Definitions of books on maya and spirituality
- Books on maya (the great illusion) are books about the created universe. All books related to art, science, philosophy, fiction, etc. come under this category of books. Refer to the section that explains more about maya. These books are experienced entirely by the five senses, mind and intellect.
- Books related to spirituality are books that guide on various aspects of spirituality. They contain theoretical knowledge and knowledge about the practical aspects of spirituality. For a spiritual text to have any Chaitanya (Divine Consciousness) associated with it, the author would need to have a spiritual level of a minimum of 50%. If a spiritual text guides on spiritual practice for spiritual growth, it would need to conform to the 6 basic principles of spiritual practice. Spiritual growth is about transcending the five senses, mind and intellect and experiencing the Soul or the God principle within each of us. Refer to the article – What are humans comprised of?
Table of Contents
1. Introduction to the discussion on books on maya and spirituality
This entire article has been written from the perspective of realising the basic spiritual purpose of life which is God-realisation. All books come broadly under two main categories – books on maya and books on spirituality.
- In the article on ‘The study of spirituality’ we emphasised that if one wants to move towards the basic purpose of life one should preferably study books on spirituality that have been written by Saints or Gurus.
- In a subsequent article ‘The effect of the author on books on spirituality‘ we compared the benefit of books written by authors of varying spiritual levels.
In this article we discuss the differences between books on spirituality and maya and their value to the reader, the author of the book, and the environment.
2. With respect to the basic purpose of life
Spiritual books are geared towards leading people towards the basic purpose of life. They help us to transcend our five senses, mind and intellect and understand our true nature. They guide us to realise and then experience that our true nature is the Soul or the God principle within all of us. If the reader puts the guidance from the book into practice he experiences spiritual growth. The author too experiences spiritual growth as he becomes an instrument in helping humankind to grow spiritually.
On the other hand books related to maya increase the author’s and readers’ focus on maya itself. As a result, the author and the readers get even more entangled in maya and increase their attachment to the five senses, mind and intellect. This takes them away from realising and experiencing their true nature that they are the Soul (the God Principle) within. If this impression continues to develop, it will most likely result in the person spending many lifetimes chasing various dreams in maya such as career, family, etc. as opposed to fulfilling the actual reason for which he was born i.e. God-realisation and getting out of the cycle of birth and death.
3. Experience of happiness versus Bliss
The Mind : It is that part of our consciousness which is the seat of our feelings and emotions.
As books related to maya are designed to be experienced by the five senses, mind and intellect, the maximum emotion that can be experienced is what the mind and intellect has to offer us. By reading a book related to maya and putting it into practice the maximum positive emotion that one can experience is happiness. Happiness is an emotional response by the mind which is always dependent on a stimulus. Unfortunately the things (stimuli) upon which we base our happiness are always subject to change, and hence our happiness from maya is also not sustainable.
On the other hand when one does spiritual practice as guided by books on spirituality one is eventually able to experience the Soul (the God-principle) within each of us. As a result of this one experiences Bliss which is a quality of the Soul. Bliss is a superlative positive experience beyond happiness and which is not dependent on any stimulus. Initially one gets only flashes of Bliss but as one evolves spiritually one experiences Bliss all the time.
4. Source of knowledge
When a Saint or a Guru writes a text on spirituality, They derive the knowledge from the Universal Mind and Intellect through Their sixth sense. As a result They do not require any references. On the other hand when a person writes a book on maya he has to look up several references while preparing his book.
When authors who write books on maya have an intense desire for fame or intense curiosity for a certain subject they are quite often helped by subtle bodies from the Nether (bhuvaloka) and heaven (swarga) regions that subtle bodies inhabit after death. These subtle bodies too have a desire to do something on the Earth plane. Saints, on the other hand, do not write for fame or fortune but for the spiritual growth of society. Due to their low ego, God only inspires them to write books on spirituality. Positive energies from Maharloka and beyond come to assist the Author through His sixth sense, and the nature of the knowledge is on how to realise God.
5. Limitations and scope
Gross versus subtle:
Writing about maya is limited by its grossness. It describes the world as we see it at the physical, psychological and intellectual level. The transfer of knowledge is mostly at the word level and the text is incapable of giving any spiritual experience.
While writing on spirituality, authors above the 50% spiritual level write on the strength of the Universal Energies that are Icchaashakti (Energy of Absolute Desire), Kriyaashakti (Energy of Absolute Action) and Dnyaanashakti (Energy of Absolute Knowledge) and are able to perceive the spiritual causes underlying various phenomena. Refer to the article on Universal Energies used in spiritual writings.
Relevance and time
Books on maya are continuously evolving and are continuously being revised and updated. For example there was a time when people thought that the Earth was flat. Later however this changed as modern techniques proved that the Earth was indeed round. Also what is currently happening in the world always interests the world’s population more as opposed to what happened sometime in the past.
Basic principles stated in books on spirituality are timeless and provide a roadmap for our spiritual journey regardless of the century we live in. Spiritual books do not require any revisions to core concepts. There may be newer prints with further contemporary details but the fundamental structure of knowledge by itself does not change. The means and tools to fulfil our spiritual journey may change as they need to be adapted to the spiritual capacity of society. It is because of this reason that we say spiritual books are timeless and relevant to all generations.
Please refer to An informal dialogue with His Holiness Dr. Athavale on why He now writes books only on spirituality, which gives further insight into these concepts.
6. Effect on society
The Chaitanya (Divine Consciousness) that is emitted by spiritual texts has a saattvik effect on the environment. The following drawing based on subtle-knowledge shows the spiritual positivity emitted by books on spirituality that are written by Saints.
According to an evolved Saint Adi Shankaracharya from India (8th - 9th century AD),Righteousness (Dharma) is that which accomplishes the 3 tasks of:
- Keeping the social system in excellent condition
- Bringing about the worldly progress of every living being
- Causing progress in the spiritual realm as well.
– Shri Adi Shankaracharya
The saattvik effect of these books helps sow the seeds of seekership of God in people in society, who eventually grow to become disciples and then Saints. Saints are the spiritual beacons in society who steer people towards Righteousness. Saints go a long way in providing a higher proportion of the sattva component in society.