POSTCARD #36: Chiang Mai: Going around town in a tuk-tuk, seeing all these new shopping areas getting built and a huge shopping mall opens here soon called MAYA – a Sanskrit word meaning illusion. In Thailand the word maya is applied to the lifestyle of movie stars who have everything money can buy and their lives are thought to be unreal. In an intelligent way, everybody knows what maya is and what ‘reality’ is. But in the shopping mall context maya is presented as an attractive idea; it’s appealing, even though it’s an illusion, we’re partly agreeing with it; complicit in its being there. We might say well, okay it’s an illusion, but what’s wrong with that? Nobody wants to see it as calculated corporate planning to create a market for consumer goods… that would destroy the pretty illusion. Nobody wants to know that the local population, sons and daughters of rural/urban migrants, and naïve hill-tribe folk are likely to be swept away in the wave of purchasing choices. Unseen, built-in strategies contained in an imported Western model that doesn’t suit this culture… and we’re not willing to say there’s anything wrong with it because we’re all in some way compromised.
A kind of tacit approval of consumerist schemes embedded in our lives that has resulted in our losing so much of our inherited cultural traditions. The Christmas festival is layered over with the maya of santaclausisms and the Jesus Teachings are nearly lost in it. It’s as if the essential part of our spiritual Truth got forgotten along the way and consumerism came along in its place. It’s a mystery really, why it should be like this, but for some reason the early Church disapproved of the gnosis (knowledge) part of the teaching. Out went the pragmatic instructions on seeing the constructed nature of appearances and the stepping-through to discover the non-duality between ourselves and God. ‘His disciples said to him, “When will the kingdom come?” <Jesus said,> “It will not come by waiting for it. It will not be a matter of saying ‘here it is’ or ‘there it is.’ Rather, the kingdom of the father is spread out upon the earth, and men do not see it (113).”’[Nag Hammadi Manuscripts].
After an extended period of study and contemplation, one simply ‘wakes up’ to the Truth of it; the reality that surrounds us all the time; Brahman, the Oneness, the God state that’s here and now. You’ll notice I’m presenting the Jesus teachings as an instance of the Advaita experience, sourced in the Upanishads [I wrote another post about this, link to: Jesus and Advaita Vedanta]. I’m also including the Jesus Teaching in a oneness of spiritual teaching centred in that geographical region where the three Abrahamic religions arose: Christianity, Judaism, Islam and the connection with Brahmanic religions and Advaita Vedanta. Others related to this include Buddhism and Jainism. That region, from North India through to Israel and the Mediterranean, a distance of about 3000 miles, say from New York to San Francisco? I see it like a highway of knowledge, wisdom and information. All of it coming and going along the route many centuries before Jesus was born and many centuries after. All the world’s religions arose here.
Somewhere in this context lies the actuality of our Jesus experience; only traces of it remain – enough to know there is this huge feeling of goodwill towards all beings in the world and the universe.
Merry Christmas friends and fellow bloggers ~ Christmas 2013