Maya and Freedom

Teachings of Swami Adbhutananda (Latu Maharaj)
– Direct Disciple of Sri Ramakrishna

Biharilal Sarkar: “Maharaj, we read in the scriptures that God is man’s inner guide. If that is true, then why does man suffer so much? How can one who is guided by the ever-pure Satchitananda get involved in evil actions?”

Latu Maharaj: “You have answered your own question. The essential nature of man, which is ever-pure, cannot be polluted by good and evil.”

Bihari Babu: “Then do you mean that man has two natures, one affected by good and evil and the other not; or are you saying that good and evil do not really exist?”

Latu Maharaj: “Let me explain. Sri Ramakrishna said, ‘Good and evil exist and they are also non-existent.’ As long as God keeps the sense of ego in a man, he will perceive duality, good and evil. When God takes away the sense of ego, the perception of duality, good and evil, disappears. So long as a man is subject to the law of karma, he is aware of good and evil. When, through God’s grace, a man is released from the bonds of karma, the man’s awareness of good and evil also goes; for good and evil are the fruits of karma. As you sow, so you will reap.It is the Lord who established this law of karma for the benefit of the world and mankind.
Divine Providence has given man the sense of free will and the principle of karma. It is left to man to do as he wishes. If he chooses to do actions which bring him less happiness and more misery, he alone is responsible, not God.”

Bihari Babu: “But Maharaj, the scriptures say that God is guiding man; so the responsibility is God’s not ours.”

Latu Maharaj: “Yes, the scriptures are right. It is the responsibility of the operator, not the instrument. But tell me, who is guiding the individual soul who is bound by Maya? Maya herself is acting as the operator. Do you know the nature of maya’s game? She loves to play and wants to play always. She enjoys ups and downs, pleasure and pain, creation and destruction. She loves to raise waves of desire in the mind and does not like to still them. But God takes charge of the soul which is not bound by maya. When God guides a man, an uninterrupted current of happiness, peace, and bliss flows in his mind and no other waves of thought can be raised there. He becomes one with that unfathomable, waveless, ocean of Satchidananda.”

Bihari babu: “Yes, Maharaj, I know the scriptures have compared Brahman with the ocean and maya with the waves on its surface. Now let me ask, what is the difference between the waves and the ocean when both are water? In that case wouldn’t being guided by maya and being guided by God be the same?”

Latu Maharaj: “Yes, from one point of view they are the same, but there is another point of view, too. The master used to say, “The waves belong to the ocean, but no one can say that the ocean belongs to the waves.’ So you cannot say that being guided by maya is the same as being guided by God. Nevertheless, the ultimate purpose of maya’s guidance is certainly to take the individual soul to God.”

Bihari Babu: “But everybody says that maya deludes the individual soul and leads him astray.”

Latu Maharaj: “Maya wants to play constantly. Because maya’s play goes on and on, man cannot see where he is being taken on his journey, so he thinks maya is taking him in the wrong direction. But look, how can she misdirect us? Isn’t God everywhere? Maya has become manifest by God’s will and she is working for him.”

Bihari Babu: “What! Maya is working for God?”

Latu Maharaj: “Yes, what other motive can she have?”

Bihari Babu: “But the scriptures describe maya as illusory and world-bewitching; she makes the unreal appear to be real, and her main concern is the delusion of mankind.”

Latu Maharaj: “Do you know why people say so? The scriptures speak harshly against maya because she has qualified the unqualified Brahman. And there is another reason: God alone is real; maya is unreal only in relation to God. From man’s standpoint, maya is avidya, ignorance, which is neither real or unreal. If you watch maya carefully, you will see that she is pushing man toward God step by step. With one hand she is deluding man and with the other she is unveiling consciousness before him. She works in a balanced way without any motive of her own. She balances both happiness and misery, both goodness and evil. Do you know the intention behind all this? To teach us. If maya’s purpose were to lead man astray, she would show us only one aspect, not both. But because maya shows us two aspects, she simultaneously deludes and enlightens. True, she causes man much trouble and her path is very roundabout and time-consuming, but eventually it will lead one to God. After you suffer repeated blows and much torment in this world and come to understand maya’s ways, maya won’t be able to hold you any more. Then you will be released by her sattvic power. That is why she is called the one who makes the impossible possible.”

Bihari Babu: “Does maya have a benign power too?”

Latu Maharaj: “Certainly. Maya is God’s power, and can that power be all bad?”

Bihari Babu: “Maharaj, from the way you are talking, maya seems to be something great.”

Latu Maharaj: “Yes, that is true. Maya is great and that greatness is God himself. The other day a monk explained it nicely: ‘Man has already attained God; to try further realization is useless. This universe belongs to God and man is living in it; thus he has attained salokya-mukti, liberation by living in the same region as God. God made man in his own image; and thus man has attained sarupya-mukti, liberation by having a form similar to God’s. God is everywhere, so man is always near him; and thus he has attained samipya-mukti, liberation by living close to God. The only thing that he has not yet attained is sayujya-mukti, becoming one with God.

Source: How a Shepherd Boy Became a Saint
Life and Teaching of Swami Adbhutananda

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