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Maya/Isvara Is the Trickiest and the Key to Self-Knowledge
Arlindo: Hi, Fausto, Mirian’s replies are excellent, and I agree with her that you better expose your mind to the whole body of teachings. The teachings are very simple analyses based on our ordinary experiences of life. Most people do not realize their value, not because they are philosophical or complicated, but only because they are so shockingly simple that they are hard to accept.
The teachings will gently expose one’s misinterpretation of the natural functioning of creation and its universal psychology. They will call for an adjustment to jiva’s subjective view of reality – they will expose one’s misapprehension of the nature of reality, and for most people, that is something difficult to take.
In Ramji’s books, the teachings are structured in such way that they gradually support and enhance one’s previous understanding – they build, brick by brick, the foundation of one’s non-dual vision of reality, which is the sole purpose of Vedanta. Once one’s non-dual vision is firm, one still lives in the world, but free from it. Vedanta calls it moksa, or liberation.
Also, it’s important to notice that before one’s vision is wide, clear and firm, it is natural to have the knowledge that the joy is not in the object, and yet find oneself going for it. Some vasanas are hardwired, and they die hard. Maya is the trickiest; like in a mirror, it makes things look reversed – but Maya is also a great teacher because it apparently hides the truth from the jivas – but only to apparently reveal it. ☺
Therefore at all times keep in mind that you are not the vasanas, and if they happen to get you into some sort of trouble here and there, take the result as prasad – as a good opportunity to learn some of Maya’s lessons and to be reminded that you are the unaffected awareness, the witnessing principle in which karma takes place.
Fausto: Could we say that Maya/Isvara is the doorway to the self?
Arlindo: Yes, Fausto, and for different reasons. The most fundamental one is because jiva’s experiences are in Maya (the apparent reality superimposed on the self), and by negating Maya we negate the jiva as well. The reason this upfront negation, in most of the cases, does not work is due to two facts:
1. Realization of the self occurs to the apparent jiva, hence you need to acknowledge the apparent jiva first, and jivas share (enjoy and suffer) their existence in Maya, so you need to bring Maya/Isvara into the equation and understand the relationship between Isvara, jiva and the apparent world. Isvara’s laws governing this apparent reality also need to be acknowledged and understood.
2. In order to discriminate the self from the not-self jiva needs to be equipped with a contemplative sattvic mind. Rajas and tamas need to be under control, otherwise they will constantly disturb the mind and contemplation will be but a dream. The best and most common way to qualify the mind is by understanding, knowing and applying karma/dharma yoga.
Karma yoga is the science of Maya/Isvara, which will produce the clear understanding of its functioning, with its laws and forces governing the jivas and the entire creation. Once it is clearly understood, jiva will relax because he will know what “belongs” to him and what “belongs” to Isvara. His mind will be free from the unnecessary agitation of trying to control what he has no control of, his objective experiences.
Jivas believe themselves to be the waves. They forgot that from another prospective they exist as the ocean (Isvara), and that yet from another level of identity they exist as H2O (consciousness). The purpose of true spiritualty is to help jivas to realize their most essential nature – that which all other secondary natures depend upon. We need to understand the nature of the wave and the ocean before we realize that water is their common most fundamental nature.
Fausto: I find lots of contradictions in what you say.
Arlindo: In language we will always find contradictions and apparent contradictions. Certain ideas and concepts may appear as contradictory because they often depend on the context in which they were presented. A genuine student of Vedanta needs to have the intelligence to read the context, to understand the implied meaning of certain statements, and therefore resolve the apparent contradictions. The teacher is always there to help. ☺