The veil of Maya or illusion
I was on the bus yesterday and heard these lyrics, they moved me so much I listened to it several times:
“And if your broken heart's heavy when you step on the scale You'll be lighter than air when they pull back the veil Consider the flowers, they don't try to look right They just open their petals and turn to the light Are you listening real close? Heaven's not that, it's this It's the depth of this moment, we don't reach for bliss God knows life is chaos, but He made one thing true You gotta unwind your mind, train your soul to align And dance 'til you find that divine boogaloo In other words You gotta be Heaven to see Heaven” (Phantom Regret, The Weeknd)
In case you wanted to listen to the song:)
Why do the Weeknd's lyrics remind me of the Upanishads?
The reason why it struck such a chord with me is not just because of the words themselves, but for the parallels I found in a verse I had to memorise years back from the Taittiriya Upanishad about what Ananda or a state of ultimate bliss is:
“He realized that Brahman is Ananda (bliss), because it is from bliss the whole creation emerges, is maintained and enters into it upon destruction. And he got established in that bliss, a state of all pervasive silence” (Taittiriya Upanishad, 3.6.1)
Brahman is the universal consiciousness that resides within us, and Ananda denotes bliss or the state of one-ness that occurs when man is in complete harmony with the creator.
The whole world is Maya or an illusion
According to the Vedas, the world that we see in front of us is not real
It is all part of the cosmic veil of illusion or Maya. Man must live in this Maya, and can experience and enjoy what it offers. But there is repeated emphasis that he should not forget that all this is temporary and fleeting, and are ultimately in passing when on the path to the eternal truth. When hearing this, the next question arises:
“If all This (or what we know to be true) is Maya, what is true?”
The truth is explained in several ways, but it can be summed up to the words
“I am that” or “Aham Brahmasmi”. The supreme truth is that we exist in this moment, and that the divine exists within us:
“I am That, and That is me”.
How does this translate to daily living?
In a practical sense, this the life we are living right now is a part of a big story we are wading the ocean of Maya on our path to understanding ourselves. We can search the depths of the earth and ether but the truth lies only within us.
I often wondered why the Vedas emphasise this message so much when the answers presented are not directly applicable to daily life, why do we have such complicated vague answers which are not actionable?
I don’t know the answer, but my understanding is that this can be interpreted as permission to do what we feel is the right deed for us at every moment. It is a comforting statement, one that gives you the freedom to live your life to the fullest, knowing that none of it matters.
While some may perceive their lack of importance to be a negative idea, I find it a very liberating one.
Life is to be enjoyed to the fullest, knowing that it is illusory and temporary - but never forgetting that there is a higher purpose of man- and that is to never forget the divinity within him.
As the verse states, once man realises that Brahman (or the higher consciousness) is the ultimate bliss, he becomes established in that bliss - the bliss embodies him and he lives in knowing that the whole world is created, maintained and destroyed by the same energy that resides in him.
The only way to live in a constant state of bliss, is to live in unity with the divinity within us, and much like The Weeknd's words, once the veil of illusion is lifted back, a heavy heart is found to be light - knowing that the whole world is a mirage. Each being on this planet has its role to fulfill.
For the flower it is to turn to the light and grow, and for man, it is to do his karma or work assigned to him with utmost sincerity towards the work itself, not the consequence
Heaven (or Ananda) is not a far away place, it is this moment and within you already, and the only obstacle is our own perceptions and the veil of Maya, making us believe all this is real. Knowing this, my heart feels less heavy with both the blame and credit being lifted, and as Shakespeare once said:
"All the world’s a stage, And all the men and women merely players" (William Shakespeare, As You Like It)
This is my first time writing about philosophy, I am a novice but I wanted to explore the parallels running in my brain and I hope this made you think too:)