Beat “maya” with M.A.Y.A

Life is but an illusion. A seen between two unseens__of the time of the soul before death and its time after death.This is the big teaching of the Bhagavad Gita. This is the essence of being in this world and yet being above it.
When we realize that whatever is happening to us__fame, success, defeat, pain, loss__is not happening to the real us, that all this is a perception, we will be able to stay detached. Life is like going to the movies. When we go to watch a movie, we see the entire story play out in front of us, on a giant screen, we get involved sometimes with the characters, but never attached. When the movie is over, we get up and depart. Life is that movie, and you, the real you, are the spectator, the watcher. Your journey on the planet in a human form is like the stint of the movie-goer in a movie hall__you arrive, you witness, you depart. And a movie is just an imagined story, a perception of reality, really not the reality itself.
In Indian mythology, and in Indian scriptures, this whole illusionary experience of Life is called maya. So if we are to assume that everything we know or have ever known is only an illusion, then what is the point to it all? That, the Gita explains, is a good question. Krishna asks Arjuna: “Why do we find sorrow in this truth that the attachment to all that is unreal, and only a perception, is pointless?” But there’s a way out from this entrapment__from this illusion, from maya. And that solution, I have read somewhere, is M.A.Y.A.The cure for mayais M.A.Y.A, which is to be Mindful, Awakened, Yielding and Accepting! In being Mindful of the now__focusing on whatever is happening than focusing on what happened or will happen__we will be Awakened to immense possibilities and opportunities. From that Awakenedstate we will see value in Yieldingto__and not resisting__Life. When we Yieldwe reach a state of Acceptance. In Acceptance, and only in Acceptance, do we find total bliss. And only in bliss will we find our true, real, Self! So beat maya with M.A.Y.A. Be Mindful, Awakened, Yielding and Accepting __ always!

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Go easy with Life – Oh! Yes! Abhi!

Don’t take yourself or Life too seriously. At the end of the day, Life’s but a dream!
A couple of years ago, a young lady came to meet me and my wife, feeling totally despondent about Life. She was separating from her husband, she had two young children and her business was just not working out. She had accumulated a lot of debt – most of it from family. She was wondering if there was any meaning to Life. She asked me: “What’s the point of Life if there’s so much pain in going through it?” I am sure this is a question each of us has asked ourselves at least once in our lifetime so far.
I shared with her a story from the Life of the great Chinese mystic, Chuang Tzu (a.k.a Zhuang Zhou or Zhuangzi, 369 BCE ~ 286 BCE).
One morning, sitting in his bed, Chuang Tzu looked very sad. His disciples had never seen him so sad. And never after waking up had he remained in his bed, sitting. What had happened? Was he sick?
They gathered around and asked him, “Master, what is the matter?” He said, “The matter is really difficult, I cannot solve it; perhaps you may be of some help. I will tell you what is the matter. In the night I dreamed that I had become a butterfly, and I was moving from one flower to another flower.”
One of the disciples said, “This is nothing to be sad about. In dreams we all do strange things; and this is not a bad thing, to be a butterfly – colorful, beautiful, moving from one juicy flower to another juicy flower. Why are you so worried?”
He said, “You have not heard the whole thing. The problem is, now I am awake and I am wondering whether Chuang Tzu dreamed that he is a butterfly, or now the butterfly has gone to sleep and is dreaming she is Chuang Tzu.”

This may well be ‘koan’a paradoxical anecdote or riddle without a solution, used in Zen Buddhism to demonstrate the inadequacy of logical reasoning and provoke enlightenment. So, are you who you are? Or is this Life that you lead a dream? In Sanskrit and Pali literature, in the ‘Vedas’ and ‘Puranas’, there’s this concept called ‘maya’ which really points to Life (and everything) as an ‘illusion’, and if you don’t get it and don’t understand Life’s true nature, well, ‘maya’ can also mean ‘delusion’ in such a context!

As Chuang Tzu shared his dilemma, his disciples remained silent. They understood the import of Chuang Tzu’s poser. This is what all the scriptures have been saying – that everything is maya’. Everything is a dream. So, why the strife? Why worry, why the anxiety, grief, guilt, anger and sorrow? Chuang Tzu taught his disciples this: Continue easy with Life and you are on the right path. He didn’t say this way or that way was right. He said, whatever you are going through, go through it with ease, don’t resist, don’t fight, don’t aggress. Just go easy. Because whatever is happening to you is just a dream. It will soon be over. So, don’t gloat over your riches or your successes. It’s a dream that’s soon to die. Don’t bemoan your sorrows. But it too is a dream and will be over soon.
I met that young lady recently. We had been mentoring her, holding her hand and helping her understand Life better, over these two years. But in the past quarter we had not met her. So, when she came over, I noticed how much she had evolved. I saw a twinkle in her eyes, a radiance on her face and an enthusiasm in her step. I asked her how things were. And she replied: “Nothing’s changed – the marriage is still going through the final rites, the kids are a handful and the business is deep in the dumps. But I am taking it all easy. And so, I am at peace and I am very happy.”
Sometimes, Life can weigh you down. Things just won’t go the way you want them to. That’s the time to learn to take Life easy. As the famous song from the Tamil movie ‘Kadhalan’(1994, Shankar, A.R.Rahman; Hindi – ‘Hum Se Hai Muqabla’) goes, (have a), “….Take it easy, policy!And have it now – Oh! Yes! Abhi!

This whole Life is but a dream

This whole lifetime is an illusion, a dream – to struggle with it is simply an unintelligent thing to do. If you really want to snap out of ‘your’ dream – just awaken!  

Last evening, I watched an Italian movie, La Grande Bellaza (The Great Beauty), made by the brilliant Paolo Sorrentino. The film deals with a man’s discovery, as he turns 65, that the whole Life he has led is a ‘trick’, an illusion. His Life, for decades, has been spent in the extravagant social and literary circles of Rome. Now, in the evening of his Life, he finds how hollow the lives of the people he knows are, how shallow their thoughts are and how they desperately try to hide their despair and shroud their darker sides. He realizes that somewhere along the way he has lost a lot of ‘his’ time too, ‘doing what he really does not like doing’ and so he decides, in one brilliant awakening moment, as the movie ends, to write his second book – something he had been postponing for years!
You need not watch the movie to get its message. You don’t need to wait until you are past 60 to wake up. If you realize that your Life is running out and you are speeding towards your death, just as everyone else is, you will awaken! As Omar Khayyam, the 11th Century Persian poet, has said so beautifully: “The wine of Life keeps oozing drop by drop and the leaves of Life keep falling one by one.” Soon your Life too will end. Just as mine will. And this entire lifetime we have experienced may simply appear to have been a dream. What’s the point then in clinging on to characters in the dream, to events in the dream and to memories of the dream?
Really, if you think about Life deeply, there is nothing to attain in Life. There’s nothing to abstain from or give up

or renounce in Life either. When you watch a three hour movie, you don’t cling on to it as it ends, do you? You just get up and walk away. The movie was an experience. Simple. It was make believe. That is what Life is too. So everything you have now – and you cling on to – is make believe too. You think it is ‘yours’. You think all of what you are experiencing is real. But the truth is different – and the only reality! Your family, your children, your business, your assets, your money, your nationality, your religion, your name – all this is make believe. None of this is either the real you nor is it yours. When an entire lifetime is like a dream, at the end of it, how can you even stake a claim to anyone or anything that was part of this illusion?

So, stop struggling with your Life. Let go! Live Life fully – do only what gives you joy! And, yes, please enjoy the dream, this experience, as long as it lasts!