The word Maya can mean “to measure”. When we measure anything we focus on one dimension of it’s presence. I am 6ft tall, but that description alone is insufficient.
When we look out at the world, we do so through a grid – the grid consists of numbers or words that are measurements, or descriptions of patterns in the world. This makes communication possible, rather than trying to somehow communicate the ineffable to another person. Our descriptions also reduce the world to a few communicable dimensions, and we tend to then believe those dimensions are what is there.
The patterns in the world reduced to single dimensions are flat and often uninteresting, so we look toward novel experiences that may happen in the future to give life richness and meaning. When we get to the future, we will look at the new patterns through the same grid, reducing them almost immediately to a few simple dimensions. We despair and then hope that a utopian future might await in another life, another more beautiful place. If we could get there, we’d take ourselves along and the same problem would persist.
The cure is first noticing that we do this – we see the world as if through a bug screen, and this obviously obscures the richness of the reality we are in.
The second thing to do is to let the real world seep through the screen of measurement until we, for some moments at a time, inhabit the real world.
This process takes some repetition, patience, and a recognition that nothing very interesting is to be expected – only a gradual vibrancy taking the place of the mundane. It is possible to eventually be able to use the screen of measurement when it is helpful, and appreciate a world of richness without insisting there must be something better in a proposed future.