Adi Shankaracharya has composed 5 stanzas of excellence that describe Maya.
Three Stanzas that really made me smile are:
Stanza 2: Maya, which is an adept at making the impossible happen, makes even those who have mastered the Vedas and Upanishads behave no better than a four legged animal by tempting them with wealth and possessions. What a pity!
Stanza 4: Maya, which is an adept at making the impossible happen, creates in the pure bliss-consciousness which is devoid of attributes such as caste, creed and the like, the notion of "I"-ness, of looking upon oneself as Brahmana, Vaisya etc. as well as attachment to son, wife and home
Stanza 5: Maya, which is an adept at making the impossible happen, creates in Brahman which is homogeneous, without any parts, distinctions such as Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva and thereby perplexes even the learned by making them look upon Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva as different from one another.
When we see a movie we get emotionally involved in the story, we feel we are a part and we emote with the actors and have opinions of good and bad, right and wrong, funny and smart etc as the characters unfold. As the plot thickens, and the movie gets gripping, we forget the outside world and once the movie is over we snap out of this illusory world of which we were a part for the last 3 hours.
Life as you and I know is quite something like that. Here the plot appears much more real, the players are real, the problems appear real and we come with a preconditioned mindset that doesn’t allow us to see beyond. This is the world of Maya. There is nothing new about it. The only thing we tend to forget is that the movie reel is generated in the mind.
Through each day we wake up to, through each sun rise we see in our lives, the mind sets itself to a set of tasks that need to be done, people who need to be dealt with, moments that need to be lived. The mind works within a framework of thought and emotion, thought that creates the perception and related emotion that makes a person experience it. And so, we get so sucked into it that we fail to see that our perception of the event is a working of our mind and not the actual event in itself.
Once that distinction is made a few questions can come forward. Few questions that are dared not mentioned in a social environment because perception reigns supreme, and collective perception is very dangerous to deal with. Therefore, everyone wants to be perceived the right way irrespective of whether they are that way or not. And it’s amazing; our entire life just goes off in this perception building contest, with a never ending list of events to support. What a waste of time and live and energy!
Spiritualism addresses this illusion, this perception contest that we are in, all the time, at home, at work and among friends. To most this Maya appears like the only thing life has to offer, but to some this is the most claustrophobic environment to live in. The nature of Maya is that of a thick cloud that envelops us, and its presence as an illusion that cages us, becomes even more apparent when we begin to want out of this illusionary drama we are forced to play every moment. But when does one get this feeling of suffocation?
If we have it in us, the thought should arise in itself and question what the word illusion is in the scriptures. It’s a widely used term with no explanation that draws a parallel in our real life. So let’s take a real life situation. Living in a corporate world can be one of the most energy sapping experiences since we want to do things our way and at the same time dance to the whim and fancy of others. We can have a missile coming at us anytime so we work hard enough to make this perception work in our favor, much more harder than we actually work on the job given! There are only 2 ways out of this long endless journey, either we get sucked into it or we want out. If we get sucked into it, there is no way we are ever going to realize the density of this cloud but when we begin to want out, is when the suffocation can really hit.
On one side is the materialism we are used to, on another the greed for that monthly income that sustains our world, and on the third side we have a jumping mind that doesn’t quite know which way to go and we are so controlled by it.
The best example I can think of to describe Maya or illusion is like its a radio channel. The best time to experience it is when we are coming out of anesthesia. Doctors advice that the patient will mumble things which should not be paid heed to as they largely "don’t make sense". The "don’t make sense" describes the presence of the subconscious and that apparent reality of which we feel we are a complete part before we come back into this world. It’s the only time the subconscious and the conscious world are in equal footing for a few hours before we tune back into this world. We live in two places, and if we look close enough the subconscious takes over as dream by night. Its another real world we belong to in a different state. How then can we dismiss it?
Given that our conscious state is far stronger than the subconscious state, we tend to believe we belong to only one world. But when we wake up from a dream or come out of anesthesia we realize we belonged to another world far more strong in emotions and intensity but far more subtle at the same time. What a fantastic world to be in. If the subconscious were that real, we would be of a different nature. Our intensity would be of a much more superior nature, our presence would be much more overpowering and there would be no room for superficial living. The power of the mind is amazing, and God alone knows how different the real world would look then.
Sweet people wake up, for if we thought we were awake and living... we are in deep sleep right now for the subconscious calls and that road is defined as spiritualism.