What is Yogmaya and Mahamaya (Jeev Maya)? | The Truth about Spiritual Experience

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Many times one is confused when one is assessing people with spiritual insight; people with genuine spiritual potencies that sets them apart from the average men. In this article we shall discuss the nuances of spiritual insight in relation to spiritual experiences, hunches, abilities, realizations etc which triggers confusion among the common folk in categorizing such gifted individuals. This article is not an attempt to downplay or promote spiritual capabilities of certain type of people. It is wholly based on understanding Vedic Scriptures in the proper light and some years of concentrated spiritual practice. It may not be entirely incorrect to bucket this piece as an outcome of sheer grace.

Spiritual insight is a result of realization. Realization transcends spiritual understanding, hunches, intuition or even spiritual capabilities of being able to predict the future, to be able to read people, to affect and effect outcomes within the material world and so on. When spiritual realization happens, insight into the nature of things, is born. This insight transcends all spiritual potencies. This insight is the ability to “see” things as they are without distortion or desire. This “seeing” represents higher life; that transcends all greed and expectations out of this material world of names and forms. A person with spiritual insight, according to Vedic scriptures, is one with the highest attainment, who cannot be compared with other people who seem to demonstrate exceptional powers or “other-worldly” capabilities. Thus the “seer” or the person with immaculate spiritual insight is a “sage”, who does not expect, who does not hope, who does not will and one who does not affect or effect anything of “this world”. Only such a person can be a true sage. Such a person does not find the need to influence anything around him or even pray. He is free in the truest sense of the word. He has gone beyond enlightenment and has attained the source of all creation. This is the position of the seer, the sage, the perfected one.

Now when people categorize “seers” in their own minds, they create a whole lot of confusion resulting from their heavily opinionated and incorrect understanding. Many would argue that someone has a deep spiritual experience and has discovered many powers within oneself, which one is able to demonstrate. Does that not qualify as “having” spiritual understanding and insight?. The answer is “Not exactly”. It is important to understand that spiritual insight is attained only through grace, grace attained from the Absolute. Only when such grace is conferred on the person, can that person truly “see”. Then what about spiritual experiences, one may ask. To this we shall scientifically understand the experiences. To understand this we need to understand a little bit about what Vedic scriptures say. The Absolute, is said to have three expressions of power. They are “Jiva maya”, “Yog maya” and “Maha maya”. The third one “Maha maya” exists in a subtler plane of existence where the devatas or personalities wielding the fundamental powers of this earth plane, exist, in a relative physical form. Hence we may not consider “Maha maya”.


The other two namely “Jiva maya” and “Yog maya” are important to consider in the earth plane. People who exist as average people, normal people doing their normal routine and live their entire life by eating, mating, sleeping and defending fall under this category. However people who have “spiritual” experiences, people who have some extraordinary capabilities, beyond the physical, are people who are relatively blessed. These are beings who have consciously or unconsciously tapped into the aspect of “Yog maya” wherein the physical world and the subtle world open up revealing deep secrets of the other world. Experiences of the spiritual kind usually happen to these individuals. But most of these individuals are just on a “new” journey beyond the physical. They are yet, on a relative discovery mode and ignorance has not been removed in its entirety. Many so-called enlightened people also assuredly fall under this category. Experiences of even the spiritual kind is an opening and entry but does not necessarily qualify someone as a seer. This is because there are several layers of ignorance that still lie deep in the hearts of such spiritually powerful people.

When the shield of “Yog maya” is removed in its entirety, only then can “seeing” happen. Spiritual insight is a stage of perfection that is attained only through Grace. Spiritual practice definitely readies an individual for higher attainment, but does not guarantee spiritual perfection in the here and now. However when surrender of the individual is ripe and perfected, Grace of the highest kind enters the heart of the individual and washes away the final traces of impurity from the heart of the “sage” in the making. No experience can guarantee spiritual insight. It should be understood that spiritual experiences are also “impurities”, although, of a higher kind. One may be happy to get these experiences, but one should not hold on to these experiences, because they can slow down progress and even shunt one’s spiritual growth because of “spiritual ego” that can easily develop, as a result of spiritual practice as well as haunting spiritual experiences. The key to spiritual insight is realization alone and not spiritual experiences. Realization about the nature of the spirit is all important and is the preliminary step towards insight. On the other hand spiritual experiences may not be even considered as major milestones. However they may serve well as inspiration to carry out spiritual practice or sadhana and nothing more.