Māya can also be called illusion

Post By: Published on: December 22, 2016 Reading time: 6 minutes

What is māya?

Māya means illusion or farce. The concept gets its drive from the logic that everything that we see or experience in the world is temporary. Not only that, our attitude, understanding and experiences changes depending on the how we view the situation and our attachment to the outcome. Consequently, our experience is always changing, and this is called samvritti-sathya or transient-truth.

How does māya occur?

  • First, as soon as we become conscious of our own existence, we look for confirmation that we exist (our cognition of our Self or asmitā).
  • As soon as someone confirms our existence, we form a bond (bandhana) with that person or entity to ensure continued affitmation of existence.
  • However, our conditioning (dharma) may not synchronise with the other person or entity, so we are constantly experiencing like (rāga) or dislike (dveṣa) in our transaction with the other entity even as we remain within the bond.
  • When we like something, we try to bring it closer. Similarly, when we dislike something, we try to push it away. This causes movement/ doing or action (karma) and debt (ṛṇa).
  • All action (karma) results in experience (anubhava) which is dependent on our situational awareness (prajñā).
  • Situational awareness consists of two components:
    • Awareness of the situation by the Self during the transaction (vijñāna).
    • Awareness of changes to the Self due to the transaction (jñāna).
  • These changes to our awareness depend on permutations and combinations of 3 attributes of cognition (guṇa).

What is the relationship between asmitā, tantra (weave) and māya…

  • Tantra means “weave”. It is the weave of the person, Self or identity with his, its actions.
  • The Self is called Śiva or Puruṣa and the manifestation of Self is called Śakti or Prakṛti.
  • The difference between Śiva and Puruṣa is that Śiva is the quanta or unit identity while Puruṣa is the composite of many Śiva identities.
  • So, one might say that Śiva is the building block of Puruṣa, Puruṣa is any identity that comprises two or more Śiva identities.
  • At the universe-level, Puruṣa is known as parama-puruṣa (supreme Identity or Self), in which quanta-identities are continuously generated and dissolved. This phenomenon is known as  sadā-Śiva or perennial-identity.
  • In the individual, our identity is called asmitā (sense of self-worth) and its manifestation is called svabhāva (behaviour). Their weave is svatantra (individuality) and the feeling of being the doer is called ahaṅkāra. 
  • The manifestation of Śiva/ Puruṣa is not possible without Śakti/Prakṛti just as Śakti/Prakṛti  cannot manifest without their identities, Śiva/Puruṣa. They weave with each other continuously and this weave is called tantra.

But, how do the mechanics work?

  • First, when Śiva manifests with Śakti, the initial experience is awareness of its own identity (existential identity).
  • Next, the need is confirmation of existence forces Śiva to find another Śiva to acknowledge its existence.
  • When this happens, Śiva experiences both, happiness at confirmation of existence and fear of loss of this confirmation of identity.
  • The fear of loss of this confirmation forces the manifesting identity (Śiva) to latch on to receiving identity (Śiva).
  • Consequently, this bond is not broken until either finds an alternative confirmation of existence.

Śiva’s manifestation in the individual is asmitā (cognition of Self, identity or self-worth). The conditioning is svadharma (personal conditioning) and behaviour is svabhāva. Finally, the weave of conditioning with behaviour is called svatantra or personality.

The transaction between the manifesting Śiva and receiving Śiva is called māya (illusion/ farce).

How does the transaction between two entities (Śiva) become māya (farce)? 

Whenever we transact with anyone, we are constantly confronted by perception. We never see everything in its entirety, nor do others see us for what we actually are. Broadly speaking, we can split our perceptions into,

  • Our behaviour, which is called darśana (that which is shown).
  • What others see, which can be called dṛṣṭi (that which is seen)
  • The seer is called dṛṣṭu (one who sees)
The transactional mechanics can be broken down as,
  • Firstly, during the transaction, the manifesting Śiva can transmit its identity only to the level of its own awareness/ cognition, and this is never complete or in alignment with the situation.
  • Similarly, the receiving Śiva can receive and analyse the incoming information only to the extent supported by its identity and its awareness of the situation.
  • However, the reality is that each Śiva thinks that its own as well as the other’s manifestation is complete, and this leads to a difference in perception between the manifestation and feedback.
  • The resulting relative difference between perception of sender and receiver as well as the way feedback is received and decoded is māya (illusion).

Additionally, it’s important to realise that various other parameters of decision-making framework are also continuously changing.

  • Conditioning (dharma) of the sender and receiver is continuously changing,
  • Dharma of others in the environment is continuously changing,
  • Both, sender and receiver are getting inputs from multiple sources, which makes them distracted,
  • Everyone’s self-worth (asmitā) is continuously changing because the arareness is never completely engaged in the present,
  • The environment or framework of the transaction is continuously changing,

Comment: Therefore, it is very important to understand how māya drives our existence. Our manifestation is the expression of our identity (asmitā). However, the feedback we get may or may not be in congruence with how we perceive our Identity.

Consequently, when there is congruence between our manifestation and the feedback we receive, our sense of self-worth (asmitā) expands and there is rāga (attraction-karma). But, when it is dissonance between the feedback and our Identity, then our asmitā contracts and dveṣa (repulsion-karma) results.

What is the role of and prajñā (awareness).

From the above, we can realise that our ability to engage completly in any situation is dependent on our awareness in any situation.

Situational awareness (prajñā) consists of two components:

  • Awareness of the situation by the Self during the transaction (vijñāna).
  • Awareness of changes to the Self due to the transaction (jñāna).

Points to ponder about māya;

Internal Tags: Conditioning or Dharma, Self Awareness or Asmita,  Guna in Bhagavat- Geeta chapter 14

External Tags: Stress

  • How do you recognise your value system or conditioning (dharma)?
  • When you are stressed, how do you know?
  • How do you recognise that your coping actions are not adequate?
  • What would svatantra mean for your team, your company, your state or country.

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