|[ Excerpt from The Science of Yoga, page 238 ]
An UPANISHAD (ancient book of the Vedas) says, "That which was One became the many." Purusha unfolded into the multi-splendorous material creation through prakriti.
The basic recurring theme in Indian mythology is the creation of the world by the self-sacrifice of the Supreme God -- sacrifice in the original sense of 'making sacred', whereby God becomes the world which, in the end, becomes God again. This creative activity of the Divine is called lila, the "play of God," and the world, or manifest Universe, is seen as the stage of this Divine play.
Contemporary thought among many within the astronomy world is that the creation of the universe, its growth, its eventual decay and regeneration are eternal processes without a beginning and without an end, repeating in endless cycles. In Hinduism, one full cycle of this creation and dissolution is known as a "day and night of Brahman."
Indian mythology has illustrated this universal cycle with Brahman as the Supreme Creator who transforms himself into the world with his mighty creative power. This in fact, is the origins of the word maya in the RIG VEDA, which is the oldest of the 4 ancient vedic texts.
Maya signifies the power of the Divine Creator. Nowadays the word maya has come to mean "illusion," which relates to the mental state of anyone who is caught under the spell of lila, or the Divine, cosmic play. As long as one continues to confuse the multitude of forms in this Divine play with reality, without perceiving the unity of Brahma underlying all of these forms, then they are said to be under the spell of the illusion (maya).
Maya, therefore, does not mean that the "world is an illusion," as is often simply stated. Maya is the illusion of mistaking the concepts of our mind -- its measuring and categorising of the myriad of forms of the Divine play -- for reality; of confusing the map with the territory so to speak.
With this view of nature then, all forms are relative, fluid and ever changing Maya...
NOTE: This yoga article is an excerpt from The Science of Yoga, an online yoga training program with streaming yoga videos and 600 pages of step-by-step yoga instruction.
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