Maya – December 16 2019

Maya – December 16 2019

The immanent world is not maya; not even the ego is maya. The real maya is the separateness. Feeling and thinking that we are really separate from the whole is the illusion.

Amit Goswami, Ph.D., The Self-Aware Universe

The Sanskrit term maya is usually translated as ‘illusion,’ and is used to describe our world and everything in it. The idea that our world is an illusion, especially to a Western mind, can be off-putting, as it seems to suggest that what happens doesn’t matter, Since it’s all an illusion, why should we even care about it?

As with so many Sanskrit terms, this one is often misunderstood.

The central thesis of Vedanta is this: there is no separation. I am at-one-with Totality. I am at-one-with all things. I am at-one-with you. With God. And yet my senses tell me I am separate.

The life of the spirit is about seeing to what degree I can know myself as spirit, even when I am having the experience of separation. When I remind myself that I am at-one-with even this co-worker who seems rude to me, it might allow me to let go of my resentment for a moment. It might allow me to see her as behaving from her discomfort rather than to me. It might allow me the experience of compassion for the family member who always seems to pre-occupied to pay attention to me. I might find it easier to ask a friend how they’re doing, even though they rarely ask the same of me.

It might help to remind me that, even though I may feel unworthy of love and disconnected from God, that in fact neither of these ideas are even possible in a universe of at-one-with. It might help me give myself permission to stop identifying with the thoughts and feelings that seem only to want me to suffer and help me to settle into the flow of this one thing loving itself.

For if there is only one thing, then this one thing must be God. If there is only one thing, and it is God, then I, too, must be of God. And this other person I have to interact with must also be of God. If I can even imagine for a moment that this is true, the flow of love from one of us to the other becomes more possible. And where there is love, there is improvement. There is hope. There is healing.

Today I will open my mind to the idea that I am at one with another person, and I will ask myself how that might feel.

Boys, Nirmal Bag, Rishikesh, Uttarakhand, India