WORLD IS NOT MAYA
Neither Gautama Buddha nor Adi Sankarar has put forward as concluded theory that the world is an illusion (Maya). Gautama Buddha leaves no room for doubt when he explains the matter with the help of an example: The mother of a new-born babe is down with viral fever which could be transmitted to her offspring through breast-milk. So she makes a paste of a bitter leaf of a plant and applies it on her breast from time to time so that the child may turn away. Her intention is not to deprive the child of milk but only to safeguard it from fever. “Likewise, O humans,” says the Enlightened One, “Having been introduced to the scenes of the Earth in ignorant childhood, you have taken the world to be everything while it is not so. This self-hypnotisation is the cause of all your misery. Only because your feeling is deep-rooted that the world is real, I am keeping on averring that it is an illusion. The moment you put your sixth sense to utility and inquire whether the ever-changing phenomena of the world-process could at all have the quality of permanence, I too would drop my counter-argument and assist you to ascertain the substratum of the Universe — the Permanent Principle. I am not founding any new religion or cult. I am only walking along the way trod by Enlightened Ones before me. Hence it is that I call it the Ancient Path”.
Like Buddha and Tiruvalluvar, Adi Sankarar was also a Teacher par excellence. What is the hallmark of a competent Master, say one who is a Ph.D. in English Literature? He should be able to hold the undivided attention of a Post-graduate Class in his chosen subject and he should in addition sit on the floor with his grandson to whom he has to teach three-letter words such as CAT and DOG. If he loses his patience with the UKG child, he is not equipped to impart instruction and should be classified as a dry-as-dust scholar only.
In all compassion, the Preceptor in Adi Sankarar tells us, “O ye humans, you became acquainted with the phenomena of the world at your birth and you have simply been interacting with and reacting to it all these years. I too will join you and take the world as separate, independent entity. Now, observe with me: Do not the scenes keep changing, are you not yourselves subject to continuous change? For patterns to be changing, would there not be an unchanging substratum? Now come to stage II and bracket both the substratum and the world. Ask where did the world arise from? For example, the pot-maker manufactures many utensils with the aid of his wheel and they are named pitcher and pan according to their respective shapes. But they are nonetheless clay; are they not so to the discerning eye? Clay alone was, clay alone is, and clay alone will be. The rest are mere interventions not worthy of note. In like manner the unchanging substratum called variously as Brahman in Sanskrit, Meiporul in Tamil and Word in the Bible, is alone there and here and everywhere without a second. When ‘Being’ alone is, where is the question of ‘Becoming’? May you realise this and abide in Brahman”.
You may ask, “But, Sir, I have to live on this our planet for three-quarters of a century and can I do so by ignoring the phenomena around me?” Well, you are not called upon to shut your eyes to the world. Only you should take the world to be valid but not real and rationalise your relationship with it. On a train-journey the reserved berth is assured to you but do you get attached to it or to the train? The moment the train reaches your destination, do you not vacate your berth without regret? If so why do you cling to persons and objects in the world and slip into the slough of misery?
Remember what J.Krishnamurti has counseled: “Live lightly in the world even as a guest stays in a house”.
The guest will be part of the host-family for the nonce but he will be careful not to get involved in their family-affairs. Profound advice this, from one who had conquered the fear of death. Put it to practice, friends, and your misery would abate.
— Excerpt from Sage TGN’s Talk on
AdiSankarar:Life and Message