I’ve written before about the 3 Mayas – the appearance of being an individual person, the appearance of the universe, and the appearance of creation. Each of these layers of appearance must be seen through (assuming we have a visual process) to discover the deeper truth behind them.
Note here I’m not using the popular definition of Maya as illusion. Illusion implies a mirage. It’s better to understand it as an appearance. This is because it is an appearance of reality. It is not real in and of itself, just as physics tells us the world is not how it appears to the senses. But that doesn’t make the world unreal. Only that the senses don’t give us the whole picture. (How we relate to the appearance depends on our dominant guna.)
Seeing through these layers relates directly to the stages of awakening. But other things also have to be seen through.
The universe itself is built up in layers.
We live in a time now where many more people are becoming conscious of “energy” and such and are stumbling a little with discrimination. Some are confusing the astral with “spiritual” or “divine”. But the astral is much like the physical – the good, the bad, & the ugly.
Astral is a broadly used term that generally refers to the emotional/energy and sometimes mental bodies. This is the arena where we carry much of our baggage of unresolved experiences. It’s also the home of dreams and illusions, so it’s a tricky territory.
There are beings there to support us like our guides. But also beings happy to get our attention or manipulate us. Because we’re talking dream-stuff, they can appear as they wish and call themselves whatever suits their needs.
As I mentioned on the Sophia Panel, it’s important to pay attention to how such things feel. Are they appealing to our ego needs or our higher nature? The divine is about the greater good and pointing. They would never take away choice or self-authority. For example, Krishna does not take over Arjuna and force him to fight.
The astral can be self-interested and controlling. They may know things we don’t know but that’s about the same as the guy down the street will know things we don’t too. That doesn’t make him divine.
It’s also worth noting that we normally notice the astral well before the divine as the divine is a lot more subtle. If we don’t know both, it’s probably astral. I’ve seen even spiritual teachers confuse this and get themselves into problems with “advisors”.
Best is to give most of our attention to our human life and make human choices. Let subtle perception unfold and mature. After the resolute intellect comes on-line, we’ll have the better platform for a real relationship with the divine.
Ironically, where consciousness is key to awakening and Unity, it must be transcended for Brahman. While much less likely to be a problem, it is useful to understand that even consciousness is a kosha or sheath, a layer of being. The greater reality is beyond even oneness of being.
Due to the way Unity consciousness unfolds in stages, we can get very used to letting go of our earlier reality regularly. When Brahman comes knocking, it can be just another “what’s real today?” adventure.
Still, it’s not called the Great Awakening for nothing.
As Joseph Campbell said, it is the Hero’s Journey. A journey that is lived right here in the world. But don’t worry about whether you’re up for the task – we where built for this. It is in our very nature, fellow heroes. 🙂