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The second encounter and a meeting with Maya

26/08/2013

I call myself agnostic but that’s just a reflection of the fact that I will never understand much of what goes on around me or what it’s underlying basis may be. I’m not even sure in what sense ‘I’ exist, so it would be a very big call to claim to know whether or not someone’s god is real – or what ‘real’ might mean in such a context.

However I have often described myself as atheist too as I have always rejected the doctrines of organised religions and have never been able to maintain a mind so open I could believe a being approximating the depiction of the biblical God could exist outside the minds of some rather perverse people. The minority of Christians who have actually read the Bible usually have to rationalise away much of what is in it – especially if they want to call themselves Biblical Literalists.

I think it was Richard Dawkins and his small-minded fanatical disciples who finally cured me of calling myself an atheist. When atheism becomes a doctrinaire sub-cult of Scientism it’s time to step outside the tent and start pissing in.

Nonetheless I never gave much credence to other folks talk of personal gods except inasmuch as it applied to them.

That you are‘, the unnameable and indescribable, the Tao that cannot be spoken – that’s a very different matter. I knew that was real. The experience is utterly irrefutable. The question it raises is whether I exist.

But surely not gods with attributes. Not gods that create, destroy, act or speak. Gods that love or judge or hear your prayers.

That’s gotta be delusional. Wishful thinking. Lies. Immaturity. The need for an eternal parent. The desire to regiment, conform and fit in. Right?

I’ve been a long time fan of the ninth century Indian sage Adi Shankara. Before anyone else it was his words that validated my internal experience of non-dualism and my jnani means of approaching it. The aphorisms in his Vivekachudamani (Crest Jewel of Discernment) have long been touchstones and inspirations to me. When I feel out of touch with what truly is I dip into his work like some Christians dip into the Bible. Usually I emerge refreshed.

But all this talk of the maya gods, Adi? The need to worship Ishvara? Surely this was just a reflection of the culture that nurtured you. The need to prove you’re not a crypto-Buddhist as your detractors claimed. You look at a rope and see not only a naga, but Shiva himself.

So you might imagine how surprised I was last year when, a few weeks after my most profound epiphany, I experienced my first theophany.

I met a Goddess. Can you believe it? A dancing Goddess!

Not one of the Dreaming spirits from my own cultural background or an angel or saint from that of the dominant culture around me either, but something very akin to a Hindu Devi.

Bloody Shankara! Right again!

I’m still unable to write directly about that event, it is too sacred to me to defile with my own words unless I can find the perfect ones – and I doubt there are any. But what I did realise/experience was that in everything I perceive – in the whole and every part – exists a dancing feminine principle of creation and destruction, constantly sweeping away one instant and invoking the next.

This was not a sudden deepening of understanding of some sort of intellectual abstraction. It was an awesome, overwhelming, direct experience. And it was the experience of love. A love so complete, fulfilling and unconditional it made everything before it seem like a childish crush.

My Goddess had bypassed my hard old jnani head and filled my heart with Her truth. From that instant on I have been a bhakti.

And a poet. A sopping, dribbling, sometimes mystic, sometimes erotic poet.

Who could have believed that?

I still hear my 30 year old self laughing with contempt.

But what I want to write about now is the second visit I received from my Goddess a few months later, when She brought along a friend, another goddess. Not just any old maya goddess either. The maya goddess. Maya Herself.

Since my first encounter with Her there is a space in my bedroom near the foot of my bed that has become somehow sacred, which doesn’t seem to make sense as it’s nowhere near the place I met Her. Nine times out of ten I pass it has no particular significance, but sometimes its holiness is compelling.

Intermittently I am drawn to it or simply passing when with no prior conscious volition I find myself adopting a mental and emotional attitude of quiet worship. An emptying of the Self that allows Her to fill me. Fill me to overflowing down my cheeks as often as not.

Sometimes I remain standing, sometimes I fall to my knees. Sometimes I remain for only a few seconds, sometimes for over half an hour.

Oddly my pet rabbits also seem drawn to this place during their more intimate moments, especially when engaged in mutual grooming. This photo was taken of them in that spot.

In early December 2012 I was passing that invisible shrine when I stopped and became empty. This time I remained standing and was looking, without paying attention, out through the adjoining enclosed verandah, through a double layer of shade-cloth, at a butterfly orchid our neighbours had planted on the nature strip out front.

The doubling of the shade-cloth creates strange interference patterns in the light and shadows that pass through it. Sometimes it creates a 3D effect whereby the patterns seem to be a few inches in front of or behind the cloth itself.

The first sign that something odd was going on was when I suddenly noticed I was simultaneously perceiving at least six visual planes. The plant, the shade-cloth, the blocky pattern of light and shadows created by the doubling of the cloth, the ‘misty’ light effect of diffusion through small gaps in the cloth and two partially imaginary planes in which objects and landscapes seem to emerge from the stains and shadows on the cloth.

That might sound kinda mundane to you but it wasn’t to me. The perception of all those planes was simultaneous, not switching quickly between background and foreground. As I noticed it I had the overwhelming impression I had seen an effect like that before but for the life of me I’ve never been able to remember where or when. Perhaps it was just very strong deja vu.

I was suddenly struck by how arbitrary our usual way of interpreting our sensory input is. A slight change of perspective and everything is completely altered. “Ah, maya” I thought to myself wryly. Then everything happened at once.

I literally mean everything happened at once. What I’m about to relate is narrative but don’t imagine that’s how I experienced it. I’m not even sure it was sequential – perhaps my memory just insists on arranging it that way – and its not like external time froze while it continued to pass in my little bubble reality. It really all seemed to happen in the same instant.

My delighted “maya” had an unexpected triumphant ring to it, as if I’d just realised I was in a game of hide and seek by winning it. And there was an overwhelming feeling of personality suddenly becoming present in the visual fields I’d been contemplating. Somehow it was very complex and very familiar while somehow still being beyond any chance of understanding.

It wasn’t maya. It was Maya.

While I felt I was perceiving only a fractional aspect of an incredibly alien being, she was somehow immediately perceivable as akin to a mischievous young girl with way too much power to delight in. Nothing at all as I had imagined an Indian goddess to be – more like a good humoured teenage witch. But not one to be trifled with.

My ‘maya’ was somehow met by an affirmation, challenge and … I hesitate to say it but its the closest word I can find for a non-auditory communication … a giggle, except it was like being hit by a shock wave and turned inside out. Maya was no longer manifest in front of my eyes. She was manifest in everything – including me.

It was as if my “I see you” had been trumped by a “Just what do you think you see?” but delivered with a mischievous deliMaya, Goddess of Illusionght. I can’t emphasise enough how palpable the presence of a distinct, complex personality was. And somehow she was an old friend or playmate – I was completely comfortable and delighted in her presence. Yet utterly humbled by it.

Being made that humble is very, very special. Everyone should try it someday.

But there was another presence now and my experience of Maya was just subsumed into the overwhelming awe I feel in the presence of the Dancer. Maya may have been an admired companion but this was the Goddess. Something beyond any expressible personality or relationship. She seemed to ‘arrive’ at the same multidimensional visual plane Maya had appeared in, but was somehow already everywhere too. Maya was just a part of Her – not an aspect or manifestation so much as an emergent effect. She danced Maya into existence just like everything else.

In everything I just described after saying ‘maya’ there was no actual sensory correlate. I didn’t actually see or hear anything but nonetheless perceived it clearly as lived experience, not imagination or abstraction. It all took no time at all.

But now the Goddesses were gone, time was passing again and I had a clear physical feeling throughout my body.

I didn’t see anything but I felt there was a sort of benevolent golden light shining deeply into me from all directions at once. Up from the soles of my feet, down from the crown of my head etc. This again was a new experience to me and though it seemed a kind of blessing or darshan from the Dancer it was a completely different feeling to the ‘touch’ of our first meeting and I have no sense of a function, intent or purpose behind it. It felt nice though. The sensation faded away over about five seconds, outlasting the experience of the Goddess herself.

The events of that day were not the same order of thing that I call ‘psychosis’ or ‘mystical experiences’ but rather something I call a ‘flash’ that most often, but not always, happens during a mystical/psychotic break. I have had them walking down the street when just for an instant my fundamental perception of everything changes, but never before in a way like this. They come unexpectedly with no build up and fade away with no after effects. I don’t enter a non-dual state of mind (unless I’m already in one) and I’m reluctant to even call them altered states – though I don’t know what else I could call them. Acid flashbacks?

Perhaps the most surprising part of this experience was the richness and intensity of how I perceived the personality of Maya – and the delight I felt in recognising her as a companion. How can it be that I know her so well without having ever suspected her personhood? Or is the little witch just messing with my head?

I’ve never thought of Maya as having a personality before and if I’d been asked to imagine it I would have gone for something more restrained, dignified and ascetic. But when you think about it, of course she’d be something playful and childish. I mean, when your job is to play silly games with illusions for eternity …

She’s such a likeable kid too. Hope she drops by again. I want to play hide-and-seek with her some more. Even though she cheats.

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From → autobiography

2 Comments
  1. Maya’s got her cock in your ass, cupcake.

    Like

    • Nice one JR.

      Good to see you’re maintaining your usual level of wisdom, open-mindedness and civility.

      Did this one come from your I-Shoe too?

      Like

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