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Friday, August 5, 2016

Essay on Maya and Illusion, Chapter 3 of Jnana Yoga by Swami Vivekananda

By Naomi Walden

Swami Vivekananda states that because we are satisfied with the sense objects and run after desires, reality is covered with a mist of ignorance obscuring truth.  The Maya of Vedanta states the world exists only in relation to the mind and a mixture of existence and non-existence.  We have to work in and through it.  Man cannot go beyond his intellect, but is aware of a power to go beyond which says unselfishness alone is good. 

Death is the end of everything, yet we cling to life – this is Maya.  The animal man lives in the senses.  As he emerges, horizons of both happiness and suffering grow.  We must work for lessening world’s misery, the only way to make ourselves happy and out of this life of contradiction.  This realization comes to all eventually.  The Absolute tries to express itself in the finite, when man discovers that it is impossible, renunciation results, the real beginning of religion.  Knowing that both good and evil are bound together, one then works with patience toward the great ideal, toward perfection, and beyond nature.  

All religions attempt to get beyond nature, or limitations.  Man worships gods that have no limitations.  This idea of freedom increases until it becomes the ideal of a Personal God, a being beyond the limitations of nature, of Maya. 

The whole history of humanity is a continuous fight against the so-called laws of nature. The internal world is a fight between animal man and spiritual man.  With Vedanta, the idea of a Personal God, ruler of Maya, or nature, grows until the discovery is made that he is within. 

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