Awakening from Maya
“The true crisis in our world is not social, political or economic. Our crisis is a crisis of consciousness, an inability to directly experience our true nature. An inability to recognise this nature in everyone and in all things.” from Samadhi: Maya the Illusion of the Self
We have reached a point in our history where humanity is faced with a stark reality — evolve or die. It is insanity to continue with global political systems built upon a notion of infinite growth on a finite planet. Small changes like reducing carbon pollution or not growing GMOs will not be enough, the changes we need are far deeper than that. They relate to the stories we tell ourselves. Stories about life and existence, stories about the world and our place within it.
We have become cocky. Confident in our ability to solve any problem, too often ignorant to the reality that it was our reductionist arrogance that created the problems in the first place. You do not solve problems with the same thinking that created them.
We have developed a belief system that places humanity at the peak of evolution. This is an illusion. There is no peak of evolution. No one species exists in isolation. Humanity does not exist without the innumerous complexity of relationships occurring around and within us. Contrary to our commonly held beliefs, we know almost nothing. A minuscule fraction of an infinite universe.
What a huge burden it is to bear, this belief that we are created in the image of god. This belief that tells us we are above all other beings. It has taken the magic out of existence. It has allowed us to become swallowed up by the menial tasks of day to day life. To fall into maya, the state of unconsciousness whereby we have forgotten just how inexplicably mystical and wondrous, existence really is.
And it is maya — an illusion. Ancient teachings of all ages draw upon deep, universal truths. These teachings were not developed in collaboration, they were developed in isolation, again and again, by peoples connected to a very different source of knowing than that which we rely upon today. It is this connection that will awaken us.
Don’t mistake me here, our job is not to return to times of old, but to peel back the layers of maya that have placed humanity in this collective coma. That have caused us to live disconnected lives, jumping, randomly, from one addiction or distraction to another. Never happy. Never satisfied. Always fearful. Always controllable. Lost.
We live our lives so disconnected from truth, we have lost our understanding of what truth is. We spend our time shouting at each other, fighting, and at war. Because we don’t know what else to do. We were born into this illusion. How can we break out of something we don’t even know exists?
It’s hard, and our addictions are sexy. We have been brought up to expect instant gratification, it’s everywhere and its hooks are deep. But deeper down, we know we are trying to fill a bottomless hole. No amount of consumption can fill it. No distraction can lead us away from the deep knowledge that this is not the way.
How then can we escape this illusion, this prison for the mind, this ‘matrix’?
There is only one way — to escape the mind itself. The mind cannot escape the trap, because the mind is the trap. We live our lives in intellectual prisons. Carefully, over lifetimes, constructing our egos upon definitions of ourselves that we have always believed to be real and which society has reinforced.
The path to liberation is the realisation of a deeper truth — that there is another source of wisdom that cannot be accessed by the mind. It is found in the heart. In the body. In feeling the truth, rather than thinking — or imagining — it. When we live our lives from our minds it is as if we are living in an echo chamber of our own creation. All we have are our thoughts, bouncing around, with nothing to ground them in reality.
It is only through feeling that we can begin to connect to a deeper wisdom. A bodily wisdom. Explorations in areas like Tantra and sexuality provide an obvious starting point for many on this path, because so much is tied up in these areas and they provide opportunities for such powerful and direct sensual experience. But this is only one path, and there are many. The only thing to be sure of is that none of them begin in the mind.
Perhaps the biggest question we face is — how can we learn to live a life of connection in the midst of a disconnected world? How can we disconnect from ‘the matrix’, whilst we are still embedded within it? I think the movie itself provides a useful metaphor here — if you have read this far it is because, to some extent, like me, you have already chosen ‘the red pill’. You are already awakening to a deeper truth.
There is no going back now. You know the world that you grew up believing in is dead or at least dying. Your attempts to remain connected to the matrix, to maya, will only result in the dream which you have lived turning into a nightmare. You cannot un-know what you already know, especially when that knowledge is not coming from your mind, but your body, from your soul.
You see, it has begun already. You are feeling. Follow that thread. It can lead in so many different directions, but always to the same ultimate destination — awakening.
I can’t tell you which path is yours. Only you can do that. And anyway, I’m busy enough following my own. But remember, there is deep wisdom in the age old cultures. If you listen closely enough, your intuition will guide you where you need to go.
And know this also, your tribe is awakening with you. Find them, they will be your foundation, holding your hand when you float too far. They will pull you back in and hold you close. They will ground you. With them, you will learn what love is. And then you will know, you have arrived.
- If you enjoyed this article you will certainly enjoy the excellent documentary “Samadhi: Maya the Illusion of the Self” which was an inspiration for me in writing this piece.