I listened to my friend recount a moment in her life — a long moment — but a moment that began with, had clearly been enhanced by, that potent potion, yearning — and I thought, “I know about that.”

“I had to stop it. It was a long distance relationship, you know? We didn’t see each other much. I had to figure out was it real? Or was it the adventure? The alcohol? What was it?”

She couldn’t see inside my head, to every little brain cell nodding in total comprehension, saying, “I know exactly what you mean.”

There is a belief in Hinduism that everything in our world, ourselves, our lives, is a kind of illusion. I thought about that for a while and then thought, “Yeah, but on a practical level, how is that useful? I still have to live here.” But there is the point that none of this is real, and there is reality somewhere.

The idea behind the Hindu notion of Maya, illusion, is that we exist as a dream in the mind of the universe. That makes all our squabbles and terrors and delights pretty minor as we are nothing but a dream in the mind of god. I get that. My life makes no more sense to me than do most of my dreams. In fact, last night — again — I dreamed about deception and subtle, sinister plots. It seemed very real that someone would have sewn scorpions, snakes and spiders into the hem of a skirt. Sure. Why not? And it seemed equally likely that when I was about to kill the scorpions, snakes and spiders with a heavy book, someone would have given me a different skirt and I would be left wondering if I had been wrong about the scorpions, snakes and spiders in the first place. Had I deceived myself? Had I been deceived?

Or is that idea just part of the illusion?

You’d think that if there is illusion there has to be reality, or illusion IS the reality. I thought about that seriously 25 years ago. And then I went nuts. Truly.

The difference between Truth and Belief is sometimes non-existent and sometimes as wide as the universe. Desire amplifies the power of illusion, “If wishes were horses…” I try to remember that though something feels “real,” and I believe in it with all my heart,it may still not be real.

These days, when I identify an illusion, I look at it and I ask this question, “Is this illusion useful to me as a human being? Does it improve my life and my interaction with other people? Does it hurt anyone and is it likely to hurt me? Do I KNOW — in full consciousness — what I am seeing and basing my actions on?” Why? Because some illusions are useful. 🙂


8 thoughts on “Maya

  1. Everything is Maya in this world.. yet we were sent here. There has to be Real Reason behind it- I believe. Sri-Krishna said- Our body is the vehicle of this world for the soul. Definitely that is a significant role of the body and makes it reasonable why we should take care of this body. But why do we need to travel in this world which is called ‘Maya’ if it simply means illusion? I feel it is an world of ‘Example’ for learning and growing and discovering the higher self Again. According to the teachings of Rumi- Everything in this world is example to understand the Divine . But the examples are not ultimate replica of Divine. But those are to help understand of course. So the Purpose of this world is Real, I see.

    • I see it that way, too. Sometimes it — and our purpose in it — is clear. Sometimes it isn’t. I have learned more about life from Hindu scriptures than any other thing — the story of Arjuna and Krishna was a huge awakening for me and told me why I had to cut my brother loose to destroy (or not destroy?) himself. I understood from that that the necessity of things does not always feel good or make me happy or even seem right. And then, all the stories of Shiva. Wow. As I studied I thought, “These are people – god forms – who have known a life like mine.”

      And I forgot their names, but the story of the boy who wanted to learn the lessons from Death and Death said, “You don’t want to learn these lessons. They will set you apart from everyone forever.” But the boy did want to learn them — Natcheteckas??? I don’t know. That was another thing I understood completely. I got that lesson when I reached in my father’s casket and took his hand and felt that he was not there any more. A loneliness and desolation I should not have known at that point in my life was forever part of me.

      However, what use all of this is in life (mine or others) remains the mystery.

      I hope this makes sense. 😀

      • Mystery..hmm.. Wow you just gave me an idea! Now i feel those who are called Mystic is because they show a path towards decoding Mystery!
        Sri-Krishna always inspires me greatly! His every dialogue with Arjuna, Dronacharya, Draupodi, Kunti (mother of Arjuna), Yudhishthir, Duryodhan(Arjun’s cousin brother with whom he had to fight in the field of KuruKhsetra) and all are simply enlightening to me. This terrifying battle Sri-Krishna told Draupadi,even at the eleventh hour when He approached Duryodhan to come to a Just settlement to avert the War, that He definitely never appreciate ‘Revenge’! Those who would fight with the desire of ‘Revenge’ or hatred will be doing wrong.
        Btw you probably wanted to mention ‘Nachiketa’ may be. In the Mahabharat there is also part of lesson about ‘Death’ in a dialogue between Yudhishthir and a Dev(I don’t remember the name right now).
        Well I kinda got excited to find someone after a long time who also found Sri-Krishna’s story as awakening! ❤
        A lesson about death from Rumi had touched me a lot. You can take a look -
        Even after knowing this I still fear death to some extent. May be because I've forgotten my experience of rising in this world from the grave of my mother's Womb?

        • That is a beautiful poem. Rumi is a great teacher, as is Kabir. I love them both. “Your words and your soul will belong to the world of no place and time.” ❤

          I'm not afraid of death at all. One of the things I learned from watching my father's disease progress, some moments I shared with him weeks before he died, and then touching his body in the casket taught me that death is all right for the person who dies. It is hell for the people who are left behind and miss that person. But, we learn compassion and courage from death if we allow ourselves to.

          And yes — Nachiketa is it. What an amazing work that is.

          I saw the story of Krishna and Arjuna in a painting, it was in an art museum. It was a Mogul painting and there were the layers of the world and on one side was the chariot carrying Krishna and Arjuna. I had no interest in those things at all, even though a friend had said years earlier, "You don't know it, but you are a Hindu." She was, her husband was.

          Then I read the description beside it and I looked at it again. I began to cry. The painting told me exactly what I had to do with my brother. It was definitely a moment of enlightenment for me.

          A few months later they changed the exhibit, more paintings from the Mogul period, these of Shiva's story. Again, I was struck to the heart. "Drop the corpse." That is a profound statement and sterling advice and very difficult.

          • Profound..Sterling advice! I agree very much.. Yeah I do..
            I loved it how you immediately recognized the sign and knew what you had to do with your brother. ❤ You sure are pretty brave.
            Oh I can't help mentioning 'Shams-I-Tabriz', Teacher of Rumi. A hint of His teaching- He literally took me other world and transformed me to an extant.. And I Thank God for the great opportunity to meet a Spiritual Teacher in my Life Who brought all of them alive to me and I realized(to some extent) what it really means to be in the world of 'No Place and NoTime'. It is also said this way- Beyond Time and Place. All these are actually right here.. My Teacher brought Moses, Sri-Krishna, Buddha, Jesus, Mohammad, Baha'u'llah all(named and un-named here) alive to me ..Every time I visited Him listened to Him I could deeply feel I was traveling more than one world and in Timeless Time. He was my Living Book. Before meeting Him i didn't realize how much powerful a living book is than a written book.

  2. This is something I did think about and now, I wonder what in the world was going on in my head that I could spend that much effort thinking about something for which there is no reality. I made myself crazy. I do not do that anymore. I also don’t stay angry all the time. I don’t allow myself to be drawn into a rage, even about things that might even be worth a little rage or three. I have given it all up for some version of sanity. For me. Real things in a real world. It helps to NOT watch the news.

    • I think it’s an important question. I still ask it. As for anger? No, I don’t do that any more, either. I might feel it and acknowledge it, but rage? No. It is not worth the energy and the only one ever hurt by it is me. 🙂

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