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Reality Behind Names And Forms

According to Vedanta the Spirit alone is the ultimate Reality; the differences we see around are due to our distorted vision. Just as during twilight we see a snake in a rope, even so, because of ignorance of our real nature, we see differences in the world, which is in reality nothing but Brahman. The Spirit alone is the abiding reality. The apparent differences are based on names and forms. Everything we perceive is composed of five factors: being (asti), the ability to be cognized (bhati), attractiveness (priya), form (rupa) and name (nama). The first three pertain to Brahman and the other two to the world. In other words, minus name and form, the world is nothing but Spirit.

Other names and forms are real to us because our own name and form are real to us in the first place. Body-based differences are real to us as long as our own body is real to us. The external world appears as it does because of our identification with our bodies. Our perception of the world stands to change if our perception about our own selves undergoes a change.

We are basically the Spirit, but somehow have come to identify ourselves with our body and mind. ‘Through ignorance we have joined ourselves with a particular body, and thus opened ourselves to misery. This idea of body is a simple superstition. It is superstition that makes us happy or unhappy. It is superstition caused by ignorance that makes us feel heat and cold, pain and pleasure. It is our business to rise above this superstition,’ says Swami Vivekananda.

Source Excerpts from Prabuddha Bharata editorial March 2003 issue.