Here we go. The most favorite and most misunderstood topic. Because maya exists but not really. It is present in its own absence. Many times, it is understood as something like the fizz in a cola drink. Just bubbles and evaporates. For few others, maya sticks its ugly neck only when there is a moment of sorrow. Losers and dropouts in life generally take solace by bringing up the maya topic to justify their failures. Some have the tendency to think that anything beautiful or enchanting is maya. Too rich, too good, too cute is all maya. The worst and most misleading of all is the thought that this world is just a maya and does not exist. Such a thought, either leads you to get numb and thick skinned or get reckless and go haywire to loot and plunder.
While maya is neither right nor wrong, it is better to be understood and appreciated well. Knowing the mysterious dynamics of maya helps you dealing with life better. Because you can never do away with it. It is here to stay. Even if you have gotten out of the clutches of maya, you will still have deal with the rest of the world which is wallowing in it.
Its doubly important that not only you remain uninfluenced by it, but also to know what precisely you have to do with the influenced ones.
Maya is more like a apparition or like the mirage in a desert. You don't have to decry or denounce it, but have a hard look at it and simply beware of it. In other words, don't take it seriously. The upanishads(vedic literature on self) came up with a classic example of a man mistaking the rope for a snake in the darkness of the night. He went back, brought a stick, beat up the 'snake' to his heart's content till he realized that it was just a harmless rope. The snake seen by him is maya and the rope beneath it was the truth or the consciousness. Just as how the man was ignorant of the rope and saw a non existent snake on the rope, you tend to project your own ideas and beliefs on this world. While the projected 'snake' only posed a threat, the projected world does a lot more. It fascinates you, enchants you, makes a winner or a loser out of you, turns you to noble or ignoble and even grants enlightenment or bondage.
Disciple : What is maya ?
Master : Your thought that you are bound is maya !
Disciple : What is liberation from maya ?
Master : To know that there is neither bondage nor liberation is true liberation !
To see human being as just human being is truth. But to project a husband, father, brother, good man and bad man is maya. To see a tree simply as a tree is truth, but to impose ideas of beauty and grandeur on it, is maya. The day when you have managed to see the hidden truth beneath all the projections of your mind on this world, you have learnt to appreciate maya still seeing the truth without distortion. Indeed, you can have the cake and eat it too.
What came from one singular source appears as two. Obviously, you and this world are not created by two different creators. You are part of this world and hence part of the creation too. For some weird reasons you see this world as separate from you. A place to perform, prove, survive, fight, indulge, consume,be good(occasionally)and eventually give up and disappear one day. Rare are the moments when you feel some kind of oneness with creation.
God is a very incredible entity. Because god exists only when you feel that you and world separate from each other. Then you need someone to protect you, support you, get school admission for you, get you a job where you don't have to work at all, get you married to someone who can say only yes to you, run your house hold errands for you, listen to your endless prattles on just about everything etc., Because, world has become a challenge and you need someone to back you up, to face that challenge. This is how the god factor came alive from nowhere. This state of you and world at love or in loggerheads, with a god to supervise and to punish and reward, can be described as a state of dvaita.
Disciple : How do i know I'm in this state of duality?
Master : Whenever you ask this question !
Disciple : How do i know I'm out of this duality state?
Master : Whenever you stopped asking this question !
To be in dualistic state is not wrong. But not knowing it can be. Because duality is only a perception. Everything about you and around you would remain the same, irrespective of dual or non dual state. Furthermore, even when your mind attains non dual state of being, still you would have to speak and deal with people of duality only. the duality would continue to exist even after you have gone beyond it. People who talk of going beyond duality are only fantasizing.
The more they pursue, the more they can struggle in their present state of duality. Only those who have accepted the existence of duality can ever rise above it. To dismiss duality as non existent and illusory in itself is ignorance. True wisdom is when your mind abridged the non-dual self deep within and world of multiplicity outside, which brought oneness to the apparent divide, it lived in for many lives.
You would make a obvious mistake, almost always, when you think the world outside is independent of you. If you see a brand new car parked on the road, glistening in sunshine, it is not just because of only the sunlight but also because of you. You see them the way they are seen. Your mind gives life to what you see, hear, smell, taste and the touch. Your self from inside flows through the mind and reaches the object outside. It is in deed and action gets filtered by your mind in between the subject(self) and object(the car) . Just like a projector plugged in to a power socket nearby, the mind is plugged into your consciousness (self) . The projector cannot function without the electricity and so is your mind without the consciousness. While the movie projector send light beams to show images on a plain white screen, your mind is projecting ideas, opinions, beliefs and on the canvas of the world.
Disciple: Do you project your mind too ?
Master : Yes !
Disciple : Then whats the difference between you and me ?
Master : My mind projects and i know it, your mind
projects too and you have not known it yet!
Disciple : Whats is the problem in it ?
Master : Problem is you believe it and want others to beleive it too !
Did you notice, that you immediately comment on just about everything you see around you? As good, bad, right, wrong, hopeless and incredible? That comment is the projection. While the self enable your eyes to see the object, your mind goes on with the commentary. The projection and commentary are endless. These abilities called as vikshepa shakti (power to project) and Jnana shakti (power to know) are inborn qualities of the mind. The hitch is, your mind's projection and commentary need not be always right. However you take them for real and try hard, as you can, to impose it on others too. That's why the same world appear differently to different people. The same life is experienced with such differences amongst all human beings. I may not ask the impossible to happen to you at the start. To stop projecting !
But certainly i can suggest you to be aware of this projection and commentary when they happen. And Voila ! that's the beginning of a whole new perception in you towards life. A beginning where you would want to see the sunrise as sunrise and not as a 'beautiful' sunrise. That the prime time serial on TV has actors enacting roles and not real life characters. You would come around soon to figure the fact that you have dumped your whim and fancy upon just about everything you come face to face with.
You have created a surreal world of your own. Its a kind of a dream with your eyes open, watching this world in a manner, your mind personally interpreted to you. As long as the mind is at work, there will be projections invariably. But not as much as a mind that knew and be in awareness of the projections. Projection happens in both, the ignorant and aware mind, but a mind in awareness now has stopped the projection of its own but allow the consciousness(self) alone to flow through itself to reach the objects.
The meditative mind is able to see this world as it is. It projects the consciousness alone without any distortion. However even after that you would still be commenting on the world and your experiences, but you will know that its just for the sake of it and you dont really mean to comment that way.
Its about experience. You have personal direct experience of many things in life. Seeing a good painting or a bad movie. Tasting good, bad and weird cuisine. Smelling the pleasant and unpleasant. Hearing terribly noisy music and distant sounds of a chirping bird. Felt hot shower, the chill of the air-conditioner and the rustling of a breeze when you stood by the window. These can be classified as sensual experiences.
Disciple : Can you describe the experience of the self ?
Master : Hush ! Can you hear the sound of the falling rain?
Experiencing the self in no way can rob you off the experiences of the outer world. Just that you will begin to experience the world a little more intensely. Strangely, you would stop calling your outer experiences as good or bad thereafter. They are simply experiences. when you could experience the dynamism of outer life and the silence of the inner self, you will come to a full circle in life. This full circle of experiences makes you complete and full. That fullness is the ultimate purpose of your life.
No doubt everyone wants to be free.
The boundless liberated you cannot be going around
Disicple : Despite your enlightenment,
Master : Why so ?
Disciple : I see you still do all these earthly
Master : True !
Disciple: so what were you doing
Master : Cribbing !
Disiciple : and now ?
Master : stopped !
The enlightenment only liberates you from
No more healing of ideas upon anyone who came
What more? You will certainly free from yourself.
Some people can mistake doing rigorous sadhana will result in spiritual enlightenment. They believe that by constant inculcation of certain qualities found in enlightened individuals, can make them enlightened too. But unfortunately enlightenment cannot be inculcated or imbibed. Sadhana (austere practice) only prepares the seeker for the enlightenment. But sadhana alone is not enough for the state of fulfillment or state of self awareness. It can only make a seeker get into monotonous repetition of some popular technique. While it helps in finding a regimen of practices, the same sadhana beyond certain point of time, will become a stumbling block towards the Truth. One must know how long a particular sadhana must be practiced. As much it is important to start a sadhana, that much it is equally important to stop it at some stage too.
Sadhana helps in achieving some incredible mind power but that can never be mistaken for enlightenment. The psychic powers attained as a result of intense sadhana is incapable giving you any sense of fulfillment. The seeker must drop the idea that to be enlightened is to possess extra ordinary powers of mind. The psychic powers can be only a distraction from self-realization. Even the ability to sit longer for meditation without movement and the ability to foresee and predict future or simply pick other people's mind can be considered as potential blocks on the path of self awareness. By constant practice one can walk and talk and smile like an enlightened being but the fact remains that those are just imbibed qualities. It never manifests as a result of fulfillment from within. What possibly cannot happen in many years of doing a sadhana can happen in a singular moment of just being in silence. What is imbibed or inherited can vanish some day but the spiritual enlightenment of the self can never be lost.
The Chinese King : "I am powerful and people respect me equally.
So is there any difference between you and me ? "
The Master : "Not much. Except that your kingship can be taken
away from you. But the awareness I have, cannot be".
Sadhana is a beautiful exercise only as long as it happens in awareness. When it has become ritualistic and repetitive and without an end, it only is a waste of time.