23 October 2007

Reality and Maya

This blog was always meant to be our personal statements. Unfortunately, world events have intervened and I have felt compelled to cover those. I feel the Burmese Uprising in a very personal way. I am deeply moved by the courage and determination of the Burmese people and will continue to support them in any way I can.

Today, however, I am going to be personal. I have had a bad case of insomnia for some years now, about 23 years, to be exact. I often lay awake at night thinking. Last night, I thought about a conversation my Dad and I had had when Sandeep was about four or five. I had never taken Amrit and Mandeep had been on my case about that, much to my annoyance. Of course, I don't really remember our conversation verbatim, but this is how it went.

Query: How is 'Truthful Living' possible, if you can't know what is true?

We were talking about the meaning of 'truthful living.'

I had asked him, what did that really mean, and he answered, 'It can mean a lot of different things, I think, but at its root, it means to live according to what you know within yourself to be true. You have to follow that truth no matter what it is or where it leads you.'

'Something like Shakespeare, "This above all, to thine own self be true, and it must follow as the night the day, thou canst not then be false unto any man."?' I asked

'Something like that, but it goes deeper, of course. Shakespeare was quite a wise old guy in his own way.' He smiled at me.

But I wasn't satisfied. 'What if it were to lead me away from Sikhi?'

'His eyes narrowed slightly, but he answered without emotion, 'You have to follow what you know to be true, no matter what. That happened with two of your brothers.'

'Charles and Bobby? Those two don't believe in anything except their own miserable selves!'

'Yes. You never saw me try to force them into my mold, did you?'

'No, of course not. You wouldn't do that.'

'So is your truth leading you away?' He finally brought himself to ask it.

I grinned at him. 'No, my problem is different. Completely. You can't really live truthfully unless you know what is true. We are in Maya. How can anyone KNOW anything in Maya. How can you get beyond belief into knowledge. When you're in Maya, how can you know that you're following truth and not just some idea that appeals to you?'

'In Maya, you can't. The best you can do is to find what you can belief to be true and then follow it completely, with yourw'hole being.'

'So one way of believing is as good as another?'

'Isn't that why we Sikhs don't try to convert the world?' And he continued, 'There is one thing. It is possible to step outside of Maya. But let's be clear. What is Maya?'

I knew how to slightly amuse him. 'If you were a Hindu, you'd say all this is Maya,' I waved my hand, 'it's just illusion, not real. Then I'd slug you in the..you know...and ask, do you really believe that's illusion?'

He giggled. 'But I'm not Hindu. And neither are you. And I don't want to be hit.'I quoted. 'Maya is anything that separates a person from God.'

'Samadhi. Moksha. Mukhti. Satori. Whatever word you want to use.'

'Not necessarily. Those are permanent states, under the individual's control. It is possible to just take a short vacation from Maya. Spend a bit of time not separated from God.'

That was really what I had wanted him to talk about because I had had an experience like that when I was pregnant with Sandeep and still had no idea what to make of it. I knew I wasn't enlightened, but I also knew I had experienced something very real, more real than anything else had ever been or ever could be. I had experienced the reality of Waheguru and a love so great that it was overwhelming, even frightening. A reality I had been totally unprepared for. I had told no one, not even Mani about this experience. Now I tried to tell Dad. He understood. I could tell this had happened to him, as well.

I could see the look of relief on his face. 'So Sandeep decided to give his Mata Ji a prenatal present!'

I had to laugh. 'You think he caused it.'

'Unborn children are very close to God. And your son, even now is closer than most people will ever be.'

That was as good an explanation as anyone ever gave me.

This talk was not at all unusual foir us. My Dad and I hads many such talks about the things that wrre really important to us. I was a very fortunate young woman.

Illustration: Vaheguru
Courtesy of Simmal Tree