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Responding to readers’ questions, DEEPAK CHOPRA talks about creation and consciousness, maladaptive daydreaming, and how to deal with an introverted teenager
What is reality? Does it exist? Everything around is created only to hide or mask the reality — if at all it is there. The word creation itself means it is created. One cannot create what is real and that is why everything can only be a product of illusion. The illusion has been planted by a master magician to block or bind the mind forever so that the mind never gets to know what is real. Two Latin sayings summarise illusion and reality as they are: (1) Ex Nihilo Ex Nihil Fit (2) Amor Fati Indic philosophy says: Nahi manusat shresthara nu kincit What is your view on this? N Prakash Kumar, 63, Chennai
■ Dear Prakash, You’ve very well stated half the argument of Vedanta that the physical world is illusory, a maya. But the missing half of the story tells us what is real, pure consciousness. From sat chit anandaeternal bliss consciousness, the play of the universe, or Lila, arises. There has to be a source for creation. In modern physics, to contradict your first Latin maxim, the accepted view is that “Nothing became something. ” The origin of the universe is the quantum vacuum, which contains nothing in the form of time, space, matter, and energy.
Still, the ground state or quantum vacuum had the potential to create those things; hence the physical universe emerged from the non-physical. Likewise, pure consciousness has the potential to emerge from its eternal, unbounded, uncreated state to create the physical universe. In both cases, modern physics and ancient Vedanta, there is a point where the thinking mind cannot go. Therefore, we must concede that everything conceivable has its source in the inconceivable.
Vedanta puts it neatly in a maxim, if you want one to add to your collection: “Those who know of It speak of It not. Those who speak of It know It not. ” Here, ‘It’ is pure consciousness. There is no logic to connect the inconceivable field of pure consciousness to the everyday world. But in samadhi, we can experience the mind as pure potential, and the physical universe, although illusory in comparison to pure consciousness, has its own reality, on its own terms. So we are given the free choice to view the physical world on its own terms or to transcend appearances and see the whole of creation as consciousness at play.
A few months ago, I realised that I have symptoms of maladaptive daydreaming, and I was unable to concentrate on my studies. I have tried sharing my predicament with elders and I also tried meditating, but nothing seems to work. What should I do? Devanshi Gangrade, 18 years
■ Dear Devanshi, I wish I had more encouraging news, but people who suffer from such vivid daydreams that they lose touch with reality are as yet difficult to treat. In America, there have been studies that gained success with a drug that is effective with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), but this column isn’t the appropriate place forme to diagnose and offer treatment advice. Try joining the online support group Wild Minds Network, where you will meet others who have this condition.
With the cooperation of your parents and family doctor, see if this support group can direct you to others in your area who mighthave advice about how they approach this condition. Don’t, however, attempt self-help or following casual amateur advice. You may adapt better as you grow older. At present, you need support and medical treatment in order to keep coping. I hope this helps.
My only son is 17 years old and studying in class XI, science. Often I get irritated as he is non-communicative with us. I don’t want to force him to behave the way we want him to behave, but lack of communication, sometimes becomes unpleasant. He did well in his Class X board exam, but his interactions with teachers and with us, regarding subjects or anything else, are minimal. Please advice. Sibasis Dhar, 46, Kolkata
■ Dear Sibasis, The key to your problem lies in a phrase you used, not forcing your son to behave the way you want him to behave. It’s a rare parent who can maintain a free and open attitude toward an adolescent, but it is the key. Your son doesn’t talk to you because at 17, he is finding his own identity. By the time he is 21 or 22, things will be more sorted out. Right now, even though you see many ways he could make better choices, suppress the urge to correct or guide him until he asks for guidance. Your son might be an introvert who will always keep himself to himself. Or he could open up in the future.
Or he could open up to a serious partner once he finds one. In any event, you are facing the painful truth that adolescents wander away from their parents. This doesn’t mean your son won’t return to you — most offspring do, because there is love in the family. For now, let him be who and what he wants to be. I hope this helps. ■