Maya: Freedom from Fear

BY Parvati

Image credit: Stefanos Papachristou

I write to you as I sit quietly in my hotel room at the Amma retreat in Toronto at the International Plaza, near the Pearson airport. Amma is a saint from South India who is known internationally as the Hugging Saint. I have been here for the past couple of days. We are on a pause between the morning and evening programs, a time when we can each integrate the activities from the morning and prepare for the long night ahead. Amma, a realized master, eats and sleeps very little, as she does not need the same rejuvenation as we do. She says she is not a battery, but in continual connection to life-force energy. As such, following her lead through the day expands us spiritually in unimaginable ways, and also challenges our attachments to physical comforts like sleep. She continually reminds us that we are not our finite ego that only knows how to interact within the temporal world, but we are one with the infinite. Amma also says that each one of us has the capacity for change, growth and spiritual evolution if we are open, ready and willing.

As I enjoy this momentary solitude to put down these words, I am touched by a deep quietening inside my being. The expansions that I have experienced being with Amma currently and last weekend in New York City are being distilled. When I am held in her divine embrace, I dive into an expansive field that feels absolutely infinite. In it, I become aware of endless possibilities, the vastness of my being and of the universe. I also can see with greater clarity the ways in which I perceive myself as finite.

My ego-driven attachments form the basis for who I believe myself to be, how I interact with the world around me and the suffering I may experience and inflict unintentionally upon others. But these limited perceptions, based on thinking I am separate from the never-ending stream of grace, are passing. They are reflections of how little my ego can fully grasp of the totality of the universe and they highlight the painful tendencies I have carried over into this life from previous births. In truth, I am, as we all are, an infinite vessel of love and pure consciousness, never separate from all that is.

In Amma’s embrace I can experience an extraordinary sweetness in the awe-inspiring effulgence of life’s grace. I am recharged into a full body-being awareness of the love that we all are, and how deeply we are each perfectly loved. In this broader perception, I can also feel a deep grief for the ways I hide from who I am. I become acutely aware of my ego-driven small self that is based on suffering, which I allow to limit who I am, keep me hidden and unfulfilled. At this time in my spiritual evolution, I can feel through this a painful realization of my attachments, that comes from a ravenous readiness to move beyond them. Keeping myself small and in my ego feels too painful to bear. I pray daily to move beyond them – permanently.

After Devi Bhava (an all night celebration when Amma reveals herself fully as the Divine Mother) in New York City a few nights ago, I walked out from Amma’s perfect embrace into Manhattan’s dense concrete jungle. My body and being were tingling with an effervescent aliveness that comes only in surrendering to the unending stream of grace that always is. I am learning to not be a battery but eternally one with pure consciousness.

As I looked up at the textured skyline, it seemed to also shimmer and vibrate, as though it were both vibrant and alive, and not at all real. Like a mirage, I felt I could see what the ancient yogic sages referred to as maya, the veil-like illusion of life from which we must all awaken to fully realize our divine Self. What I saw did not seem to be a two dimensional theatrical backdrop, but a fully formed space in which we live, through which our lives unfold, but that is completely temporal and not at all solid. It was form, without any lasting substance.

As I walked into this field, I understood how though I am in my body, I am not of my body. So too, though my life takes place in this field of aliveness called maya, the form of life that comes and goes with time, I am not of it. Resting into this awesome vision, I allowed myself to come even more fully present into my purpose on this planet, the extraordinary vision of being alive, a vehicle for the divine through this divine play.

Open and present, I walked into the city with relaxed confidence. Soon a pedestrian walked by me. My thoughts became self aware and the crystalline clarity that I had was shaken. I was dressed in flowing white clothes, carrying a rose, with red powder on my forehead. I did not look like a usual urbanite. In this self-consciousness, I realized that I feared that the pedestrian would judge me, and for a moment, I felt unsafe. As fear arose, the transparency of the mirage I saw before me suddenly thickened with greater density.

I realized then that we are always as free as I saw us to be, beyond the veil of maya. Everything is dancing light, arising consciousness, to greater or lesser degrees. Some people and things are aware of this effervescence, while others are fast asleep and lost in ignorance. Yet, the light of consciousness always is present within all. I could remain free, if I was willing to rest in this knowing of our inherent interconnection and move beyond the fear that I allowed to divide me from it. It is the fear that shook my awareness. It is the fear that drew me into believing that the mirage was real and a separate sense of “me” was threatened.

I rest in this awareness now as I prepare for the next 36 hours with Amma. I trust fully that she will guide me into realizing the inherent oneness with love that I am, that we all are. I know she, the perfect master, will show me how to be eternally free from the fear that binds us to the temporal and eclipses our infinite Self.

If you are in Toronto, the Devi Bhava program is open to all and begins with a beautiful peace ceremony. It then goes into Amma receiving people for darshan, her form of blessing with a hug, all night long. Though the program starts at 7pm, I recommend you arrive as early as 4pm to get your free darshan token, unless you don’t mind staying up with Amma until the program ends, after Amma has hugged all who come – without a single pause – likely around 9 or 10 am.

I will be there all night, so please come say hello.

Until next time, remember: love yourself, love others, love our world. We are one Earth family.

Jai Ma!