Wait a minute!
The following post is based on a story I had heard from Swami Adiswarananda, the Spiritual Leader of the Ramakrishna Vivekananda Center in New York from 1973 to 2007.
A devotee wanted money from God. So, he started praying to God. After a few years of sincere and intense spiritual austerities, God thought to reveal Himself to him.
One day the devotee profusely cried for God. Seeing the devotee’s agony, God granted the devotee a vision of Him. The devotee was overjoyed with this vision.
Then, God asked him, “What do you want?”
The devotee said, “I just want one cent from you.”
God said, “Why just one cent?”
The devotee replied, “God’s one cent is like millions of dollars.”
God wanted to uplift this devotee from his limited wants and make him aware of the higher importance of God-vision, so God said, “Wait a minute!”
Time and Space are Relative:
Moving clocks are slower than stationary ones. Distances (the space is in-between two points) and the durations are observer-dependent. Do you believe this? Einstein’s Theory of General Relativity proves it.
Let us not go into deeper science and think in terms of common experiences. Four to eight lower-middle class people living and adjusting in one bedroom apartment of big cities like New York, Mumbai, London and others feel that they have enough space. When a family of four moves to a 3-4 bedroom house with one acre land initially feels that they have enough space. But, when they filled up the house with furniture and needed or not-needed things, then the same house looks small.
We all know that time is relative. When we are waiting for people whom we love, then one minute feels like one hour. But, when we are having fun, then one hour passes like one minute.
Time in Bhagavad Gita:
Shri Krishna says, “Those people who know that the day of Brahma (the Creator) is thousand eons long and the night of Brahma is thousand eons long, know the day and night. At the approach of the day of Brahma, all manifested objects come forth from the un-manifested (Brahman, or Consciousness, or Energy) and at the approach of the night of Brahma, all the manifested objects merge into the un-manifested.” (8.17-18)
Evolution and Involution:
When we wake up our universe begins. As soon as we wake up all the thoughts of our activities and all of our relationships with people come to the surface of our mind. It stays with us for the whole day. When night comes and we go into deep sleep, all our thoughts and relationships go deeper into our minds in very subtle (encrypted) form.
It is the same with the whole universe. The Bhagavad Gita, as a part of Vedanta, says that the whole universe emerges from one thing called Brahman (in scientific terms we can call this Consciousness or Energy), which is called an evolution. It is similar to how a tree comes out from a seed. Then, after some time (which may be billions of years) everything merges back into Brahman (Consciousness or Energy). Science also talks about black holes. These black holes give us an idea of the process of involution, or the merging of manifested objects into un-manifested. It is like the whole tree merging into a tiny seed.
Time is Maya:
Vedanta says that there is only One Ultimate Existence, called Brahman. From the Brahman the whole universe came. Thus, everything in the universe is nothing but Brahman. But, we do not see it. We see the separate existence of individuals and objects. Vedanta says that these differences have been created by space, time, name and form.
If a wave of an ocean thinks that it has its own separate existence and that the ocean does not exist, that would be ludicrous. If a gold ornament, like a necklace, thinks that it is different from the gold and that gold does not exist, that would be ludicrous. If a clay figure of a man or a woman or an elephant thinks that it is separate from the clay and that clay does not exist, that would be ludicrous. Similarly, if a human individual thinks he/she is different from Brahman, and Brahman does not exist, that is ludicrous. But, we all think that we have separate individual existence, and we have nothing common and we live in delusion. As a result, based upon our selfish motives, we love some, hate some, and go up and down in joys and sorrows.
What deludes us? Vedanta tells us that it is Maya, the power of Brahman, which deludes us. This Maya is space, time, name and form. Brahman is Maya-pati, the Lord of Maya, meaning is beyond Maya. Thus, Brahman is beyond space, time, name and form.
Story of Krishna and Narada:
Swami Vivekananda told a story from mythology in his lecture “Maya and Freedom,” delivered in London, October 22, 1896.
Narada asked Shri Krishna, “O Lord! Show me your Maya.” Shri Krishna said that he had to come with him in a trip to forests. Both walked and walked into deep forests. The sun was scorching. Shri Krishna said, “O Narada! I am thirsty. Can you please look around and see if there is any water nearby. I have no energy to walk.” Narada said, “Yes my Lord! I will look for water and bring it to you.”
At a little distance, Narada found a small village. He stopped at a house, knocked at the door and loudly asked if there was anyone in the home. A beautiful young girl opened the door. Narada was overwhelmed by her beauty and started conversing with her. He asked her name, about her parents, and asked if she is married. The girl also showed interest in Narada and she called her parents. The parents were very happy to see Narada and they accepted his proposal to marry their daughter to him. Narada and the girl got married. They had two children. The girl’s parents died and Narada inherited their home and property. Thus, twelve years passed.
Then a big storm came. Due to high wind and several days of heavy rain all over, one night, the nearby river rose until it overflowed and flooded the whole village. The current of the river was very strong. Houses fell, men and animals were swept away and drowned and everything was floating in the rush of the stream. Narada’s house fell. He had to escape. He held his wife with one hand, a child in his other hand and put one child on his shoulders. He was trying to swim to survive. But, the strong current took away the child from his hand. When he was trying to save that child, the other child flipped over and was swept away. When he tried to save that child, he lost his grip on his wife’s hand and she too was torn away by the current. After being dragged by the current of the river for a distance, he was thrown onto land. Narada wept and wailed in bitter lamentation.
Then, he heard a gentle voice, “O Narada! Where is the water? You have gone away for half an hour to get water.” Narada exclaimed, “Half an hour! Twelve years passed through my mind in half an hour!”
After telling this story, Swami Vivekananda said, “And this is Maya!”
If we are not careful, then years pass like hours without gaining any accomplishment or knowledge which could bring true satisfaction in life.
So, we should think, reflect, do spiritual practice and serve humanity (the Living God) unselfishly.
Maya created by Human Beings:
Brahman creates Maya, but human beings also create Maya. It is Maya of money and greed. Because of greed our life becomes a money-making machine, and it will not leave any time to enjoy the money acquired. We have to make sure that we enjoy money and money does not enjoy us.
Knowledge and Devotion:
God is our father and mother. We should have faith that if we sincerely pray to God and perform our responsibilities, then God will take care of us. We have to pray to God for knowledge and devotion which will fulfill all our desires.
(Thanks to Sonali Tatapudy for editing this post and Viraj Khetani for the illustration.)