"What is MAYA"


One day the Buddha and his chief disciple, Narada, were having a discussion, and Narada said, "Master, what is this maya of yours? You claim everything to be maya, illusion. It sounds virtually impossible. I can touch a tree. I can grab your arm. A mosquito stings me. I feel these things. How can all this be an illusion?" And the Buddha said,

"Well, let's take a walk. I'll explain it to you."

They walked along a dirt road. The Buddha didn't utter a word. And Narada said, "Master, are you going to explain maya to me?" The Buddha said, "Oh, yes. But I'm thirsty right now. Can you please go get me a glass of water?"

Narada obeyed. He walked down the road. He knocked on the door of the first house he saw and an old lady opened the door. Narada asked, "May I please have a glass of water?" She looked him over and saw that he was handsome, healthy, and she said, "Yes, come in."

There was a beautiful lady sitting on a chair inside. The old lady said, "This is my daughter. Isn't she beautiful?" Narada, astounded at her beauty replied, "She is the most beautiful woman I've ever seen!" So the old lady said, "How would you like to marry her?" And Narada said, "Why not?"

So he married her, and there was a big wedding. All the people in the village came. The next day he got a job. He was a potter by trade. He made beautiful pots out clay. He did this for a living.

After a year, Narada was able to afford a beautiful house. His wife gave birth to a daughter and in the following year to a son. The years passed. He became completely enmeshed in family life.

One day there was a big hurricane. Water started to come into the house. The place was getting flooded. Everything he believed he owned was being ruined. He finally had to take his family up to the roof.

There was a clothesline on the roof. They all hung onto the line for their dear lives. The hurricane became stronger and stronger. The winds were blowing at 150 miles an hour.

The wind blew so strong that the mother-in-law was carried away, and Narada said, "Well, she was old anyway."

But the wind kept blowing and the daughter couldn’t hold on, and she drowned. Narada was distraught, but what could he do?

Then his son couldn't hold on any longer either, and he let go, and he drowned. Narada was truly upset. He couldn't understand what was happening. But he thought, "At least I still have my wife. We can have more children."

Then the wife let go and was washed away. Narada thought to himself, "They're all gone. Everything I worked for is all gone. Everything I strove for is all gone. I'm going to end it now."

Just as he let go, he found himself standing beside Buddha with a glass of water. And the Buddha said, "What's the matter with you? It's about time you brought my water back." Narada smiled to the Buddha and said, "Now I understand what maya is."

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