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Maya Is Not Real
Meryl: Sundari, I loved the newsletter! I’m so glad you and Ram have a home!! I read the newsletter and have some questions. The part about maya confused me in Trout Lake and it still does. I’ve been struggling with the idea that maya is not the self.
Sundari: The same teaching applies to all objects in awareness: maya is the self but the self is not maya. Maya is known to you so it cannot be you – awareness – not so?
Quote from Ram: “Who or what borrows existence? The world is a debtor; it borrows existence.”
Meryl: I don’t understand this. I see it as awareness taking the form of the world which to me supports non-duality.
Sundari: That is true. What is the substantive or the substrate – what is prior to what? Take a tree: does the tree depend upon existence or does existence depend upon the tree? Which comes first, the tree or existence? Does maya depend upon awareness or does awareness depend upon maya?
Meryl: My question: if something borrows something from something else, doesn’t that imply non-duality?
Sundari: No, it implies duality but the duality is only apparent, not actual.
Quote from Ram: “Just as a rich man need not borrow money, an existent thing need not borrow existence, because it has existence already.”
Meryl: The only thing that doesn’t need to “borrow” existence is awareness because it is already existence, correct?
Quote from Ram: “A non-existent thing cannot borrow existence, because it does not exist.”
Meryl: I understand this.
Quote from Ram: “Therefore only a completely unique something that is neither existent nor non-existent can borrow existence. The borrower is maya, which is mithya.”
Meryl: But since maya is a power within awareness, as everything already exists in awareness, then how can it exist and not exist? This one is a tricky one.
I love you and Ram with all my heart.
Sundari: Maya has a unique ontological status in that it’s neither existent nor non-existent, as stated. Maya is eternal but not always present, so it is not real. It is the trickiest part of the teaching and no other teaching anywhere unfolds it. It is the lynchpin of moksa because permanent moksa depends on your understanding of Isvara/maya.
Maya is said to be eternal because it is a power that exists in awareness and awareness is eternal; this is why maya is beginningless. Personal ignorance (avidya) ends for the jiva when the self is realised to be its true nature, ending its personal cycle of incarnation and suffering; but maya, or cosmic ignorance, continues unchanged. The creation is not always manifesting because maya is not always manifest. When ignorance or maya does manifest, Isvara (awareness plus the gunas) in its capacity as a Creator appears, followed by the apparent creation ( Isvara srsti ), the world of sentient beings and insentient elements (objects).
Isvara as Creator (awareness plus maya) is always present in awareness but it is either manifest or unmanifest with reference to awareness. Therefore Isvara associated with maya is not real either although in terms of the apparent person, Isvara and maya are “relatively” real and eternal (existent). In other words, Isvara associated with maya is eternal or permanent with reference to the jiva and the objects it experiences, but impermanent with reference to awareness. To say that Isvara associated with maya is eternal with reference to the jiva does not mean that Isvara is limitless with reference to awareness. This is because ignorance or maya only “operates” on a tiny fraction of awareness. Maya/Isvara depends on awareness to exist and maya/Isvara as Creator is resolved back into awareness at the end of the creation cycle.
The words “operates on a tiny fraction of awareness” are also used simply to put maya in perspective because the self has no parts and cannot be quantified. It is important to understand this because “partially covered” means that awareness is never actually covered because it is aware of the partial covering brought about by the manifestation of maya.
As awareness, you are aware that Meryl does not understand maya – and maya is just ignorance that produces the belief that you are not the self and the world is real. Therefore maya cannot have equal status with awareness.
James is going to send her the teaching explained from Panchadasi.
We love you too!