The creation is born of the Light, and the Light is in the creation.
It bears two fruits: the false glass (mirage-like world-appearance
caused by the rise of false-self or Haume) and the
True Pearl (True Self, etc.) - sggs 325.

When veiled by confusion or distortion — ignorance, self-limitations, Haume or unripe ego — the Unconditioned Consciousness sees diversity in an agitated state and views the world of gross objects, it is known as mind. Such unbalanced or turbulent mind is similar to a looking-glass as it reflects whatever thoughts preoccupy it. As indicated in the Gurbani, one who annihilates this ego-mind (lust, anger, greed, attachment, etc.) gains victory over it as well as its mirage-like empty or vanishing projections; for in reality the ego-mind does not exist any more than a town exists in the looking-glass!

  • ਅਗਿਆਨੀ ਮਾਨੁਖੁ ਭਇਆ ਜੋ ਨਾਹੀ ਸੋ ਲੋਰੈ ॥: Agiaanee maanukh bhaiaa jo naahee so lorai: (Under the pull of the sweet Maya) man has become ignorance (he has lost his intellectt, etc.); he looks for things that do not exist (forever - things that are impermanent, false, ephemeral, etc.) do not exist (sggs 212).
  • ਦ੍ਰਿਸਟਿਮਾਨ ਹੈ ਸਗਲ ਮਿਥੇਨਾ ॥: Drisattimaan hai sagal mithenaa: All that is seen is an illusion (sggs 1083).
  • ਇਹੁ ਮਨੁ ਨਿਰਮਲੁ ਹਉਮੈ ਮਾਰੀ ॥: Ih mann nirmal hayumai maaree: The mind becomes pure when ego is killed (sggs 1049).
  • ਮਨਿ ਜੀਤੈ ਜਗੁ ਜੀਤੁ ॥: Mann jeetai jagg jeet: If you conquer the mind, you conquer the material world (sggs 6).

What gives rise to illusion, mental confusion or psychic disturbances is the agitation in the life-force. Also called conditioned mind (Haume or psychological ego), the material world is only subsequent to this modification in the consciousness. Before that, there reigns only Pure Consciousness. This modification in the consciousness creates separation or duality (Doojaa Bhaav). As a result, when we see the outer universe and its gross objects through the eye of the ego-mind, we do not see our Pure Self, which ever abides in Pure Consciousness. Because it is impossible for the same person to be emotionally engaged or attached to the sense-objects of the world and to abide the Undivided Self as well.

  • ਹਉਮੈ ਮੋਹੁ ਉਪਜੈ ਸੰਸਾਰਾ ॥: Haumai moh upjai sansaraa: Out of egotistic attachment, the Universe is born (sggs 1057).
  • ਹਉਮੈ ਮੇਰਾ ਭਰਮੈ ਸੰਸਾਰੁ ॥: Hayumai meraa bharmai sansaar: The world wanders in ego and selfhood (sggs 841).
  • ਹਉਮੈ ਸਭੁ ਸਰੀਰੁ ਹੈ ਹਉਮੈ ਓਪਤਿ ਹੋਇ ॥: Haumai sabh sareer hai hayumai opati hoi: Ego is within all the bodies; and through ego the beings are born (sggs 560).

The mirage-like appearance of the world is like the image of a mountain or a town reflected in the looking-glass, which looks real. But it's not. It emerges from the Self due to ignorance or illusion (Maya) of the Truth, manifesting through manifold names-shapes-actions in the domain of time-space-causation. As indicated in the Gurbani, it resembles the delusion of the ignorant of seeing sheets of water in the rising hot air of the desert (called the mirage), or all sorts of objects that one sees in a dream-state-ego. Even as a mountain is reflected in a looking-glass and it is seen as it were in the glass, the ego-mind (Jeeva) reflects the external objects and activities, and soon begins to think that they are all permanently in him.

  • ਆਪਨੜੇ ਹਥਿ ਆਰਸੀ ਆਪੇ ਹੀ ਦੇਖੈ ॥: Aapanarre hath aarasee aape hee dekhai: The mirror (in the form of world) is in the hand (of the Lord) and man sees of himself in it (Bhai Gurdaas Ji Vaars 2).
  • ਸੰਸਾ ਇਹੁ ਸੰਸਾਰੁ ਹੈ ਸੁਤਿਆ ਰੈਣਿ ਵਿਹਾਇ ॥: Sansaa ihu sansaar hai sutiaa rain vihaai: This world is an illusion; people pass their life-night sleeping (sggs 36).
  • ਇਹੁ ਜਗੁ ਧੂਏ ਕਾ ਪਹਾਰ ॥ : This world is just a montain of smoke (sggs 1186).
  • ਏਕ ਅਨੇਕ ਬਿਆਪਕ ਪੂਰਕ ਜਤ ਦੇਖਉ ਤਤ ਸੋਈ ॥ ਮਾਇਆ ਚਿਤ੍ਰ ਬਚਿਤ੍ਰ ਬਿਮੋਹਿਤ ਬਿਰਲਾ ਬੂਝੈ ਕੋਈ ॥੧॥ ਸਭੁ ਗੋਬਿੰਦੁ ਹੈ ਸਭੁ ਗੋਬਿੰਦੁ ਹੈ ਗੋਬਿੰਦ ਬਿਨੁ ਨਹੀ ਕੋਈ ॥ ਸੂਤੁ ਏਕੁ ਮਣਿ ਸਤ ਸਹੰਸ ਜੈਸੇ ਓਤਿ ਪੋਤਿ ਪ੍ਰਭੁ ਸੋਈ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥ ਜਲ ਤਰੰਗ ਅਰੁ ਫੇਨ ਬੁਦਬੁਦਾ ਜਲ ਤੇ ਭਿੰਨ ਨ ਹੋਈ ॥ ਇਹੁ ਪਰਪੰਚੁ ਪਾਰਬ੍ਰਹਮ ਕੀ ਲੀਲਾ ਬਿਚਰਤ ਆਨ ਨ ਹੋਈ ॥੨॥ ਮਿਥਿਆ ਭਰਮੁ ਅਰੁ ਸੁਪਨ ਮਨੋਰਥ ਸਤਿ ਪਦਾਰਥੁ ਜਾਨਿਆ ॥ ਸੁਕ੍ਰਿਤ ਮਨਸਾ ਗੁਰ ਉਪਦੇਸੀ ਜਾਗਤ ਹੀ ਮਨੁ ਮਾਨਿਆ ॥੩॥ ਕਹਤ ਨਾਮਦੇਉ ਹਰਿ ਕੀ ਰਚਨਾ ਦੇਖਹੁ ਰਿਦੈ ਬੀਚਾਰੀ ॥ ਘਟ ਘਟ ਅੰਤਰਿ ਸਰਬ ਨਿਰੰਤਰਿ ਕੇਵਲ ਏਕ ਮੁਰਾਰੀ ॥੪॥੧॥: Ek anek biaapak poorak jatt dekho tatt soee... (sggs 485).

Stirred up by the wind, countless waves rise and fall at the agitated surface of the ocean, but the water remains the same. When the wind ceases, the motion of waves subsides. Again, the water remains the same. Just so in the infinite ocean of the Unchanging Reality ("True Pearl"), the wind of spiritual ignorance stirs up playful waves of manifold names-shapes-actions in the fluctuating mind, giving rise to the world-appearance, the illusion of the reflected self ("false glass" or phenomenal world). But the Substratum remains the same, uncontaminated. Also, nothing can exist without the True Self. For example, the mirage is different from the desert, yet without the desert the mirage cannot exist; but water of the mirage can never wet the sand of the desert!

  • ਅਨਲ ਅਗਮ ਜੈਸੇ ਲਹਰਿ ਮਇ ਓਦਧਿ ਜਲ ਕੇਵਲ ਜਲ ਮਾਂਹੀ ॥: Anal agam jaise lahar mai odadhi jal keval jal maanhee: The wind may raise up huge waves in the vast ocean, but they are just water in water (sggs 657).
  • ਪਸਰਿਓ ਆਪਿ ਹੋਇ ਅਨਤ ਤਰੰਗ ॥: Pasario aap hoi anat tarang: He Himself is All-pervading, in endless waves (sggs 275).
  • ਤੋਹੀ ਮੋਹੀ ਮੋਹੀ ਤੋਹੀ ਅੰਤਰੁ ਕੈਸਾ ॥ ਕਨਕ ਕਟਿਕ ਜਲ ਤਰੰਗ ਜੈਸਾ ॥੧॥: Tohee mohee mohee tohee antar kaisaa. Kanak katik jal trang jaisaa ||1||: You are me, and I am You—what is the difference between us? We are like gold and the bracelet, or water and the waves ||1|| (sggs 93).

Maya — literally meaning "that which is not" — reflects the unreality. To say it in simple terms, Maya denotes absence of Self-knowledge or Aatm-Giaan. The corrupted ego (Haume) is saturated with this Maya (illusions, doubts, etc.), creating the false images. For example, in darkness when we lack the knowledge of a rope, we may misunderstand it to be either a snake, or a piece of stick, or a streak of water, or a crack in the ground. Thus, due to the initial non-apprehension of the rope, we could have misapprehensions of various other objects superimposed on the rope. In other words, ignorance is nothing but the non-apprehension of greater Reality. This non-apprehension of greater Reality causes the misapprehension in the crippled Mayaic mind. Maya is the looking-glass and the reflection — the principle of plurality or two-ness.

  • ਰਾਜ ਭੁਇਅੰਗ ਪ੍ਰਸੰਗ ਜੈਸੇ ਹਹਿ ਅਬ ਕਛੁ ਮਰਮੁ ਜਨਾਇਆ ॥ ਅਨਿਕ ਕਟਕ ਜੈਸੇ ਭੂਲਿ ਪਰੇ ਅਬ ਕਹਤੇ ਕਹਨੁ ਨ ਆਇਆ ॥੩॥: Raaj bhuiang prasangi jaise hahi ab kashu maramu janaaiaa || Anik katak jaiase bhooli pare kahate kahanu n aaiaa ||3|| (sggs 658).
  • ਏਹ ਮਾਇਆ ਜਿਤੁ ਹਰਿ ਵਿਸਰੈ ਮੋਹੁ ਉਪਜੈ ਭਾਉ ਦੂਜਾ ਲਾਇਆ ॥: This is Maya, by which (1) "Hari" (Mool) is forgotten; (2) (worldly) attachment is born, and (3) the love of duality is set (sggs 921).
  • ਮਾਧਵੇ ਕਿਆ ਕਹੀਐ ਭ੍ਰਮੁ ਐਸਾ॥ਜੈਸਾ ਮਾਨੀਐ ਹੋਇ ਨ ਤੈਸਾ ॥: Maadhve kiya kaheeyai bhram aisaa. Jaisaa maaneeyai hoe na taisaa: O Lord, what can I say about this illusion; what we deem a thing to be, in reality, it is not like that(sggs 657).
  • ਮਾਈ ਮਾਇਆ ਛਲੁ ॥: Maayee Maya Chhall: O my mother, the Maya is deceitful (sggs 717).
  • ਮਿਲਿ ਮਾਇਆ ਸੁਰਤਿ ਗਵਾਈ ॥: Mil Maya surti gavaayee: By associating with the Maya (illusion), the mortal loses Divine Understanding (sggs 989).
  • ਹਉਮੈ ਮਾਇਆ ਮੋਹਣੀ ਦੂਜੈ ਲਗੈ ਜਾਇ ॥ ਨਾ ਇਹ ਮਾਰੀ ਨ ਮਰੈ ਨਾ ਇਹ ਹਟਿ ਵਿਕਾਇ ॥ ਗੁਰ ਕੈ ਸਬਦਿ ਪਰਜਾਲੀਐ ਤਾ ਇਹ ਵਿਚਹੁ ਜਾਇ ॥ ਤਨੁ ਮਨੁ ਹੋਵੈ ਉਜਲਾ ਨਾਮੁ ਵਸੈ ਮਨਿ ਆਇ ॥ ਨਾਨਕ ਮਾਇਆ ਕਾ ਮਾਰਣੁ ਸਬਦੁ ਹੈ ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਪਾਇਆ ਜਾਇ ॥੨॥: Haumai Maya mohanee doojai lagge jaae. Naa ih maaree na marai naa ih haat vikaai ...: Ego Maya is fascinating, (under its influence, forgetting the One God) one gets trapped in duality. It's not something that can be  killed or something that dies itself, and it's not something that's sold at a store. When it is burnt through the Gur-Shabad, then it departs from within. (From within whom Haume Maya is so departed) that body and mind become pure, and the Name comes to dwell within the mind. O Nanak, Shabad is the killer of Maya (ਮਾਇਆ ਦਾ ਪ੍ਰਭਾਵ ਮੁਕਾਣ ਦਾ ਵਸੀਲਾ), and it is obtained by becoming the Gurmukh ||2|| (sggs 853).
  • ਮਨ ਕਾ ਸੂਤਕੁ ਦੂਜਾ ਭਾਉ ॥: Mann kaa sootak doojaa Bhaav: The pollution of the mind is the love of duality (sggs 229).

Just as the looking-glass exists within as well as outside the false reflection, so does the True Self — Truth, God, Source, Pure Consciousness, etc. — that permeates both the interior and the exterior of the body; whence the phenomenal world emerges like a magic show due to the movement of the fluctuating mind. In other words, on account of one's ignorance, the universe springs in the Self as a false image, like a town's image reflected in a looking-glass. It is the conditioned mind that makes the universe appears outside, or separate. As time and again indicated in the Gurbani, if any object other than the Supreme Self appears to exist separately, it is unreal as mirage.

  • ਬ੍ਰਹਮੁ ਦੀਸੈ ਬ੍ਰਹਮੁ ਸੁਣੀਐ ਏਕੁ ਏਕੁ ਵਖਾਣੀਐ ॥ ਆਤਮ ਪਸਾਰਾ ਕਰਣਹਾਰਾ ਪ੍ਰਭ ਬਿਨਾ ਨਹੀ ਜਾਣੀਐ ॥: Brahm deesai Brahm suneeyai ek ek vakhaaneeyai. Aatam pasaaraa karan haaraa parabh binaa nahee jaaneeyai: The One Unique Reality is seen everywhere, the Unstruck Celestial Music is heard everywhere, the One Creator is present in all creation; there is none else than He Himself everywhere (sggs 846).
  • ਮ੍ਰਿਗ ਤ੍ਰਿਸਨਾ ਗੰਧਰਬ ਨਗਰੰ ਦ੍ਰੁਮ ਛਾਯਾ ਰਚਿ ਦੁਰਮਤਿਹ ॥: Misled by the wicked intellect, (mortal) assumes an illusory image of a city, mirage, and the transitory shade of a tree to be real (sggs 1356).

But, on account of the false-self, we think we are separate from the Real Self, the Source.Owing to this ignorance, duality of the opposites sets in and the Self is imagined as the ego-body-senses-mind-intellect. Consequentlywe fall into deep sleep of illusion and doubts, whereby we consider ourselves separate from our True Being ("Joti-Svaroop", etc.).

  • ਮਨੁ ਸੋਇਆ ਮਾਇਆ ਬਿਸਮਾਦਿ ॥: Mann soeiaa Maya bisamaad: The mind is asleep, fascinated by Maya (sggs 182).
  • ਜਾਤ ਅਕਾਰਥ ਜਨਮੁ ਪਦਾਰਥ ਕਾਚ ਬਾਦਰੈ ਜੀਤ ॥: Jaat akaarath janam padaarath kaach baadarai jeet: The Jewel of this human life is passing away uselessly, lost in exchange for mere glass (sggs 673).
  • ਮਨਿ ਖੋਟੇ ਦਯਿ ਵਿਛੋੜੇ ॥: Man khotay dayi vichhorhay: The evil-minded are consigned to separation from the Absolute (sggs 306).
  • ਹਉਮੈ ਵਿਚਿ ਜੀਉ ਬੰਧੁ ਹੈ ॥: Hayumai vichi jeeyu bandh hai: In egotism, the soul is in bondage (sggs 560).

Due to such misunderstanding and consequent superimposition of the false-self or fragmented mind (Haume) on the Real Self, we suffer repeatedly under the ignorance about the Truth of our True Nature. In other words, on account of the limited personality created by our ego-consciousness, we superimpose upon the Real Self certain conditionings or limitations. When the distortion caused by the false limitations is removed, the Self is realized and discovered that everything exists in It. Just as once the darkness is removed, the rope alone remains; the snake disappears!

The distorted mind ("I-am-ness" or Haume) is bondage. It's annihilation is Freedom or Mukti from the self-limitations. Accordingly, the Gurbani urges us abandoning the illusion of the reflected self and its internal and external fluctuations, while meditating on the True Self (Naam, God, Truth, Satguru, etc.) as Unchanging, Indivisible, Immutable, Timeless, Non-Dual, Pure Consciousness. For knowing this Truth, there is the cessation of the menacing ego-mind and repeated suffering.

Accordingly, the Gurbani never gets tired of reiterating that by becoming a Gurmukh (Spiritually Wise Person), we must realize the unreality of the universe — figment of considering ourselves separate or outside the Source. As indicated in the scriptures, such illusion only exists up to the dawning of the Aatm-Giaan (Self-knowledge). The Gurbani tells us the unsullied Self-knowledge is the sword which cuts asunder the fetters of the defective and fickle mind, stopping the life force from flowing outward to the alluring senses. A man of wisdom attains Peace through the realization that all this world is ephemeral, tainted by the manifold miseries.

  • ਗਿਆਨ ਖੜਗੁ ਕਰਿ ਕਿਰਪਾ ਦੀਨਾ ਦੂਤ ਮਾਰੇ ਕਰਿ ਧਾਈ ਹੇ ॥: Giaan kharragu kari kirapaa deenaa doot maare kari dhaaee hae: With the Divine Grace I am blessed with the sword of spiritual wisdom; I have attacked and killed the demons (i.e., ego and all its faults - lust, anger, greed, etc.). (sggs 1072).
  • ਗਿਆਨ ਵਿਹੂਣਾ ਕਿਛੂ ਨ ਸੂਝੈ ॥: Giaan vihoonaa kishhoo n soojhai: Without Spiritual Wisdom, one understands nothing at all (sggs 1044).
  • ਗਿਆਨ ਹੀਣੰ ਅਗਿਆਨ ਪੂਜਾ ॥ ਅੰਧ ਵਰਤਾਵਾ ਭਾਉ ਦੂਜਾ ॥: Giaan heenan agiaan poojaa. Andh vrtaavaa bhaayu doojaa (sggs 1412).
  • ਅੰਤਰਿ ਤਤੁ ਗਿਆਨਿ ਹਉਮੈ ਮਾਰੇ ॥: Antari tattu giaani houmai maare (sggs 128).
  • ਨਾਨਕ ਬ੍ਰਹਮ ਗਿਆਨੀ ਆਪਿ ਪਰਮੇਸੁਰ ॥੬॥: Nanak Brahm Giaanee aap Permesur ||6||: O Nanak! The Brahm Giaanee himself is the exalted Lord ||6|| (sggs 273).
  • ਬ੍ਰਹਮ ਗਿਆਨੀ ਪੂਰਨ ਪੁਰਖੁ ਬਿਧਾਤਾ ॥: Brahm Giaanee pooran Purakh Bidhaataa: The knower of God (Brahm Giaanee) himself is the perfect Lord Creator (sggs 273).
  • ਬ੍ਰਹਮ ਗਿਆਨੀ ਆਪਿ ਨਿਰੰਕਾਰੁ ॥: Brahm Giaanee aap Nirankaar: The knower of God (Brahm Giaanee) himself is the Formless Lord (sggs 274).
  • ਤਾਹੂ ਖਰੇ ਸੁਜਾਣ ਵੰਞਾ ਏਨ੍ਹ੍ਹੀ ਕਪਰੀ ॥੩॥: Taahoo khare sujaan vanjaa enhee kaparee ||3||: Those who have survived treacherous waves (of the false ego-sense) are very Wise ||3|| (sggs 1410).
  • ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਸਚੁ ਸੰਜਮੁ ਤਤੁ ਗਿਆਨੁ ॥: Gurmukh sach sanjam tatt giaan: By becoming a Gurmukh, attain Truth, Self-control and the essence of Wisdom (sggs 559).
  • ਬਾਹਰਿ ਜਾਤੌ ਠਾਕਿ ਰਹਾਵੈ ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਸਹਜਿ ਸਮਾਵੈ ॥: Bbaahar jaata thaak rahaavai gurmukh sahaj samaavai: The mind which wandered in external distractions is restrained and held in check by becoming a Gurmukh (Spiritual being); one is thus absorbed in his Natural State of Being (sggs 1332).

The real Self is one and the same before and after Its Realization. In other words, Self-realization is essentially realizing that we never were not Self-realized! Hence there is nothing afresh to be gained. What it means is that after becoming spiritually Enlightened, the universe would still be around; but, through his changed vision, a Self-realized person (Gurmukh) would see it differently - he would see it as a mass of Homogeneous Oneness. In other words, he sees the Self in the universe and the universe in the Self. But this Total or Holistic understanding will not come about until we gain insight into the disorder our unstable ego-mind and its divided thinking has created. Therefore, it is the Divine Will (Hukam) for us to acquire Freedom from the menacing psychological domain — separating from the looking-glass and image. With the mind stripped of relativist consciousness (Haume) comes the end of illusion or ignorance of the Truth.

  • ਤ੍ਰਿਪਤਿ ਤਰੰਗ ਤਤੁ ਬੀਚਾਰੀ ॥: Tripati tarang tatt beechaaree: The waves (of the mind) subside, contemplating the Essence of Reality (sggs 1331).
  • ਹਉਮੈ ਲੋਭ ਲਹਰਿ ਲਬ ਥਾਕੇ ਪਾਏ ਦੀਨ ਦਇਆਲਾ ॥: Houmai lobh lehar labb thaake paaye deen diaalaa: When the waves of ego, greed and avarice subside, one attains God, Merciful to the meek (sggs 437).

— T. Singh