Saturday, August 6, 2011

My, oh, my, my! Maya again!

A couple of weeks ago I visited a dear friend, Linda, who was in the midst of moving from our mountain community back to Denver. Art supplies were already gone, with clothing and items from her home office the next to be carted off.

We walked her spiraled labyrinth one more time, and were greeted again by stunning beauty at every turn~~mountain, sky, desert plant, bird, stone, bug and bone. We ended our visit sitting for a last time on her porch, talking of our lives.

As I drove off down her winding road, I finally realized that Linda was truly leaving. Sadness at the loss of her filled my chest.

I had fallen yet again into maya.

Maya (pronounced "my~ya") is a term I’ve only just begun to understand, though I learned of it decades ago. The word comes to us from ancient Sanskrit, and means “illusion” or “that which is not.” While the term is commonly used in several Eastern traditions, all religions teach that human sight is limited, bound as we are by the temporal and the weavings of our own minds. We enter into “that which is not” and make it our home.

In the practice of lucid dreaming, one remains conscious during the dream state, interacting freely with what occurs. Sharon Janis, filmmaker, musician and author of Spirituality for Dummies, uses this concept to teach about maya. “Developing an understanding of the nature of maya,” she writes on her website, “…is like learning to be a lucid waker…You can dance more freely through your life, without holding on to old habits and fears.”

It is not that this desk before me doesn’t exist, or that my friend is not moving to Denver, or that my sadness is an illusion. As a “lucid waker," though, I awaken to a fuller reality and let go my incomplete perceptions and inaccurate assumptions.

For example, although this desk seems solid, we know that on the subatomic level whole galaxies whirl within it, and that empty space predominates. Even in its familiar form, it is not separate, but linked to trees and sun and rain and the energy of those who transformed all these into a desk.

Allowing maya to drop away means that, though Linda will live in Denver now, I recognize that she has not left me. We are woven together and will remain so, even were we never to set eyes on one another again. My sadness arises, in part, from my maya~driven tendency to grasp after what I perceive as good, rather than remaining open to what comes my way and passes by again in this vast, swirling thing called life.

When I reorient myself to the larger picture, the veil of maya is parted. I understand what Janis means when she writes, “We…are playing wonderful, important, and ultimately illusory roles in this universal play of Consciousness. With this insight comes a sense of appreciating both the ups and downs of human life.“

Linda is a good friend. We have meditated together, attended retreats together, hot~springed together, and walked a few years of our individual journeys together. Her physical location is changing and I will miss her.

But my sadness is softened as I remember that we both arise from the same Source and are forever connected through it. The outer shape Linda’s life is taking will allow her unique spirit to shine more fully. And as I allow the maya of separate individual selves to dissolve, I recognize that as a gift to me and to us all.

In this dance of Light, you are a part of me, Linda. Vaya con Dios, my friend.

Namaste to you all!

Loanne Marie

PS. You can check out Sharon Janis's website at


Cheryl Lynn said...

You Are a Golden Light in the Darkness Loanne,Thank-you for helping us find our way.

Loanne Marie said...

Wow! Thank you for the compliment, Cheryl Lynn. Please remember~~I know you know this!~~that we are ALL lights. We need only keep cleaning our own lens, so the Light can shine more purely through.

Thanks for reading and for writing!

Anonymous said...

I too wish to let go of old habits and fears. How does one do this?

Loanne Marie said...

Excellent question, and if we all had the answer to that one down pat, the world would indeed be a different place!

Two things work for me. First, like in the Janis analogy of lucid dreaming, I try to be very conscious of what I'm doing and the choices I'm making in the moment. I may still be frightened. My old habits may still rise up time and time again. But still, I choose my behavior. And my internal response gradually begins to shift.

The second thing I do is try to look on those old habits and fears with the eyes of compassion. They are just the ways I learned to get by, the ways I developed to try to protect myself from harm. Since they developed out of experiences in which I wasn't honored or nurtured, I know that being harsh with myself now won't change a thing. Instead, I try to love these parts of me, reassure them, hold them in awareness.

When I'm acting out of old habits and fears, I am responding to the now in learned ways~~in other words unconsciously. There's just no substitute for awareness.

But it is hard to do. We slip back and forth between the two states, with most of us living less that fully awake most of the time. But that's okay. We have our whole lives to learn this trick!

Thanks for a great question!

Sara said...

What a wonderful article Loanne, what a positive and healthy way to look out at change!

Loanne Marie said...

Well, as the Buddha said, impermanence is what our Earth eyes see (I paraphrase!). Spirit eyes see something else entirely~~connection, unity, and the Eternal Now. Seeing with Spirit eyes is our cutting edge.

Thanks for reading and for writing, Sara!

Rena said...

What a thoughtful and kind essay. We've all been seduced into the maya from time to time and it is a far better thing to focus on lucid dreaming than beating our selves up about succumbing. I too will miss Linda and gain comfort from the fact that she is part of the same universe I inhabit. Take care, my friend.

Loanne Marie said...

Yeah, I loved the reference to 'lucid waking'! It works for me~~just a skill we need to learn, nothing to shame ourselves about.

Thanks for writing, Rena!

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