DECEPTIVE MAYA This is Maya, by which God is forgotten; emotional attachment and love of duality is born. Says Nanak, by awakening the Guru's Grace within, those who enshrine love for God find Him, in the midst of Maya (sggs 921). <><><><> Maya is a Sanskrit word which literally means "that which is not" - "ma" means "not", "ya" means "that". It is the imagination of the deluded mind which never ends and never exists! Thus, sages defined Maya as that phenomena which produces the impossible. Similarly, the Gurbani (Sri Guru Granth Sahib, SGGS) defines Maya as follows: ਮਾਧਵੇ ਕਿਆ ਕਹੀਐ ਭ੍ਰਮੁ ਐਸਾ ॥ ਜੈਸਾ ਮਾਨੀਐ ਹੋਇ ਨ ਤੈਸਾ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥: Maadhve kiya kaheeyai bhram aisaa. Jaisaa maaneeyai hoi na taisaa ||1||Rahaaou||: O Lord, what can I say about this illusion; what we deem a thing to be, in reality, it is not like that ||1||Pause|| (sggs 657). God is a Shakti or energy. God's limitless potencies or energies can be grouped in two headings: (1) Spiritual energy; (2) and material energy or Maya. Hence Maya is not separate or different than the Supreme Being. In fact, Maya is His inherent power, which is responsible for the rising of mirage-like phenomenal world of names, forms, time and space. ਆਪੇ ਮਾਇਆ ਆਪੇ ਛਾਇਆ ॥: Aape Maya Aape chhaaiaa: God Himself is Maya and (the Maya's influence - its) ignorance (sggs 125). ਮਾਇਆ ਬੰਦੀ ਖਸਮ ਕੀ ਤਿਨ ਅਗੈ ਕਮਾਵੈ ਕਾਰ ॥: Maya bandee khasam kee tin agai kamaavai kaar: Maya, the maid-servant of God, serves them: the Lord's devotees (sggs 90). ਏਕਮ ਏਕੈ ਆਪੁ ਉਪਾਇਆ ॥ ਦੁਬਿਧਾ ਦੂਜਾ ਤ੍ਰਿਬਿਧਿ ਮਾਇਆ ॥: Ekam ekai aap upaaia. Dubidhaa doojaa tribidh maya: Firstly the One Lord created His own-self, secondly the sense of duality, and the three-qualitied Maya (sggs 113). So daasi Raghubeer kee: Maya is the maidservant of the Lord (Tulsi Ramayana). Anything that emanates from the Divine is also Divine. Thus, Maya is said to be a Divine hypnosis or illusion. Whatever takes us away from the Divine Consciousness (God, Pure Self, Truth, etc.) becomes Maya for us. For example, if wealth takes us away from the Divine Nature, then the wealth becomes Maya; if the spouse, children, friends or relatives become the source of forgetfulness of our godly state, then they become Maya; if the house or other worldly possessions makes us forsake the Truth, then they become Maya; and so on. In other words, the sense of one's existence separate from the Divine Essence is Maya, or the sense of existence founded on anything other than the Supreme Spirit is called Maya - "that which is not". ਮਾਈ ਮਾਇਆ ਛਲੁ ॥: Maayee Maya Chhall: O my mother, the Maya is deceitful (sggs 717). ਬਾਬਾ ਮਾਇਆ ਰਚਨਾ ਧੋਹੁ ॥: Baaba Maya rachnaa dhoh: O my Father, the splendour of Maya is deceitful (sggs 15). As defined in the Gurbani, the Maya is that Cosmic Illusion which makes us (1) forget the Self ("Hari Visrai"); (2) gives rise to emotional attachment ("Moh Upjai"); and (3) creates duality ("Bhaau Doojaa") where there is none. Three qualities or 3 Gunas - Saatav (Goodness), Raajas (passion), and Taamas (ignorance) or Sat, Raj, Tam or Sato, Rajo, Tamo - are the flowers of this poisonous tree of Mayaic illusion or Avidya. Combination of these three qualities (three thought-conditions or states of mind) in various permutation, determine one's body-mind-intellect personality. ਏਹ ਮਾਇਆ ਜਿਤੁ ਹਰਿ ਵਿਸਰੈ ਮੋਹੁ ਉਪਜੈ ਭਾਉ ਦੂਜਾ ਲਾਇਆ ॥: Eh Maya jit Hari visrai moh upjai bhaau dooja laaiaa: This is Maya, by which God is forgotten; emotional attachment and love of duality is born (sggs 921). ਰਜ ਗੁਣ ਤਮ ਗੁਣ ਸਤ ਗੁਣ ਕਹੀਐ ਇਹ ਤੇਰੀ ਸਭ ਮਾਇਆ ॥ ਚਉਥੇ ਪਦ ਕਉ ਜੋ ਨਰੁ ਚੀਨ੍ਹ੍ਹੈ ਤਿਨ੍ਹ੍ਹ ਹੀ ਪਰਮ ਪਦੁ ਪਾਇਆ ॥੨॥: Raj gun tam gun sat gun kaheeai ih teri sabh maya. Chauthe pad kau jo nar cheenai tin hee param pad paaiaa ||2||: (O Lord) Raajas, Taamas, and Saatav modes are the creations of Your Maya. The man who realizes the Fourth State; he alone obtains the Supreme Status ||2|| (sggs 1123). Our minds remain occupied by the mixture of these three modes of the material nature. According to the predomonance of one of these three modes of material nature acquired by our minds, one's temprament and faith can be considered as Saatavic, Raajasic, or Taamasic. In other words, these are the three thought-conditions under which the human mind functions. Deeper Analysis of Maya's Deception Based on Maya's definition above, it becomes clear that Maya's primary function is to allude mortals through her deceitful nature. Being attached to this cosmic delusion, the entire world is fallen into deep sleep of unenlightened existence. As a result, we are unable to apprehend the Reality. Fallen in the sway of Maya's illusion, we take an impermanent thing to be a permanent, a fake to be a real, a false to be a truth, an endfull to be an endless, an unlimited to be a limited, an infinite to be a finite, and so on. ਇਕੋ ਸਤਿਗੁਰੁ ਜਾਗਤਾ ਹੋਰੁ ਜਗੁ ਸੂਤਾ ਮੋਹਿ ਪਿਆਸਿ ॥: Eiko satgur jaagataa hor jag sootaa mohi piaas: Only the True Guru is awake; the rest of the world is asleep in emotional attachment and desire (sggs 592). Consider the following examples. In the moonless night, a rope laying on the ground may be mistaken for a snake. We know that the rope alone is real, not the snake. However, the non apprehension of the rope gives rise to the misapprehension of the snake. Once the darkness is removed, the rope alone remains; the snake disappears. Similarly, in the darkness of the night, a pole may be mistaken for a ghost. As the darkness is removed, the ghost disappears; only the pole remains as reality. ਗੁਰ ਕੈ ਬਾਣਿ ਬਜਰ ਕਲ ਛੇਦੀ ਪ੍ਰਗਟਿਆ ਪਦੁ ਪਰਗਾਸਾ ॥ ਸਕਤਿ ਅਧੇਰ ਜੇਵੜੀ ਭ੍ਰਮੁ ਚੂਕਾ ਨਿਹਚਲੁ ਸਿਵ ਘਰਿ ਬਾਸਾ ॥੨॥: Gur kai baani bajar kal chhedee pragatiaa padu paragasaa. Sakti adher jevarhee bhramu chookaa nihchalu siv ghari vaasaa ||2||: (One who) Has pierced the hard imagery (mind's imaginations, wanderings, perversions, ਫੁਰਨੇ, ਮਨੋ-ਕਲਪਣਾ, ਬਿਕਾਰਾਂ ਵਲ ਦੀ ਦੌੜ, etc.) with the Guru's Arrow (of the Gur-Shabad, Gur-Giaan...), (in him, the state of) Enlightenment dawns (the Light of the Aatm-Giaan, ਆਤਮਕ ਚਾਨਣ). (As in the darkness) a rope is mistaken (for a snake, but when there is light that error is realized, similarly) in the darkness of Maya (in Maya's influence or Mayaic consciousness, one mistakes and confinds this body to be the Real self, Joti-Svaroopa) but that mistake ends (when there is the Light of the Gur-Giaan, Aatm-Giaan, etc., and consequently, one), abides in the Eternal Home of the Lord. ||2|| (sggs 332). ਰਾਜ ਭੁਇਅੰਗ ਪ੍ਰਸੰਗ ਜੈਸੇ ਹਹਿ ਅਬ ਕਛੁ ਮਰਮੁ ਜਨਾਇਆ ॥ ਅਨਿਕ ਕਟਕ ਜੈਸੇ ਭੂਲਿ ਪਰੇ ਅਬ ਕਹਤੇ ਕਹਨੁ ਨ ਆਇਆ ॥੩॥: Raaj bhuiang prasangi jaise hahi ab kashu maramu janaaiaa || Anik katak jaiase bhooli pare kahate kahanu n aaiaa ||3||: Like the story of the rope mistaken for a snake, the mystery has now been explained to me. Like the many bracelets, which I mistakenly thought (were different from) gold; now, I do not say what I said then. ||3|| (sggs 658). Maya is Spiritually ignorant. It is the ignorance of one's True Nature as Pure Consciousness. Ignorance begets false ego-sense. In the foregoing example, due to ignorance of the rope and the pole, we superimposed our false egoistic ideas on the reality - the rope and the pole. The result was that our non-apprehension of the reality (i.e., rope and the pole) caused its misapprehension into a snake and a ghost. Similarly, God (Pure Self, Truth, Unconditioned Awareness, etc.) alone is real. However, our non apprehension of this Changeless Reality causes its misapprehension into a phenomenal world. Thus, under the influence of this spiritually ignorant Maya, the Jeeva (unenlightened individual being) forgets the Reality and acts as his existence is separate from It. The non-apprehension of God by an individual soul is called ignorance at the microcosmic level. However, the total non-apprehension of God by all beings is called ignorance at the macrocosmic level, which is also called Maya. For example, just as non-apprehension of the Reality is the cause of the creation of an individual's world, similarly, the total non-apprehension of the Reality by all individuals is the creation of the total world. This is why Maya is said to be the cause of the world-appearance. In the examples of the rope and the post, the ignorance of the rope or post is Maya, which is the cause of the creation of the apparent snake and ghost.Looking at Maya from an another angle, it can be seen as totality of all Vaasnaas (undigested desires). Vaasnaas are born of Self-ignorance. Each person creates its own world as a result of that individual's Self-ignorance. The sum of Vaasnaas of all individuals, born of Self-ignorance, is called Maya - the material universe or Jagat. ਹਉਮੈ ਸਭੁ ਸਰੀਰੁ ਹੈ ਹਉਮੈ ਓਪਤਿ ਹੋਇ ॥: Haumai sabh sareer hai hayumai opati hoi: Ego is within all the bodies; and through ego the beings are born (sggs 560). ਹਉਮੈ ਮੋਹੁ ਉਪਜੈ ਸੰਸਾਰਾ ॥: Haumai moh upjai sansaraa: Out of egotistic attachment, the Universe is born (sggs 1057). God, the Timeless Principle, is infinite, unlimited, changeless, permanent, immortal, pure, unborn, etc. As all beings are made in God's true image (Joti-Svaroopa), the Spirit Soul is also said to have the same qualities. However, Maya makes our Pure and Unlimited Consciousness appear like a limited phenomenal world. As a result, we loose understanding of the Reality. ਮਿਲਿ ਮਾਇਆ ਸੁਰਤਿ ਗਵਾਈ ॥: Mil Maya surti gavaayee: By associating with the Maya (illusion), the mortal loses Divine Understanding (sggs 989). An infinite can not be reduced to finite. But, under the spell of Maya, an infinite Reality looks like some kind of limited phenomena. However, this emerging of unlimited as limited is only apparent to our vision or intellect since the Infinite Reality is still Infinite. This power of Maya is beyond the logic of our intellect. ਮਤ ਭੂਲਹੁ ਮਾਨੁਖ ਜਨ ਮਾਇਆ ਭਰਮਾਇਆ ॥: Mat bhoolahu maanukh jan Maya bharmaya: Do not be fooled, O mortal being, by the illusion of this Maya (sggs 812). Scriptures called this material world or Maya as "Jhooth" (false or fake), "Mithyaa or Bharam" (illusion), and " Sapnaa" (dream). Calling this world false, illusion and dream does not mean this world is unreal or non-existent. If this world was unreal or nonexistent then it would not have been experienced by us. Then is it real? According to our scriptures, no, it is not real. It can not be called real because it is subject to change every moment, like our mind. Thus, this material world is neither real nor unreal. Anything that can not be described as real or unreal is called "Mithyaa" or illusion in Indian scriptures. When we call this world illusion, it simply means that "what we deem it to be, it is not like that". We think it to be permanent, it is not; we think it to be nonperishable, it is not; we think it to be changeless, it is not; we think it to be eternal, it is not; we think it to be forever, it is not; we think it to be never-ending, it is not; we think it to be unlimited or infinite, it is not; we think it to be Reality, it is not. If a person mistakes a rope for a snake (or a pole for a ghost) in the darkness, then would the snake or ghost vision be real? No. Therefore, if if the man does not consider this world as Mithyaa (also spelt Mithya), then it will become the cause of his attachment and bondage, followed by the "greatest pain". ਜਿਉ ਸੁਪਨਾ ਅਰੁ ਪੇਖਨਾ ਐਸੇ ਜਗ ਕਉ ਜਾਨਿ ॥ ਇਨ ਮੈ ਕਛੁ ਸਾਚੋ ਨਹੀ ਨਾਨਕ ਬਿਨੁ ਭਗਵਾਨ ॥੨੩॥: Jiou supanaa ar pekhanaa aise jag kaou jaan. In mai kashu saacho nahee Nanak binu Bhagvaan ||23||: This material world is like a dream and a show; Nanak says, wihtout the Lord, nothing is true in these ||23|| (sggs 1427). ਨਾਨਕ ਕਹਤ ਜਗਤ ਸਭ ਮਿਥਿਆ ਜਿਉ ਸੁਪਨਾ ਰੈਨਾਈ ॥੨॥੧॥: Nanak kahat jagat sabh mithiaa jiou supnaa rainaaee ||2||1||: Nanak says, the entire material world is illusion like the nightly dream ||2||1|| (sggs 1231). ਮ੍ਰਿਗ ਤ੍ਰਿਸਨਾ ਜਿਉ ਝੂਠੋ ਇਹੁ ਜਗ ਦੇਖਿ ਤਾਸਿ ਉਠਿ ਧਾਵੈ ॥੧॥: Mrig trisnaa jiyu jhootho ihu jag dekhi taasi uthi dhavai ||1||: This world is false like the deer's delusion (ਮ੍ਰਿਗ ਤ੍ਰਿਸਨਾ: ਠਗ-ਨੀਰ, mirage). (As a deer chases after mirage - ਮ੍ਰਿਗ ਤ੍ਰਿਸਨਾ, ਠਗ-ਨੀਰ - and dies chasing it), similarly, (the Maya stricken person) on beholding this world runs after it (and suffers - ਆਤਮਕ ਮੌਤ) ||1|| (sggs 219). ਇਹੁ ਧਨੁ ਸੰਪੈ ਮਾਇਆ ਝੂਠੀ ਅੰਤਿ ਛੋਡਿ ਚਲਿਆ ਪਛੁਤਾਈ ॥: Ih dhan sanpai Maya jhoothee anti chhod chaliaa pachhutaaee: This wealth, property and Maya are false; (know that the mortal) in the end, departs in sorrow leaving these behind (sggs 77). ਇਹੁ ਮੋਹੁ ਮਾਇਆ ਤੇਰੈ ਸੰਗਿ ਨ ਚਾਲੈ ਝੂਠੀ ਪ੍ਰੀਤਿ ਲਗਾਈ ॥: Ih moh Maya terai sang na chhallai jhoothee pareet lagaayee: This emotional attachment to Maya will not go with you; falls is to fall in love with it (sggs 78).