You see, even in the beginning you may realize a very blessed state and find the whole universe filled to overflowing with God. Everything speaks of God. What an extraordinary thing! Even in memory you cannot think of worldly life and the worldly troubles you once had, and you wonder why you did not perceive this vivid presence of God before. Then through some mischance, you lose that state; you come down to earth, and it becomes difficult for you even to remember that there is such a thing as God. Such is maya.
The word maya is often used in our religious literature, and you know that in the monistic school of Vedanta it is used to indicate the philosophical fact of ignorance. But it is also used in many other ways. For instance, it is used to indicate this strange state of things: at one time I felt everything was God, and now it is almost impossible for me even to think that God exists. How can that be? Wherever I look, I see no sign of God, no sign of a door by which I could again enter into that blessed state; everything is blocked. That is maya, a great piece of magic.
So what do we do? Through our higher instincts, through knowledge gathered from other people, through the direction of a teacher, or through the reading of holy books, and so on, we try somehow to find our way. Then it seems as if somewhere a little gate has opened. But when we enter, we find only a faint road, overgrown. We doubt that it is a road at all, or that we can go along it. We try, and oftentimes we fall. We try, as it were, to walk on the edge of a razor, and we cut our feet and fall down. That is part of the story.
Now, I shall again remind you: you have to be strong; you must be brave. There is no substitute for strength. When faintheartedness comes, you have to remind yourself that whenever you tackle the job of realizing this higher state of being, this higher knowledge, you will have to be brave and strong. Somehow we unconsciously think, and also many people tell us, that a time will come when the task will be very easy for us; so we should put it off until then. I, for myself, would not listen to that. The way is never easy; always you have to be strong; always you have to struggle. So when the mind protests, Oh, no, it is too much for me,’ wisdom lies in saying, No, let me get the hard part over with!’