There was a time when if I looked up into the sky and saw the beauty of the sunset I told myself, “No don’t look. It is maya.” If is saw a beautiful moon rise, it was maya. If I felt affection for my children it was maya. If I enjoyed my favorite food it was maya. Maya was all a round me. Maya lurked in every corner of life. Maya was the enemy.
Maya is a Sanskrit word that means “trick” or “illusion.” Maya is said to be the power of God that creates illusion, and what is the most basic illusion? It is the illusion that makes one think I am this body, I am this man, I am this woman, I am Canadian, I am American, I am Russian. I am part of this world. In fact we are not of this world. Our real identity is that we are spiritual souls, we are not this body. It is only due to maya that we identify with our bodies, our gender, our nationalities and so on. Maya is the agency of God that binds us to this physical world. The veil of maya that covers our vision needs to be removed. When the ascetic is able to open his eyes and truly see the world free of maya he sees things as they truly are. Therefore, better not to see the world at all than to see it under the influence of maya. Close your eyes to the beauty of the physical world. Close your heart to the beauty of life. Open your soul only to God. The world is a trick of maya.
Why would God want to keep us in maya? Because we desire to enjoy this physical world and if we saw matter as it really is–lifeless and dull, without pleasure–we could not enjoy this world. Therefore, as long as we desire to enjoy this world we are kept shackled by maya, the illusion that we are a part of this world. The world is a prison-house for the soul and maya is the gatekeeper. And what is the strongest force of maya in this world? It is woman. Sex and love are the strongest binding forces in this world. Deny them.