Monday, November 30, 2020

To what degree are we living in illusion?

There exists a state of illusion, known as Maya in the Sanskrit language, and a percentage of our experience exists in this state. As human individuals, we experience Maya mostly as ignorance of our real nature, which is the true self, the non-linear and infinite Atman that inhabits our temporary vessel. All other illusions seem to branch out from this one primary misunderstanding or forgetting. This ignorance of who we really are, as you might imagine, can be seen playing out in hundreds of ways throughout daily life. Think of all the ego-driven behaviors, which compose 98% of our lives, of any given day and you will understand what I mean.

This morning, as I was getting ready, the question came to me: Just how much illusion are we under? Of course, the nature of being in illusion implies that it would be really hard, if not impossible, to answer this. So my thought meanderings here aren't meant to be taken too seriously, since I assume, or rather- I know, I also exist largely in illusion. It seems though that each individual probably contains varying degrees of illusion, just as each individual contains varying degrees of health, self-awareness, and so on. In some ways, I feel I can even see the illusions over me almost like a grand to-do list, aware of and working to shed them as I go, but also understanding this is a lifetime of work so incorporating gentleness and acceptance of some illusions, too. Letting the illusions stay there and be. For now at least.

But what I was wondering about this morning is just how much illusion we live under now, especially in the Kali Yuga--an age of spiritual depletion with primary focus being on material existence--compared to, for example, beings of the Satya Yuga or Golden Ages of the past. (For me, it is evident even in more modern history that humanity has undergone and is undergoing a process of devolution moreso than evolution).

We have lost the understanding of genuine rites, rituals, and offerings. If we are able to learn about and understand them in an original way, it seems to come from a purely action-oriented pathway, which leaves out the spirit or essence that should be held around the action, and is probably the most important purpose of the whole act anyway.

We live in an age dominated by Rajas-- busy, frenetic without depth of purpose other than material gain and fleeting pleasures, endless doing and activity. How do we break through the illusions that layer themselves over and within us, without merely trading one illusion for another? Cultivating Sattva in daily life is vital, but I also believe a detachment from the flow of modernity must happen in order to brush up against and maybe just grasp the bone-deep Truths and ways of being in a more pure state.