Maya, an Integral part of Shakti
The Thirumanthiram quotes:
"From thence evoluted Maya
Latent in Shakti like lustre in crystal
Mighty its power
Beyond power of speech to recount."
There is such beauty in this line. Isn't it our perception that rules us more than what really exists in reality?
This is a small example of how our own perception can imprison us into this web of Maya that we make judgments based on our own futile ignorance. I visited the doctor recently for a minor checkup. As I discussed about my ailment to the doctor, I noticed a skull kept high up on the wall that immediately took my fascination. I requested the doctor to allow me to hold the skull in my hand. It was an amazing feeling, to hold something so remote, so feared, and so repulsed. I looked closely at it and imagined myself at a shamshan ghat holding the same thing by night, near the fire and sprinkling mantras to the air calling the Goddess Kali to my doorstep. I smiled and kept it back.
When we reached home later, I raised this subject with my mother, who had also visited the clinic with me. She seemed very comfortable with me holding this skull in my hand at the clinic, but she had no idea about my thoughts :). I asked her the question again. It was so peaceful, and so harmless to hold this skull in the doctor's office. But if I had worn an orange or red outfit, smeared large amounts of Kumkum on my forehead, held this very same skull in my hand in the darkest of nights at a different location, a shamshan ghat for example, and done nothing else, how would she have reacted to it? It was equally harmless there too, and I am calling no Goddess or indulging in any malevolent practice and yet I would have looked deadly, scary and mystically more powerful than ever.
Isn't this perception? Isn't this the description of a mind working overtime, with biased information already fed in; that anyone in this attire in this time of the night holding such objects is "evil" or "scary" and better off left alone? But should I walk into a doctor's office and wear simple clothes and a much smaller Kumkum, in light, I would appear so much more friendly! And yet... the "I" is missing in both these perceptions.
None of these two perceptions describes my personality. None of these two perceptions looks at me the human being and my nature of what I am, but both focus entirely on the exterior of what I wear and how I appear. In short both the perceptions are deceived by my "luster" and none really look at the quality of the "crystal" within me.
Similarly, in this beautiful poetic verse described by the great sage Tirumular, Maya is described as the perception we have of the Goddess and not the Goddess herself. Maya, with all its complications is but a figment of our imagination. It’s an illusion we simply love, are too familiar with and do not want to get out of, so much so that we make it difficult for those who want to try.
Maya, is such a thick cloud of illusion that it doesn't let our mind, or senses even seek that which is in our subconscious. It is so full of deceptive action that we spend our waking hours, our concentration, our time, and our energy trying to live in that illusion without even realizing we have spent so much wasted effort in the wrong place. Maya is that barrier that exists between our consciousness and the world that lives in our subconscious and that glimpse is best found in its purity when we try to seek it within ourselves.
If we were to live this verse as sung in the Thirumanthiram, then we need to be aware of the conscious world, and not let it affect us, making it insignificant enough that it has little or no value in the world that lies within us in our subconscious. The Goddess to whom we have given form and color and power, is that inner energy that we still fail to realize is lying buried within us, unknown and we still remain enamored by the luster of life, of Maya.
Shakti is that which is beyond the Maya as we know it, Shakti is described as that which is beyond the life as we define it and Shakti is that which we experience when we attempt to take a dip into the subconscious world we have built within ourselves. We still remain blindly disposed to the luster of life, we barely even know where the crystal is to be found. The real beauty is within and we so don't have the power to conquer it for we fall to its luster, to its Maya, to its glitter, to our perception of it.
In the darkness of the subconscious, beyond the illusive light of this luster, lies the power of Mata, of the Goddess that remains untouched. She sits there silent, in darkness, in her reddish sheen so subtle that we do not know how to define and perceive her beauty. She is pure, sacred, and formless but her presence is experienced in her warmth as a beautiful Goddess, shining bright as her golden halo radiant with life, the crescent moon glows like a drop of amrita that rests on her all divine self. This is her all encompassing self that is so beautiful to experience, that even words fail to break the barrier of speech to describe her.
She is silence, She is void, She is light, She is beauty.
The only way to reach her is to bring the mind under control, with repeated thoughts focused on her such that we breath, think and live with thoughts only about the Mother and nothing else really matters. At the end of some time, the conscious state tunes itself to the same depth in thought to the subconscious so much that there is really no difference between both the worlds. This is when a thick cloud of illusion becomes a thin line and perception is now as pure are real.