Maya — The Cosmic Illusion
People on the journey of spiritual enlightenment often wonder why it is difficult to realize the truth. The truth is not difficult to realize. In fact, it is very simple. However, we are unable to realize the truth because our own mind, which is under the spell of Maya, a Cosmic Illusion, refuses to accept the truth.
What is Maya?
Maya is a very powerful “Ignorance” that envelopes humanity. The word Maya itself means “illusion” — the illusion that everything in this world is real as we see it. The world “appears” to be real because of Maya.
This is easily understood when it is compared to a dream. Is a dream real or unreal? Of course, it is unreal. Nothing that happened in a dream actually happened. When the body sleeps, the mind traverses in imagination and we experience a dream. The moment we wake up, we realize that everything that just happened was only a dream. It was the experience of the dreamer, but the dream world ceases to exist the moment the dreamer becomes the waker.
The world too is like a dream, but, unfortunately, we do not realize the truth because of Maya. This illusory power has two aspects. First, Maya projects an illusion; second, Maya conceals the truth. Together these two powers of Maya imprison us in dark ignorance, and we believe what is untrue to be true.
Because of Maya, we do not realize the truth of ourselves and God. The projecting power of Maya projects the world as real. The concealing power of Maya conceals the highest truth of who we are. Thus, it is this concealing power of Maya that withholds Self-realization and God-realization.
We live and die in ignorance under the spell of Maya. A very few are lucky to realize the truth. We realize that the earth is a big stage on which actors are performing a show called Life, produced and directed by a Cosmic Power, the Creator. Whatever happens on the earth stage is just a Cosmic Drama. While a drama is very real — the actors, the light and sound — at the end of the theatrical performance, we know it was just a drama and not real. Life on earth is no more than a theatre, a divine Leela.
Unfortunately, while we understand what a drama is, we do not realize that life itself is a big Cosmic Drama. This illusion is considered real because of the projecting and the veiling power of Maya.
“Two friends were once arguing about the number of spots on a snake that was lying in the bushes. It was late in the evening, and one counted and said that the snake had 46 spots and the other was sure that it had 48 spots. Their argument did not last very long because another friend arrived with a torch. When the light of the torch fell upon the snake, the argument ended because both the friends realized that the snake they argued about was not a snake; it was just a rope.”
When we overcome the spell of Maya, we too will realize the difference between the snake and the rope, the Maya of this world and the reality. The realization will reveal that everything that we see on earth is nothing but a manifestation of God. God is the cause and the world is the effect that appears to be real. In reality, it is God’s energy appearing as you and me.
If we overcome the illusion of Maya, we will realize the truth of who we are. We are not the body, mind or ego but the Divine Spirit, Atman or Soul. This realization will help us to eventually realize God.