A friend recently wrote me:
One of the criticisms of Vedanta is that “the world is just illusion”. Christians and others use this to say that the Vedic tradition doesn’t care about helping people. This is untrue, of course. Quite often, they know that, but they don’t care.
The proper term in this context is not “maya” but “mithya” which was discussed by Shankara and others in Advaita. It is the proper approach to take in refuting this criticism.
Here is a great discussion by Maharishi about this: Is Creation just an imagination?
This talk by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi is good. But fortunately, we have been able to further explain the reality continuum, with greater fullness, clarity and rigor. Add in the fact that the continuum is in not just in the vertical, but the horizontal, and it gets even better…
A student read all of this and responded:
Thank you for sending. Once again, I am happy you are my teacher because your explanations are rigorous, concise, easy to understand, and they feel complete. They are integrated with both science and our everyday experience.
However, Maharishi’s talk helps me understand terms used in spiritual texts and by traditional spiritual teachers:
1) Imagination – Regarding a plant, “we accept its essence, and we accept the obvious face.… “when it is not what is appears, then what appears is only imagination.”
2) Temporary existence, no substantial existence – “We could only say about the world that it has temporary existence. It has no substantial existence. No substantial existence” because [it is] that which is changing…”
3) Real and unreal – “real means permanent” “…unreal means [that] which doesn’t exist.” “The world is…Neither real nor unreal.… That means, it has its existence but that existence is not permanent.”
4) This and That – “…Creation has been, and will be, and it has been temporary on the basis of that permanent field… and like that it will continue. That is why the real statement about the world is “This and That”.” “This is also true, and That is also true. This [cycle] is also eternal and That is also eternal.”
5) What I am – “This and That, both taken together is what I am.” “the “I”, the individuality belongs to both of them taken together – the material and the spiritual, both taken together.”