I acknowledge this graphic from the Net.

In this 107th dharana and 133rd verse of Vigyana Bhairava Tantra, Shiva says:


This world is an illusion

This illusion has no essence

Realize this and move into peaceful Shiva state


In  my learning experience of Hindu scriptures, I have found Adi Shankara to be the ,most lucid in explaining the concept of maya, usually translated as illusion. If memory serves me right, there is a scene in the movie The Beautiful Mind, where Nash get shit by a stone thrown at him by a colleague who asks even as Nash bleeds, ‘Is this too maya?’ or something similar? Most people when faced with the concept of maya deride it asking how the reality of what we face every day can be unreal, and if it is how can we live it?

Shankara answers this in two ways. First is that what we experience through our senses is real in the sense of what happens in front of us, but not necessarily ‘real’ in how we perceive it. If a hundred people witness an accident on the road, there could be a hundred different versions of what each person saw. This differential mind map is produced through our mental conditioning. What the senses perceive is real, but how our mind interprets it is ‘unreal’ in the sense it is judgmental based on our conditioning. Shankara says we create the world we live in (drishti srishti) as observers creating a reality around us. This is today official. Quantum Physics has shown that observers influence the movement of sub atomic particles. Nothing in this world is as it seems to be. Nothing is certain. Every this is a probability influenced by several factors, most important being the observer effect.

The world, it is now theorized, is a membrane that each creature living in it influences. A butterfly fluttering its wings in Shanghai can create a tsunami in the coast of Brazil! Maya is not illusion. There is no english word that can describe maya. Maya just means that what you and I take for granted as reality and certainty is a reality only for you and me, and even for us not a certainty.

Shankara then moves on to his second thesis of individual or situation truth and universal truth called Brahman. Everything we experience and call a factual or truthful incident is true only within a time and space frame. It is a situational truth. In the movie 12 Angry Men, Henry Fonda changes the situational truth of the rest of the jury panel through his own perception. In this world, there is no one truth. All of what we perceive as truth are our mind maps, and mind maps which are situationally true at best. Shankara’s concept of Truth is non situational. Brahman is independent of time and space, true at all times and spaces. That is the Shiva state.

Buddha talked about the same concept when he said all truth is relative and expounded the concept of Noble Truths. The Buddhist concept of ‘anicchha’ meaning impermanence is about maya, illusion of the situation truth appearing to be permanent. When our mind body itself perches, like everything else in this world, how can our experiences be permanent and true in an unchanging manner?

The graphic represents Krishna’s vishwarupa darshan or cosmic form that he presents to Arjuna to clear his illusion about the permanence of relationships Arjuna is concerned about. In this cosmic form of Krishna that he witnesses Arjuna sees time flow. He sees the entire universe in that form, past present and future. He saw what he thought of as evil and good overlapping. All his illusions of conditioning, his maya, shattered when Arjuna beheld this cosmic form of Krishna. It was at this point that Arjuna became a yogi, one who completely disengaged from situational reality.

Disengagement or samadhi, the ultimate state of yoga, is a state beyond maya. This is the Shiva state.