I have spoken here about how we live in a dream within a dream within a dream. The dream of the person in the dream of the universe, in the dream of God or creation.
When we ask the question ‘What is Real?’ and look deeply enough, what remains when all the illusions are seen through is silence. Alert, lively silence. The fullness of emptiness.
But what about this life? This person here? That’s the interesting part.
The dream is called Maya but Maya does not mean illusion. Its root is Ma, to build. We can think of it as a thought of God. It is Atmavibhuti, Self becoming. Silence cannot know itself with itself alone so it must express itself to know itself.
Maya is about perception rather than illusion. Maya stays the same but how we see it evolves. The illusion is in the perception of Maya, not the Maya itself. Maya is the play of self knowledge and the vast range of possibilities.
Maya is said to have three characteristics, depending on our predominant energy and resulting perspective. If our energy is sluggish and dark, called tamas, the dream becomes a concealer that covers reality. When the energy is intense and very active, rajas, this is the power of projection that supports the story, illusions, or beliefs we project. This is why people tend to call Maya the illusion.
But when the energy becomes more clear and smooth, sattva, the dream becomes a field of knowledge, the play of God. We can thus see that Maya provides the framework to automatically provide the perceptions required of whatever perspective we carry. One thought, many ways of seeing.
OK, but what about the individual? Within the dream of all is the dream of the individual. This dream is like a wave on the ocean, an increment of the whole. We are the lively alertness, experiencing through the vehicle of an apparent individual.
“All the world’s a stage, And all the men and women merely players” as Shakespeare put it. We have a role to play and if we step fully into the flow of that role, we will find ourselves in heaven on earth.
The problem arises when we forget it’s a play and start to second-guess our role. Essentially, we get absorbed in the experience and take it to be real. As this does not make sense, the mind tries to take charge and explain the play.
The mind is a very useful tool but it makes a poor master. If it does not have an explanation for ‘the way it is’ it will start to make something up. It will seek experiences that confirm that story and gradually will build a whole new construct on top of the play. This greatly distorts our ability to perform and leads to suffering.
The famous sage Shankara describes this as 2 forms of Maya. One is creation, overlaying the silence. The other is the sense that we are individual and separate, jiva. We perceive ourselves as one of many. The ego Maya is within the creation Maya, layered over it. A dream within the dream. (the universe is a subset of the creation)
It is this second one we need to clear off, the personal universe that must be dissolved. It is what is between us and reality and it’s self-referral explorations.
Now – the subject of this post – how do we tell what drivers are innate and what arise in our own illusion. This is a key in self-knowledge. The ability to find your bliss, step into the flow, do without doing. When we move with the motivation of Self expressing Itself, we are in the flow. Synchronicity abounds, life is smooth and action brings us joy. When we act from our story, we find resistance, suffering, and a dissynchronous experience. And that enhances our experience of being separate.
The trick then to having fun with life is to tune into those deeper drivers, the intention that gives rise to this person. You may call this purpose but that’s a bit misleading. In essence we all have the same purpose, to express and experience Self. But in what way is our individuality unique? What draws you forth? What drives you to happiness and peace? Where do you find oneness? Those are your innate drivers, beneath the story.
May the curtain never fall