The Upanishads say that there is no opposition between God and the world: there is no Devil, and there is no power opposing God. How then is this world created?
The Upanishads say that God is not creating this world by creating some opponent to do the job. In the very being of God, in the very glow of God – which they call maya, the illusion – in the very shadow of God – which they also call maya, the illusion – the world is, just as a person stands and his shadow is naturally formed. There is no solid existence of a shadow: a sword cannot cut it, fire cannot burn it, water cannot drown it. Try as you may, it still exists. It does not have a real existence, yet the shadow is. It walks behind you; if you run, it runs after you, if you stop, it stops.
The Upanishads say that whenever something exists, it also has its shadow. And the latest researches in science and psychology also support this fact. Let this be understood. Nothing exists without a shadow. Whatever is, it creates its shadow. If there is Brahma, the absolute reality, it will have its shadow, too. That shadow they call maya, the illusion. The shadow of the absolute reality is this world.
Jung, a great psychologist, did a great deal of research on this reality from a different dimension and he found that every man also has a shadow existence, a shadow personality. You should also understand this because you too have your shadow existence.
You are a good man, peaceful and patient, and you do not become angry. But one day suddenly, on some minor matter, you become so outrageously angry that it is beyond your own understanding as to what is happening and who is doing this. The matter itself is not so serious that it calls for any anger, and you are not a person who is used to becoming angry – you do not become angry even about big, serious matters! But today, about this minor matter, you are in a rage.
That is why people often say afterwards, “It happened in spite of me. I was not intending it and it happened.” Why? How did it happen? You were not intending to do it, then how did it happen?
Sometimes you do not intend to say a certain thing and it pops out of your mouth. You simply did not want to say it and it spurted out of your mouth. You repent afterwards that, “I had never thought I would say it; I had taken the decision not to say it, and yet I blurted it out!”
Jung says that you have a shadow personality of your own in which everything that you deny within you goes on accumulating. Sometimes finding some opportunity, in some weak moment finding some crack in the system, the shadow personality manifests itself.
Because of this shadow personality, a serious disease known as ‘split personality’ is a subject of study in psychology. A man is divided into two parts. Sometimes it so happens that there become two distinct personalities in the man – it seems there are two men within one. The man says one thing and does another, there is no coordination; he is one man in the morning and another in the evening. His saying, his being – nothing can be quite relied upon. He himself is afraid as to what he is doing and what he is saying, there is simply no harmony. It is as if there are two persons within him. Sometimes he is very peaceful, sometimes very agitated; sometimes silent, sometimes very talkative – he is just split into two parts.
There are thousands of such mad persons in thousands of madhouses. Their sickness is that suddenly they have completely lost one personality and have become a different person. Till yesterday he was Rama, then suddenly something happened – an accident, or he fell and injured his head – and he became Rahim. Now he simply does not remember that he was Rama; he does not recognize his father, his mother, or his wife. Now he declares himself to be Rahim and gives a totally different account of his life which has nothing whatsoever to do with this family – not even an acquaintance.
What has happened? In the accident the main personality of the man was pushed into the background due to the shock of the impact and his shadow personality has become active, so he has changed his name and everything else.
This assuming of a shadow personality is reversed also by shock treatment. Sometimes when the person is cured he again becomes Rama, the previous person, and his whole behavior changes back to the original personality.
This shadow personality is hidden within every person. If we describe this in the Upanishadic language, it is the ignorance, avidya, that is tied to every person – it is his shadow personality. Just as it is illusion, maya, that is tied to Brahma, the supreme reality – that is its shadow personality. This illusion is not in opposition to Brahma, it is its very shadow, an essential part of its being. This world is not the enemy of Brahma, it is the shadow of the very existence of Brahma. If we try to understand this in the language of science it may become easier to grasp, otherwise it is not easy to grasp at all.
[…] Maya is the shadow of Brahma. Neither Brahma can be there without maya, nor can maya be there without Brahma. And it is on a vast scale that maya is the shadow of Brahma. You could call it the anti-Brahma. On the smaller scale of man ignorance is the shadow. Ignorance is maya on the scale of a man.
Around you exists ignorance. Now what can be done about it? It is there along with man. How to give up ignorance? And if this is destiny, if there is an arrangement in the universe that the opposites will be there and if even Brahma has not been able to drop maya, if even the supreme existence is surrounded by maya, how would we, tiny little individuals, be able to drop ignorance? Brahma is not able to drop maya, so how will we be able to drop ignorance? And if we are unable to drop ignorance, then all endeavor of religion becomes meaningless.
No, we can drop ignorance, but let the process be understood. We can drop ignorance only when we are willing to disappear. If we are not willing to disappear, ignorance cannot disappear – the duality will continue. Either both will remain or both will go. If I say that I want to survive but I also want to destroy the ignorance, then ignorance will never be destroyed, it is your shadow. It is like saying that I want to remain but I want my shadow to disappear. It will never disappear.
There is only one way and that is I can disappear so that the shadow disappears, hence so much emphasis on the effacement of the ego. If I disappear my shadow will disappear. When I disappear my shadow also disappears, and I merge and become one with Brahma – not as an ‘I’ but as a void. What might be happening to my ignorance? When I disappear, when I merge in Brahma, my ignorance merges into the maya. I disappear into Brahma, the ignorance disappears into maya. Whenever I am created I emerge out of Brahma, and ignorance emerges out of maya. Ignorance is our small share of maya given to us, small portions of the land of maya assigned to us.
Maya, ignorance, brings misery and pain. This is why we want to be rid of it. Might it not be giving pain to Brahma? Might Brahma not be wanting to be rid of it? By Brahma is not meant a person but this vast, infinite existence. Might it not be in pain? Might it not be wanting to be rid of it? We feel pain, we want to be rid of it; won’t Brahma be wanting to be rid of it also?
On the level of Brahma there is a total acceptance. On the level of Brahma the existence of maya is accepted, there is no denial of it. There is no denial of it, so there is no pain either. On our level there is pain; if we also accept, there is no pain.
Osho, Finger Pointing to the Moon, Ch 9, excerpt (translation from Hindi)