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Tag: illusion


There’s a beautiful description of two of the greatest devotees of Sri Ramakrishna Paramhamsa as given by Swami Ranganathananda in his Bhagavad Gita exposition.

It was said that Maya could never catch either of them. Why? For two opposing reasons.

For the first devotee Narendra aka Swami Vivekananda, he had becomes just too big for the net of Maya. How? Through jnaana or knowledge. The jnaani knows he is the same as The Infinite One, and hence no net however large can contain such a person.

And the other devotee? He was Durga Charan Nag, a householder and a doctor. He was supposed to have been one of the greatest devotees of the Divine Mother. He was so humble, that he would say the Lord is everything and he is nothing. This made him so small that he could easily pass through the Maya net!

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Ma is ‘not’, and ya is ‘that which is’. Put together Maya refers to ‘that which is not’. The divine men and women call Maya as an illusion, and nothing more than a cloak of unreality. They refer to the world around us as unreal, or made of Maya.

It is said that Maya springs from attachment to worldly objects. This attachment is what gives Maya its innate strength. We all know what is right, but are still pulled towards doing the wrong things.

When a spiritual text refers to the world as unreal, it is easy to dismiss this as hogwash. “I can touch and feel everything around me, how can this world be unreal?” The word unreal here must be read as impermanent. That we (somehow incredibly) expect everlasting joy from objects whose lives themselves are finite – is a demonstration of the true power of Maya.

How do we get out of this? The trick is to not get caught up in the current mood. An example is that of economic forecasters. Studies have shown that they almost never get their predictions right. When oil is at 30$, they become super pessimistic, and when oil is at 120$ they become super optimistic. When countries are at their peak performance, they upgrade GDP growth estimates, and when economies hit rock bottom, they slash growth forecasts. In life, we too get caught up in the moment, and that leads us to take things to extremes instead of practising moderation.

The Buddha’s entire teachings revolved around breaking out of the clutches of Maya. His core message was that attachment is the root of all suffering. Interestingly, Maya in reverse is Yama, who is the God of death. Can’t help but wonder if there is a connection.

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Trick or treat

It is Friday night here. Today was a really tiring and hectic day for me at work. This past week has been the exact same. Every day has been so tight, this might easily be the fastest week this year.

At this very moment, although I have some pending work for today, I am at peace.
Yesterday and the day before, at the exact same time, I was already done with work. Yet I was on edge.

What explains this?

It is just my mind playing tricks on me. Surely the imminent weekend has much (or all) to do with it.
There are automatic labels that have got established.
Weekend = Fun.
Weekday = Not Fun.

This is all just an illusion. Even the weekend is not fun, once we start thinking about the week ahead. While any weekday that is part of a countdown to an upcoming vacation is fun.

The only fun to be had is right here right now. As I write this blog. As you read it. And as you and I both continue on with whatever else life throws at us. Everything is fun. Life is fun. Let us believe it, and our minds will fall for it. Guaranteed!

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