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"Maya is the cosmic illusion that creates ignorance and veils the vision of Brahman, the one Reality. Due to the power of Maya, Brahman is perceived as the manifold universe."

"Maya is a simple statement of facts about the universe as it exists; what we are and what we see around us." This oft repeated word Maya is bewildering and inexplicable, to say the least. With due humility, here I dare try to explore one aspect of Maya.
Suppose a person is climbing a staircase. At every step he stops and ponders: is this the terrace? No. Not this, not this: 'I have not yet reached the terrace'.

He climbs the next, and the next step. Every time he is sure that the step is not the terrace where he wants to go. Ultimately, the person reaches the open freedom of terrace. He relaxes, and says: 'Yes, this is that!'

He stays there for a while and starts to climb down. But now on further reflection, he is bewildered to note that these steps are made up of the same material as the terrace. The same cement and concrete, sand and wood have gone in the making of the steps and the terrace! The difference is only of name and form. One is called 'step', the other 'terrace'.

And to his delight and satisfaction, the person is now happy, whether he is on the step or the terrace. Initially the thing - step - was rejected as not true, but is now accepted as the same terrace in essence.
Applying this logic, we can learn a bit about all-confusing concept of Maya.

Till we have reached the terrace of Self Knowledge, let us be bold enough to reject all the multifarious worldly steps of 'position and power, money and wealth, education and art, family and friends'. Constantly by way of discrimination, let us say, 'Not this, not this'.

Then we reach the stage where all diversity unifies into one Existence or Reality. Later, when we come down from that unified - non-dual - consciousness we are ready to accept the multiplicity of existence as made up of the same One Reality.

Our present stage is such that we take the step, we are standing on, as our terrace and refuse to go up. Moreover, we apply the yardstick of higher and lower level to the 'terraces' (which are in fact steps) occupied by others. We look down upon the poor and deprived as lowly creatures, and aspire for higher position the rich, the intelligent, and prosperous are holding. When we cannot go even to their level we become despondent and jealous.

Maya in this respect is an illusion. It is the state of the world one visualizes, relates, or accepts from the position of one's standing. A step higher up or a step lower down would change the person's worldview. Unified worldview is possible only when one reaches the top. Then everything appears One to the person, and others standing with him, on the terrace!

Similarly, according to our position, we differently interpret (and see variance in) the teachings and sayings of Jesus Christ, Lord Buddha, Sri Krishna, or Sri Ramakrishna. And all these 'Fellows', standing on the Terrace, laugh at our childish (mis) understanding of their message.

Maya is this ignorance; ignorance about the real knowledge. It makes us believe relative knowledge to be the Truth. And this is effected by limiting the scope of full worldview from our vision due to narrow perception and thinking. This results due to our hypnotic insistence to stay at a particular step, and refuse to go higher up to the terrace.

At some particular step, the person is endowed with a faint ray of knowledge of the necessity to reach the terrace. Such steps are the steps leading to liberation - beneficial Vidya Maya.

Other steps, which are unfortunately predominant at this juncture of human evolution, do not offer such opportunity to proceed ahead - the binding Maya. Avidya is the name given to such Maya!
And therefore,

It is not prudent to put a limit
Of number to the steps,
'Cause no one knows on which step sits our Lord;

It is not prudent to put a limit
To our efforts,
'Cause no one knows which step would enlighten the path;

It is not prudent to put a limit
To our discrimination,
'Cause no one knows which step would bring revelation;

It is not prudent to put a limit
To our renunciation,
For no one knows which step would be followed by 'The Terrace'.
C S Shah
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