Maya, the Persistence of Illusion

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Just as when the dirt is removed, the real substance is made manifest; just as when the darkness of the night is dispelled, the objects that were shrouded by the darkness are clearly seen, when Maya (illusion) is dispelled, truth is realized.
— Vashistha, Yoga Vasiṣṭha

Vishal looked in the rear-view mirror at the beat up old Honda Civic parked behind him. It had been following him for the past week. No matter. It was time. He leaned over, opened the glove box and took out the small revolver. It felt solid and firm and, somehow, gave weight to his purpose.

He slid the gun into his coat pocket and opened the car door. He saw a small woman exit from the car behind him. As he crossed the street she did the same, heading straight for him. He stopped and turned to face her.

He held the gun in his coat and said, “Why are you following me?”

She smiled and continued to walk up to him. She reached out and laid a hand on his arm.
“I apologize if I alarmed you. My name is Maya. So you intend to kill him?”

It was of little consequence who knew at this point, it would all be over in a few minutes. He looked at the house. A few more steps and it will all end.

“Yes. I suggest you move on.”

“Vishal, your rage and grief won’t bring your wife back. No doubt your revenge is well deserved. But I would like you journey with me for a few minutes. I want to show you what you cannot yet see.”

“What is this? Are you arresting me? Are you a cop? Who are you?”

“I am Maya. I balance this Universe.” Before he could respond, she slipped her arm into his. Vishal had a feeling of extreme vertigo and he stumbled.


Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one.
– Albert Einstein

Vishal regained his footing and tried to withdraw his arm. Maya held it tight.

“Look around you. And hold on to me so you do not fall back.”

Vishal looked around, amazed. He was outside his own home. “How did I get here? What is going on?”

His wife’s car was in the driveway. Very similar to the one he had sold a month ago. The front door opened and he saw his wife – now dead over a year – hustle out balancing her purse and a coffee mug, the morning rush to get to the office. He saw her successfully maneuver the car door, and smiled as she backed out with a little toot on the horn. She looked about twenty years younger.

He looked down at Maya, no longer trying to get his arm back. She said, “Your rage and grief were distorting the localized reality of your universe. I had to show you.”

“Vishal, in this universe, your wife was born again after her death in your universe. She just finished school and is at her first job.”

“How is this even possible? Are there multiple versions of her?”

“Know this. There are seven universes. Souls and people who perceive the illusion of the world can travel across universes. There is just one version of her at any given time.”

“About that. How did she grow up so fast? Are we travelling into the future?”

“No one can travel into the past or the future in the same universe. Time moves at different speeds in different universes. In the one year you spent in your universe, about twenty five years elapsed in this one.”

“I don’t believe any of this.”

“You teach physics. How do you explain the illusory nature of electrons in double-slit experiments?”

“No one can. There is a Nobel waiting if you have an explanation.”

“It is because the same electron exists in all the seven universes at the same time. The fundamental particles confound measurement. The Consciousness that holds things together wills it that way. Love binds things. Hate, rage, grief rent the fabric that holds things together.”


Vishal stumbled again and found Maya still holding on to his arm.

“Did we jump universes again?”

Maya smiled. “I wanted to show you where you came from earlier.”

Vishal saw emergency personnel outside his home. His body was carries out in a stretcher and loaded into an ambulance.

“What is going on here?”

“You committed suicide. Your wife will die from grief within the year. Your two children will be adopted and lead successful lives. But there will be no joy in their lives.”

Vishal sat down on the sidewalk, forcing Maya to sit as well, still linking arms.

“Can I undo this? Can I stay here with them?”

“If you wish it, yes.”

Vishal was quiet. “But it would not be right?”


Vishal stumbled. Maya was standing in front of him. He was back where he started, in front of the house of his wife’s killer.

“If what you say is true, me killing this animal would have no impact on this universe. He can still be born elsewhere. So I am not really killing anybody.”

“It is not him I am worried about, Vishal. It is you. What happens to you? Do you kill yourself as well? Do you die from grief? Do you live and love?”

“You want me to forgive and forget? Sure, I can do that … after killing him.”

“If everyone did as you did, the fabric of this universe will be no more. It cannot exist. At an elemental level, it will just dissolve.”

It was several moments before he withdrew his hand and gave her the gun.

“I must still confront him. I need to know why.”

He turned and walked towards the house.

About the Author: 
I am a great fan of science fiction and endlessly fascinated by the wave-particle duality exhibited by electrons. The story is inspired by a parable from the Yoga Vasistha, an ancient text that discussed quantum mechanics concepts.