Maya is usually interpreted as "illusion." Have illusions
any reality? What is the creative energy behind illusions?
We can look at Maya as the deluding aspect of the creative power. Often symbolized
as a goddess, Maya is the projector of dazzling images. Think of a movie projector
and how it uses light to project an array of images that captivate our attention.
The yogic masters have always warned us not to get involved in these projections
– Maya's colourful displays. What was a practical warning in ancient
times is even more imperative for us today with the bombardment of sens orystimulation
through films, television, advertisements.
In the old texts, Maya is said to reign in the three worlds – the
physical, the mental and the emotional. They are not separate, but aspects of
the world of our own creation. We are told to conquer or dismantle these worlds.
To conquer our emotions, which are often quite murky, we have to bring in the
light of understanding and see how our desires come into physical existence.
We first need to understand that whatever is created originated in the unseen.
Illusion and desire give creative energy its shape and form. Like clay, its
shape can be changed, until it has been fired in the kiln of our emotions, where
it hardens into concepts that are difficult to break.
The illusions we indulge in are endless and they play out on a very basic
level. Men and women imagine the perfect dream lover and then are quickly disappointed
when their human partner can't fill the image. Some people dream of a paradise
where everything is beautiful and perfect. Or worse, they imagine that if everyone
else were like them, there would be no difficulties in the world, no opposition.
Illusions like these keep us on a teeter-totter between what our imagination
dictates and what we actually experience. When the teeter-totter goes down and
the fantasies are dispelled, we are disappointed.
We have to understand the inherent power in our own illusions and take responsibility
for how we use this power. To conquer our emotional world, which is often quite
murky, we need to bring in the light of understanding. We have to see our illusions,
and we usually don't see them until we experience the pain of disappointment
when the illusions are not fulfilled. So disappointment can be necessary for
our evolution. Each time an illusion is destroyed, we have the choice of accepting
the challenge or reacting with anger, bitterness, revenge. But eventually we
recognize that the anger is really only against ourselves for indulging in the
How can we elevate our illusions to benefit ourselves? We can
use the power of illusion, our personal Maya, to create the Divine
in equally colourful images for the focus of our own mind. We
can create an image, for example, of Divine Mother giving birth
to all life. By creating a symbol that is pleasing to the mind,
we also help bridge the gaps between our philosophical understanding
and our emotional needs. Some people may prefer to create more
abstract symbols in the same way that scientists create symbols
for particles and quarks, which nobody has ever seen. Creating
symbols to communicate with the Most High is a very natural response.
And if our emotions become deeply involved and greatly satisfied,
we cannot help but become attached to our creation.
This is Maya at Her most beautiful, Maya at Her most supportive, Maya at Her
most inspirational and uplifting. She keeps us breathless in awe and wonder,
in spite of the fact that we know it is our own projection. But powerful illusions
have the ability to manifest something real. From imagining the Divine, we create
devotion and gratitude that have a real effect in our lives.
The world we live in is our creation and also our projection. We are responsible
for what we project, even on a daily level to the people we interact with. We
are responsible for our tone of voice,our facial expressions, our choice of
words, because everything we do is an expression of ourselves – manipulated
by egocentricity, by compassion, by understanding, by hatred, by whatever motivates
us. It is all the same energy like a diamond that reflects the light – each
facet reflecting the surrounding colours in a dazzling display.
What will not die is the power beyond Maya, beyond illusion. But Maya, too,
assumes a cosmic role – projecting another life, another round of
birth with death to follow. Will it be a life of darkness? Or a mixture of light
and shadow until the Divine Light consumes all that has been put there? But
what would a region of Light, and only Light, mean? Nothingness? Emptiness?
Emptiness without projection? A formidable thought for the human mind that always
seeks shelter and a place to construct its own weavings.
But such abstract speculations are usually misleading. Only personal experience
can convince. Even then we cannot be sure that Maya didn't have Her finger in
it. How can we know when our experiences are self-created myth? Is life itself
a dream? And whose Maya is it? Is it my personal Maya? Is it the Maya of the
Divine? Or is there still another source – perhaps the Maya of the
yogis, yoginis and gurus?
Does the universe have an end? Does it have a beginning? Can
we ever know how many stars and planets are in each galaxy and
how many galaxies exist? Whose Maya is behind the galaxies?
Some questions can only be answered when we have already arrived.
But by then we may not have any questions.