As a change from the travellogue I thought I would write a bit about the shastras, the scriptures and the view they give. It seems to me that there is a clear division between the tantric scriptures and those of Vedanta. The situation is confusing as words are translated in many different ways. In much Vedanta teaching there is little good to say about the mind and the ego. Both are the source of delusion and illusion and only serve to separate us from the Divine. They perpetuate maya the illusory world experienced through the senses. The best we can do is withdraw from having anything to do with thoughts or the mind and seeing everything as an illusion, rest in consciousness.
The tantric view, is different. It is developed most fully in the Kashmir Shavite tradition. The greatest exponent was Abhinavagupta about 900 years ago in works such as Tantraloka. For him, the world is not an illusion to be shunned. Everything is real and everything can lead us to God-consciousness. All things are within consciousness and can only be discovered through reflective awareness with the mind. Shiva's power is consciousness which sustains everything. There are some aspects of the mind such discriminating wisdom and curiosity which are important. The problem with the ego is twofold. Firstly, we tend to from childhood identify the ego with the body and secondly take that as a primary identification so we think we are our body or that we are our thoughts. This universe is Lord Shiva's work of art; not maya. Enjoy it.