Wednesday, March 18, 2009

maya, illusion, reality and craftsmanship

A friend of mine, in response to a conversation about our worsening economic times, said,"It's not real. It's maya." So I gently explained that the concept of maya doesn't mean that the world is not real, that real people are not being thrown out of real homes and losing real jobs in this recession, but that our perceived distinctions between things is illusory. The concept of narrowly defined self that drives our economy is illusion. There are no real boundaries between us as you can see from where ever you are sitting and reading this text.

There was an old Jackson Browne song that explained it, "From the time we've known that we each are a part of one another, we've lost as much as we have won." Our economy and culture have been built on the concepts of winning and losing and we are at the time of reconciliation, understanding of reality.

The misunderstanding of the meaning of Maya is hazardous. It allows individuals to disregard, diminish and disparage the reality of each other, marginalizing the significance of of what each of us is going through.

In life, we are given a choice of dwelling either in our separation from each other through close examination of boundaries, or by uniting with each other through examining the extended relationships that form the framework of greater self. It is the narrow definition of self that is the lie, the gross mis-perception.

There are things about craftsmanship that lead one beyond him or herself. The immersion in creative process, taking raw materials, reshaping them toward the objective of creating greater utility and beauty for the lives of others is a process through which we transcend the boundaries of self. The other side of the process is the difficult one, that tends to challenge me. It is where I must take personal gain from the process. I have to make money. It is required by existence on the physical plane in very real physical reality. It is no illusion when the bills arrive in the mail and must be paid. The challenge is in perception of balance.

No, life is not an illusion. Life IS profound and very real. We are deeply interconnected with each other in ways that defy understanding. And it's not just the hardwires and software of the internet that make it so for it has always been. We are inextricably a part of one another.

These times are interesting. The irrational greed of those from AIG and Wall St. juxtaposed to the incredible generosity of the common people. The difference between Maya and reality is brilliantly illuminated. When we connect with each other either in craftsmanship, or in service, we enter the real world. And it is no illusion.