Schopenhauer in Die Welt refers to the Vedanta in Die Welt; and in one specific passage he declares:

'It is Maya, the veil of deception, which blinds the eyes of mortals and makes them behold a world of which they cannot say that it is or that it is not: for it is like a dream; it is like the sunshine on the sand which the traveller from afar takes to be water; or the stray piece of rope he takes for a snake'.

This he declares appears in 'innumerable' passages in the Vedas and the Puranas; is there a specific passage in say the Upanishads that can be cited as a specific reference, that can be considered as the ur-reference?

And is it wrong to take the Upanishads in preference to the Puranas?

  • There are innumerable references as he says. Much more in the Upanishads than the Puranas. Commented Jun 2, 2015 at 10:13
  • @SwamiVishwananda: I just want to clarify that I don't mean the specific word 'maya' but the paragraph quoted itself; it seems surprising that such a lengthy piece repeats itself - unless, I suppose it acts as a kind of liturgy or chorus; which I realise aren't the right words to describe this. Commented Jun 2, 2015 at 22:36
  • Understood. The word Maya was not always used. The concept of maya first appears in the RIg Veda, but becomes more fully developed in the Upanishads. Also, remember that the Upanishads are part of the Vedas, they are not separate from it. The Puranas are separate from the Vedas and are more of myths and stories and less philosophical treatises. Also, some sects will follow one purana and not another, but all acknowledge the Upanishads. If you want specific scriptural verses in the Rig Veda or Upanishad references I can give. Commented Jun 3, 2015 at 4:48
  • A good source on the subject is in Swami Vireswarananda's translation of the Brahma Sutras. In the intro there is a section called "Adhyasa or Superimposition" Many sites have it available as a free pdf download. Here is one of the sites - ebookdig.biz/ebook/q/pdf/… Commented Jun 3, 2015 at 11:22

2 Answers 2


Maya means space, time and causality. When you go to bed, your partner sees your body, in her world she calls it 'asleep', she says you are asleep.

But you are not asleep. You are in another space, time and causality, Maya.

We lazily call it a dream, though a two year old says she 'disappeared to nannies house'. The two year old uses a more precise wording than the adult.

The dream is made of the same ingredients as this dream.

Of course I have taken this from Kant and Schopenhauer, but those two Titans didn't go as far as me. But if you read Gaudapadha, and with your knowledge of what Schopenhauer was getting at, and then you go to bed and you disappear to another Maya, then jnana (understanding) happens and the knot untangle's for a second.

Then you forget again.

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    +1 Is there a reference to what Gaudapadha wrote or is this a work itself? Where is Kant and Schopenhauer should I look for this? Commented Mar 23, 2018 at 13:28

The concept of Maya (Cosmic delusion ) is dominant in Indian Philosophy. Not only Arthur Schopenhauer was influenced by Upanishads but also Schrodinger , Wigner.

The concept of maya is seen in many perspective , lets try to get it in the words of Arthur Schopenhauer.

Maya is neither existent nor non-existent. Maya appears to exist which is like mirage in desert , like rope as a snake or dream for dreamer.

So , in these illustrations , the objects (Snake , mirage , dream ) appears to exist to perceiver (Observer).

Hence , we can deduce that whatever the reality perceived by observer is projected reality by sense organs and mind. Nonetheless , the projected reality is real for perceiver like dream is perfectly real for dreamer but not for waker. once the dreamer wakes up , he realizes that it was a phase of mind and projected to my mind.

Above all ,Vedanta Philosophy claims that the world of experience (Universe) is maya ( a projected reality). It means this world of experience is real for experiencer but not for self or turiya (the real observer beyond mind i.e consciousness or Brahman ).

The claims of Vedanta philosophy can be tested in the perspective of modern science viz Quantum physics , neuroscience and AI.


  1. Brain in the vat thought experiment , simulation hypothesis.
  2. World view by quantum physics.
  3. Quantum Brain concepts ,Quantum entanglement.
  4. Allegory of cave of plato.
  5. The Brain Book By neuroscientist David Eaglemen cited many examples in book viz prism goggles , AHS , synesthesia.

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