“One resident of Vrindavana once told Lord Krishna, ‘My dear Krishna, O pleasure of Vrindavana! Being afraid of this material existence, we have taken shelter of You, for You can completely protect us! We are well aware of Your greatness. As such, we have given up our desire for liberation and have taken complete shelter under Your lotus feet. Since we have heard about Your ever-increasing transcendental love, we have voluntarily engaged ourselves in Your transcendental service.’” (The Nectar of Devotion, Ch 36)
Friend1: I’ve heard it said that one of the issues with people struggling in spiritual life is that they are not afraid enough of maya.
Friend2: The illusory energy, sourced in the Divine.
Friend1: Well, yeah, everything is sourced in the Divine. From Him come both the material and spiritual worlds:
“I am the source of all spiritual and material worlds. Everything emanates from Me. The wise who know this perfectly engage in My devotional service and worship Me with all their hearts.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 10.8)
Friend2: What is the issue here? You think people have sufficient respect for the changes to the body, the cycle of birth and death, the infallible delivery of just and proper rewards through the system of karma, and the common misidentification of the individual?
Friend1: Maya is illusion. The root meaning is “that which is not.” Accepting something as it seems, when in fact it is something else. Like a mirage in a desert. Like a hologram created by a machine.
Friend2: Like something from a dream.
Friend1: I am glad you mentioned that. It is a commonly invoked comparison. The material world is a dreamlike existence. We wouldn’t be that excited from winning a million dollars in a dream. Similarly, we shouldn’t be afraid of the nightmare we had last night.
Friend1: Okay, then why should we be afraid of maya? Why should we have fear of something that doesn’t exist?
Friend2: It’s the experience. You have to be afraid of falling into illusion. In theory, you are correct. But you have to admit that people who watch a horror film do get frightened.
Friend1: For sure. That is the reason they go to see the picture.
Friend2: Which they acknowledge to be a scripted performance. In other words, the movie is fake. It does not depict factual events.
Friend1: There is a resemblance. That is where the connection comes in.
Friend2: Whatever the draw, there is illusion. You shouldn’t be afraid for days to come after seeing a movie.
Friend1: Okay, I agree. Then why should we be afraid of maya?
Friend2: Of falling under her influence. The idea is that by taking to genuine spiritual life I finally understand my true identity as atma, which is imperishable and indestructible. Atma is different from the gross and subtle material elements. It has consciousness. It is identity.
Friend1: I take to spiritual life and I realize the benefits from it.
Friend2: At that point there should still be a healthy respect for maya. A person should not think that they are above the effects, that they cannot fall back into the pit. Take the example of a recovered alcoholic. They kicked their drinking habit after considerable effort. They still respect addiction, though. They have a fear of intoxicants. They don’t think that they can indulge again without consequences.
Friend1: I see. Still seems weird to me, to be afraid of a dream.
Friend2: Because that dream is so powerful it keeps you asleep for a long time; perhaps many lifetimes. Those who are really afraid of maya cling to the lotus feet of the person who controls her. He is the Divine light, to dissipate the darkness borne of ignorance. He is all-attractive and the definition of reality. Being attached to Him means getting protection from illusion, whether it is feared or not.
Maya like reality to seem,
Compared to experience of dream.
Where possibly from fear to shake,
But not lasting after to awake.
So why with illusory energy so?
Since now of reality to know.
Idea that susceptible to come under sway,
So better with Supreme Lord to stay.