1) The power of a god or demon to transform a concept into an element of the sensible world.
2) The transitory, manifold appearance of the sensible world, which obscures the undifferentiated spiritual reality from which it originates; the illusory appearance of the sensible world.
(A). Maya is the opium, that lulls us into thinking that all is well, that we can handle this life very easily. Time passes, nothing happens for a while, and then.. Bang! one catastrophe comes by and we wake up from our sleep. We realize that our ways were wrong and we need to amend them. Finger-pointing takes place, heads roll, correction protocols are established, the problem is rectified, and things start working.
But will this be the last time a catastrophe happens? No.. for with times of peace, people's intellect is again lulled into thinking that all is well. Maya strikes his/her velvety arrow into people's heads, soothes them, relaxes them, tells them that that evil man/woman/disease/problem is gone and all is now well. But for how long? Nobody thinks about that.
(B). The bottom line is, that the 'maya' is caused by a false sense of safety and comfort that most (all?) people get into. But apart from the above, there is another kind of 'maya', the maya that arises from despair, the maya that takes the form of intense paranoia of the stranger. This maya arises when everything is going wrong, and we still don't know what is happening. It arises because mankind has an extraordinary urge to simplify things for himself. When we write numbers in decimals, we strike off the third one. At best we would be striking off the fourth or the fifth one. It ain't going any further for us. When we are adding one to a very great number, we might neglect one sometimes. Assumptions are also made in science to make things simpler, and better for the quirky human mind. And now when things start getting complex, he is in a twist, possible theories keep mounting. He can't get the solution, for he can't understand the problem without simplifying it. In this frenzy, knee-jerk reactions are bound to occur, as man starts knocking off things on a random basis. Enemies morph into friends, and friends into enemies.
For example, under normal circumstance, when there is a lack of evidence of a crime, we let go of the person, perhaps warn him of the consequences of trying it out again and so on. But there is a group of people, who are so mentally sick and tired of their own failure in their lives (or who indulge in this because they are paid for it.) that they would slur the system for it. The more such rabble is piled on the system, the more ineffective it becomes. Not directly, as professionalism of the professional remains intact no matter what is being said about him.. but in terms of trust. The above said people follow the apothegm of - "A lie repeated a thousand times becomes the truth." And as trust of the system corrodes, people grow more mistrustful of the institution, although there are only a few bad apples. Heck, even if there are more bad apples, loss of trust would mean that even if there is one good person, people will avoid the system and not engage it even if it is needed.
And then, when real catastrophe occurs, we have utter chaos. Now the people don't know whom to trust, where to hide their crown jewels. Whom to speak for, whom to speak against? They are lost.. until there come a time when they start reforming the system on their own, trying to take on the enemy, both within and outside, by themselves instead of cribbing about both at the same time.
Can you recognise the two places in (A) and (B)? (A) is the rest of the world, that maya is the 'normal' maya, that which may arise from success. (B) are places like India, this maya is of despair, where the government is of the mob, looting people of opportunities along with money, and in return, giving nothing. The 'real catastrophe' that I am talking about in the last para of (B) is the recent attack on Mumbai.
Besides, here are some of my observations of what miscellaneous illusions the people of the world are in today:
2) That by not going out to vote for a candidate, they are showing their resentment against the system.
3) That by going out to vote, they have finished their responsibility and can go around their daily lives with heads held high and strutting their stuff.
4) That by being good, ill - fate will not befall them.
5) That appeasing violent rageboys, they will solve the problem.
6) That the righteous always deserve to win, with no thought of what kind of tactics are needed.
A few choicest quotes from the BG on maya and its effects.
देहे देहिनम् अव्ययम
"Material nature consists of three modes—goodness, passion and ignorance. When the eternal living entity comes in contact with nature, O mighty-armed Arjuna, he becomes conditioned by these modes."
तामस त्व अज्नना-जम विद्धि
तन निबध्नती भरता
"O son of Bharata, know that the mode of darkness, born of ignorance, is the delusion of all embodied living entities. The results of this mode are madness, indolence and sleep, which bind the conditioned soul."This is how maya was defined by the great Seer of the Bhagwada Gita.
So, how do we solve maya? By definition, it comes by ignorance. And the cure thus lies in removing ignorance. Spread of knowledge, a clear demarcation of how much we can tolerate, and rising up ourselves to correct things on our own if our legal appointees are not upto the task are but a few steps. Consider the 11th from the same chapter.
सर्व-द्वारेसू देहे ’समं
जनानाम यदा तदा विद्याद
विव्र्द्धाम सत्त्वं इत्य उत।
"The manifestations of the mode of goodness can be experienced when all the gates of the body are illuminated by knowledge."