The 9th International Conference Buddhism & Australia
Chinese Buddhist Encyclopedia Illustrations
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In later Vedic texts and modern literature dedicated to Indian traditions, Māyā connotes a "magic show, an illusion where things appear to be present but are not what they seem".
Māyā is also a spiritual concept connoting "that which exists, but is constantly changing and thus is spiritually unreal", and the "power or the principle that conceals the true character of spiritual reality".
Maya is also a name for girls.
According to Monier Williams, māyā meant "wisdom and extraordinary power" in an earlier older language, but from the Vedic period onwards, the word came to mean "illusion, unreality, deception, fraud, trick, sorcery, witchcraft and magic".
instead, he suggests a more accurate meaning of māyā is "appearance, not mere illusion".
According to William Mahony, the root of the word may be man- or "to think", implying the role of imagination in the creation of the world.
In early Vedic usage, the term implies, states Mahony, "the wondrous and mysterious power to turn an idea into a physical reality".
Franklin Southworth states the word's origin is uncertain, and other possible roots of māyā include may- meaning mystify, confuse, intoxicate, delude, as well as māy- which means "disappear, be lost".
Maya here implies art, is the maker’s power, writes Zimmer, "a mother in all three worlds", a creatrix, her magic is the activity in the Will-spirit.
So what did the Buddha mean when he said: ‘Everything is unreal’ (sabbaṃ vitathaṃ, Sn.9)? Idealism is the concept that everything is just a creation of the mind, the ‘dance’ or ‘play’ (līlā) of God, according to Vedanta.
The extreme opposite of this is naive realism, the concept that everything is exactly as it appears to be. Both these ideas are false, the first much more so than the second, and the Buddha subscribed to neither of them.