Analogy: A guy is walking down a dark street at night. He spies an object in the middle of the road. He screams, “snake!” and runs away. Another person comes along behind him with a flashlight. He shines a light on the object and sees that it is just a piece of rope.
Moral: In our unawareness (darkness) we see snakes when there is only rope. This is called projection, or superimposition. We do this everywhere: at work, with friends and family, and especially in our love relationships. And we do this in two ways: we either see snakes where there are none, or we attract snakes and snake-like experiences.
One main purpose in life is to shine the light (awareness) to discover the truth. Problems occur when we see others as snakes (things we are afraid of facing) instead of rope (a reflection of aspects we need to heal). Remember, we are meant to be Bazooka-Proof, so we will attract what we fear until we don’t fear it anymore.
From a Vedic perspective, Maya relates to things that are temporary/illusory, such as experiences, thoughts, and feelings. It can show up as the “snake,” a change of behavior but not of mind, or a change from one superimposition to another. Whatever the form, you can tell it is Maya because things may look different but still stay pretty much the same. A good example of this is ending one bad relationship only to enter another. The face and the name have changed, but the experience is the same.
Brahman (God), on the other hand, is permanent, and it is the essence of our spirit being. We connect with this by coming to know the reality of our Higher Self, and by seeing our projections and striving to move beyond them. This develops within us an inner strength that is immutable. Once internal transformation has occurred, external life then alters to match that change.
Some see Maya as something bad. Not true. Maya is a form of Brahman, an emanation of Brahman, an inherent quality of Brahman. However, if we always/only look at the form, we will always/only see fragments and our experiences will reinforce that fragmentation. This causes us to see things as a duality – right/wrong, good/bad, me/you – and it separates us from ourselves. When we have forgotten Brahman, we have broken from our truest reality. We then live life “begging for pennies on the streets” when the real treasure is inside of us.
Even though Maya is not bad, it is antagonistic to the knowing of reality, truth, Brahman. Maya exists as superimposition, known in psychology as projection. It has three aspects, or powers:
Projection is illusion – we behave, act, react, based on a superimposition, which is often in error.
Concealment is delusion – rational thinking and search for truth stops because of the superimposition.
Revealing is balanced action and thinking – it arises from the wisdom within that is developed through meditation, contemplation, curiosity, and the sincere search for truth.
- Projection is false identification: “It is a snake!”
- Concealment is denial: I’m not aware of the true identity (rope), or that I’m projecting a false identity (snake)
- Revealing is connecting with inner wisdom/strength, allowing one to face the unawareness and to learn and grow from each experience, therefore increasing wisdom and strength in never-ending cycles: I don’t know what it is, but I will check it out and see what I learn.
- Projection (false identification): “He’s cute. I’m in love (even though I just met him and don’t really know him).”
- Concealment (denial): I am not able to see that I don’t know him and that I’m projecting my fantasy onto him.
- Revealing (wisdom, learning, growth): I don’t know him but he seems interesting. I’ll check it out and see what I learn.
Snakes can be
- Work: the boss is just like your controlling mother
- Friends: you hear criticism when there is none
- Marriage: your spouse is “making you feel” unloved, unlovable
- Everywhere: fear of rejection, abandonment, disappointment, etc.
Life experiences provide for soul growth (the development inner authority and self-certainty), and that growth requires a shift in perception. In each perception there is a primary cause and a secondary cause. To grow, we must move beyond the primary. Removing the secondary but not the primary will simply produce other secondaries. And, the primary is always some form of fear. Not knowing the truth of oneself generates fear and attracts things to fear. Fear comes from superimposition and causes superimposition.
The only way to grow is to change. Two types:
- Temporary: water to ice is a change in form. It can go back from one to the other with no change in nature.
- Permanent: milk to yogurt is a change in nature. It can’t revert because the essence of being has been altered
We can change our behavior, words, thoughts. But if we don’t alter our inner being and achieve dominion over our fears, results will only be temporary. To move beyond our illusions, we must name the snake for what it is, a projection, and begin to understand the rope, the opportunity to heal.