Maya’s Veil

How do we know the world is real? How do we know our life is real? After all, what we see is what we see. These ontological and epistemological questions always end up with such tautology.

As long as we rely on our sensors or their linguistic, semiotic, technological extensions, we can never get out of it. In theory, we could see a glimpse of dark matter outside. But it is still what we scarcely imagine within the same tautology.

It is just like we are the characters in a specific novel and can never meet the author. What we see is what we see. In this world of tautology, the veil of subjectivism covers the truth of our world and life.

In the Vedanta texts, the Upanishads calls such veil Maya. It obscures our world and life. We often express it as an illusion. Moreover, Maya’s veil is our tautology.

Adi Shankara says:

Everything, from the intellect down to the gross physical body, is the effect of Maya. Understand that all these and Maya itself are not the Self, and are therefore unreal, like a mirage in the desert.

Adi Shankara

We are in the prison of Maya’s veil – “what we see is what we see.” If so, is there any way to get out of it? Perhaps, the key is the eye of “what we don’t see.” If we stop seeing by ourselves, something or someone greater would see what It or He is supposed to see.

In the words of Meister Eckhart, it would be the leap to the realm of “what God sees is what He sees.”

When we go out of ourselves through obedience and strip ourselves of what is ours, then God must enter into us; for when someone wills nothing for themselves, then God must will on their behalf just as he does for himself.

Meister Eckhart

It also reminds us of the well-known verses of Romans 12.

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

Romans 12:1-2

By presenting our body as a living sacrifice, we have to get rid of what we see. Becoming holy and acceptable to God, we surrender ourselves to His will. This world is Maya. It should not control us. Renewing our mind; moreover, surrendering ourselves, we would realize His will.

What He sees is what He sees.

In it, a snake is no longer the cause of the pain and threat. In truth, as Shankara figuratively explained, it is just a rope.

The unreal world appears, through Maya, to be real, like the water in a mirage or the silver in an oyster-shell on a moonlit night or a snake in a rope on the floor at night.

The Upanishads

Image by Photocurry

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