The working of Maya (False beliefs): False beliefs of identification with physical, subtle and mental bodies

The shackles that hold the soul in spiritual bondage consist chiefly of wrong values or falsehoods concerning valuation.  

Maya becomes irresistible by taking possession of the very seat of knowledge, which is human intellect. Surmounting Maya is difficult because, with the intellect under its sway, Maya creates barriers and upholds false beliefs and illusions. It creates barriers to the realization of the Truth by persistent attempts to sustain and justify erroneous beliefs.

The intellect that functions in freedom prepares the way to the Truth, but the intellect that plays into the hands of Maya creates obstacles to true understanding. The false beliefs created by Maya are so deep-rooted and strong that they seem to be self-evident. They take on the garb of veritable truths and are accepted without question. For example, a person believes that he is his physical body. Ordinarily it never occurs to him that he may be something other than his body.

An individual’s life is centered around the physical body and its desires. To give up the belief that he is the physical body involves the giving up of all the desires pertaining to the physical body and the false   values they imply. The belief that he is his physical body is conducive to the physical desires and attachments; but the belief that he is other than his physical body runs counter to accepted desires and attachments. Therefore the belief that the individual is his physical body becomes natural. It is a belief easy to hold and difficult to uproot. [But]…when the mind is unburdened of all physical desires and attachments, the belief that he is his physical body is seen to be false, and the belief that he is something other than his body is seen to be true.

Even when a person succeeds in shedding the false belief that he is the physical body, he remains a victim of the false belief that he is his subtle body. To give up the belief that he is the subtle body involves the giving up of all desires pertaining to the subtle body and the false values they imply.

Even when a person abandons the false belief that he is his subtle body, he cherishes the illusory belief that he is his mental body.

Throughout his long life as an individual soul, he has clung fondly to the false idea of his separate existence. To surrender the false belief that he is the ego-mind of the mental body is to surrender all that has seemed to constitute his very existence. In surrendering the false belief that he is his physical or subtle body, it is necessary to surrender various desires and attachments. It is a giving up of something one has had for a long time. In surrendering the false belief that he is his ego-mind, the individual is called upon to surrender the very core of what he has thought himself to be.

-Extracted from Discourses, 7th Ed., p375-77

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