MAYA: An Illusion?
Posted Jun 22, 2008
Last Updated Oct 5, 2008
(We're at a university, in the Student Union, eavesdropping on a three-cornered conversation in a neighboring booth. One of the three has mentioned enlightenment. It brings a response.)
Herm: "Huh! Don't get all spiritual on us now, Teddy. Which enlightenment are you talking about? Hippy-style enlightenment? LSD? Funny mushrooms? Or good old-fashioned, real-world Enlightenment — like Galileo, Newton, Darwin, Einstein? Real knowledge."
Charley (breaking in): "Real knowledge? You're talking words there, good buddy. Semantics. Metaphor. And that real world you mentioned? Tell us about that. The real world isn't semantics or metaphor, it's whatever it is."
Herm: "Oh lord. A philosopher! Keep it straight and simple. That's all I ask."
Teddy (offended): "There's nothing wrong with philosophical. And what you call 'the real world' isn't. Isn't the real world, that is. Your real world is maya! Illusion!"
Charley: "Ah ha! So maya equals illusion? Look out the window. See that concrete curb? I invite you to step outside, take off both shoes, and with your right foot, kick that illusion as hard as you can. Straight ahead! It's conceivable, barely, that you might actually do that and retain consciousness. Now kick it with your left foot, putting just as much force in it.
"But you won't, because if you'd actually kicked it with your right foot, you'd either be unconscious or rolling around on the ground screaming. No? Maybe not. Might be a "realized master" could actually pull that off, but realized masters are as rare as frog hair. And I doubt that a realized master would kick a curb anyway."
Herm (chortling): "Realized masters?"
Teddy (getting abruptly to his feet): "Goodbye. I'm outta here."
Charley: "Don't go, good buddy. I'm on your side, mainly. And to someone sitting in a lotus…"
Herm: "Sitting on a lotus? Why would anyone sit on a lotus?"
Charley (grinning now): "Lotus the posture, not lotus the water flower. It means to sit in a sort of cross-legged posture." (Kicks Herm under the table.) "Smart ass. When a monk or a yogi is in deep meditation, with his consciousness in the spirit realm, say,…"
Herm: "With his head up his what?"
Teddy: "You're pitiful! The next time you call me up crying for help with your calculus homework, I'll tell you up what."
Charley (raising his palms): "Patience, grasshoppers. When a yogi or a monk is in deep meditation, and his consciousness enters the spirit realm, the spirit realm becomes his existential reality, and to one degree or another he adjusts his values to it.
But while we're here on the material plane, operating via a material body, let me suggest that Maya is real enough. And what we're here for is to learn the lessons of existing within it, regardless of any side trips to the spirit realm.
Herm: "Spitit realm? Oh lord, I feel sick!"
Charley: "Herm, you are sick. Believe me.
"For human beings, real enlightenment is being able to function in maya successfully, and hopefully carry out your life task." (Shrugs) "If you want to accomplish something in the Real World of humankind, you have to work with whatever resources you have available. In whatever circumstances you find yourself."
(Looks at Teddy, and gestures.) "Like Friend Herm here. He has to pass Calculus 301, or change his major. And Calc 301 has a syllabus from Hell, I'm told, so he turns to a friend." (Nudges Herm with his foot again.) "The word is friend, get that? Friend? And that friend, instead of telling you to shove it, patiently explains how calculus works in that particular situation." (Laughs.) "And you don't call me, because I'm a forestry major, and not a resource for help in calculus."
Teddy (still on his feet, but smiling now; he presses his palms together, and bows): "Thank you, great guru, but I do need to leave. Qual lab — Chem 301-A. Oh, and that was an interesting point of view on maya. I'll meditate on it." (Flips a salute and exits stage left, Charley and Herm watching him go.)
Herm (in his version of a cockney accent: "'e ain't arf bad — for a shit head, y'know?"
Charley: "And you aren't half bad for someone in denial."
Herm (frowning): "You're serious, aren't you?"
Herm: "I can't figure you out."
Charley: "Figure me out? What's the point of that? How does that old song go? 'Take me as I am or leave me be.'"
Herm (thoughtfully): "Why don't you leave me be, then? Leave Teddy be, too? Instead of trying to change us?"
Charley swigs the last of his coffee and slides out of the booth. "I'm not trying to change either of you, honest to George. I just toss ideas out, for you to examine. I admit I'd be pleased if you liked 'em, but I like you guys the way I found you. You're friends of mine, both of you, and I'm glad you put up with me." (He gestures a thumb up.) "And now I hear Zoology 205 calling." (Exits stage left.)