Radhanath Swami: The world is real but your conception of the world is an illusion. For example, if you mistake a snake to be a rope, that’s an illusion. You may pick it up and tie it around your throat, but when you get bitten by it, that’s not illusion, that’s real, because the snake is real. So the illusion was the misconception: you thinking that it was a rope. There is a rope and there is a snake but you misidentified the two.
Similarly this world is real and you are real. Anything that emanates from God is real because God is real. You are an eternal soul, but when you identify yourself with the matter of this world, that is an illusion. When we think your happiness is to enjoy matter, that is an illusion. That is the source of all bondage. But when we see matter and think of how to use it in God’s service, that is knowledge.
This microphone which I am using is real. To use it to sing some nonsense would be illusion, but to use it to chant the holy names of God is to understand its relationship with God. To use matter in the service of God is truth, is real.