Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Experience and maya

We live in the world of experience, don’t we? Our daily life is almost entirely experiential. The information that is collected by our senses and our responses to these, the thoughts / imaginations we have and the emotions that follow, these are the building blocks of our experience. It seems that our entire lives are lived in these experiences.

Experience is not what happens, but the responses to these external events that take place in our minds. It can be said that we carry our world with us, in our minds. Take an example of two people traveling in a train. One is looking around, taking in his surroundings through his senses and a flow of thoughts then stream through his mind. That is his personal experience and that is his world. Another is sitting next to him, but is reading a newspaper, totally engrossed in it. For him, his surroundings are a blur, but his mind is actively involved in absorbing the news, imagining the events, understanding the implications, digesting the information. His personal experience is totally different and he lives in a different world than the one his neighbour inhabits even though they are physically seated next to each other.

All of us live in our own world which shifts and changes according to inputs to our minds and our responses to them. Even our personal responses to the same input would be different and would be based on past experience and memory. If we are all living in our own worlds, is there any such thing as a single, common world? If so, how can that be assessed? Is it even possible to access it? I think not. If no such world exists, what world are we living in? The only world there is exists in our minds. And that one constantly shifts and changes, has no permanence. Then the question arises: is this world even real? After all it exists only in our minds and is mercurial, dies down when we go to sleep, spring up when we wake up. Vanishes completely when we die. Surely there must be a world beyond the world of experience. If it exists, how to access it?

By realising that the world we carry around in our heads is not the real thing. That the mind is a master illusionist, tricking us into believing things that catches its whim and fancy, by constantly serving up a stream of thoughts that keeps our attention so engaged that we do not have the opportunity to look any deeper and find its deception. By strong intention and steady practice of mindful awareness, we’ll be able to see glimpses of a different kind of reality, one that does not rely on an inconstant mind. By going beyond the mind into a state of stillness a whole new world opens up, seamless, constant, eternal, full of love and bliss. It is our birthright to be in this world always, this is our natural habitat, our natural state of being. This is what we are born for, this is the purpose of our life. Not to seek wealth, fame, security and all those temporary crutches, but to seek and find, or rather, to cast away the veil of illusion and to dwell in the bliss of the Self.