Exploring the Core of Yogic Philosophy
Maya, Cosmic Veil of Illusion
To manifest Itself as Life, the Nothingness (Brahman) initiated a force called "Maya". It serves to "veil" the Truth, thus creating an "apparent Reality" while Brahman exists simultaneously as the "Supreme Reality. The universe and all within it, exists due to this duality. Nature is the product of the interaction of the Nothingness and Maya.
Maya exists as all that is limited by time and space; all that distorts the Truth: all that undergoes change. Maya is responsible for the cycle of birth/death that results from expanded involvement in world process and diminished awareness of the Nothingness.
A simple example of this lies in a piece of wood or any solid object. Our eyes tell us the piece of wood is solid; but, if the wood is examined on the atomic level, one discovers that there is more space than matter in the wood. Our eyes and senses do not perceive the Truth about the piece of wood, only the "Apparent Reality" of it nature. And even if we then believe what we know of wood on this atomic level, the quantum world lies beyond this. Each perception veils another perception. In the end, we are shown that the world we sense is really an illusion.
However, there is one thing we do know is real: consciousness. The ability to experience consciousness as individual "mind" occurs since it is a reflection of Supreme Consciousness - that which emanates from the Truth - Brahman - the Cosmic Absolute. During meditation, It is experienced as Inner Light. It is the intuitive wisdom that arises from the Self - the Truth - within.
Maya manifests in the mind simultaneously, functioning as a filter that limits and distorts one's awareness of the truth. Conditioned consciousness, called "ego", is the culmination of all boundaries and social/religious theories imposed by society on an individual. The senses also limit one's experience since the information one receives is dependent upon the sensitivity of these senses. Recollection of past events triggers the emotional body. It becomes actively involved in the present moment and this further distorts the Truth. The influence of Maya is everywhere. Eventually, an individual finds his/her mind and senses are so involved in world process that one forgets to "see" the Truth that arises from Brahman and underlies "All That Is".
Maya is the Universal Force that drives people to seek satisfaction of their own personal desires without regard for others. The influence of Maya manifest as sorrow, greed, lust, anger and death. Due to its powerful influence, each individual soul is born and must reincarnate into several lifetimes before the influence of Maya completely dissipates through meditation, study and self-observation. The consistent practice of these three activities establishes clarity in the individual mind: one is able to "see" the universe with total clarity: a state known as "Cosmic Consciousness".Once this is achieved, the soul is released from the wheel of birth/death, limits of mind and the need to manifest as matter and energy. Returning to the Nothingness is experienced.
A student inquired of a visiting Swami," Why do I act in such an embarrassing
manner of ignorance while I am here on the planet, if , at my core, I am Divine?"
The swami replied, "That is the same thing I have been wondering about you. Why do you?"
Through meditation and other Yogic practices, one can dispel the influence of Maya from the mind. You train your mind to view the world intuitively through your Inner Eye. In meditation, when the mind is quiet - without thought - you experience a state of being that is free from perceptions arising from your ego, and your physical senses. You still the mind - experience the absence of all thought. This allows the Self to show you the Truth on the internal movie screen of your mind. This experience is called "intuition" in western parapsychology, whereas in Yogic studies, this state of consciousness that perceives "what is" is called the "Witness" state. Intuition is the revelation of truth.
Taking some time to observe this concept of Maya can be very helpful in freeing oneself from mind chatter, conditioning and old ways of being. Practice self-observation in your own life for a few days, and see for yourself, if a greater clarity of mind occurs.