Maya | माया | Illusions of Reality (Cartesian Skepticism)

What is Real?

Maya is the concept of illusion. Mostly this pertains to consciousness, and it’s limitations. Consider that everything you have ever known or seen is only a half truth, if that. In reality, you can see far less than half, smell far less, and hear far less than what is really in your environment. Luckily we don’t need to see more to survive on this beautiful planet we call home.

I hope this title doesn’t turn you off, because I my own mind this will be the most interesting article to date. This is a way for me to talk about mind and matter under a reasonably explicit title, together, with lots of philosophical nomenclature.

I have recently come to the conclusion that it does not matter whether or not god exists. Whether there is an extreme nothingness at the source of the universe, or an extreme somethingness at the core of the universe, it doesn’t seem to matter. I have obtained this belief from the contrast of Hindu and Buddhist believe systems and learning how both are supported in my own experience in different ways.

Maya’s Source

My personal definition of god is the pulsation of the universe, the energy behind the sustenance of existence, if you will. The reason why there is something, other than nothing. The closest religious depiction of this is Lord Vishnu, who is the protector and sustainer of the universe, from Hinduism, though his cosmic form isn’t talked about often in the Ancient Indian texts.

After studying Jainism and learning more about the eastern religious concepts of God, I have concluded that there cannot be a creator “god” behind the creation of the universe. It is an illogical conclusion, because even if this “god” created the universe, something would necessarily have to create “god”. If you want to consider “god” as the creator, you have to address the creation of this “god”, that super cedes universal existence. And for that, we need a bit of evidence, which no human has ever been able to provide. So I say, god or no god, the universe exists and to my knowledge and in the relativity of my current existence, it is infinite. I understand that there is a lot of evidence to support a beginning of the universe, but I do hypothesize that we are looking at only a small, imperfect picture of the universe’s history and that it could be far vaster and more complex that humanity can even imagine at this point in our evolution. So I choose to believe in thermodynamics and unknown compressive forces behind black holes that seem to be at the core of existence.

The Dream of Consciousness

I hope that explained a bit about my stance entering the conversation of what reality is. The possibility that we live inside of a dream, or an alternate reality, or the matrix and what we, as individuals, experience.

Lately I have been listening to a lot of philosophical talks, to aid in mediation and generally to learn more about eastern philosophy, I do have to thank my friend Kyle for telling me who Alan Watts is and I have listened to him, Osho, and a few other philosophers over the past couple of weeks and their talks on consciousness.

I am very luck to have been educated by Jesuits, perhaps the most philosophically inclined religious sect in existence in the Western world.

It is important, when discussing consciousness, to bring up the idea of subjectivity, and the infinite randomness of the universe. We have created, for our own benefit, systems of knowledge that can accurately and precisely categorize, therefore, predict future events in our relative sphere. However, this overgeneralization is an illusion, as is the illusion of a “normal” or undeviated being.

Maya in the Modern World

The United States does not really exist, it is simply a collection of people who live in an area that are grouped together for administrative purposes. Just as the human race does not truly exist, it is simply a way of identifying our own species. So to understand the variances of consciousness, we must view it as a spectrum, as infinitely varied as the human species itself.

In this world, there are many illusions created by the subjectivity of our consciousness This illusion is the same as the illusion of separateness. Humans share 99.99999%, yet all we see is diversity. In truth, the difference lies in our path, the journey we are pulled towards, and our in own interpretations of how the individual interacts with the world. So I will attempt to explain how this illusion seems to function, in its most basic of forms.

You only know you exist because you are reflected by the external world. If you had no effect on the world, you would not know, or have any credence to support the idea of your own existence. You see this in a mirror, in your best friend’s perception of you, of the opinion of your parents, of the way you are treated by strangers. You begin to learn more, at least about how you as a person are perceived by the other humans around you. We see this in a crappy movie like “ghost” where the hero doesn’t realize he is dead until enough events pass, and eventually finds a mentor to teach him how to interact with the world in his present form. He learns his own existence from the external environment. It is why we feel fast, or strong, or confident, because we have had significant experience with our environments, in the case of fast and strong, our muscles, and in the case of confidence, our past dealings with other humans.

It is the opposite when you explore the external world, you find different aspects of yourself that you did not know existed. This occurs because you are pushing the limits of comfort, or normalcy, and are expanding upon your prior experiences. So we cannot truly know about how we would act in a situation unless we are put into that situation, because everything else is idealism. The environment forces us to comes to terms with our humanity, our limits, and our exceptional qualities. Indeed, if used often in the external world, our human capacity seems to have a tremendous potential for creation. However, that is a different argument all together.

But what does Consciousness really do?

Consciousness seems to function optimally in the state of learning, or at least adjusting to the external environment internally. This is the reason why consciousness seems to have come about to begin with; to fine tune the functioning of life to the sun, essentially. It is why all mammals have a pineal gland, to regulate the resting/waking cycle of the being’s existence and to keep the being in a rhythm that corresponds to the rhythm of that being’s relative cosmos, in our case the sun. So we can establish the consciousness exists because of the external environment. To perceive and interpret, in whatever limited fashion it can, the electromagnetic spectrum of energy and its effect on the being. So from the beginning, we must accept that consciousness is extremely limited in its perception, if it can indeed perceive anything at all.

Life itself, is a process, a constantly evolving thing that cannot be defined by a state by itself. The qualities change over time and therefore, even in the individual’s lifespan, there is a tremendous amount of change in the individual. We learn through the patterns, through the causes and effects that we realize and know as conscious knowledge, and the things we learn subconsciously as a part of the unconscious mind. But our own view of life and our experiences are the result of experiments and predictions and observations that we have taken from the outside environment and taken to be a repeated pattern. So we start to see the world in sorts of patterns and that really is the nature of consciousness, at its essential functioning, even cognitive neuroscientist will agree with me, in essence, the way the world changes, shifts, and the patterns interact in the world around us. This is, in essence, the way the entire universe functions, in patterns and changes and constantly evolving changes and fluctuations of energy.

Karma in Maya

I will hypothesize that the only true way to know the world is to act upon it, in it, as a part of it to see where your ripples effect that of the entire “pond” of the world. This is the essence of Karma, or existence in the world. No animal was ever fed by thinking, “I want eat.” It requires the physical act of eating, if nothing else.

You cannot use the language of the illusion without getting into confusion, for it is ever paradoxical. This is why reality, enlightenment, and the illusion (maya) are so difficult to grasp. They are the different sides of the same coin, and to the unseeing eye, they are parallel and exist as the same.

Humanity is a part of the cosmic nature of things, rather than some being that was kind of plopped here and told to make due by god. This assertion, in fact, becomes completely ridiculous in the eyes of a skeptic, because there is no evidence.

We question the true unity of the universe is a function of the cosmos. If we are all one massive collection of energy, simply broken down into electrons and quarks and all of those subatomic particles, then again, we are missing something. The idea that I am, as a separate function that of the universe, that I can realize that I, in fact, do exist, even if it is true that I do not exist.

Either nothing exists at all, or its all one big massive collection of energy that we categorize with the feebleness of our own consciousness. But there is still this issue of the separateness of consciousness which doesn’t seem to make sense if we are all the same.

Our understanding of the functioning of human consciousness will change drastically over the next thirty years as alternative forms of consciousness are explored in greater degrees, mainly referring to that of our primate cousins and the large mammals that live in the depths of the ocean. Their conscious functioning in combination with increases in the field of neuroscience, particularly imaging, are really required to know how the spectrum of conscious experience varies on the planet. But if you don’t believe other animals are conscious, spend some significant time with an intelligent animal, such as a chimp or a dolphin. Their ability to interact with you is proof enough that they can at least predict and analyze your own behavior, let alone adjust their own behavior according to yours, which is an extremely intense conscious experience of learning.

We have to resolve separateness by consideration of subjective dimensions, which is again, part of the illusion. We are separate because it allows for the compartmentalization and therefore specialization of energy. It is how complex organisms evolved from single-celled organisms, and eventually led way into the human being, one of the most complex beings on the planet (it depends on how you measure complexity).

Maya Tricks us into Separation

So in reality, everyone on earth is really a part of the earth. To think we are separate is a part of the Maya, the illusion of consciousness. If we humans destroy our planet, we are inevitably committing suicide. Unless we become a part of another planet before the extinction date, or event horizon, or whatever. We contribute to and fluctuate with the planet, the waves, the sun, the sky, the trees, the wind, everything really. Reality seems to be the recurrence, the constants, the things that are unchanging and always seem to exist; however, there is a taint, and that taint is your self and the culmination of your prior experiences and genetics and anthropological background that has led you to now. Reality is the present, tainted by the lackings and shortcomings of the human’s limited perception of his world (consciousness), which without illusion (maya) of separateness, has glimpses of awareness of the constant fluctuations of energy and form and nothingness. This is consciousness, to know and enjoy the limits of perception and to be constantly pushing them, exploring and playing with all that you can while on the planet.

Always remember, people will show you what they feel they are lacking. It is the nature of the ego. The teachers and people who talk about love, light, peace, etc tend to talk about it so much because they feel they are missing something, or lacking in some way and therefore have to make up for it by being perfect. But in fact, the human is already perfect, already lovely, already beautiful. So saying these things is an affirmation, something that the ego needs to feel validated. Goodie goodies are the thieves of virtue. To be perfect is to be something that isn’t human, so beware of anyone that does not show you their humanity. The true teachers have the most awkward senses of humor, have an attitude about things as being the way they are, and is a bit of a rascal, or a bit of a motherfucker, if you will. Just a few notes about from the Dao that rang true for me.


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  1. Pingback: Aristotle's Ethics, Karma, and the Philosophy of the Good - Elliot's WebSite

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