“The light at the end of the tunnel is not an illusion.
The notion of cosmic hypnosis, or maya, was first presented in the Introduction. The topic was next addressed in the section on the Personalized Creation Model from a slightly different angle. The concept of maya, or cosmic hypnosis, can be quite perplexing, so it may be useful to address this topic a third time, again from a slightly different perspective than the first two, and then repeat excerpts from these two sections for completeness. There will some overlap, but for a difficult subject, that may be useful.
To further help with comprehension, this section ends with supplementary quotations on this topic from a number of mystics.
Additional Information on Cosmic Hypnosis
From Wikipedia, a “hypnotized individual ... sees, feels, smells, and otherwise perceives in accordance with the hypnotist's suggestions, even though these suggestions may be in apparent contradiction to the stimuli that impinge upon him. Even the subject's memory and awareness of self may be altered by suggestion, and the effects of the suggestions may be extended into the subject's subsequent waking activity.”
Even though the validity of the physics is unquestioned, no one considers their bodies to be almost entirely empty space and vibrating at colossal speeds, but such is the power of cosmic hypnosis on the ego-conscious mind. We “perceive in accordance with the hypnotist's suggestions, even though these suggestions may be in apparent contradiction” to scientific reality. Contrary to reality, we see our bodies as solid forms. However, for those who have access to their god-conscious minds and are not under the spell of cosmic hypnosis, our bodies are, indeed, shimmering forms of light energy, as are all forms within creation.
So, why is there cosmic hypnosis? Spirit is undivided, eternal bliss consciousness without form. When It decided to create a universe and populate it with a multitude of beings, each with an individualized extension of Its own consciousness, It first had to come up with a way to create such a universal structure and the illusion of separate beings out of Its oneness. The mystics say that Spirit first created a copy of Itself with form, i.e. God within creation. This God with form then projected its consciousness out in all directions in the form of spherical emanations of light. As in a motion picture, this pure beam of God-conscious light was passed through a “film of the cosmos” which then projected the resulting countless universes of nebulae, galaxies, stars, planets, etc. into space and time. Instead of a backdrop of a screen, the “cosmos” movie was projected onto the backdrop of space. Just as a beam of light passing through a film in a theatre creates a movie on the screen that appears real, but is actually just shadows and light on a screen, so the beam of God-conscious light passing through the “film of the cosmos” creates a movie in three-dimensional space that appears real, but is actually just shadows and light forms in space and time. In order to fully enjoy a movie in a theatre, the audience “forgets” that the movie on the screen is not real and gets emotionally involved with the story. Similarly, in order to enjoy the movie of the cosmos, we are made to “forget” that the universe is just projected shadows and light and instead we perceive the forms as solid objects. Such is cosmic hypnosis.
Cosmic hypnosis is commonly called maya, a Sanskrit word meaning “illusion,” “magic,” “that which is not,” or “a magic show, an illusion where things appear to be present but are not what they seem."
The maya that causes mankind to see the illusion of the universe as solid forms is called mass maya, since all mankind fall under its spell. It is the veil created by the “film of the cosmos.” There is also a second form of maya that is individual in nature, and is referred to as avidya. Every man is subjected to personal maya, or avidya, as well as the mass maya of the universe.
Individual maya, or avidya, gives rise to the ego-consciousness in man which makes him believe that he is a separate, solid body living in a localized region of a solid universe. Avidya and ego-consciousness exist together. Without the hypnosis of avidya, man would realize his soul nature and his form would resolve again into the bliss-consciousness of oneness with Spirit.
“God, the Master Hypnotist, through His power of maya has suggested to individualized souls to visualize the universe with all its intricacies and details … the perceptions of individualized consciousness being personalized by avidya.”
~ P. Yogananda
“Through Avidya (ignorance) man believes that this material creation is the only thing that substantially exists ... This ignorance is not only a trouble in itself but is also the source of all the other troubles of man.” ~ Sri Yukteswar
A man seeing a mirage of an oasis in the middle of a desert is seeing an illusion. While an illusion is not real, it still exists. If one holds a pen in front of a mirror, the reflection of the pen that one sees in the mirror is not real but it is still something. Mystics often describe the universe as a reflection of Spirit, distorted by maya, an illusion but something that still is there.
Another analogy that is often used to illustrate the principle of maya is a rope that in a dim light may be perceived to be a snake. To the observer who “sees” a snake, the reaction of fright would be quite real. Should the light become brighter, the observer would recognize that the object he mistakenly thought was a snake was in fact a rope. In this analogy, the ultimate reality of Spirit (the rope) never changes but through the “cosmic film” of shadows and light, an observer sees a universe of form (the snake) and reacts accordingly. When the beam of illumination comes, he sees that the universe was in fact an illusion and that the true reality is Spirit, of which he is a part.
A hypnotized person can be told that there is no such thing as the number five, and when told to count from one to ten, will leave out the number five. No amount of persuasion will convince him that the number five exists. Similarly, cosmic hypnosis, or maya, is extremely powerful, and it is very difficult to overcome its spell.
“I came of my own accord here. Still I had to struggle. The Lord’s maya is not easy.” ~ P. Yogananda
“Maya has created such a delusive attachment to the instrumentality of a human body that even if God were at this moment to offer liberation to the masses, I daresay not many would be eager to depart this merry playground – to leave behind their accustomed bodily residence with its possessions and sensory opportunities…… The body-identified sense-oriented are rigidly unconvinced that it is worthwhile to forgo known pleasure for the arcane bliss of Spirit.”
~ P. Yogananda
“So strong is man’s conviction of the reality of the world that it is not easily shaken off. But the world is no more real than the individual who sees it.” ~ Ramana Maharshi
There is a story told in India about a mystic named Narada who complained to Spirit that maya was too strong for ordinary men to overcome. To prove it, he suggested that Spirit enter the body of a mother sow and experience Its maya directly. Spirit did, and so enjoyed being a mother pig feeding her little piglets that after several months, Narada still could not persuade Spirit to leave the body of the pig. The pig had to be killed to release Spirit’s consciousness from the mother pig.
A second story is told about Narada and maya, as recounted below;
“Once, the legendary sage, Narada, was out walking with Krishna, who is, of course, representative, in literature, of God. In the course of their conversation, Narada asked God to explain to him the mystery of His Maya. And the Lord said, “Alright - but before I do, since my throat is a little dry, please fetch me a drink of water.” So, Narada ran off to find some water for the Lord. Soon, he came to a pleasant little hut, where he stopped to get directions to the nearest water, but when the door to the hut was opened, there stood a most beautiful young maiden with whom Narada was immediately smitten. As she invited him inside, Narada forgot all about his mission to fetch some water to his Lord; and, as the days passed very pleasantly, Narada fell more and more in love with his beautiful hostess, and soon they were wed.
The blissful couple soon had children, and Narada toiled in the field to grow food for his growing family. He was extremely happy with his new family, and thought himself to be surely the most fortunate of men to have such a beautiful wife and such fine children. But, one day, a great monsoon rain fell; and for many days thereafter the rain continued. The riverbanks overflowed, and the little hut was filled with water. Narada climbed, with his family, to the top of the hut, clinging with one hand to the roof, and with the other to his wife and children. But the rains continued, and the hut began to collapse from the flooding waters. First one child, then another, was swept away in the raging torrent; and finally, Narada felt his darling wife slip away from his grasp as well. Then, he too was swept away in the flood, crying out in the darkness for his wife and children.
At last, nearly unconscious, and completely exhausted, Narada found himself washed up on a wreckage-strewn shore. And, as he lay there desperately lamenting the loss of his family, suddenly he looked up to see the feet of Krishna at his head. Quickly, he struggled to his feet, and Krishna, with an ironic smile, asked, “Where have you been, Narada? I sent you for water nearly ten minutes ago!” It was in this way that the Lord showed to Narada His power of Maya.
Indeed, this life is like a dream, in which we become entirely involved and embroiled, forgetful of our real purpose, only to wake to find it was all unreal, a mere play of thought.” ~ Swami Abhayananda
“A man goes to sleep in this hall. He dreams he has gone on a world tour, is roaming over hill and dale, forest and country, desert and sea, across various continents and, after many years of weary and strenuous travel, returns to this country, reaches Tiruvannamalai, enters the ashram and walks into the hall. Just at that moment he wakes up and finds he has not moved an inch, but was sleeping where he lay down. He has not returned to the hall after great efforts, but is and always has been in the hall. It is exactly like that. If it is asked, why being free we imagine we are bound, I answer, ‘Why being in the hall did you imagine you were on a world adventure, crossing hill and dale, desert and sea?’ It is all mind or maya.” ~ Ramana Maharshi
It is the challenge put forth by the Creator for mankind to overcome the spell of maya and avidya and regain our original status as gods.
And just to complicate the game of creation even more, the Creator made maya a conscious force with free will. This conscious force, the Cosmic Magician, can devise its own devious ways to keep mankind in delusion. The game of creation was intentionally made difficult, so that mankind would not see through the illusion too quickly. However, those who have tired of the game and who are strong-minded and persistent are aided by the Creator Himself in the form of a spiritual guide to learn how to overcome the delusive hypnosis and re-discover their true nature as gods. The mystics have done so and it is the destiny of every man to do so.
Mystics who have regained their lost soul consciousness can view and experience the entire cosmos at once, like a city shimmering in night in the distance. Similarly, they view and experience the indescribable, infinite bliss-nature of Spirit beyond creation within their expanded consciousness.
As shown in the section The Enchanted Playground, the world of physics and, in particular, the incredible findings of modern quantum mechanics is discovering that the universe we live in is vastly different than what we perceive it to be. The world of modern science is unraveling many of the ancient mysteries of cosmic maya.
Excerpts from the Introduction
... In order for the being to appear as a multitude of unique individualized extensions of Itself within its play cosmos, [Spirit] had to pretend that Its one self was actually many. To make it as realistic as possible, these souls had to believe that they were separate, independent beings once they entered the virtual world of the cosmos. In addition, Spirit wanted its illusionary world to appear real to the souls when entering it. In other words, Spirit had to “fool” itself. And so it did. Each soul was “hypnotized” into thinking it was a separate being and that the virtual world was real. This “cosmic hypnosis” is commonly referred to as maya.
“This world is a drama performed by one actor in a multitude of roles.” ~ Swami Abhayananda
“God has created the world in play… It is God Himself who is sporting in the form of man.” ~ Ramakrishna
“It’s He alone who is born in this world.
He lives in all beings; it’s only Him everywhere.” ~ from the Svetasvatara Upanishad
“Wonder of all wonders – Thou ... creates a “me” and “Thee” where only One exists.” ~ Swami Abhayananda
A key to all of this was that maya was intended to only partially hypnotise souls coming into the virtual world. Each soul was to keep partial remembrance of its true nature as Spirit and partial awareness that the cosmos was not real, but a playground of light. A careful balance between truth and fiction. Too little maya, and the game would not be much fun. Too much maya, and the souls would become trapped within the game.
As mentioned above, the first version of the game worked exactly as planned. Then, Spirit decided to make the next game more difficult. It increased the level of maya, of cosmic hypnosis, making it more difficult to retain the balance of fact and fiction. Gradually, the souls became more and more engrossed with the drama of the game until eventually they became trapped. The souls now believed that the pretend world was real and that they were not the being in disguise but were the disguise itself. The souls believed the body-suits were their true identity. They found themselves in a world they knew nothing about. They no longer knew how they got there or why they were there. The game, in which Spirit was playing all the roles, had indeed become much more difficult – just as anticipated.
“Now when God plays hide and pretends that he is you and I, he does it so well that it takes him a long time to remember where and how he hid himself. But that's the whole fun of it - just what he wanted to do. He doesn't want to find himself too quickly, for that would spoil the game. That is why it is so difficult for you and me to find out that we are God in disguise, pretending not to be himself.” ~ Alan Watts
“He Himself spread out the expanse of His Maya, and He Himself beholds it. He assumes so many forms, and plays so many games, and yet he remains distinct and detached from it all.” ~ Guru Nanak
“Why should He have left so many beings in utter ignorance of His love, and the resulting bliss? His maya is mysterious! To probe deeper into the question brings the subtlest truth to light, that He alone is the sole actor behind the variegated and multiple veils of maya.” ~ Papa Ramdas
As the souls, we became tricked by the powerful spell of cosmic hypnosis, the formidable magic of maya, and are now living lives like paupers rather than kings, as suffering mortals rather than euphoric immortals, as men rather than gods.
“You embrace some form saying, “I am this.” By God, you are not this or that or the other, you and spirit are the same.” ~ Rumi
“I remind you again, the only difference between the sage and yourself is you see the world and you identify with it. You think it's real. A sage sees the world and he knows it's a superimposition upon Consciousness. So he identifies with Consciousness.” ~ Robert Adams
Excerpts from the Personalized Creation Model section
As quantum physics has shown, this solid, material universe is neither solid nor material. It is frozen light forms floating in the magically generated dimensions of time and space. The universe doesn’t really exist and yet is certainly appears to exist to our human senses. How is this so? It is the magic of maya. We can think of maya as a kaleidoscope or a pair of magic glasses. The glasses cause light that is normally invisible at certain frequencies to appear real. Without the glasses, there is nothing there. Put on the magic maya glasses and we become immersed in a 3-D holographic projection in which galaxies, stars, planets, mountains, rivers, and people appear out of nowhere and everything seems so real. With the glasses on, we can see countless 3-D holographic universes floating like clouds in an endless sky. We can also see the holographic projection of small villages on earth and watch the activities of each of the villagers. Everything is condensed light but all appears real with the glasses on. Take off the glasses and everything disappears again. The seemingly real mirage is gone. This is the magic of maya.
... Similarly, we can think of avidya as a personal kaleidoscope or a personal pair of magic glasses. Our true existence is the soul, or Atman, a unique individualized extension of the formless, blissful Spirit. In this analogy, each one of us has our own unique pair of avidya glasses. Without the glasses, we exist as part of Spirit’s immortal, infinite, formless, undivided, bliss consciousness. If we put on our avidya glasses, each of us becomes immersed in a 3D holographic projection of our own unique “mini-universe”. The “mini-universe” comprises a body-form and anything that is within range of the body-form’s senses, e.g. as far as the eyes can see and the ears can hear; houses, trees, mountains, rivers, other people, etc. The body-form can read or be told about places and activities in the bigger universe that is beyond its sense range, but for that body-form the only objects that manifest in its 3-D holographic “mini-universe” are those things within the range of its senses. All else does not manifest. However, should the body-form move to a different part of the bigger universe, the manifestation of its “mini-universe” changes to become the local surroundings of the new location. With the avidya glasses on, the soul becomes identified with this particular body-form. Other body-forms may occupy its “mini-universe,” but the soul identifies with the one body-form and takes it to be its own self.
... The problem comes when the avidya-created pretend ego-consciousness becomes so attached to the body-form that the god-consciousness gets pushed to the background. At some point, the body identified ego-consciousness takes over completely. The pretend consciousness has become “real.” The holographically-generated “mini-universe” has become “real.” All memory of the soul’s true identity as immortal bliss consciousness is gone.
“The force of Avidya limits the consciousness to such an extent that the individual is falsely made to believe that its body is the entire truth. Not only the body but even the objects and persons fictitiously connected with the interests of the body.… A shadow is taken to be the substance, a phantom is mistaken for the reality.” ~ Krishnananda
“Just as a king acts the part of a beggar, out of his own free will on the stage in a drama, so also the Sat-Chid-Ananda Brahman acts the part of a Jiva in this drama of the world out of his own free-will for sport … It is understandable that as long as the king is conscious of his kingship even in the state of his counterfeit beggarliness, he is in sport and enjoys the fun! But if the king is to forget his pristine nature in his pretended state of the beggar, then the sport is no more a sport but an imprisonment in the consciousness of what he is not … The individual or the Jiva does not know that it is playing a sport, but thinks that it is actually what it appears to be in the imagined garb.” ~ Krishnananda
A useful analogy is to see human consciousness, or the mind, as a mirror. The “screen of human consciousness” receives the motion picture projection of the universe and “reflects” its own “mini-universe” portion of the motion picture. Avidya makes the reflected “mini-universe” appear as if it were truly a real 3-D world existing in time and space. But is really is just a reflection. Everything is happening within our minds. We see our body-forms moving around from place to place and assume that it is really happening. But it is not. Everything happens in the mind, even if avidya suggests otherwise.
“The illusion of solid objects in three-dimensional space … is fabricated within our brain and nervous system in such a way that a physical world appears to be really there outside of us, when in fact its real basis is a neurologically generated holographic pattern that is witnessed by consciousness in such a way as to trick us into seeing it as a solid external material world of physical objects.” ~ Paul Levy
“All these universes, humans, objects, thoughts and events are merely pictures moving on the screen of Pure Consciousness, which alone is real.” ~ Ramana Maharshi
“You see yourself in the world, while I see the world in myself. To you, you get born and die, while to me the world appears and disappears.” ~ Nisargadatta Maharaj
Additional quotations on Cosmic Hypnosis are shown below.
Supplementary Quotations on Cosmic Hypnosis