Posts Tagged ‘Maya’

The airplane was preparing to land – coming in from 33,000 ft.

Jamie and I were flying back home after attending a conference in Sydney. We had started off as office mates 5 years ago, but found out soon that we liked the same set of pubs and backed the same sporting teams, so we ended up meeting regularly. What can I tell you about Jamie? He’s a stocky bloke, guzzles beer like there’s no tomorrow and his prized possession is his farmhouse in the outskirts of the city – it has been a witness to a lot of rowdy barbecue parties lately.

He was settled in his seat, looking out the window, sipping his third glass of Shiraz. I was watching the same in-flight movie for the 3rd time in 3 months (you can’t help it when you are traveling with the same airline regularly!)

“You know… I used to be a poet once!” Jamie broke into my intense concentration on the fight scene.

Huh? You? ( I removed my earphones, not sure if I heard him right.)

“Yeah…used to write poetry…inspired by Blake…see the world in a grain of sand, hold infinity in the palm of your hand…stuff like that!”

Well…well..that’s something mate. Never would have guessed.

“Nearly went on to do it full time…but investment banking and real estate were more rewarding” (he gave his booming laugh!)

Yeah, why not? (to be honest, my mind was still in the movie…the hero was beginning to kick some serious butt!)

“Yeahhh..indeeeed”(his voice trailed off and he looked out to the clouds again)

(After a few minutes, he continued, in a more sober tone)

“I guess the world doesn’t need poets anymore”

(Uh-oh. That needed my full attention, so I removed my earphones)


Why do you say that Jamie?

“Great poets see beauty, not reality. Poets lift your spirit, but then, once the poem is over, you come back to reality with a thud”.

No Jamie, they see the beauty in reality. That’s why we are moved. They interrupt our mundane sense of reality by describing its beauty

“Nonsense..I measure and buy land and properties day in and out. That’s what’s real to me. Beauty stops with the brochure!”

(Ah! I saw the problem now)

Jamie, don’t worry. You will do fine. You just got to stop seeing Maya (I chided him!)

“What? Who?”

It’s a name used in Indian philosophy

“Oh, that? Yeah, I have heard of it..It means ‘illusion’, right? The whole world is an illusion…it is caused by Maya…I read some poem about it once”

Uh..actually, it doesn’t mean ‘illusion’… according to Tantra, the word is derived from the root ‘ma‘ – which means – to measure out!

“Maya means measurement?” (He looked surprised!)

It means “that which makes experience measurable and limited“.

(Regular readers of this blog will recognize Maya’s personality immediately –her nature is the red line which separates ‘I’ from ‘This’ and ‘That’!)

“You mean, things are really not measurable and limited? How can that be?”

Take a look outside the window, Jamie. What do you see?

“I see an investment opportunity (he laughed aloud!!)…ok seriously, from here, as the plane descends, all I see are a couple of islands”

How big are they?

“hmm…don’t know…I guess…something like…”

Don’t guess. Don’t assume. Don’t imagine. Don’t recall. Don’t calculate. How big are they?

“Geez..I don’t know.”

Right now, the islands are the size of the airplane’s window, Jamie. They fit in the frame we see them in.

“That’s not true..hmm…ok, I grant it to you..Once I land, they will appear much bigger than what I see them as now! Damn. Maya creates an illusion. That is why we differentiate

No Jamie. It’s the other way round. When we start to differentiate between this and that, the result is an illusion!


In undivided space, we measure out North, south, east, west

In undivided time, we measure out seconds, minutes, hours and dates

In undivided life, we measure our own age

In undivided knowledge, we measure out science, math, philosophy, medicine and engineering

In undivided earth, we measure out countries and borders


That’s why everyday phenomenon is Maya…not because the world is an illusion…but because we are delusional

We are limiting our experience as human beings – by differentiating this and that – as same or different – trying to measure and limit what they really are.


(Jamie took a while to reflect)

“Wait… I can measure my farmland even with a piece of string. I can find out accurately what its length and breadth really is.

You can, but did you measure every blade of grass, every stone, every dip and every crest?


That would make the length much longer

If you made a baby walk across and measured his steps, you would find the length of your land even longer.

If you included all the grains of sand, you would find it longer still.

If you included the space between the grains of sand, you would find it longer still

If you counted all the atoms and the space between the atoms, then you would find it longer still.


(Jamie thought hard about that)

“The more accurately I measure it, the longer the length gets? Ultimately, what is the length of my stretch of land?”

That is what Richardson wanted to find out when he tried to measure the coastline of Britain.

But you know the answer already. You are a poet, remember? (I tried hard but couldn’t stop grinning!)


Yup. The length of any stretch of land, if measured accurately is infinite.

“Good lord..how beautiful”

Yes it ‘really’ is beautiful…so, rediscover your love for poetry, with what you now know.

The world needs good poets, as much as it needs good businessmen.

(I grinned and settled back to finish the fight scene, as the plane touched down)

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