Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
There are three types of Maya.
The first is Moh Maya. When one becomes too much attached to money or children such that it blinds them, it is called Moh Maya.
There are many people who go after money, money, money. They don’t care for their wife, children, mother, father, friends or any relationships. Only money is important. And for money they are ready to file law suits on whomever. They will file a case on their mother, prove her to be mentally unstable, prove their father to be mentally unstable and fight with everyone for money. Even go to the extent of killing someone – this is Moh Maya.
Similarly, there are some people who keep crying for their children. They just want their child to be with them the entire 24 hours; they do not even understand what is good for the child. Doing this they spoil the child’s life and they also remain sad throughout their life – this is Moh Maya.
What is it? That which does not bring you any great joy but the absence of which causes you suffering – that is Moh Maya.
Then there is Maha Maya. Maha Maya is born or derived from Nature. It clouds or veils us in such a way that we are not able to see anything clearly. We become stuck and bound in its inertia. We become devoid of feelings and emotions, like a stone.
Then there is Yoga Maya. There is Maya even in Yoga. This is very fascinating.
You must have recently seen the case of Nirmal Baba (a spiritual leader in India recently accused of trickery and illegal activities in the name of spirituality.)
He kept on blessing people, but people called him a fraud and a cheat. It is not like that. He is an innocent and good person, but he is caught up in Yoga Maya.
Sometimes, what happens is, through continuous practice of Yoga and Sadhana (spiritual practices) some shaktis (divine powers) get awakened within oneself. When this happens, then you are able to predict what is about to happen in the future. You get an intuition about future events and occurrences. Now, if you are not completely hollow and empty from within, if there are still some cravings and aversions inside you; then that interferes with your intuition. And then the intuition will not be 100% true. 50 to 60% of it will come true and then rest turns out to be false.
Similarly, I know of a lady who also got caught up in Yoga Maya. She did intense sadhana for 25 to 30 years and attained some siddhis (divine powers). She started to feel the presence of Devi Mata (Mother Divine) and she would feel that Mother Divine is guiding her, telling her to do this and to do that.
So, this lady was with her husband and she felt Mother Divine telling her not to give her husband his medicines for diabetes. ‘He will get cured, you just keep giving him blessings’, this is what she heard. So she kept on giving blessings to her husband.
She would say to her husband, ‘Mother herself came to me and told me not to give you diabetes medicine.’
So she did not give him any medicines, and he turned blind. He lost his vision in both his eyes.
When she would speak to other people, they would feel very nice. Most of what she would say would also come true. But after this incident she got very disturbed and came to me, asking, ‘Gurudev, why did this happen to me? Why did my husband become blind?’
I said, ‘My dear, you are caught up in Yoga Maya’.
The same thing happened to Nirmal Baba.
See, some things you can understand, some things you cannot. One can of course bless people. When the Kundalini Shakti rises from within, you get the power to bless. And the blessings are good and beneficial to people. But when these blessings got diluted with inner cravings, like for good food, then these cravings interfered with his intuition. And the messages or blessings that were given to people were of the same nature. So this continued for a few days, but then soon it fell apart. He got trapped in Yoga Maya, and there was no one to tell him or explain it to him. He himself could not understand.
When one understands this, one does not get caught up or deluded by the siddhis, One remains centered within oneself and in the knowledge. Then blessings just starts to flow naturally.
We have so many blessers here. How many people are blessers here? Raise your hands!
Aren’t your blessings fruitful? (Blessers from the audience shout ‘Yes!’ )
See, even you can bless people.
When you are in devotion and are well established in your practices (or yoga) then you also get the power to bless people, and people get healed from their illnesses, their wishes and prayers also get fulfilled. Such a siddhi definitely comes with Yoga and spiritual practices.
But if we attach this with false beliefs and superstitions; like misguiding someone that they will be blessed only after feeding ten hungry people, or feeding bread to a dog, etc., then that is not right.
Grace is causeless, unmerited (Ahetu Ki Kripa); it is not obtained through some merit or cause. Grace is received without any conditions. It is not that only after doing something you will receive grace, then that is not Grace, that is business. You are blessed with Grace just like that - without any conditions whatsoever. Grace is always there. Just become aware of it and know that you are being showered with Grace.
The more grateful we become, the more we experience Grace in life. A mind that is complaining all the time cannot experience the Grace. Become grateful, become thankful.
And the more contented you become, the more Grace you experience in life.
Do not think there is some kind of ‘special’ Grace. Grace is always there, we only become aware of its value.
Grace is something that can go inside even a closed purse. You don’t need to open your purse to receive Grace. And if someone tells you that Grace will come to you only by opening your purse and giving money, then know that something is wrong for sure.
God always blesses you in abundance. You need not pay money from your purse to receive it. However, if such kind of misleading thoughts or feelings do arise in the mind, then it is called Yoga Maya. No one should be blamed for this.
You should not even hold this against such spiritual seekers who might practice this. In their heart there is no malice as they bless everyone. But when the same leaders or seekers started to make money out of this, like a business; then their power to bless also diminished.
Do you understand this? Their right perception was lost.
So, whenever you bless someone, do not make a bargain out of it. You should give blessings freely in abundance, without taking money. However if some people do offer you money out of devotion after you bless them, accept it and put it to good use for a noble cause.
This (wrong practice of asking money for blessings) seems to have crept into every religion somehow. Some will ask you to donate a certain sum of money in return for blessings. This is not right. Grace comes to you without any conditions whatsoever.
Now you might ask why one has to pay money for an Art of Living Course. This might be the next question in someone’s mind. The reason is – Shiksha (education) or knowledge cannot be obtained without a dakshina (fee or offering in return for knowledge bestowed).
See, blessings are given for free. But when we have to learn something by becoming a student, then without offering a dakshina; that act becomes a Tamasik Yagna (an act borne out of inertia or negativity).
This (acquiring knowledge) is a Yagna – a holy and sacred ritual.
We are learning something here. Only by giving something can you receive the knowledge. The knowledge stays with us only when we offer a due fee or offering in return for it.
This point comes from the scriptures and sacred texts. Anyways, let us keep this aside for a while. What is the general experience today? When you sit in the class after paying the fees, then you are able to learn with sincerity and you put your attention. If we conduct classes for free, then people turn up for one or two days and then run away the third day. They do not give their full attention or concentration.
So for the benefit of a student, we take fees from this point of view. But if someone tells you that they will bless you only after receiving money from you, then you should stay away from such people. They are caught in Yoga Maya.
So the media and the people are all calling him (Nirmal Baba) a cheat and fraudster. He himself must be stunned, not knowing what has happened. The blessings which were working fine so far, what happened to it? How did the power suddenly diminish?
This is what happens on the path of Sadhana.
That is why it is said, ‘Shrotriyam Brahmanishtham’ (A Guru is supposed to be a shrotriya and a brahmanishtha. Shrotriya is one who has a thorough insight into the meaning of the scriptures and has the capacity to express it in the best form of language. Brahmanishtha is one who is established in the knowledge of Truth)
Until one becomes a Shrotriya and Brahmanishtha, such powers and games last only for a few days, after which it all comes to an end.
So this is simply a game of Yoga Maya.
Something similar happened here. A lady had come here and people who saw her started saying that she is the incarnation of the Mother Divine Herself! I just asked her to respectfully take her seat.
Yes, seeing all this does make one angry. It is natural to get angry at such things. But saying or doing anything in a fit of anger causes your energy to diminish.
You know, when these siddhis or powers manifest in a person, it takes them into a different world altogether, and at that time one has no connection with what is happening here. That is the time the mind plays its games.
So, it is not that they are bad and dishonest people.
Yes, there are some dishonest people as well, but there are also many people who are simply caught up in the trap of Yoga Maya.
So in Yoga Sadhana also, it is necessary to overcome Yoga Maya. Only then can one gain complete perfection and siddhis (divine powers). Till then perfection does not dawn in life.
When you are a seeker, if you see, seekers first attain the power to curse people. That is why it is said not to utter anything wrong against anyone. If some ill thought or anger for someone comes to your mind, immediately it brings some harm to them. Isn’t it?
How many people have had such an experience? You got angry with someone immediately they suffered a loss? Haven’t you had this experience? (Many in the audience raised their hands)
So do not wish bad for anyone. And bless everyone. Don’t be a miser in giving blessings.
Do not think, ‘Oh, if I give blessing someone, my power will diminish.’ Some people have this misconception as well. This is also Yoga Maya.
There are many types of Yoga Maya. Some people get upset and disturbed if someone touches them. They feel that the other person has drawn all their energy. Why do you get so afraid? We are immersed in a sea of consciousness. Yes, we must follow certain rules and discipline; that is important.
So Yoga Maya is the tendency to get caught up in small siddhis. When you go beyond it, you gain siddhis (divine powers) very naturally. And then you bless others, their wishes and desires are naturally fulfilled.