Surface reality (maya), by means of its power to hide true inner nature and to impose the ‘unreal’ on inner reality, makes the underlying unity of ‘all that is’ (brahmam) appear separately as three separate entities: human beings (jiva), God/s (easwara) & the material world (jagath). The distorting factor/s in surface reality only take hold when there is a mind to observe them. At this point the seedlings of the huge tree that is the material world begin to sprout and put forth leaves, which are the mental impulses (vasanas) that guide us to conclusions about the nature of the world (sankalpas). Thus the objective world is to a large degree the product (vilasa) of the assumptions underlying what we see.

Humans beings and Gods are in equal measure products of this process, since what we see them as is inextricably part of our mental projection/s. Imagine everything that informs our physical existence as a painting, in which humans, gods and their interactions are depicted against a backdrop of the physical world. It is all produced by the same mental process of maya, part of whose illusive power is to confer apparent difference, based on human perspectives – the same dance within which we perceive s/he & I, this and that, and mine and hirs.
The seed syllables within the term sohamidam express: ‘sah’, the unmanifest (that transcendent power, easwara, that creates existence): ‘aham’ is I, the jiva or entity within the consciousness of the doer: and ‘idam’ is the material world, jagath. Yet even these, as perceived by humans, have only relative value, and change in interpretation from generation to generation.

In waking and dreaming alike these govern our perceptions, only when the mind no longer retains any form of consciousness, as for instance in deep sleep, do we experience the ultimate reality which in-forms all life-forms. The principal task awaiting those who seek wisdom (jnana) is to gain release from the mental processes which prescribe differentiation. To become grounded in the sense of underlying unity is possess indivisible wisdom (advaitha jnana).

Only the wisdom gained by analysis and elimination of the mental processes can end the reign of illusion. For illusion itself flourishes where there is ignorance and lack of discrimination, thus vidya, instruction, spells the doom of maya.


Love Itself

Humans did not come into existence just to laze around in casual joy and fleeting happiness. There are much bigger purposes to life, which we fail to see so long as we identify our Self entirely with the ego-mind, for attachment to what is 'mine' is the root cause of sorrow.

The ego-mind craves reassurance from people, objects and places. This need creates affection & attachment which ultimately ties us to the object. The effect of this craving is to imprison our consciousness within matter. To keep the psyche free is liberation in the true sense. Thus it is the mind which creates both imprisonment and liberation. It runs after an object - gets attached - the senses are alerted - affection develops - actions result - the mind is rendered happy or unhappy - feeling ensues - and so the the way is left open for fear and possibly anger. That’s how we're caught.

Affection, fear and anger are all close comrades of Attachment. These inseparable companions follow each other around. Which is why great writers assert “happiness and attachment chase each other’s tails." Happiness, in general, comes from the fulfilment of desire. Yet desire also leads to a partiality towards those who feed it, and a hatred of those who thwart it. Thus the inevitable wheel of opposites, of likes and dislikes, begins to turn - within which the ignorant are trapt.

When impure gold is melted in the crucible it emerges shining and bright. The mind, clouded by the impressions of a myriad attachments and desires, can only be restored to its original brightness and sharpness if put into the crucible of Inquiry and heated on the coals of Discrimination. That brightness grows as you begin to become conscious of your quintessential nature or atma (from which the word atom comes).

Like a wind-storm that covers everything with dust: the desires, attachments, thirsts and cravings all darken the mind. They have to be kept at bay so that the splendour of the soul /atma can emerge, reflecting as it does the highest manifestation of the humanity’s best qualities and potential, and the relationship each of us has to the collective identity of those around us, or paramatma.

Whatever the crisis, however deep the misery, do not allow your grip of your inner consciousness over the ego-mind to be dislodged; maintain it by fixing your eyes on these higher values. Subordinate it to your sense the paramatma, the good created by good people. Hold the ego-mind within the holy tabernacle of the heart. Thus one can progress from falling in love with people, objects and places (the differentiated forms of atma) to loving the undifferentiated or formless reality of brahma (all that is). The delusion of a reality created by objects has to disappear without trace. Only when our experience is no longer based on duality do we see the ultimate reality (brahmam) underpinning all existence, and so find genuine freedom from the illusions created by the body-mind complex. From this comes a sense of falling in love with love itself.

Abridged from Jnana Vahini by Sai Baba