I have long wondered about the relationship (or even congruence) between Plato’s ‘forms’ and the concept of ‘maya’ in Hinduism. Recently I extracted the following descriptions from the Internet. They are from ‘The path of philosophy: truths, wonder and distress’ by John Marmysz. The author has included relevant perceptions by Kant.
• Plato – an ‘intangible realm’ lies beyond the world of sensible phenomena
• Kant – a ‘thing-in-itself’ exists independently of the phenomenal order
• Upanishads – Brahman, the ultimate reality hidden behind appearance
Our understanding of the nature of the singular, underlying substance of the universe is dictated by the operation of our minds.
• For Plato, it is our senses
• For Kant, it is the a priori intuitions and the categories of understanding
• In the Upanishads, it is the veil of Maya
For Plato and the Hindus, there is a path beyond rational thinking, allowing us to experience the world beyond appearance.
My understanding is that Plato relies on intuition, whereas the Upanishads offer deep meditation, in order to apprehend reality. For Plato, beyond the ‘forms’ stands God; the Hindu equivalent is Brahman, the unity of all existence. It is through the realm of mind that one moves past the ‘explicit order’ to the ‘implicit order.’
As La Violette points out, “This notion that the physical universe emerged from an underlying spiritual realm hidden from the senses is a central teaching of most religions.”