Friday, May 18, 2007

The Hindu Doctrine of Maya

The Hindu Doctrine of Maya: What is meant by the Hindu doctrine of Maya? Although the word Maya literally translates from Sanskrit to English as "illusion," it surely does not imply that man is to view life as some kind of optical error. For the most part, it is fair to regard Maya as the world experienced through the senses, or what Immanuel Kant would call "empirical knowledge." The knowledge that man obtains through sight, smell, touch, taste, and hearing can be considered empirical for it is acquired a posteriori or after the experience occurs. Even so, Maya ultimately proves its worth by making known the notion of a deeper, inner reality that exists behind the world of illusory appearances. According to religious scholar Huston Smith, Maya often succeeds in seducing man by making the world of appearances much more attractive than it really is. As a result, man becomes attached to all things material, pleasurable, and earthly. For if man cannot part with his worldly desires, then Hinduism purports that he will be reincarnated so as to try again. In this sense, Maya can be thought of as a psychological construct whereby a qualified, provisional reality exists for man insofar as he accepts what appears to him as being wholly authentic.

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