Friday, April 3, 2015

Prabhupada about maya (the material illusion)

I found some quotes, which I appreciated very much, by His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, about the nature of māyā (the illusion of being the body), and organized them as questions and answers below.

Why do we fall into illusion?

Purport to Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam verse 2.9.1:
The child cries to have the moon from the mother, and the mother gives the child a mirror to satisfy the crying and disturbing child with the reflection of the moon. Similarly, the crying child of the Lord is given over to the reflection, the material world, to lord it over as karmī and to give this up in frustration to become one with the Lord. Both these stages are dreaming illusions only. There is no necessity of tracing out the history of when the living entity desired this. But the fact is that as soon as he desired it, he was put under the control of ātma-māyā by the direction of the Lord. Therefore the living entity in his material condition is dreaming falsely that this is “mine” and this is “I.”

Why do we want to lord it over the material world?

Lecture on Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam verse 2.8.7, Los Angeles, February 10, 1975:
We are serving Krsna. That is our, I mean to say, place, constitutional position, to serve Krsna, but sometimes we desire: "Why shall I serve Krsna? Why shall I serve the spiritual master? I shall enjoy. I shall enjoy." But that enjoyment was there by serving Krsna, but he wanted to become enjoyer independent of Krsna. That is the cause of falldown. With Krsna, you can enjoy very nicely. You have seen the picture, how with Krsna the gopis are nicely dancing, enjoying; the cowherd boys are playing. Enjoy with Krsna, that is your real enjoyment. But without Krsna, when you want to enjoy, that is maya. That is maya.

What is the nature of this illusion?

Translation of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam verse 2.9.34 (one of the catuḥ-ślokī, or four essential verses of the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam):
O Brahmā, whatever appears to be of any value, if it is without relation to Me, has no reality. Know it as My illusory energy, that reflection which appears to be in darkness.

Does this reflection exist or not?

Purport to above verse:
... whenever things are accepted as real without being related to the Lord, that conception is called a product of the illusory energy of the Lord. Because nothing can exist without the Lord, it should be known that the illusory energy is also an energy of the Lord. The right conclusion of dovetailing everything in relationship with the Lord is called yoga-māyā, or the energy of union, and the wrong conception of detaching a thing from its relationship with the Lord is called the Lord’s daivī māyā, or mahā-māyā. Both the māyās also have connections with the Lord because nothing can exist without being related to Him.
For example, accepting a rope as a snake is illusion, but the rope is not false. The rope, as it exists in the front of the illusioned person, is not at all false, but the acceptance is illusory. Therefore the wrong conception of accepting this material manifestation as being divorced from the energy of the Lord is illusion, but it is not false. And this illusory conception is called the reflection of the reality in the darkness of ignorance. Anything that appears as apparently not being “produced out of My energy” is called māyā.

Does it mean that the self is an illusion?

Purport (continued):
The conception that the living entity is formless or that the Supreme Lord is formless is also illusion. In the Bhagavad-gītā (2.12) it was said by the Lord in the midst of the battlefield that the warriors standing in front of Arjuna, Arjuna himself, and even the Lord had all existed before, they were existing on the Battlefield of Kurukṣetra, and they would all continue to be individual personalities in the future also, even after the annihilation of the present body and even after being liberated from the bondage of material existence. In all circumstances, the Lord and the living entities are individual personalities, and the personal features of both the Lord and living beings are never abolished; only the influence of the illusory energy, the reflection of light in the darkness, can, by the mercy of the Lord, be removed.

If we exist, and everything is related to the Lord, does it mean that we are the Lord?

Purport (continued):
The independence of the individual living entity is not real independence, but is just the reflection of the real independence existing in the Supreme Being, the Lord. The false claim of supreme independence by the conditioned souls is illusion, and this conclusion is admitted in this verse.

In that case, how are we distinguished from the Lord?

Purport (continued):
There is one Supreme Person who is the progenitor of this cosmic manifestation and whose energy acts as prakṛti, or the material nature, dazzling like a reflection. By such illusory action of prakṛti, even dead matter is caused to move by the cooperation of living energy of the Lord, and the material world appears like a dramatic performance to the ignorant eyes. The ignorant person, therefore, may even be a scientist or physiologist in the drama of prakṛti, while the sane person knows prakṛti as the illusory energy of the Lord. By such a conclusion, as confirmed by the Bhagavad-gītā, it is clear that the living entities are also a display of the Lord’s superior energy (parā prakṛti), just as the material world is a display of the Lord’s inferior energy (aparā prakṛti). The superior energy of the Lord cannot be as good as the Lord, although there is very little difference between the energy and the possessor of the energy, or the fire and the heat. Fire is possessed of heat, but heat is not fire. This simple thing is not understood by the man with a poor fund of knowledge who falsely claims that the fire and heat are the same. This energy of the fire (namely heat) is explained here as a reflection, and not directly fire. Therefore the living energy represented by the living entities is the reflection of the Lord, and never the Lord Himself. Being the reflection of the Lord, the existence of the living entity is dependent on the Supreme Lord, who is the original light. This material energy may be compared to darkness, as actually it is darkness, and the activities of the living entities in the darkness are reflections of the original light.

Are we hopelessly fallen?

Lecture on Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam verse 2.9.1, Tokyo, April 20, 1972:
Prabhupada: Pariksit Maharaja inquired... Many people inquired that "How the living entity was with Krsna, he became fallen in this material world?" Is not done? This question is raised? So this question is answered here, that "How the living entity who was with Krsna became fallen down in contact with this material qualities?" So this is the answer. Read the translation.

Karandhara: "Sri Sukadeva Gosvami said: O king, unless one is influenced by the energy of the Supreme Personality of Godhead..."

Prabhupada: It is simply the influence of the material energy, nothing. Actually he has not fallen. Another example given is given. Just like the moon is covered with scattered cloud, the passing cloud. You have seen. Everyone has experience. The cloud passes, and it appears that the moon is moving. Have you seen this?

Devotees: Yes.

Prabhupada: Actually the moon is not moving. It is a maya, illusion. It appears that the moon is moving. But similarly, the living entity, because he is spiritual spark of the Supreme, it has not fallen. It has not fallen. But he is thinking, "I am fallen. I am material." That is the reason. He is thinking, "I am this body." Actually the body has no connection with me. That is experienced, that the body has no connection with the soul. The body is changing, dying. But I am the same. The same example, the moon: The cloud is passing over in different way. The moon is far away from the cloud, and it has nothing to do with the cloud, but it appears the moon is moving.

So we are not fallen, but we are misunderstanding?

Lecture (continued):
Just like when you play some part in a drama, if you feel that "I am king," then you can talk very nicely. And if you feel that "I am Karandhara," then you cannot play nicely king. Is it not? Feeling must be there. If you are playing the part of a king, then you must have the same courage and belief that "I am king." You have to forget that you are Karandhara. Then your part will be very nicely played. It will be appreciated. But if you think simultaneously that "I am Karandhara. I am taking, playing the part of the king," then you cannot play. So because we wanted to play the part of Krsna, enjoyer, Krsna is giving us chance that "You feel like Me." -- "I am king. I am Krsna. I am God." (laughter) All these rascals, those who are feeling like that, "I am master. I am king. I am Krsna. I am God," they are all simply in that feeling only. That's all. And this feeling is created by Krsna: "All right. You want to play the part of a king. I shall train you in such a way." Just like director means, dramatic director means, he creates a feeling. His direction is nothing but how to feel.
So the answer is, when somebody asks you that "When one has become in contact with this material nature?" He has not become in contact. He is thinking by the influence of the external energy. Just like the same example: A man is dreaming; there is no contact with tiger. Actually he has no contact with that. Similarly, actually we are not fallen. We cannot be fallen. But we have created a situation that we are, become... Try to understand understand. It is very important point. We have simply created a situation. We have not created a situation, Krsna has given us a situation. Because we wanted to imitate Krsna, so Krsna has given an opportunity: "All right. Imitate. You want to be imitation king in the stage. So feel like this. Play like this. Do like this. People will applaud. 'Oh, a very nice king, very nice.' " That is the... So everyone in this material world, they are playing some part. They wanted, "I want to be prime minister." "All right." "I want to become very big business magnate." "I want to be leader." "I want to be a philosopher." "I want to be a scientist." So all this nonsense, they are trying to play -- Krsna is giving him the opportunity: "All right."

Can we stop playing our part in this drama?

Lecture (continued):
Actually we are not fallen. Therefore, because we are not fallen, at any moment we can revive our Krsna consciousness. As soon as we understand that, "I have nothing to do with. I am simply Krsna's servant. Eternal servant. That's all," immediately he becomes liberated. Exactly like that: as soon as you... Sometimes we do that. When the fearful dreaming becomes too much intolerable, we break the dream. We break the dream when it becomes intolerable. Similarly, we can break this material connection at any moment as soon as we come to the point of Krsna conscious. "Oh, Krsna is my eternal master. I am His servant." That's all. This is the way. Actually we are not fallen. There cannot be any fallen. The same example: Actually there is no tiger; it is dreaming. Similarly, our fallen condition is also dreaming. We are not fallen. We can simply give up that illusory condition at any moment. At any moment. So if you study all these verses very nicely, you get all this knowledge quickly.

1 comment:

  1. One of the most important things about maya is its quality of forgetfulness. I saw an article about nihilism – which is neither philosophy nor psychology (nor a question of personality or sickness) but a state of consciousness, which the reincarnating souls pass through, both individually and as a collective (beginning in late 1800's). My thought when I read about it again (for the first time in a daily newspaper) was the need to understand maya, as in forgetfulness.

    And we all know the most powerful cure for that forgetfulness – Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare. Why? Because it comes from the inner core of the One who ISSUES maya, OUTSIDE of it (and completely so, not partially). Remembrance. How do you know? Try :)