The Hidden Dimension Within Us

Did anybody teach you to chew and swallow food? Did you attend a coaching class on how to bend your elbow and knee? Of course not! Where did this knowledge come from then? A scientifically rational mind will somehow answer these questions by using some terms like genetic pre-programming or intrinsic knowledge. Welcome to the vice-like grip of maya!

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Maya the Great Power

In Vedantic scriptures, the term maya has been described as a very powerful force, so powerful that it can make you ignore the above questions as irrelevant or unimportant. Maya makes us live a life of complete illusion not realizing the hidden dimension that is throbbing within us with effulgent brightness. To understand the real power of maya, Vedanta gives the famous example of sarpa-rajju or ‘the rope and the snake’.

In the dim light of dusk a man was walking on a village path when he stepped on something long lying on the path before him. He noticed that it moved a little bit and a paralyzing fear gripped him because he realized that it was a deadly cobra. And it had bitten him already because he did feel a kind of dizziness coming over him. He could feel his hands trembling and cold. He stood motionless afraid to alarm the snake further. There was not a soul nearby who he could beg for help.

As if his prayers were answered he saw the beam of a torchlight in the distance and soon saw a man approaching. He cautioned the man about the cobra who cautiously approached and carefully shone his torch on it. “It is just a rope”, he said. Suddenly his dizziness, trembling, and fear were gone. The light of the torch had dispelled the illusion (maya) of the snake.

Maya is said to have two aspects: avarana shakti and vikshepa shakti, respectively translated as ‘veiling power’ and ‘projecting power’. In the dim light of dusk the villager concluded, ‘this is not a rope’. That is the veiling power of ignorance. But his imagination did not stop there, it next concluded, ‘this is a snake’. That is the projection power.

How Maya Operates in Our Lives

The grip of maya on our lives is very strong but the most amazing thing is that no one realizes this or will even admit it. Maya has such an important position in the Hindu scriptures that many stories and connotations are assigned to it. One such striking description is “that which cannot happen but has happened”. There is a beautiful story in which Krishna teaches the sage Narada the power of maya. You can search for it on the Internet.

All spiritual practices are meant to release us from the grip of maya. Look at a flower. Is what you see the REAL flower? Can you imagine how the flower actually is without the filter of your senses? Try connecting with the flower in a dimension beyond your senses. This is actually possible to do with continued practice.

Regular investigation of the world we live in from a deeper standpoint, not clouded by the filter of our senses, is indeed a type of meditation. When seen from such a standpoint, the world reveals its deeper dimension and also the ‘field of pure potentiality’ as Dr. Deepak Chopra calls it.

Find Your Torchlight

Now comes the practical part! Decoding and getting out of the trap of maya is an extremely liberating experience. Our despondency and frustration with our world of relationships and social interactions is also the result of we not being able to transcend maya. Maya can ‘magnify’ our uncomfortable life situations and make them appear much larger than they really are.

But when examined from a standpoint beyond the grip of maya, solutions start revealing themselves for the very same situations. In spiritual parlance this is called ‘manifesting’. The statement ‘maya is illusion’ is not meant to connote a non-existent reality to things but rather a force that distorts reality. You still have to pay your rent in time, the landlord and debt collectors are real. But if you are struggling to pay every installment of rent, you can be free of the struggle through the spiritual practices designed to reduce the grip of maya.

Somewhere in the World, there is a Solution to Your Problem

Believe this because this is absolutely true. The world is a mysterious place and we hardly scratch the surface. Every physicist would tell you that. Carl Jung, the eminent psychoanalyst talked about synchronicity, the sometimes strange connection between seemingly unconnected events. Synchronic events happen when we adopt practices that transcend the five senses like pratyahara or meditation which are practices of Ashtanga yoga.

Your solution may come in the form of the person who sits next to you in the bus or an article forwarded to you. I can tell you this because I have seen this happen many times in my life. If you remember that you have a divine core and are not as helpless as you may feel, you will be able to have faith in what I am saying. The great poet Rumi said it best, “You were born with wings, why then are your crawling?” Explore and introduce spiritual practices into your daily routine and your life will start blooming with pure joy and unexplained positive events.

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Rajan Narayanaswamy

Namaste! This is the Indian way of greeting with folded hands and is the same gesture used when praying to…

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