Vanity thought #184. The third wheel.

So, Maya, welcome to the party.

I admit I can’t get rid of her, she will always be there, messing with me. Three is a crowd, you know, why does she do that?

I want to be Krishna’s devotee, His servant, or a servant of His servants – what purpose does Maya have for being here, too?

Some say, and it’s a standard answer, that Maya is testing us, testing our determination and devotion. Maybe.

There is a deeper problem, though – if I can’t see myself as a spiritual soul, all words about wanting to be a devotee come from the material body, material intelligence and very material vocabulary bank. The very “I” that is claiming to want devotion is the product of the material elements, the false ego etc. It is also the product of Maya, so it’s like Maya declaring a war on herself. It doesn’t compute.

It could be argued that all those calls for devotion is nothing but dressing on the underlying desire for either enjoyment or liberation from suffering but I can’t make myself to agree with this completely. Quite often it could be so but I won’t dare to deny devotional aspirations of other vaishnavas as manifestations of Maya. That would be mayavada.

It’s a lot easier to explain if we assume that Maya cooperates with our desire to go back to Krishna. Occasionally she helps, occasionally she puts up obstacles, but it’s all for our own good.

Here I come back to the questions of tests.

The assumption is that we can freely choose to act in a certain way. One choice would be to remain in maya, the other choice would be to try and reach Krishna. Practically it manifests in thousands of ways, some are more familiar, some choices are very hard to make. Eat another helping of halava or go read books is an easy choice, and anyone deciding to leave brahmachari ashram knows that it is darn impossible to say what choice would lead to maya and what choice would lead to Krishna.

Ultimately, both choices would lead to Krishna, one road would be faster, one would be slower, but I dare to say that there are no shortcuts to Krishna consciousness. Due to our conditioning we must travel our assigned roads. I’ll leave space for a very very few very very special cases of causeless mercy that in one single move completely liberate one from his duties and place him at Krishna or guru’s lotus feet.

For the vast majority of us everything has to be earned, I mean everything that happens to us on the material platform. No matter what happens to our souls our bodies still have to follow the laws of nature – there’s no real choice.

We choose halava because our taste buds have been conditioned that way and we can’t stop them. We can try, sure, try to overcome desire to enjoy with desire to renounce the world, like impersonalists do, but is it any better? Maybe it is, relatively speaking, but from the devotion point of view there’s no difference in honoring prasadam or reading books. Unlike impersonalists, we don’t use the power of knowledge to deny our senses their gratification.

Just like reaching for a another sweetmeal might have little to do with honoring prasadam, so is reading books might have little to do developing devotion, we might just need to study books to convince ourselves that senses should be stopped, like good mayavadis do all the time.

What I’m saying is that what appears as a test is actually not. We don’t make choices, the material nature goes on about its ways, as devotees we shouldn’t be concerned with interactions of the material world, they have little to do with our relations with Krishna.

In the spiritual world Krishna pulls Yogamaya to manipulate the devotees, in the material world He relies on Mahamaya. When conditioned souls here want to return to Krishna they are still under the control of Mahamaya, but her work is different. For those who want to forget Krishna, she provides, for those who want to remember Him, she provides, too. This is completely unconfirmed by any scriptures or authorities, btw. Just speculating.

When Krishna says that He is situated in the heart of every living being as Paramatma He also says that He provides us with faith in whatever we want, and in every other aspect, too. Well, what if He doesn’t do any of that personally but employs the agencies of Mahamaya? We want to worship money and sex – Krishna provides, but via the illusory show that convinces us that money and sex are indeed the highest worshipable objects ever.

If one wants to sit and meditate on emptiness, who’s there with a vast array of Buddhist literature to support this decision? Isn’t it the Mahamaya?

Wouldn’t it be the same Mahamaya who makes us reach for the wallet and hand over the money to the nice young man with colorful books in his hands? Something has to send those neurons flashing in the brain, something has to make the muscles contract, something has to make sure the wallet has been placed in the bag and that it has enough money in it. Why would this be the work of a completely different agency?

Or how about this – guru is considered as the external manifestation of the Supersoul, but there are countless other manifestations as well – everything that reminds us of Krishna or teaches us important lessons about Him. We might see a tree – the work of Maya, and we might think of tolerance and Siksashtaka and we might feel the need to develop humility. Wouldn’t it be the work of Maya, too?

Why should we be at war with Maya? Isn’t she Krishna’s most faithful servant in all three worlds?

Remember that Krishna has created them for our own satisfaction and so He needs someone to service them, service us.

It is undeniable that sometimes we are more attracted by the illusion than by Krishna, that we want to be in maya. Fine, but from the moment we turned to Him the first time our fate has been sealed – Krishna’s far more attractive than the illusion He created, in the long run He would always win, and who is to say Maya is not helping Him, too?

What if she tries her best to be repulsive to devotees? We are attracted, like men to women, mostly by our own fantasies, but what if Maya wants us closer only to show her real self?

I’m speaking from my own experience here. Lately I’ve been trying to find something really absorbing but all my attempts so far have been futile though I refuse to give up. I still want to find a better substitute to the life of chanting the Holy Names. When what has been provided to me does not excite me very much I try to imagine better things, mostly in vain.

I calculate how much time I have left until the end of my japa and then I think about what I might do next. Somehow or other all my usual activities seem paler and paler everyday. I blame it on Maya – she isn’t really trying to keep me in illusion, she turns a dull side of her for me on purpose, she basically gives me a free pass to chant as much as I want.

Sometimes I think she is not the third wheel between me and Krishna, she is the only wheel that does any job around here, and for that I will be eternally thankful.

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