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Maya: The Force of Love

One day after a very full week, I found myself feeling tired and so as a relaxing treat, I decided to go to the local nail salon and get a manicure. I’m kind of a regular there and always look forward to the experience. It’s a place where I frequently indulge in mini pampering sessions. Having my hands dipped in warm soapy lavender water, cuticles pushed back, nails shaped round, hands massaged with a hot towel placed around them and of course the finale: nails polished a dazzling shade. The whole experience is healing and loads of fun for me.

That day I was determined to go, so I walked to the corner and popped into the nearby nail salon. All of the Asian women who work there and who provide the manicure treatments speak very little English and wear nametags. The odd thing is they always have American names typed out on their tags. I notice this anomaly each time I go, sometimes it makes me smile and other times I find it slightly sad, and I wonder what their real names are. In any event, I notice it.

That day the manicure woman I was paired with also wore a nametag, but her name didn’t read: Jennifer, Mary or Jessica. Instead her tag read, Maya. Intrigued, I smiled. It was out of place there. I thought to my self, why is she wearing her own name in a place where everyone else wore a pseudonym? I was curious and thought to myself, good for her. We settled into the chairs at her station and she placed one of my hands in the warm soapy lavender water, Ah, heaven.

She held my other hand up with my palm facing down and as I relaxed into hers she surveyed. I decided to inquire further, “Where are you from?” She replied dis-interestedly, as she looked down at the old polish left on my nails, her accent thick, “Nepal.” Her single word reply fell flat and offered no entry. I smiled again, deliberately not taking her cue, and said, “Wow Nepal, it must be beautiful there…” The up tilt of my tone indicated I was asking a kind of question like, ‘isn’t it?’ She looked up at me from her intent scrutiny of my fading polish, “Yes… very beautiful,” she replied, looking down again. “Is Maya your real name?” I asked. She looked up meeting my eyes, “Yes I am Maya.” Her body language suggested she felt a kind of pride about it. I said, “What does Maya mean?” She paused for a moment and said, “It means the force of love.”  Then her face took on a slightly shy smile and she said, “That is what my parents told me.”

I had never heard that before, but on that day, amidst endless nail polish colors and pink hues, I was transported to a village in Nepal where I learned a deeper layer to the meaning of Maya. … ‘Force of love,’ it lingered on my field. I sat there my hands in warm soapy lavender water contemplating the gift of the teaching, as the pop music played in the background and fashion magazines lay strewn on the nearby table. I realized that everything in manifestation exists as a play. When we experience life in such a manner then we feel Maya as a gift from God, as the force of love.

By Manorama

©2014 Luminous Soul/Sanskrit Studies & Manorama