The absolute of Shri Shankara is not Nothing. It is not a negation ; it is not the void of the Madhyamic Baud- dhas. It is infinite ; it is light or consciousness, and it is not mutable. It is not ‘ becoming ’. Is it something positive? No ; being infinite, it eludes the grasp of the mind. It is the life of life, the force of force, the mind of the mind, the eye of the eye. As it is the support of the universe and its details, as it is the basis of time-space, it is called existence—Sat.
I stand at the edge of a Himalayan glacier and see ice, ice. Somewhere it is hard ; somewhere it is flowing ; somewhere it is a mountain, somewhere a platform, somewhere a cave ; somewhere a cone, somewhere like a tree, somewhere like an elephant, somewhere a fort, somewhere a castle.
But what is all this appearance ? Water, water and nothing else but water. Such is, imperfectly speaking, the relation between the world and the Absolute. It is the absolute power, the home of all the attributes, the one source of the birth, enjoyment and death of each phenomenon. I feel it as clearly as I feel my breath ; but there is no means to describe the Absolute.
Like water which has the property of becoming vapour, ice, snow, rain or cloud, so Brahman has the power of manifestation—phenomenally ; that is, subjectification as ideas and dreams, fancy, inspiration and imagination and also objectification as the world of time-space and causation.
It is in one the stage, the curtain, the orchestra, the actors and the text of the drama of the world. Compare your dreams with this infinite manifestation. You are the sky, the sun, the forest, the clouds, the lake, the spring and the dancing children which you see in your dreams.
This most astonishing and bewildering power of the Absolute, the subjectification and objectification of His ideas as the inner and the outer world, is called Maya by Shri Shankara.
Sometimes He is called magician, Mayavi, and the power of magic by which the world is created is Maya. When He commands His Maya to spread a fragment, a tiny fragment of His Self, as the universe, He is given the name Ishvara or ‘ the Lord He, the supreme Actor, Nataraj, amuses Himself by assuming countless roles from Hiranyagarbha to an ant. He is Zeus and He is Prometheus. Sometimes He assumes a most sweet and glorious form as Ram or Krishna ; sometimes he appears as an ideal of virtue, love and compassion, as Buddha or Christ.
Shall we say that Maya is Love which seeks a realisation of itself as the world ? One thing is certain and it is that if love was withdrawn from creation for two minutes, it would have the effect of a billion atom bombs exploding together.
Has he forgotten Himself ? Is He under a delusion ? What is there to forget and what to remember when He is Himself, all, every bit, every bud, tree and leaf and nothing else ?
Every man is the Lord. His Maya is the mind by which he creates desire and aversion, peace and war, marriage and divorce, sin and sorrow, fatigue and joy. Let man know and feel that he is not separate from the whole, that pursuit of selfinterest is bad acting. Let him feel the Lord within him as his Self, and live as a witness until the Guru lifts up his mind to Nirvana.
There is no room either for pessimism or optimism. See Him sporting and adore, enjoy unity in love.
Feel His presence behind all the masks, in all the roles and remain tranquil.
Do not hate, do not covet, do not try to imprison Him in your race, country or religion.
Expand your mind, daily, hourly, and play your part as a divine fragment, not as a seeker of pleasure or power, but as a wise man.