Gita scientifically distinguishes between the Real and Unreal. Chapter 2 starts with the description of the Real and Unreal and the discrimination between these two continues till the end. Those who know these two attain the Supreme (Gita 13.24). That which was not in the past and which will not be in the future, but that which seeming exists only in present is called Unreal. Unreal is non-existent in the present and reality seen is considered illusory. All perishable objects including the body and matter are considered unreal or illusory. The Real is that which defies all changes and remains the same in all the periods of time: past, present and future. Atma or the self characterized by the sense of “I” is eternal and real. All living entities are part of the higher nature (real) whereas their perishable bodies are part of illusory nature (unreal). When one misunderstands rope to be the snake, then the appearance of the snake is considered unreal because this hallucination is not permanent and it does not remain after the discovery of the rope i.e real. Similarly, on waking up from dream we don’t get upset with the incidents in the dream as we realize that the dream is unreal or does not exist anymore. During the dream, it may feel so real but the objects in dream have no factual existence and therefore, imaginary, illusory and unreal. The self or the know-er of body is real whereas the non-self including body is unreal. The seer is real whereas the seen is unreal. The consciousness is real whereas inert matter is unreal.
While living in this world, we experience death, fleeting happiness and distress, incompleteness and ignorance. Gita is clear that all these experiences are illusory and we are not the bodies. We are part the Real, which is eternal (sat), full of knowledge, conscious (chid), full of happiness, complete (purna), without any change or modification and always existing in all times in its own form. The experiences of the body like heat and cold, pleasure and pain, are unreal, impermanent and have a beginning and an end. Those who know both real and unreal nature endure these experiences understanding that they are transitory and don’t affect the eternal Self.
(Source: Holy Geeta By Swami Chinmayananda)