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Maya: Friend or Foe?

Maya: Friend or Foe?

If I use the phrase “the body is an illusion,” I am demoting this structure of skin and bones from the fixed, predictable, solid status it seems to have in time and space, but I am not implying that we should give up on it, treating it as indifferently as the illusory patterns that a swirl of cigarette smoke makes in the air. The body is precious to us, all the more so because it is not fixed and predictable.

We have a wide choice about how to react to the illusion. It can be made into something deceptive, unreal, and unreliable. But I could also regard it as something marvelous, enchanting, and surprising. Certainly I am free to choose this second interpretation.

That is what my spiritual grandfather did when he approached the even greater illusion of life as a whole: for him, the Mysterious One was not a deceiver. He was the all-powerful animating force that makes things happen, sometimes according to the rules but no always. After all, they are His rules.

In the Indian tradition, the formal term for this omnipotent force is Maya. Maya is a Sanskrit word that means “illusion” or “delusion,” but much more besides. Maya comes from the root verb ma, “to measure out, to form, to build,” denoting the ability of the gods to change form, to make worlds, to assume masks and disguises.

Maya also means “magic,” a show of illusions. Maya denotes the delusion of thinking that you are seeing reality when in fact you are only seeing a layer of trick effects superimposed upon the real reality.

True to its deceptive nature, Maya is full of paradoxes. First of all, it is everywhere, even though it doesn’t exist. The Mysterious One is nowhere if not in each person. Maya is not so omnipotent that we cannot control it – and that is the key point.

Adapted from Unconditional Life: Discovering the Power to Fulfill Your Dreams, by Deepak Chopra (A Bantam Book, 1991).

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Deepak Chopra

Acknowledged as one of the world's greatest leaders in the field of mind body medicine, Deepak Chopra, M.D. continues to transform our understanding of the meaning of health. Chopra is known as a prolific author of over 49 books with 12 best sellers on mind-body health, quantum mechanics, spirituality, and peace. A global force in the field of human empowerment, Dr. Chopra's books have been published in more than 35 languages with more than 20 million copies in print.

39 comments

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5:44PM PST on Feb 27, 2014

Thanks for sharing.

4:51PM PST on Nov 6, 2012

Interesting.

9:32AM PDT on Oct 24, 2012

thanks

10:41PM PDT on Oct 22, 2012

The world is illusion. I am illusion. The idea that I matter is illusion. In the eyes of the universe I am nothing.

11:12AM PDT on Sep 27, 2012

thanks for sharing

2:02PM PDT on Sep 12, 2012

noted

2:49AM PDT on Apr 1, 2012

Thanks for the article.

3:16AM PDT on Mar 20, 2011

interesting article

5:12AM PST on Feb 19, 2011

Thank you

6:20AM PDT on Aug 26, 2010

We are all related and Equal.

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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