Fascinating Alice has been dealt with by commentators of all sorts, analysts of humor, of the fairy tale, of story-telling, mathematics, semantics and of course by psychoanalysts. This discussion is from the standpoint of the Vedanta philosophy, mainly of the second part,Through the Looking-Glass. Here we look at Alice as each of us, going through phases of consciousness in a topsy-turvy world on the journey to self-discovery. The analogies were first noted by Swami Vivekananda, expositor of the philosophy, this being an attempt to fill in some of the details.
We begin with other comments by Vivekananda, then follow Alice through the mirror into the mirror-world, with an explanation of the nature of dream in the total field of consciousness. We follow her encounters with the principal characters of the Looking-Glass world and the philosophical questions they raise, along with her own frustrations in trying to meet them. By implication the subjects of solipsism and subjective idealism come in, and explicitly the doctrine of maya, to throw light on them. The importance of getting to the Eighth Square and the final denouement of waking up conclude the essay.
Speaking in New York in 1896 Swami Vivekananda, in a lecture on “One Existence Appearing as Many”, made the following comments about a classic of English literature: “There is no such thing as law or connection in this world, but we are thinking that there is a great deal of connection. All of you have probably read Alice in Wonderland. It is the most wonderful book for children that has been written in this century. When I read it, I was delighted; it was always in my mind to write that sort of a book for children. What pleased me most in it was what you think most incongruous, that there is no connection there. One idea comes and jumps into another, without any connection. When you were children, you thought that the most wonderful connection. So this man brought back his thoughts of childhood, which were perfectly connected to him as a child, and composed this book for children. And all these books which men write, trying to make children swallow their own ideas as men, are nonsense. We too are grown-up children, that is all. The world is the same unconnected thing–in Wonderland…” (1)
Our interest in Alice in Wonderland and its author
Some may feel that this famous book has been over-analyzed, and certainly we do not wish to garland the bones of the Rev. Charles Dodgson with yet another psychoanalysis or philosophic paralogism; nor do we want to make contrived sense of delightful nonsense. We assume that the good professor had no acquaintance with Indian philosophy as such, and was not a professed student of psychology, a science born almost in his own day. So we shall not attempt to read something which is not there into this whimsical story, woven of the insights engendered by a life’s discipline in mathematics and symbolic logic. It is fairly well agreed now, by historians and analysts alike, that Dodgson sought by means of these insights simply to entertain his beseeching little friends.
Yet insofar as the story purports to be a dream, it is surely plausible and analyzable as such, and in fact it illustrates many interesting dream phenomena. Swami Vivekananda, writing to a disciple about the latter’s dream, declared, “Your dream was very, very beautiful. In dream our souls read a layer of our mind which we do not read in our waking hours, and however unsubstantial imagination may be, it is behind the imagination that all unknown psychic truths lie.” (2) The Vedantist is concerned, then, with the dream–so much for its content as for its philosophic and spiritual significance. In tests in which the volunteers have been kept awake, it has been shown that the craving for sleep is as much a craving for dreaming as anything else, and that dreaming is a basic escape-need. (It is noteworthy that those who make much ado about other kinds of “escapism” are content to be silent about this one.) Indian philosophy agrees, and for a very good reason. It makes bold to say that our waking state is in fact only one layer of reality, one to which we have over-given ourselves, to the neglect of reality’s other faces, accessible only on other planes of consciousness.
Let us return for a moment to the author of Alice. Although he is frequently referred to as the Reverend Charles Dodgson, not many realize that this fantasy-loving lecturer in mathematics was also a clergyman. His sermons on Sunday evening at Oxford were quite popular with his students and friends. But in the Alice story he has made us forget all that. However didactic and unctuous others of his writings may seem today, this book displays the cheering paradox that a preacher is usually most effective where he preaches not at all.
This is surely one of the classic-making features of the book, and it is probable that it too did not escape Swami Vivekananda‘s appreciation. He was much concerned to make spiritual truth easily comprehended and palatable. Here is a famous extract from his letter to an Indian disciple, often quoted by those who are convinced that the Swami was not only an interpreter of the Vedanta but also a fashioner of it: “To put the Hindu ideas into English and then make out of dry philosophy and intricate mythology and queer startling psychology, a religion which shall be easy, simple, popular, and at the same time meet the requirements of the highest minds–a task only those can understand who have attempted it. The abstract Advaita must become living–poetic–everyday life; out of hopelessly intricate mythology must come concrete moral forms; and out of bewildering Yogi-ism must come the most scientific and practical psychology–all this must be put in a form so that a child may grasp it. That is my life’s work.”(3)
The dream state and the philosophy of Vedanta
It is with this double justification, then, of attempting to examine how the dream-state can reveal deep truths of our nature, and to observe how Alice’s adventures illustrate and elucidate them, for children-of-all-ages, that we offer the following remarks.We have decided to focus attention chiefly on the second half of the book, Through the Looking-Glass, recognized by many discerning readers as the more profound, and also because it provides more parables for our purpose.
Even before the dream begins we are shown the nature of Alice’s mind and her power of imagination, just as in the beginning of the earlier story we are told that she always enjoyed pretending to be two people. Here, after various “pretends”, Alice is convinced that the big mirror in the living-room has gone soft like gauze and is turning into a sort of mist, and in a moment she is through it into Looking-Glass House. It would be difficult to find anywhere in literature so apt a portrayal of how dreaming begins, as in this passage. But what Alice does here deliberately, we might say, most of us have to do involuntarily.
Causation and connectedness
Many suppose that we cannot discover, cannot witness, how we begin to sleep.Though often it is true, there are occasions on which the process can be glimpsed, as those will know who have studied the problem of insomnia at first-hand. As one lies, preparing oneself for sleep or waiting for it, various pictures and thoughts occupy the screen. Now the condition of reverie must come. So long as the fleeting images are connected by any thread of reason or guidance, it is not reverie; for the latter is a twilight condition in which the witness, though still awake, does not feel any relatedness among these images. Psychology laboratory tests support the theory that we generally go from waking to the dream state, not directly to the dreamless. Now suddenly an image appears which seems exceptionally distinct or lifelike, or somehow claims more than our casual interest. At this point the waking ego drops away, the screen as screen disappears, and the dreamer “enters” the picture projected, as a participant–some may say that it is not the individual who projects the dream images. Anyway, the agent of this projection, whoever it may be, certainly enters it, i.e., identifies with it, and takes it for real.
One chief school of Indian philosophy, the Advaita Vedanta, finds it analogous to the process of creation itself, as described in the Taittiriya Upanishad: “He (the Self) wished, ‘Let me be many, let me be born.’ He became self-absorbed. Having meditated, He created all this that exists. Having projected it, He entered into it.”(4) Our minds do not feel fully satisfied with any account of the matter, and volumes of philosophy might be written about why that is so; here we can say only that somehow the third dimension comes, and then the fourth, for the dream state has its own kind of time and space, its own ego and body, reason and “law”–of which, are very much more fluid than those of the waking state.
Now that Alice is in the Looking-Glass world she finds it, like Wonderland, a world of constant contradiction, as the symbol of the mirror-image repeatedly reminds us.This contradiction or lack of connection is the characteristic of dream.That it is characteristic of our waking world as well is not so evident to us in our present condition.
“We’re all mad here,” says the Cheshire Cat.
“How do you know I’m mad?” Alice asks.
“You must be,” the Cat replies, “or you wouldn’t have come here.”
Indian psychology reports that when our mind becomes spiritually developed it views the world in much this way; but of this, more later.
Humpty-Dumpty and the significance of names; puns
Alice makes a number of discoveries in the Looking-Glass world, and we must examine some of these. One of the most important is that words are not to be taken lightly. They can be weighed, so to speak, they are “things”, just as sense-objects and even concepts are. Many creatures–frustrated Gnat, the two Queens, the Sheep, the White King and White Knight–to mention that great autocrat of the Word, Humpty Dumpty–disturb Alice’s complacent ideas of the nature of words and names. Let us trace for a moment the history of how names become a part of our mental equipment. When the little child is learning its first language there is one name for every separate object; the object and name seem to be invariable . Next the child discovers two things: first, that a “dog” can also be a “puppy”, and may have a personal name besides; second, that the world is full of puppies. Thus it learns the discrimination of individual from species and species from genus. If it now learns another language its consciousness is expanded still further in its comprehension that a given object or idea may have many names. This is, of course, one of the starting-points of Indian philosophy, that behind the names and forms of things there is a Reality which they must be discriminated. The famous Vedic dictum is the epitome of this, “Truth is one, sages call it by various names.” A new stage of perception is entered when the child realizes the value of words in themselves, that they have personalities, so to speak, independent of their referents. This outlook is borne in on Alice at every step. Humpty-Dumpty assures her that although words have their own predilections, one must master them, not be mastered by them. “When you’ve once said a thing,” the Red Queen declaims, “that fixes it and you must take the consequences.” The Duchess, in Wonderland, called her baby a pig through vexation, and it later turned into one.
This is the stage at which words can be enjoyed and puns appreciated. Puns have surely been unduly slandered by unkind critics. A pun is fun because it can jolt us out of our conditioned responses; can lift the mind to a newer, creative angle of vision, and force us to consider a word with detachment, separated from the enslavement of its immediate connotations. Puns are not uncommon in the Upanishads. The Aitareya Upanishad, after making a sort of pun explains, “for the gods are indeed fond of indirect names”. Alice is meeting them continually through her adventures, puns of all sorts, from the atrocious and pathetic ones made by the Live Flowers and the Gnat, to the Red Queen’s cleverest. The pun has a great deal to do with our dream-life. Many dreams have been shown on analysis to have had their original stimulus in the mind’s penchant for disguise by punning at the subconscious level. (5) Sometimes a single passing word, heard or spoken during the day, can trigger an entire dream episode. Such is the power of words. One word may suggest an entirely different one by its spelling, but more often by its sound, and thus break the usual connection between ideas. In the Looking-Glass story it is by deliberately having the creatures misunderstand Alice, that the puns are most often employed. This too brings her a kind of detachment by forcing her not to take herself too seriously.
We relate here a dream which closely parallels the following extract from a writing of Swami Vivekananda on the Atman, the Self: “Where am I not already?” he asks, “I am reading this book of nature. Page after page I am finishing and turning over, and one dream of life after another goes away….and when I have finished my reading, I let it go and stand aside, I throw away the book and the whole thing is finished.” (6) The pertinent dream is reported by Christopher Fry, who says that a friend once dreamed, under the influence of ether, that he was turning over the pages of a great book. In this book he knew he would find, on the last page, the meaning of life. The pages proved to be tragic and comic by turns, and his anticipation of the denouement was increased by the uncertainty about which it would be. At last it came. The whole secret was revealed in a hundred words uproariously funny. When he returned to waking consciousness he was in tears, from laughter, and remembered it all. But just as he tried to tell someone about it, that great comic answer plunged back out of his reach. Seers and saints generally have testified that the Ultimate Reality is altogether indescribable; true, but many have hinted that Its approach is full of humor. Shri Ramakrishna described how, in one of his most fulfilling visions, God came and played with him by cracking his knuckles and cutting jokes.
There is, then, a level of the mind where we may say that the word and its referent have about equal reality, as one does not seem logically prior to the other. It is not that anyone in this mental mode believes that by saying “fire” heat will be produced; but there is also the awareness that to call another person a fool is likely to provoke a reaction. To Alice’s dreaming mind, the dissociation of the name from the named has gone so far that she wonders such things as what will become of her name, should she lose it in the famous wood where things have no names. The pompous Humpty-Dumpty is her mentor in all this. Unable to do the simplest exercise in subtraction, he has, like many a poor mathematician, a wise way with words. From him Alice learns that language is something constantly created, mutated; that words must be treated with respect, “hired”, and bent to one’s will. Humpty’s instruction is underlined by the White King, the gist of whose message seems to be, “Don’t jump to conclusions. Listen carefully, and be wary of the immediate implications of what you hear.” The White Knight, another logic-chopper, has carried the separation of name from named ad absurdum, conceiving four different ways to name a song of his own invention.
Vedantic thought stands firm against the view, prevalent in contemporary Western philosophy, that the distinction between substance and attributes is merely semantic and artificial. If that be urged as the ultimate philosophic position, says the Vedanta, it may be so, but it is indeed a “counsel of perfection.” Our mind in its present unregenerate condition cannot but make such a distinction, and moreover must press on with doing so until it loses its own human limitations altogether; the aforesaid philosophies are facile, because they do not tell us how we are to realize the monism which they proclaim. Vedanta claims that as the mind expands, through moral and spiritual exercises, toward the encompassment of Brahman (the spiritual Entity or substance underlying the whole universe), the individual cannot but shed all forms and names, especially his “own”, which are the products of ignorance. At one stage in this process he comes to see that mankind, in its materialistic propensity, has put the cart before the horse. The fact is that the name is logically prior to the object or concept named. As it is put by the devotional schools, “the name of God is more powerful than God.” In the beginning was the Word. It has been said by Indian psychologists that at this high level of mental evolvement words can mean anything. However it is true that at the highest level, complete identity with the Infinite Spirit, name and named again become one, no separation being possible.
The incident is told of Shri Ramakrishna that when he once asked a another monk about this abstruse philosophical point, the relation between the word and its meaning, the latter’s reply was, “That which is the bodhaka, the symbol, is the bodhya, the thing symbolized.” Shri Ramakrishna, hearing this, went at once into samadhi, super-consciousness; which, we may venture, is perhaps the one sincere and appropriate response to such a remark. But Alice, in her Looking-Glass world, did not reach either of these two higher conditions of knowledge, and we must hurry on with her other adventures.
Another of her discoveries is that life is like a huge chess game being played all over the world. Its goal is, of course, to reach the eighth square, where the player may choose to become Queen. This means a transformation into total freedom, the freedom to move on the board in any direction. The goal of Yoga is quite analogous. To quote again from Swami Vivekananda, “as a spider makes its web out of its own substance and becomes bound in it, and cannot go anywhere except along the lines of that web, so we have projected out of our own substance this network called the nerves, and we cannot work except through the channels of those nerves. The Yogi says we need not be bound by that….but when a man is able to act with or without these channels, birth and death will have no meaning for him. He will work all over the universe.” (7) Alice must begin her game as a Pawn. We can almost hear the classic question, Are we not all pawns, the playthings of the gods? And a pawn she must remain, advancing step by step until the goal is reached. However, in this chess game there are some peculiar rules. As in our life too, when we have to break old habit patterns, Alice must sometimes retrace her steps in order to move ahead. Appropriately it is the Red Queen, a kind of governess-figure, who introduces her to this chessboard of life. (Here is another feature common in dreams, a figure completely submissive in the waking-life reversed into a dominating one or vice versa. The black kitten, Alice’s pet, has become the formidable Red Queen.) In what is probably the most celebrated allegory in the book, she tells Alice, “Here, you see, it takes all the running you can do to stay in the same place. If you want to get somewhere, you must run at least twice as fast as that!” Alice does actually reach the goal and becomes a Queen, a success not often met with in dreams, but probably fortunate for her host of young readers.
“Remember who you are!” This is the Queen’s final instruction, and it proves to be difficult for Alice, just as it was in Wonderland, where she had interesting worries over this problem of identity. When she comes into a wood where things have no names, the idyllic incident which follows is significant for us. Alice comes upon a fawn, but because each of them has lost something of personal identity, neither is startled. Regarding each other with interest, as fellow-creatures, they are heedless of class or kind. There is no fear in the fawn and no anticipation of its fear in Alice. Soon they are walking together, the fawn’s neck encircled by the little girl’s arms. But when the spell is broken and they descend again to the awareness of name and form, it is the fawn who first remembers what he “is”, and bounds away in alarm, leaving Alice with the sense of friendship lost. The question of identity is of course a crucial one in Indian philosophy. To ask “Who am I?” is the beginning of wisdom, and Vedanta demands of us a close pursuit of the answer. But all the schools of Vedanta will point out that it lies in just the opposite direction: when Alice and the fawn come out of the woods and remember their own names and distinguishing features, they are recalling what they are not. According to the Indian sages and saints this identity question must trouble us until the question itself disappears in the realization of our true nature. According to some, this consists in comprehending that we are intimately related to the Divine as a child to its Mother. Another school will say that we are parts of That, branches of the one Vine; It is the Soul of our soul. The Advaita school claims that we are not less than one with it; that Atman, our innermost consciousness, is Brahman, Cosmic Consciousness. (8) All of these would agree that our present conception of ourselves is mistaken, limited, bound, egocentric. So the spell cast over Alice and the fawn in the woods is really a glimpse of the simple, pure, and lofty condition experienced by persons of spiritual enlightenment.
Another lesson Alice learns is that the ability to rise above humiliation is a hallmark of character. Perhaps in no other famous children’s story is the hero so constantly subjected to insult and criticism. It comes first from the contemptuous Caterpillar in the first portion of the book, and continues, at the hands of many creatures, until Alice can stand it no longer, and breaks her dream. Psychologists have criticized this feature of the tale, calling it masochistic; but then, all character-development, all struggle for a state of equanimity, will have to be so labeled. And Alice comes through very well. She has her crying spells, but is generally brave. She tries to be courteous, but is unafraid to challenge downright unfairness. She is in the game to win. At one point, when a forest looks too dark, she determines to go on, remarking, “for I certainly won’t go back, and this is the only way to the Eighth Square.”
Believing impossible things
How to Keep Grief from the Door, might be the name of her next lesson. It is explained by the White Queen, that wistful, untidy creature whose complacent advice is not without its measure of sanity. Alice has suddenly become aware of her loneliness, and begins to cry. The Queen begs her to stop, saying, “Consider what a great girl you are. Consider what a long way you’ve come today. Consider what o’clock it is. Consider anything, only don’t cry!” The dictum itself makes Alice laugh. Can the Queen prevent crying by considering things? she asks. “That’s the way it’s done,” the other replies decisively, “nobody can do two things at once, you know.” This mind-over-matter technique may seem ridiculous to our matter-of-fact generation, but in the East it would never be laughed at.Yoga, the Indian psychology, affirms that we certainly can, through practice, alter the mood and disposition of our mind. It is a question of non-attachment. First we need to understand the true situation: I am not the mind, but beyond it. The mind is an instrument, and when we find unwanted and pain-bearing thoughts rising in it, we can, if we are on the job, nip these in the bud and redirect the mental energy involved. The technique entails the practice of meditation. In fact, if we believe the White Queen, she herself practices something like this. She used to practice believing impossible things for half-an-hour a day. “Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast!” says she. Those who have tried meditation (and before breakfast is the best time) on the great propositions of Vedanta–“Brahman alone is real, the world illusory,” “Consciousness is Brahman,” “Thou art That,” and so on, will feel a kinship with the good Queen. Impossible they seem at first; but, endowed with a bit of grace, we can and do realize their truth at last in the innermost conviction of our heart.
The temporal and elusive nature of the enjoyment of sense-objects haunts Alice throughout her dream world. In this respect too, the Vedantist will say, the story is symbolic of our experience in everyday life. In “Wool and Water” Alice rows the boat toward the most beautiful scented rushes she has ever seen; but although she is able to pick plenty of them, there is always a lovelier one just out of reach. So it goes, and Alice is “so busy with the curiousness of things” that she scarcely notices how quickly these prizes have begun to fade, as they lie in the bottom of the boat. Her author does not overlook it, however, and points out to his readers that even real-life rushes last but a very short while, what to speak of dream-rushes. Alice finds that Looking-Glass refreshments do not refresh! Food she is about to eat disappears.The merchandise in the shop of the Sheep is will-o’-the-wisp, ever-receding from her gaze when she tries to scrutinize it. Actually, if Alice had had, at this point, a bit more luck in the depth of her perception, she might have caught her own mind in the act of creating the very details she was trying so hard to observe, as some dreaming persons have done.
In the character of the book’s last figure, the quixotic White Knight, we see that union of pathos and charm which constitute absurdity. The Knight is a shining example of the pairs of opposites: success and failure, joy and sadness, wit and folly. He can forgive anything, including himself, and there is a dignity in even his most undignified moments.
We come finally to the most important question in the Looking-Glass philosophy: is this all a dream; if so, who dreams it? Tweedledum and Tweedledee point out to Alice the figure of the Red King, sleeping beneath a tree, and assure her that he is dreaming about her. Moreover, if he were to awaken, she would go out like a candle. She is only a “sort of thing in his dream,” they point out, making the Red King rather a God-figure, since they, the twins, are in the same fix. When told she cannot even waken him, as she is not real, Alice begins to weep. (In Wonderland too, while her body was shrinking she had feared it might lead to going out like a candle.) “I hope you don’t suppose those are real tears?” taunts Tweedledum, and Alice, provoked to exasperation, judges their talk to be all nonsense. Bravely she brushes the tears away. Disillusionment is coming.
In dream we usually feel that we are awake. Doubt sometimes comes, and it is often followed by waking. A friend reports that in one such dream the suspicion that he was dreaming was followed by his own reflection, “But in that case there should be inconsistencies here, and I don’t find any. So it must be real.” He then awoke and found that what he had been dreaming had been most inconsistent (judged by the waking mind). Another records such a doubt being followed by the certainty that he was not dreaming. Now according to Indian psychologists such dreams are helpful because they serve to show us how the sense of reality associated with the waking state may itself have to be distrusted. One must entertain the possibility that there is another stratum of reality to which we can “wake up” from this dream of life-and death. There is something in us, which they call the Self, which has the habit, as it were, of endowing with the sense of reality any experience the mind is engaged in. So whether the “dreamer” is called the unconscious or sub-conscious mind, or whatever else, it is the Self which embodies the reality of any such judgment.
In a lecture in which he clarifies the famous doctrine of maya , Swami Vivekananda says, “I may be dreaming all the time. I am dreaming that I am talking to you and that you are listening to me. No one can prove that it is not a dream. My brain itself may be a dream….We all take it for granted. At the same time we cannot say, I do not know. This standing between knowledge and ignorance, this mystic twilight, the mingling of truth and falsehood–where they meet–one knows. We are walking in the midst of a dream, half-sleeping, half-waking, passing all our lives in a haze; this is the fate of every one of us.” And again, to continue his comment on Alice in Wonderland , “When we dream, the things we see all seem to be connected; during the dream we never think they are incongruous. It is only when we wake that we see the want of connection. When we wake from this dream of the world and compare it with the Reality, it will be found all incongruous nonsense, a mass of incongruity passing before us, we do not know whence or whither, but we know it will end; and this is called Maya.” (9)
Conversation with a kitten
Although Alice brushed away her tears, the doubt had been planted. In a later chapter she happily finds evidence that she is not dreaming after all; “–unless,” she says, “we’re all part of the same dream. Only I do hope it’s my dream, and not the Red King’s! I don’t like belonging to another person’s dream.” Alice has an experimenting nature: she would like to wake up the Red King and see what happens. Here is another aspect of the same profound spiritual truth. Whatever sophisticated explanation of “the dreamer” may be given us, one cannot but feel that one is somehow involved as subject; one cannot be simply the dream-object. When the story is over and the little girl holds in her hands the kitten who started it all, she says, “Now Kitty, let us consider who it was that dreamed it all. This is a serious question, my dear, and you should not go on licking your paw like that… You see, Kitty, it must have been either me or the Red King. He was a part of my dream, of course, but then I was a part of his dream, too!” Finally Lewis Carroll puts it squarely to the reader: Which do you think it was?
The Vedantist’s answer, as we have indicated, is both simple and complex. Without going into the question here as to whether there is more than one soul, we may simply say that there is a sense in which all this is my dream–and, paradoxically, this can be said by every one of us.
There is a poem serving as epilogue to this tale, in which the author speaks in the first person. “Life,” it concludes, “what is it but a dream?” Evidently Carroll was sincere, not wholly jesting, with the questions the story raises. If so, one would like to know how he reconciled such intuitions with his Christian theology: What is it we awaken to? A heaven or hell? How to prove that this again is not another dream?
What does the Vedanta philosophy say about that Reality to which we must one day awaken? “When discrimination comes and man finds there are not two but one, he finds that he is himself this universe.” “It is I who am this universe as it now exists, a continuous mass of change. It is I who am beyond all changes, beyond all qualities, the eternally perfect, the eternally blessed.” There is, therefore, but one Atman, one Self, eternally pure, eternally perfect, unchangeable, unchanged; it has never changed; and all these various changes in the universe are but appearances in that one Self. Upon it name and form have painted all these dreams.” (Swami Vivekananda).
“He is the Reality in this world of shadows, the consciousness of all conscious beings, the One who fulfills the desires of many. The wise, who realize Him as the Soul of their souls–them belongs eternal peace, unto none else.” (10)
1 The Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda, Vol. III, 8th ed., p. 23.
2 Ibid., VIII, 3 rd ed., p. 388.
3 Ibid., V, 7 th ed., p. 104.
4 Taittiriyopanishad, 2.6.1.
5 To give an example, a man dreams that he has returned from a sea-voyage and is seeing his wardrobe trunk through the customs office. The officer takes each clothes-hanger off the rack, telling the man he must pay duty on each,”You must pay per hanger.” After waking he realizes that the phrase “pay per hanger” has its root in a long incident the previous day involving a paper-hanger who had come to work in his house.
6 Complete Works, II, 9th ed., p. 250.
7 Ibid., I, 10th ed., p. 244.
8 Not the cosmic consciousness which is the witness of the cosmos, and sustains it, is meant; but pure consciousness which is the real being or thing-in-itself of the cosmos–other words, the substratum upon which the cosmos is superimposed, as it were.
9 Ibid., III, 8th ed., p.23.
10 Kathopanishad, 2.2.13.
First published in: Vedanta for East and West, # 94, March-April 1967
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