OK, let me summarize all that we know so far.
In Part 1: we saw Advaita relative to Dwaitha, and we saw that Non-duality and duality are not contradictory, but that they are truths at different planes of reality.
In Part 2: we busted some more myths like the phrase “Aham Brahmasmi” translates to “I am God”, we saw Advaitha does not discard god, etc.
In Part 3: we understood the cause of such myths and discrepancies, and to know that we also looked into the major yogic paths.
In Part 4: we saw why we need Advaita. Essentially, we could understand that one cannot separate Jnana yoga from Advaita. Moreover, we saw that Advaitha is the reality of nature (it has got nothing to do with one’s religion) and that, it will be realized with awareness, regardless of the path chosen. And whether one chooses to be enlightened or not, awareness is something everyone must seek, and Understanding Advaita is that path of awareness.
But what is Awareness? In this blog, we’ll be looking into that.
Awareness is what we’ve realized. Or we can say, it is that which we know, which has been internalized. It’s not just an acknowledgment of facts or accepting something for the sake of it, that would be believing, not knowing. It is the touch of truth or contact with truth. You know if you know.
But more importantly, Awareness is that which destroys MAYA. And what is MAYA?
As we’ve already discussed in my blogs Maya & Delusions Part -2, MAYA means delusion. Delusion is like a bubble that contains its own truth, but once the bubble bursts, everything in it, is subjected to the absolute truth, and there are disparities between them.
Some of the delusions you might have come across or have seen might be when you look into a Kaleidoscope or when you’re traveling on a highway with Sun blasting heat and you see a puddle of water at a distance. But once you are there, you’ll notice no water there.
When I was 12, I was in my village for my Brahmopadesha. The stories of the wild bison are a thing there. I woke up at midnight and it was pitch dark. There was no difference between eyes opened and closed. And it was not the center or the inner part of the house where I had slept in. I heard the heavy breathing of an animal. And accidentally my left hand touched something. I was surprised. Soon I understood it is a leg. I was scared to death. A bison had come inside the house and stood scarily still like they usually do, was my assumption. For a little while I was hesitant to call anyone for help as there were so many there and I did not want to embarrass myself. But after a few milliseconds of inspecting the leg with my hand, the fear peaked and I called out for help. And there was light. All to realize that I didn’t know that my brother had slept beside me and it was his leg and it was his breathing-type snoring.
I think we’ve all experienced these kinds of delusions when we were kids. We’ve seen human or animal shadows in the dark and when there is light, we realize it is various objects that are forming that particular shape.
Understanding the MAYA (delusions) is crucial. What happened to me that day in my village was one of the classic examples used to explain the workings of MAYA & Awareness.
In a dark room, one touches something tube-like with scale-like textures on it and assumes it is a snake. The person is scared to death. His mind and body start suffering. In fact, a person can be killed by making him believe that he is poisoned or will be killed/dead in general. But once there is light, the truth is revealed, it is actually a rope that he touched. The person is no more in delusion. There is no ignorance anymore and there is no fear and suffering anymore.
Even though it is a simple example, there are a few very important takeaways:
- Assumptions are the core bodies of delusions. One should be mindful of assumptions and avoid them as much as possible. And here we saw how an assumption can be deadly.
- Ignorance breeds suffering and fear.
- When there’s light, there’s no darkness. That is, once one is aware, there is no more delusion/ignorance.
- Awareness removes fear and suffering.
- The person need not believe it is rope when there’s light. He sees it as is. Acceptance is obvious and instantaneous with awareness.
Even my story of mistaking my brother’s leg for a bison’s leg has all these characteristics, doesn’t it? The assumption, Fear, suffering in the dark, and liberating realization in light.
It is through this same concept can we realize Advaitha, the reality of nature and ourselves. It is through this same concept that it claims that the duality that exists in our perception is only due to ignorance.
When a simple 3-sided kaleidoscope (triangular prism) or collection of water vapors on the highway can create such powerful optical illusions, imagine how much of such occurrences make up our entire world, when there are many dimensions to life that we aren’t even aware of. And optical illusions are just one form of delusion.
So the next question then would be “How to remove ignorance or burst out of those delusion bubbles or simply, how to gain awareness?
I’ll probably have to write a dedicated blog for that, but to say it in short, its overly simplified version would be this: It is mainly through Viveka. And as mentioned in my blog See Think Choose and in my blog: Viveka, Viveka is built over time by consistent practice of SHRAVANA, MANANA, and NIDHIDHYASANA. Mainly the first two in the beginning stages – Consume and Reflect.
Sanath Kumar Naibhi
3 thoughts on “Understanding Advaita | Part -5 | MAYA & Awareness”
Respected Sanath ji,
Thank you so much for sharing this post. You have explained MAYA with elaborated notes and examples are very helpful.
Advaita Vedanta is highly conceptual subject. This needs dedicated time and intense desire to understand the topic logically, not by blind faith only.
Best regards. Please visit my site.
Thank You so much. Really means a lot to hear from one who is himself a great worker in the same field. Yes, I’ve viewed some of your blogs, and they are great. Keep going, sir!
LikeLiked by 1 person