How is it that all living beings in the material world are bewildered by the powerful illusion that the body is the self? The Vedas explain that there is a pervasive and powerful, yet invisible, illusory energy named Māyā. This is a bit esoteric for many people but it is a very important subject.
We mention an ancient story of a warrior prince who was questioned by a mystical being and one of the questions put to his was; What is the most wonderful thing?
With folded palms Yudhiṣṭhira replied, “The most wonderful thing is that although every day innumerable creatures go to the abode of death, still a man thinks he is immortal.“ The verses I have quoted in this talk are as follows: Ignorance consists of considering that which is temporary as eternal, the impure as pure, misery as happiness and the non-self (the body or mind) as the real self. Yoga Sūtra 2.5
My dear Uddhava, the material universe that you perceive through your mind, speech, eyes, ears and other senses is an illusory creation that one imagines to be real due to the influence of māyā. In fact, you should know that all of the objects of the material senses are temporary. Bhāgavata Purāṇa 11.7.7
Just as a dream is merely a creation of one’s intelligence but has no actual substance, similarly, material lamentation, illusion, happiness, distress and the acceptance of the material body under the influence of māyā are all creations of My illusory energy. In other words, material existence has no essential reality. Bhāgavata Purāṇa 11.11.2
One should see that the material world is a distinct illusion appearing in the mind, because material objects have an extremely flickering existence and are here today and gone tomorrow. They can be compared to the streaking red line created by whirling a fiery stick. The spirit soul by nature exists in the single state of pure consciousness. However, in this world he appears in many different forms and stages of existence. The modes of nature divide the soul’s consciousness into normal wakefulness, dreaming and dreamless sleep. All such varieties of perception, however, are actually māyā and exist only like a dream. Bhāgavata Purāṇa 11.13.34
Due to my feeling of false ego, I have been engaged by Your māyā and have identified myself with the body and consequent bodily relations. Bhāgavata Purāṇa 3.25.10
O Lord, the people of this world, both men and women, are bewildered by Your illusory energy. Unaware of their real benefit, they do not worship You but instead seek happiness by entangling themselves in family affairs, which are actually sources of misery. Bhāgavata Purāṇa 10.51.45
No one can overcome the Supreme Person’s illusory energy [māyā], which is so strong that it bewilders everyone, making one lose the sense to understand the aim of life. Bhāgavata Purāṇa 8.5.30
The Supreme Lord’s Māyā makes men forget their real selves, and thus, taking the body for the self, they consider others to be friends, enemies or neutral parties. Bhāgavata Purāṇa 10.54.43
The original nature of every living entity is to consider himself the eternal servant of the Lord. But under the influence of māyā he thinks himself to be the body, and thus his original consciousness is covered. CC Madhya 24.201
Thus the yogī can be in the self-realized position after conquering the insurmountable spell of māyā, who presents herself as both the cause and effect of this material manifestation and is therefore very difficult to understand. Bhāgavata Purāṇa 3.28.44
If the illusory energy subsides and the living entity becomes fully enriched with knowledge by the grace of the Lord, then he becomes at once enlightened with self-realization and thus becomes situated in his own glory. Bhāgavata Purāṇa 1.3.34