Firstly, i would be thankful if someone provides me a simple explanation of space, time and causation.

Secondly, Vivekananda said in his books, that Brahman, the Absolute has become the universe by coming through space, time and causation. Then again he says, in Brahman the Absolute there is no space, time and causation. Isn't there contradiction in his statement. If there's no time, space and causation in Brahman, then how does Brahman appears through this glass of space, time and causation in the first place?

Here's the excerpt taken from his book,

The Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda, Volume 2- Jnana Yoga

The Absolute has become the universe. By this is not only meant the material world, but the mental world, the spiritual world — heavens and earths, and in fact, everything that exists. Mind is the name of a change, and body the name of another change, and so on, and all these changes compose our universe. This Absolute has become the universe by coming through time, space, and causation. This is the central idea of Advaita. Time, space, and causation are like the glass through which the Absolute is seen, and when It is seen on the lower side, It appears as the universe. Now we at once gather from this that in the Absolute there is neither time, space, nor causation. The idea of time cannot be there, seeing that there is no mind, no thought. The idea of space cannot be there, seeing that there is no external change. What you call motion and causation cannot exist where there is only One. We have to understand this, and impress it on our minds, that what we call causation begins after, if we may be permitted to say so, the degeneration of the Absolute into the phenomenal, and not before; that our will, our desire and all these things always come after that.


Also what exactly Vivekananda meant by

when it is seen on the lower side, it appears as the universe"?

I mean from an Absolute point of view, there are no boundaries or worlds. All there exists is infinite Brahman. So how can there be a lower or upper side in the infinite, boundless Brahman?

1 Answer 1


Swami Vivekananda says 'time, space and causation' is Maya. They exist and do not exist.

Now the question is: What are time, space, and causation? Advaita means non-duality; there are no two, but one. Yet we see that here is a proposition that the Absolute is manifesting Itself as many, through the veil of time, space, and causation. Therefore it seems that here are two, the Absolute and Mâyâ (the sum total of time, space, and causation). It seems apparently very convincing that there are two. To this the Advaitist replies that it cannot be called two. To have two, we must have two absolute independent existences which cannot be caused. In the first place time, space, and causation cannot be said to be independent existences. Time is entirely a dependent existence; it changes with every change of our mind. Sometimes in dream one imagines that one has lived several years, at other times several months were passed as one second. So, time is entirely dependent on our state of mind. Secondly, the idea of time vanishes altogether, sometimes. So with space. We cannot know what space is. Yet it is there, indefinable, and cannot exist separate from anything else. So with causation.

The one peculiar attribute we find in time, space, and causation is that they cannot exist separate from other things. Try to think of space without colour, or limits, or any connection with the things around — just abstract space. You cannot; you have to think of it as the space between two limits or between three objects. It has to be connected with some object to have any existence. So with time; you cannot have any idea of abstract time, but you have to take two events, one preceding and the other succeeding, and join the two events by the idea of succession. Time depends on two events, just as space has to be related to outside objects. And the idea of causation is inseparable from time and space. This is the peculiar thing about them that they have no independent existence. They have not even the existence which the chair or the wall has. They are as shadows around everything which you cannot catch. They have no real existence; yet they are not non-existent, seeing that through them all things are manifesting as this universe. Thus we see, first, that the combination of time, space, and causation has neither existence nor non-existence. Secondly, it sometimes vanishes. To give an illustration, there is a wave on the ocean. The wave is the same as the ocean certainly, and yet we know it is a wave, and as such different from the ocean. What makes this difference? The name and the form, that is, the idea in the mind and the form. Now, can we think of a wave-form as something separate from the ocean? Certainly not. It is always associated with the ocean idea. If the wave subsides, the form vanishes in a moment, and yet the form was not a delusion. So long as the wave existed the form was there, and you were bound to see the form. This is Maya.

The Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda, Volume 2, Jnana Yoga, The Absolute and Manifestation

What does he mean when he says 'seen on the lower side, it appears on the universe'?

There is a diagram in the text that is given below.

enter image description here

The Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda, Volume 2, Jnana Yoga, The Absolute and Manifestation

Absolute is on the top while universe is at the bottom with time, space and causation in the middle. He means by the lower side that Brahman at the top appears as the universe given at the lower side of the image when seen through time, space and causation.

  • I have a few questions. What do we mean by Absolute reality or Paramarthika satya? Is it the reality where maya is absent (or transcended by the yogi) OR is it the state before the creation/manifestation of the cosmos, when there exists no forms like jivas or worlds? Commented Dec 3, 2021 at 7:06
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    Paramarthika satya is the unchanging truth or reality. Everything else changes. The world of change is in the domain of maya. Beyond the domain of maya lies the unchanging paramarthika satya. Commented Dec 3, 2021 at 11:36
  • And yet while remaining in this world of change or domain of maya, this very maya itself can be transcended by the yogi in samadhi, isn't it so? ... Then the yogi will no longer see diversity or nama rupa but only unity. Am i right? Commented Dec 3, 2021 at 12:12
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    Yes, the yogi can indeed transcend the domain of maya. This is possible because Maya allows such a thing to happen. Commented Dec 3, 2021 at 12:41
  • 1
    Maya is not a product of our mind. Maya's existence is independent of the existence of Jivas. Maya is Adya Prakriti or primordial Nature and is worshipped as different forms of Devi. Commented Dec 4, 2021 at 13:49

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