Sri Swami Atmaswarupananda
Early Morning Meditation Talk given in the Sacred Samadhi Hall of Gurudev Sri Swami Sivanandaji Maharaj, Sivananda Ashram, Rishikesh
Each religion, each philosophy has its own way of explaining life. But most seem to agree that in the beginning God alone was; then God created the world out of nothing or manifested Himself. They say that the One became the many; and yet, paradoxically, the One has never changed, even though the many appear to exist.
If the One has never changed, the many must exist in our consciousness. And even here we have a strange phenomena. Because no matter what part of our consciousness we are experiencing, the other parts seem to be eternally there from the highest to the lowest. What we experience is where our attention is.
According to Vedanta, there are two principal forces working on our attention. One is the force of avidya maya, which is constantly taking us into the many, and the second is the force of vidya maya which is constantly attracting us back to oneness. Why, when we are told–and it is true–that peace and happiness abide in oneness, are we attracted to the many, to separation? Perhaps it is because avidya maya constantly promises to satisfy all our desires, to make us someone special, even to make us like a god.
These promises are named in all the scriptures as demoniacal promises. They are intoxicating promises, but they lead us to nothing except disaster–to restlessness, to clash and quarrel. Even more, avidya maya never gives us the satisfaction that it promises. It promises to satisfy all our desires; instead it just adds fuel to the fire.
So ultimately, with God’s grace, vidya maya has its opportunity. Through a guru, teaching or spiritual experience, we see the promise of a better way, the way of oneness. Thus to one degree or another, our lives turn around and we start heading in the homeward direction. But, avidya maya is still very much alive. And while it can no longer totally fool us, its tactic now becomes one of “that’s enough.” We move a certain distance along with vidya maya and avidya maya says, “That’s enough, you should be satisfied now.” It does this at every step, and unfortunately, we frequently settle at a spiritual comfort level and get stuck there.
But ultimately that level can never satisfy our souls. Vidya maya is ever calling us higher. This is why the guru will frequently disturb us, try to make us move higher. And if the guru doesn’t do it, life will do it. Our wisdom knows that this is happening. Wisdom also recognises the nature of avidya maya, that even until the very end it never gives up the battle, that it is eternally there–its job being to drag us towards the many. But wisdom leads us to listen to vidya maya, which wants to take us back to the One.
So as seekers, who are feeling the pull of vidya maya, feeling the pull of God, we must be aware that at all times avidya maya is sitting in waiting telling us, “That’s enough. You’ve gone far enough. Be satisfied.” But God, guru and vidya maya are telling us, “It’s never enough until you have reached the goal,” and it is vidya maya we must always pay attention to.