The ontological status of the world has been a subject of much philosophical speculation despite the fact that the world is an existential given. According to some philosophers, such existential givenness could turn out to be comparable to the earth's apparent flatness, with the actual truth turning out to be the very opposite of what it seems. Philosophers often cite the experience of a dream to establish the plausibility of their position that the world might appear to be real while it is being experienced, and yet turn out to be ultimately false like a dream. This motifplays a particularly important role in schools of philosophy in the East and the West which are idealistic in their orientation.
This book explores the nuances of the theme of the world as dream in all its richness.
Arvind Sharma, formerly of the I. A. S., is the Birks Professor of Comparative Religion in the Faculty of Religious Studies at McGill University in Montreal, Canada, and currently engaged in promoting the adoption of a Universal Declaration of Human rights by the World's Religions.
Advaita Vedanta may be described as a form of philosophical idealism, inasmuch as it looks upon the world as an immaterial phenomenon rather than as a physical object. So; a heavy object, according to this view, would be no more than a dense thought. In fact the approach is rarefied even further in Advaita Vedanta and the world is often accorded the status of a dream.
This book constitutes an exploration of this marked tendency in Advaita Vedanta to conceive of the world as a dream, and incorporates the role played by dreams in other cultures, as well as recent advances in the scientific study of dreams, for the light they shed on the perception of the world as dream in Advaita Vedanta.
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