At first it is difficult to experience this principle of surrender because there is a very big veil between you and God. Due to this veil, you are easily subject to doubt and confusion, and then you feel yourself unable to surrender completely. This veil is illusion. What is the meaning of illusion? Illusion refers to that which does not exist. When you are under the spell of illusion you imagine that which does not really exist to exist. And you imagine that which really exists to not exist. What never changes really exists and is true. What changes does not really exist and is not true. The one thing which always exists, which is true and unchanging is God, the one without a second. The world, when thought to be devoid of God, will be seen as constantly changing. Since it is changing, it cannot be true and, therefore, cannot really exist. But, in this, you are not seeing the world correctly.
When you are under the spell of illusion, you see the world as separate from God. You do not see the divinity as the principle underlying everything in the world, and as a result, you become afraid and find it impossible to surrender yourself completely. It is like seeing a rope and thinking that it is a snake. But there is no snake there at all. You are subjected to fear and tension by imagining that there is a snake where there really is no snake, at all. What is the reason for this fear? Imagining things which really do not exist, as existing, is the cause of fear. This feeling is responsible for all your troubles. If you were to see all this in total awareness, you would find that there is only a rope; there is no snake. Then you would have no fear whatsoever. You would not be afraid to reach out to it, to hold it and to play with it, because you would realize that all there is, is only a rope.
You are subject to many sorrows because you forget the fact that the entire world is the embodiment of God. It is not just the world as you think it is. You see the world only from the phenomenal point of view; you are not looking at it through the eyes of inquiry. If you were to look at the world correctly, you would realize that it is a stream of continuous change. This ongoing, uninterrupted flow of change is the basic characteristic of the phenomenal world. But within and governing that flow of change, is the one divine principle which is forever unchanging.
It can be likened to a river. The water in the river will flow continuously and give rise to the apparent effect of a steady stream, flowing without end. But at any given period of time, and at any particular place along the river, the particles of water rushing by will all be different; some will be muddy, some will contain rocks, some will be foamy, some will be pure water. Although the flow is continuous, the exact makeup of the water is constantly changing. We see that the river is a combination of both changing and unchanging elements.
In a similar way beings, which are the expressions of life, are born and die. Although they come and they go, there is a continuity of life in the world. Life which goes on continuously can be considered to be truth, whereas living beings which are born and die and are constantly changing, represent untruth. Therefore, the changing expressions of life are untrue, but life itself, which is a steady stream whose essence is the divinity, is true.That is why the world has been likened to a river, where reality has become associated with unreality, or change. You can consider it a stream of changing truth, a truth which is qualified and not fully true. The world is a combination of pure truth, which remains the same and never changes, and untruth, which deals with things that are constantly changing. The wisdom teachings have described this state as truth-untruth, namely, a mixture or combination wherein both truth and untruth coexist.
Spiritual practice is the process whereby you separate the truth from the untruth, and retain the truth. You see the illusion that the world exists separately from yourself and God for what it is, namely untruth. Once recognized as untruth you are no longer deluded by it, and the truth, which is the unity of God, man and world, stands revealed.
Ignorance, nature, world, illusion, mind, maya are all synonymous. They are all the illusory power of God. Thinking that things exist which do not really exist, and coming under their spell, is illusion. A saint summarized this as, "God is true but the world is false". You must understand this statement correctly. What it means is that our mistaken perception and experience of the world is untrue. The world itself, in essence, is true. God is the one, unchanging basis of this world of change. When you examine this in some depth you discover that the world is truly not world, but the divinity itself.
From the Sai Baba Gita