|Sometimes we hear the question: Are you for real? And you know, I think the answer is Yes……….and No.
I met a woman today whose name translates as “illusion.” She has the same name as the Buddha’s mother: Maya. Why, I wondered, would someone have a name that means “not real”?
Approaching the full moon day of May, when the Buddha’s birth, death and enlightenment are celebrated, let’s take a Buddhist perspective. Since the body we live in continually changes and does not last, Buddha taught that this physical body is simply an illusion. Aha! I get it! What the Buddha’s mother gave him 2500 years ago was his earthly body. Maya gave birth to the illusion of Buddha. Whatever is real about the Buddha never passes.
SOOOO….Maya’s name means that if we really want to know her, we have to look past the the lovely wrapping she comes in. Maybe we’ll glimpse a warm, embracing heart, a finely tuned sense of responsibility, a bright, inquisitive intellect. And what’s behind that wrapping?
This whole line of questioning sent me down the rabbit hole of weird memories on the question of whether I’m real.
Once in high school my brother and I were in a room with lots of mirrors. We were both wearing beanies, covering our different hair lengths. I came around the corner and saw myself in one of the mirrors, but then my ‘reflection’ started talking to me! Yikes! Turns out, I was not looking in a mirror, I was looking at my brother! THAT was a shock to my system.
Wow, if even I can’t tell the difference between myself and my brother, I thought, who am I? I mean really. Who am I, if on the outside I almost look like someone else? Who is it gazing through my eyes?
I’m going to further confess some other strange experiences on the off chance that you, my beloved reader, have had something similar happen to you and won’t write me off as a nut case.
Ever since I was a kid I’ve occasionally looked in the mirror and been startled: “Whoa! Who is that? WHAT is that?” I am behind my eyes, an active, engaged consciousness that can think so many things, feel so much, imagine so expansively….and all I’m seeing reflected in the glass is a little smudge of a form. Is that thing ME? It’s dumbfounding. How could all that is me fit into that one very limited package? What about the dream part of me that can fly? Where are my super powers?!?
And who says I really look like that any way? Do you remember reading a book and clearly imagining just how the main character looks and talks? And then you see that character in someone else’s movie and they are nothing like they are supposed to be. It’s kind of like that when I look in the mirror or I when I listen to a recording of myself. I often wonder, “Who on earth is that?” My friends and family might think it represents me, but I know my vastness cannot be captured in a video.
I’m reminded of the Hindu myth in which, Krishna’s mother thought she knew her little boy, but when she looked into his mouth, she saw the entire universe!
So am I for real? Absolutely, yes. ‘I am large. I contain multitudes,’ as Walt Whitman would say. But am I what/who everybody sees and hears as a body named Renée? No way.
What about you? Are you for real?
This is a letter dedicated to mothers everywhere. Especially to my mom – evanescent as this body you gave me might be, it runs great, it’s waterproof and it came with a great dancing app. I am so grateful to you for this body! Not everyone is so lucky, as you’ll see in the video below, and yet, it’s really what’s inside that counts anyway. Happy Mother’s Day!
Resting in Stillness and Moving in Joy with you,
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