Understanding the Orders of Reality

ishvara-jiva srishti & brahman


Need help reconciling various experiences that seem to be happening within my scope.

Experience A: There is a world of objects and people. I am a body-mind endowed with free will for sake of interacting with it.

Experience B: Nothing ever happened. There is a sense of timelessness and fullness.

Experience C: There is a world of objects and people and I am the witnessing aspect  associated with this body-mind that is writing this email.

Experience D:  Concepts are seen to be meaningless, and Vedanta being just another conceptual framework over what is not the truth.

Help me reconcile A, B, C, D.


According to Vedanta, there are three orders of reality.



Experience B and Experience D are in same category. They are of perspective of pure, all-pervasive Existence-Awareness (sat-cit / Brahman). Sanskrit term for this “category” of reality is paramarthika satyam.

This is the only order of reality, for there exists nothing other than Existence-Awareness.

From this standpoint, “nothing ever happened” and all-that-appears-to-be, including Vedanta, is only apparent.

In other words, all-that-appears-to-be is impermanent and wholly dependent on Existence-Awareness for its name-form-existence. Just as wave is temporary and wholly dependent on the ocean for its existence.

However, when sat-cit “wields”  (this is purely a figurative term due to the all-pervasive, full and immutable nature of sat-cit; it thus is not a doer)  its inherent power of maya — this power both veils sat-cit’s limitless, attributeless nature from itself — and projects upon the “blank screen” of its being the phantasmagoria that constitutes this apparent world (mithya); erroneously presumed to be real.

Another way of thinking about it, is that maya conditions Existence-Awareness and makes it look, sound, feel, taste, and smell like something its not.

Furthermore when Existence-Awareness “wields” maya (all-knowledge, all-power in potential) — the creative power that comes about is referred to as Isvara (God).

So Brahman assumes the role of Isvara (creator of all-that-is) when conditioned by maya.

Both gross (physical elements) and subtle phenomena (thoughts, emotions, cause-effect, dharma, laws-orders) are Isvara shrishti (God's creation).


The gross level of the apparent reality is the empirical/transactional level of reality.

It is the physical universe which is available to, or can be experienced by all sentient entities.

Sanskrit term for this “category” of reality is vyavaharika satyam.

It's the reality we all collectively experience, like wind, breathing, cold, hot, physical elements, etc. The category which science and quantum mechanics specialize in.


The subtle level of the apparent reality is the individual’s subjective interpretation of the empirical/transactional reality, or the jiva’s projected interpretation of Isvara’s creation.

The individual’s interpretation of the objects it encounters is based on one's samskaras (likes and dislikes, desires and fears); which give rise to one's values.

These interpretations/projections are the essential factors that determine or create the quality of one’s experience — and thus is referred to as jiva shrishti (individual’s creation).

It is the individual's “mind stuff” like sensations, emotions, and thoughts which are available or accessible only to the individual. Sanskrit term for the is “category” of reality is pratibhasika satyam.

Resuming with Experience analysis…

Experience A and Experience C is a mutual hodge-podge of vyavaharika and pratibhasika.

Basically your mind has discerned the three orders of reality through it's own investigation, but still required scriptural authority to confirm as is being done now.

The subject matter of Vedanta is the discernment between the real (Existence-Awareness, or paramarthika satyam) — and the apparent/”not-real” (combination of the gross/subtle aspects of the manifest universe, which are vyavaharika satyam and pratibhasika satyam).


Should the mind stop attempting to have a consistent, clear conceptual model of this whole business and accept the impossibility of it and not be concerned about it?


Disagree. One needs to understand how the great machine of the apparent reality functions if one is to enjoy full self-knowledge.

Here's an overview of the 24 principles that are the components of the machine of the apparent reality and details how they function to create experience when blessed by Existence-Awareness.

Though the variations of experience are virtually limitless, the basic principle that orders reality is quite simple.

Once you see how it works, the mind's confusion about what is going on will subside and in no time your mind will be able to identify where every aspect of experience fits within the context of the functioning of the apparent reality.

This understanding will also enable you to see why the idea of individual doership is a completely erroneous notion and, thus, will serve your mind in it's quest for moksha.


If I know I am identified right now with this body-mind, am I really identified?


The question answers itself. The seer/knower cannot be the seen/known.

As long as there remains prarabdha karma (karma that is scheduled to express through the mind-body, with which you [sat-cit] are associated with in this lifetime) — you (sat-cit) will be associated with the mind-body referred to as YOUR_NAME.

But once your buddhi knows that all apparent phenomena are not you (sat-cit) — then you (sat-cit) are no longer identified with the mind-body or any of the objective phenomena arising “within” and “around” it.


When experiences like Experience A happen, can we take the conscious view that I am awareness associated with this body-mind playing in this game of maya — knowing it is not for real? In other words, just play my part, knowing that whatever happens, I can’t truly be hurt / diminished in any way?


I'm only saying you can, knowing your intellect has been decently informed about nature of world, satya-mithya, and importance of acknowledging Ishvara's glories.

If you weren't taught all this — teacher's response would be very different, as to avoid risk of student engaging in denial of world, irresponsibility and lack of care towards people.


I suppose my mind needs some solid ground on which to stand. However my mind is always changing so it’s impossible to find a fixed ground. My mind knows the true solid ground is Awareness (the illumining factor) — but for some reason it's not satisfied with this fact and wants more.


Untrained mind is never satisfied with how things are because it's sustained by the next second, which is nothing like the previous second.

This compels the mind to glorify experiences or novelty. Anything that entails simplicity or “fixed reference point”, as is case of Awareness — it shuns and finds uninteresting.

It's mantra is “more-better-different.”

For that very reason, it wants “enlightenment” to be a big deal; an amazing achievement that took years of arduous effort — and has now culminated in a perpetual cosmic orgasm, supernatural powers, and an aura of holiness that attests to how much better it is than all the rest of us who don't get it.

But in truth, freedom from “all this” is the goal; not an experience we can add to our spiritual resume.

As long as “I” have a spiritual resume, it too bears weight on my shoulders.

Freedom means, “I” bear nothing. Nothing is hanging onto Self. Nothing is stuck onto Me.

Finished Reading? Test Your Knowledge

  1. According to Vedanta, how many orders of reality are there?
  2. What are the essential factors that determine or create the quality of one’s experience?
  3. What is the subject matter of Vedanta?
  4. What is the importance of understanding how the great machine of the apparent reality functions?
  5. What is prarabdha karma?
  6. Can we take the conscious view that we are awareness associated with this body-mind playing in this game of maya?
  7. Why is the untrained mind never satisfied with how things are?
  8. What does the phrase “I bear nothing” mean?

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