Maya

Definition - What does Maya mean?

Maya is the illusion that the world is as it is perceived via the senses: sight, sound, touch, taste and smell. It is the apparent reality of the material world. The term is closely related to avidya, the difference being that avidya is individual and maya is universal.

In yoga, maya refers to the world and all of its distractions. It is through yogic meditation that the individual moves beyond maya to enlightenment and truth.

Yogapedia explains Maya

Maya can also mean the appearance of something, such as an object or situation, that appears to be one way, but is really another. For example, in the dark, an object might appear to be a coiled snake, but in the light of day it is obvious that it is really just a garden hose.

Taken to a deeper level, maya represents the perceptions created by one's beliefs, senses and upbringing – things that he/she or society in general hold to be true. These could be the result of political, spiritual, social, religious or economic forces. This bias – the impressions one has of their experiences – creates a false reality. Maya reinforces the ego and defines our connection to the external world. It is only by shutting out the illusions of this external world through meditation that real truth is found.

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