Friday, September 21, 2012

"Is Maya Good or Bad?'

The word “Maya” is so intriguing, mysterious, mystical…we keep hearing, talking and discussing about it and have probably formed the opinion that it is something which is very negative. Simply put, it is basically a disillusion which makes us forget our main aim or objective temporarily. The main aim of life is to merge with Him, but Maya produces obstacles and diversions in our path to prevent us from achieving our goal. There are so many examples in our daily life. Very often, while going for some work, we meet a friend, forget all about what we had gone out for, because of the animated conversation with the friend, and come back without having done our job…..this is Maya at work. Similarly, while sitting down to meditate, Maya makes our mind wander…so many times it creates misleading images, situations, feelings etc which are very confusing…all subtle methods to prevent us from achieving merger with Him. As the story goes, Narada was going to fetch water for Lord Vishnu to drink from a house in a near- by village but on the way he met a beautiful girl, Shrimati, bewitched by her beauty, he forgot all about the water, married her, and settled down with her for twelve years as a householder till his illusion got shattered and he finally returned to Lord Vishnu again. …as you can see, Maya spares no one! Genesis: Maya has been known not only by our seers and ancient sages, but finds mention in the Old Testament as well. The Old Testament prophets called it ‘Satan” (Hebrew “the adversary”) while the Greek Testament uses the word “diabolos’, or the devil. It basically produces a multiplicity of forms to hide the ONE Reality. Jesus Christ has said “The devil was a murderer or liar from the beginning and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him…” (John 8:44). Our sages also tell us that it was created from Brahma, hence being present from the “beginning”. According to our Vedic scriptures, the physical world operates under one fundamental law and that law is Maya. The Vedas also point out that God is the only reality and all of creation or separate existence is Maya or illusion. In lay terms ‘Maya” is “anything which is unreal and yet fascinates the mind as the real”, like a mirage in the desert. In the In other words Maya is life itself …therefore, there is no life without Maya! Actually, science too cannot exist without it. Newton’s Third Law of Motion is a law of Maya…”To every action there is an equal and opposite reaction”. In practical terms, this translates into the pair of opposites with which we are so familiar…ebb and flow, rise and fall, day and night, good and evil, birth and death etc. Maya and its purpose: All the above points mentioned would have us believe that Maya is a negative thing, and prevents us from reaching Divinity…but is there anything in our Lord’s creation which does not serve a purpose? We wonder as to what is His purpose in creating Maya. As we are aware, the ultimate purpose of our life is to realize the truth by merging with Him, and in this Nature or Prakriti plays a very important role through Maya. Situations are created whereby we experience pleasure through our senses…feelings of happiness, joy etc, but very soon all these end and are followed by sorrow or misery arising out of this happiness. Sometimes it may be the other way round. Nature makes us realize that all pleasure, pain, happiness and misery are temporary…and real happiness lies elsewhere. Nature achieves this through Maya. Maya, has, therefore, been described as either “Mohini’ Maya or ‘Daivi” Maya, which are actually two sides of the same coin. Till such time the truth has not dawned on us and we are in a stage of delusion, it is Mohini Maya which is at work. Nature, then goes into the process of teaching us by producing just the opposite, trying to make us realize in the process, that all sense dictated processes are short lived and frivolous and that we should strive for permanent happiness…nay bliss…by becoming one with Him. Maya, in its own way tells us that everything in this Universe is changeable, (“anitya”)…. it is only Brahma, which is “nitya’ or unchangeable. Maya urges us to try to realize that unchangeable One. Maya, therefore, is a great teacher as it tries to take us from the unreal to the real. Since Brahma is surrounded by Maya, we first need to penetrate its veils before reaching Brahma….therefore, in order to arrive at the truth, whatever is untrue is given to us to be discarded one by one so that ultimately what remains is nothing but the truth! God wants us to look beyond what we see to find Him.If we do not look beyond what is obvious, what is left is nothing but Maya! Whatever situation we find ourselves in, we should always ask ourselves the question as to what is the divine will behind that situation. In this respect Maya is actually a positive thing as it helps us to get closer and closer to God if the situation, event, happening is interpreted correctly. Sri Ramkrishna Paramhans has said “Plentitudes and blessings such as Brahmajnana and the bliss of Brahma come to us mortals because of the gracious mediation of Mahamaya….” How do we overcome Mohini Maya? In order to fully understand what Maya is teaching us and to rise above the dualities of life, we need to meditate, connect with the Shabd, or Aum, bring our consciousness upto the third eye and sail “into omnipresence”. In other words, achieve Nirbikalpa Samadhi. Ezekiel said “Afterwards he brought me to the gate, even the gate that looketh toward the east: and behold, the glory of the God of Israel came from the way of the east: and his voice was like a noise of many waters: and the earth shined with his glory” (Ezekiel 43:1-2 Bible) (here “east” signifies the divine eye in the forehead, “the noise of many waters” means hearing the Word, Aum and the vibrations of light constitute the sole reality of creation) “Om Asto Ma Sadgamaya”…lead us from “Asatya” (untruth… Maya)….to ‘Satya’ (truth)…. “Om Tamso Ma Jyotirgamaya”….lead us from darkness (Maya)… to Light… Source: “Autobiography of a Yogi” and “God Talks With Arjun” by Sri Paramhans Yoganand, “The Spiritual Approach to life’ by Sri Bimal Mohanty.