I was listening to one of the YouTube lectures on Advaita(forget which one it was). It states that “past, present and future - all is just a thought in your brain. The only reason this very moment feels so real is because it borrows existence from you”.

Can someone please explain more about the above. I have been trying to get my head around it but just don’t get it.

Edit: I finally found the video from which the statement was taken. It was one by Swami Sarvapriyananda in his conversation with Deepak Chopra. In his example he states that everything is a thought. Memory of eating a cookie and a thought of eating a cookie is exactly the same.........similarly all experiences are just thoughts but this very moment borrows existence from you which is the ultimate reality.

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    a lot of these random youtube philosophies are just fancy words put together to resemble a sentence - they don't always make sense. for e.g. if i said 'existence is a metaphysical state of the conscious and subconscious mind' - i just threw few words together. don't worry about their meaning.
    – ram
    Commented Oct 5, 2018 at 22:27
  • Yes your life is manifestation of thoughts, and these thoughts come from your past Karmic impressions left in over your subtle body. Those who have burnt their Karmas through Yoga, for them mind is killed. Thoughts doesnt come from brain but comes from your past Karmic VASANAS Commented Oct 6, 2018 at 2:43
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    Not sure what the phrase '...it borrows existence from you' means. Suggest reading some books by the major commentators and finding your guru rather than trying to pickup advaita from youtubes. Commented Oct 6, 2018 at 4:37
  • Not sure which video u were watching..even u r also not sure..So question is not that much clear....Do you want to know about Runanubandh (ऋणानुबंध)?
    – YDS
    Commented Oct 7, 2018 at 5:08

1 Answer 1


The only reason this very moment feels so real is because it borrows existence from you.

I really didn't understand what YouTube commentator meant by phrase it borrows existence from you. But you (or we) feel world as real because you (or we) are not yet realized (did not become a Jivanmukta) and still subjected to mind and senses.

For beginners of Advaita, this is the most confusing part. See World is real even according to Advait Vedanta? and three states of realities as per Advaita.

Whatever we see with eyes, feel with hands are just thoughts in our mind. This is what Swami Vivekananda says in commentary of 2nd Sutra, Samadhipada of Patanjali Yoga Sutra.

Naturally we see that the mind is not intelligent; yet it appears to be intelligent. Why? Because the intelligent soul is behind it. You are the only sentient being; mind is only the instrument through which you catch the external world.

Take this book; as a book it does not exist outside, what exists outside is unknown and unknowable. It is the suggestion that gives a blow to the mind, and the mind gives out the reaction. If a stone is thrown into the water the water is thrown against it in the form of waves. The real universe is the occasion of the reaction of the mind. A book form, or an elephant form, or a man form, is not outside; all that we know is our mental reaction from the outer suggestion.

Matter is the “permanent possibility of sensation,” said John Stuart Mill. It is only the suggestion that is outside. Take an oyster for example. You know how pearls are made. A grain of sand or something gets inside and begins to irritate it, and the oyster throws a sort of enameling around the sand, and this makes the pearl. This whole universe is our own enamel, so to say, and the real universe is the grain of sand. The ordinary man will never understand it, because, when he tries to, he throws out an enamel, and sees only his own enamel. Now we understand what is meant by these Vrttis. The real man is behind the mind, and the mind is the instrument in his hands, and it is his intelligence that is percolating through it. It is only when you stand behind it that it becomes intelligent.

What Swamiji says here is, if we see a book on table, we don't really know completely what is there on Table. What it appears on table is just a reaction in mind. For example, let's say person with some eye defect sees the book, he might perceive it differently and let assume on some hypothetical planet if those persons are majority, then it will be considered as "reality" on that planet. So, there is uncertainty regarding sight. Similarly, there is uncertainty regarding sense of touch too. Even mind is not independent as it depends on something external (consciousness or Atman) as after death brain (mind is subtle and brain is gross) stops working, as subtle body (has Manomaya Kosha) leaves physical body (Annamaya Kosha).

In books "Jewel in the Lotus: Deeper Aspects of Hinduism" and/or "Journey Continues: A Sequel To Apprenticed To A Himalayan Master", Sri Maheswaranath Babaji, direct disciple of Sri Mahavatar Babaji, explains logically to Sri M all above mentioned points of how there is uncertainty in touch, sight and even explains how color and mass are not intrinsic properties of an object.

He proves Senses depend on mind and mind depends on consciousness (which is called true self (Atman)). I can't post those arguments as they are too long to post here. Finally Babaji ends arguments with this statements (taken from book Journey continues):

It is this uncertainty about the actual nature of the objective world that is termed as the great illusion. Only the mere existence of it can be acknowledged, not the form in which it appears to exist. The absolute reality behind these illusions might appear abstract, but it is only abstract in the sense that it is beyond the reach of our sense conditioned to the practical, yet illusory, needs of our day-to-day world.

According to the sages, this abstractness called Brahman is the only true reality, the only true existence. Our intellect can go a step further than our sense only to acknowledge and understand that the Brahman cannot be intellectually grasped. That pure existence, behind the insubstantiality of the world and constantly changing forms, is realized only in deep meditation, beyond the intellect and the mind, when thoughts have completely ceased.

Swami Vivekananda too says the same in commentary of above verse. He says when all thoughts in mind are stopped, we perceive or know ourselves as consciousness (true self) just like when ripples on lake are stopped, we can see base/support of lake.

The bottom of the lake we cannot see, because its surface is covered with ripples. It is only possible when the rippled have subsided, and the water is calm, for us to catch a glimpse of the bottom. If the water is muddy, the bottom will not be seen; if the water is agitated all the time, the bottom will not be seen. If the water is clear, and there are no waves, we shall see the bottom. That bottom of the lake is our own true Self; the lake is the Chitta, and the waves are the Vrttis

Going further, it can also be proved whole universe and existence is in Atman and it is also corroborated by Adi Shankara in his first verse of Dakshinamurthy Stotram.

विश्वं दर्पणदृश्यमाननगरीतुल्यं निजान्तर्गतं
पश्यन्नात्मनि मायया बहिरिवोद्भूतं यथा निद्रया ।
यः साक्षात्कुरुते प्रबोधसमये स्वात्मानमेवाद्वयं
तस्मै श्रीगुरुमूर्तये नम इदं श्रीदक्षिणामूर्तये ॥१॥

The Entire World is Like a City Seen within a Mirror, the Seeing happening within One's Own Being, It is a Witnessing happening within the Atman, (the Witnessing) of the Externally Projected World; Projected by the Power of Maya; As if a Dream in Sleep, One Experiences this Directly (this Play of Maya) during Spiritual Awakening within the Non-Dual Expanse of One's Own Atman, Salutations to Him, the Personification of Our Inner Guru Who Awakens This Knowledge through His Profound Silence; Salutation to Sri Dakshinamurthy.

So, unless we stop the thoughts in mind, we feel world as very real as we are under control of senses and mind.

  • The only reason this very moment feels so real is because it borrows existence from you. - the world existed before my existence. Commented Oct 8, 2018 at 14:36
  • @Rohit. So your Atman (and Sukshma Sareera). :P
    – The Destroyer
    Commented Oct 8, 2018 at 14:36
  • Any pronoun followed by atma in a sentence written by an Advaitin is huge inconsistency. Commented Oct 8, 2018 at 14:49
  • haha. @Rohit.. Your, our, me , I and other words are just used by Advaitins to explain but in reality words can't even explain ultimate truth. For example, Yoga Vasista says : "The words ‘external’ and ‘internal’ as applied to the world are meaningless and not positive terms. There is no inside or outside of the Divine Soul. (1/2)
    – The Destroyer
    Commented Oct 8, 2018 at 14:51
  • These are contrived for the instruction of pupils to explain its different views by consciousness. 61 The viewer looking into the invisible being within himself comes to see the soul. He who looks on the outside with his open eyes comes to view the unreal as real. 62 Therefore whoever looks into the soul can never see false phenomena as realities as others do. 63 It is the internal sight of consciousness that looks into the inner soul which is without all desires. The external eyes are mere organs to look upon the false appearance of outer objects." (2/2).
    – The Destroyer
    Commented Oct 8, 2018 at 14:57

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