You can see Vedanta class dates/times here.

tat tvam asi
– Andre


  1. Vera on March 26, 2018 at 11:32 am

    Can you please define “absolute difference” ?

    • mm Andre V on March 26, 2018 at 11:58 am

      It means “objective difference as taught by the scriptural text”. In other words, differentiating that leaves absolutely ZERO room for error in knowing Real VS. Unreal.

      Meaning, the conclusion reached by the differentiation is the SAME for everyone. I arrive at EXACTLY the SAME conclusion as you, as anyone else. This is advaita (not two).

      Opposite would be “relative difference”, which puts one back into separation (dvaita) from the TOTAL.

  2. John Shapah on March 29, 2018 at 10:55 am

    You said “All experience (including the world, thoughts, emotions, feelings, epiphanies, ANYTHING WHICH CAN BE WITNESSED/OBSERVED) is “apparently real” (mithyā) – which is as good as calling it UNREAL.”

    Since these teachings can be witnessed and observed does that also mean that these teachings themselves are part of the ‘Unreal’?

    • mm Andre V on March 29, 2018 at 2:22 pm

      Fantastic question! 🙂 Yes and no. Firstly, there’s no difference between unreal and real. This is the final understanding (non-duality). If one still sees real/unreal… they’re still in duality. But as preliminary preparation for jiva (body-mind person), we start out with categorizing. Because mind can’t understand “non-duality”, it only understands duality.

      Yet ironically, it’s through the mind-intellect which one arrives to non-duality. So there’s ALWAYS a paradox in mithyā.

      Anyway, above is not that important.

      Depends if we’re talking about RELATIVE knowledge or ABSOLUTE knowledge.

      If it’s Relative knowledge (eg: dancing, cooking, singing, talking, sharing, maths, computer programming, etc), then it’s unreal.

      If it’s Absolute knowledge (ie: reality of you, I and the world are the SAME)… then it’s still unreal (since all words/ideas, including Vedānta… are mithyā) – but it leads jiva (ignorant person) to the ABSOLUTE understanding (mokṣa / Freedom).

      Remember, satya/mithyā are inseparable. They’re just in “different” orders of the one SAME reality… which is YOU. So if there remains an inquirer who is discriminating Real/Unreal, that’s still NOT Enlightenment. Because there is somebody left doing the inquiry. Implying “inquirer” and “inquired”, which is TWO (separation).

      We have teaching on this from Chāndogya Upaniṣad chapter 6, which beautifully explains the non-separation.

  3. Nada Bates on March 29, 2018 at 6:41 pm


    • mm Andre V on March 29, 2018 at 6:50 pm

      😉 Correct, ultimately nothing changes. Because to say there is change is direct contradiction of non-dual reality.

      But keep in mind, to transfer this understanding to another sincere seeker who isn’t “there” yet, one can’t just skip to final conclusion and expect them to understand. Hence Vedanta is systematic. Step by step.

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