Thursday, May 7, 2009

The Idea of Maya, or What Part of Me Believes That?

The woman who gave birth to Buddha Shakyamuni is called in the scriptures, Mahamaya, meaning Great Maya, or Mayadevi, the Goddess Maya. In Tibetan, she is called Gyutrulma. In English, she is generally called Queen Maya, a designation that obscures more than it reveals.

Maya is actually the Sanskrit term for Illusion. So Mahamaya actually means the 'Grandest Deception, or Illusion' of all -- that which convinces us of Existence. Maya along with the other two who are 'Shakti,' that is Activity, and Prakriti or Matter, what we can call Nature.

There can be no life or existence without any of them, but we rely especially upon Maya. It is her conduct that makes the others perceptible, for without her we would have no access -- we would not be able to read existence or, reality.

Maya is not a Trickster in the sense of an spirit that purposely misleads or misguides. She is not Mara in disguise. Her majesty, ingenuity and intricacies generously permits us, or inspires us to glimpse the possibility of "enlightenment." It is our own self-preoccupations that distract us from this objective.
--Source unknown

Maya as the giver of insight is also a focus of many of the books written by Robert Johnson.In his book, Inner Work, he writes "sometimes the generative power of the inconspicuous is so strong that it creates fantasy (meaning:to make visible, to reveal) filled with vivid, symbolic images, capturing the mind so completely it holds our attention for a length of time." These "mini-movies" are a primary way our unconscious mind attempts to express itself--through the imagination (meaning: to transform to visible images), using the symbolic language of charged feelings. It just has to get our attention!

Another way we may experience unconscious thought is through a sudden surge of emotion, emotion of all types. There may be profound joy, love, anger, sadness which invades the conscious mind, and takes it over. These flooded feelings make little or no sense to the conscious mind, because the conscious mind did not produce them. We are often left with a feeling or thought later wondering, 'where did that come from? ' What was that about? ' Why did I do that? 'we often think or feel that the emotion came from somewhere outside of ourselves. "

In fact, these riotous, fractious, ungovernable emotions come from deep within oneself, from a place unseen, unknown by the conscious mind. It is precisely because it is intangible that it is called the "unconscious." At times we sense that we have carried these unseen, unknown elements within us for a long time, but how--but where? There is another part of the mind's self which lies completely outside the boundaries of the everyday, conscious mind.

It is a world of possibility, of promises, hopes and fears. It is also a world of energies, forces, and forms of intelligence, even distinct personality, lying within the unconscious. It is the source of much of our daily thoughts, feelings, and daily behaviors. We are more under the influence of the unconscious than we might suspect. Many of us have an intuitive feeling about the unconscious. We have had the feeling of being somewhere else, or perhaps, have driven or taken ourselves from one place to another, all while in deep thought, and not recalled the trip--only that we've arrived. This is the unconscious taking over some of the conscious functions, freeing the mind to do its imagining work, some call "daydreaming."

At times, feelings and emotions arise, and suddenly we are confronted by them, "I didn't know that I felt that way." When we suddenly blurt out these things, learning to recognize them by asking, "what part of me feels that way," is a very valuable exercise, and tool for self realization.

Sometimes these previously concealed identities or attitudes are embarrassing, or even violent and we are humiliated by them. At other times they reveal themselves as our own strengths and good qualities. For example, we may find that they are resources available to us that were previously hidden; we may express new wisdom, or speak in ways that show love or understanding previously unknown in our day to day life.

By gaining a true sense of our self through better acquaintance with the unconscious, we become more whole, more complete; our self is strengthened. By developing a relationship with the mind's eyes, the conscious and unconscious, we live richer lives. Most people however in todays modern, scientific world have lost touch with that place of dreams and imagination; they most often encounter the inner world only when they must--in times of psychological distress.

The mature self is a balanced self between conscious awareness and developing creativity derived from the power-storehouse of the unconscious. When out of balance, the power of the one or the other can become frightening, paralyzing us in our tracks. Unable to perceive the world outside or inside, we find many types of decision impossible in this state.
The purpose of learning to work with a whole, complete mind is not simply to resolve psychic distress or simply resolve conflicts; rather it is the source of our deepest feelings, our strongest religious longings, our great strength, and growing wisdom.

A great wind of energy originates in the integrated mind. We, in fact, as human beings, depend upon it, whether we know it or not, for all its image and symbol making power, for poetic, literary images, for math, scientific discoveries, for all artistic endeavors and for religious functioning. Without our native ability to generate these sense-symbols, we would not have the ability to function as a person in the day to day world. Thus it is hasty to denigrate the imagination--it is essential for much of our living.

In the case of dreams, imagination has the utmost power to convert the invisible forms of the unconscious into symbols and images that are perceptible to the waking mind. Sometimes dreams are so vivid, it's as if we were awake and experienced, in the day to day way, the contents of the dream. However real the symbols may seem, Johnson in his book, Inner Work cautions that one not take them literally. They are after all, unique symbols, your symbols speaking directly to you alone. A "spirit guide" contained within. Listen to their rhythms.
What part believes this? And what do you live for?

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