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Ikonen, P. (2011). Maya's Veil. Scand. Psychoanal. Rev., 34(1):62-66.

(2011). Scandinavian Psychoanalytic Review, 34(1):62-66

Reports and Brief Communications

Maya's Veil

Pentti Ikonen

Reference books present Maya as a divine power who, in Indian thought, prevents people from knowing the material world as anything else but as an illusion. Maya's veil is an imagined screen that distorts man's understanding of reality.

If we set aside the spiritual and philosophical content of these sentences and think of them purely secularly, many of us would readily admit that they describe something fundamental. Time and again, people are faced with the fact that they have erred or lived in misunderstanding even of their everyday activities, not to speak of the great questions of life and death.

On the other hand, we have from the moment of birth - and even before - a vast amount of a priori, pre-experiential knowledge of how to cope in this form of existence, this world, and survive in it for a certain length of time as both individuals and as a species. We have knowledge concerning our environment and ourselves. This knowledge combines knowledge and skill. It is the knowledge of how to act in a particular situation and the skill to act in that way. It includes the striving for interaction with the right objects in the right ways as well as the striving to eliminate disturbing or wrong objects and forms of interaction. We also have the possibility to learn. If our a priori knowledge and skills fail to work in unexpected situations, we have the possibility of adjusting and improving them; we can keep the changes at our disposal and, if necessary, continue to improve them, stop using them or cancel them.

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