Swami Vidyaranya points out forcefully, that we are all drunk on the intoxicating milk of Maya—the desire fulfilling, heavenly cow—which yields milk in the form of duality.
“Maya is said to be the desire-fulfilling, heavenly cow.
It has two calves, Jiva and Ishwara. It yields milk in the form of duality.
Drink of it as much as you like, but the truth is non-duality.”
(Panchadasi 6. 236)
Let us face the facts indicated here by Swami Vidyaranya and realise their implications. We like to imagine that we are poor, helpless Jivas, afloat in the ocean of sansara, unable to find our way or to achieve what we want to achieve. It is all a great fantasy! It is like the hard-luck story told by the alcoholic or the junkie as he approaches you in hope of cadging some money for another drink or the next fix! It is we ourselves who have imposed this fantasy on ourselves and become like the lotus-eaters described by Homer, returning again and again to indulge in the drug of desire-imagination, to create the dreams of sansara.
And having done so, and forgotten where we are or who we are, we live in those fantasies and feel joy when they are pleasant, but misery and terror when they become painful or fearful. We are addicts, unwilling to do without our fix and, turning our back on reality, we seek the dream world of the junkie. We know that the drug habit brings us slavery and misery, but we are not willing to do without it or make the effort to break ourselves of the bad habit.
The more we indulge in it, the more unreliable and unscrupulous we become, willing to trample on the welfare of others in order to satisfy our own craving. We are victims of our own drug habit, the habit of resorting to the fantasy life of Maya and Avidya. But it is only a fantasy. There is no bondage and no jivahood in reality.
How are we to wean ourselves of this addiction to the milk of the desire-fulfilling cow after indulging in it for so long? We must start by at least giving up the hard drugs of rajas and tamas which lead to tight bondage. Rajas and tamas lead to the tight bondage of the life of the lower self and to lust, anger and greed, the three gates of hell of which the Gita Shastra speaks, and in that stage of the addiction the possibility of escape from the drug habit becomes remote and well-nigh hopeless. Therefore the first thing is to wean ourselves onto the soft drug of sattwa. Then we can adequately prepare ourselves to break the drug habit altogether and return to our senses. Then we must seek a real Teacher, the wise physician who knows how to cure the addiction and can restore us to health and to our normal nature.
It implies giving up our belief in the reality of the fantasy world created by desire-imagination, which leads us into the habit of losing ourselves in the dreams of Maya and avidya and re-awakening to our real nature as Sat-chit-ananda.
It is to recognize the dream-like quality of names and forms and realize once and for all that AHAM BRAHMASMI.