I acknowledge this graphic from the Net

The unreal has no existence

The real has no non existence

This is what the Wise see as the Truth 2.16

This seemingly complex verse is the essence of Shankara’s concept of maya, illusion, of the unreal being perceived by the senses as real. Krishna here explains what is real sat and what is real asat.

Anything that is transient is asat, unreal and is maya, illusion. Anything that is constant is sat and real.

All that we perceive through our senses are transient. They exist within a time and space frame. Heat and cold or pain and pleasure or success and failure are perceived with specific reference to a time and place. They are caused by certain actions of either nature or us and last as long as the triggers of action are present. They then cease. They are seemingly real within that time and space frame, but cease to be of relevance beyond. This is what Buddha referred to as anicchha.

Shankara in his commentary on this verse talks about a clay pot. When we look at the pot what do we see? We see the vessel. The vessel, however, is made of clay, yet we hardly see the clay. The vessel contains air if empty and water if full. We do not see them either. We merely see the vessel, the superficial content.

The pot did not exist before it was made. It ceases to exist when in breaks. In both cases it reverts to its clay nature. So, the pot itself is transient, and unreal. In the same way, the clay is also unreal because it is not even perceived. Through this logic, all manifested creations of this world, which perish after a period of time and space, are unreal.

So, what is real in any of these cases?

The objects perceived and experienced are unreal. They are illusory in the sense they perish or change or disappear.  For instance, our own body mind system is unreal, as it is programmed to perish at the end of a life time. All it takes is the exhalation not followed by an inhalation. It can happen any time, any place, any age. The entire concept of life and its experiences are unreal from this perspective, while seemingly real to the objects, which we are while breathing.

Is there something within this unreal transient object that never changes, never perishes and therefore real?

Ramana Maharishi used his Self Inquiry technique of Who Am I to seek the same realisation.

Contemplate on this before we go to the next verse.