Do the senses distort reality? It is more than that. In a way, we live in double maya, and we could say our senses distort unreality rather than reality. On the surface of it, our senses put us in touch with maya—the external world. On to this maya, we project additional interpretative illusion. So, for instance, it might be said that we do not see things as they are—even physical things—but we project another layer of unreality upon them from our habit self. So we have unreality compounded by the dullness of our own perceptual habits-limitations.
There is book on the philosophy of drawing and painting titled, How to Draw what you See. The gist of this book is that people generally do not draw or paint well because they do not see what is in front of their eyes. Instead, they see a kind of stick-figure creation in their own minds and draw that. From this point of view, the ability to actually see more clearly what is right before our eyes would be a step toward the real—a kind of yoga of maya. I think though, that in truth, this yoga of maya moves toward real art, that is, it would shade over into subtler yogas because spirit and matter are an essential unity.
Someone says, ”Ancient wisdom states in different ways that we live in a world of maya, that our senses distort reality.” Yet we know spirit and matter are a unity, so we could also say the opposite that: “Ancient wisdom states in different ways that we live in a world of reality, and that our hyper-dimensional senses progressively reveal this reality.” This is a way of saying that the senses have multidimensional levels. It is only seeing or hearing or sensing in the most superficial way that is maya mirroring maya. To really see is to move inward or upward in graded steps, in other words, to be initiated into new revelations of what is present in consciousness and in the universe. We learn to see what has always been before our eyes, and also through that to deeper realms beyond.
“What was any art but a mold in which to imprison for a moment the shining, elusive element which is life itself.”
— Willa Cather