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Wed, April 1, 2015
Some Illusions Around Illusion
Illusion: C14: from Latin illūsiō deceit, from illūdere; see illude
“The opposite of lying is honesty. Truth has no opposite.”
Often, and with some judgment and dismissal, our spiritual discussions can be hijacked by the statement “it’s all just an illusion.”
This is not only a conversation stopper, but also can be a rejection - breaking the communication, devaluing experience, and even slamming shut the doors of compassion. If we are on a roll, manifesting ourselves in joy, the most likely response will be that we don’t care. But if we are in great pain - for example, after the death of a loved one - the statement that this loss, or this pain is an “illusion” can feel like hypocritical insult.
That all the happenings in this life of ours, all that is said and all that is done, all we think, feel, and perceive, that our very being here is illusory, is not outrageous. However, it is sourced in ancient wisdom.
The Premise of Illusion
The premise of “illusion” is based on separation. For an illusion to appear, there must be one that perceives and a separation from that object which is perceived. As such, it is a word arising out of duality. The appearance of illusion depends on a separation between the one that sees and that which is seen. It suggests that you (the one seeing) are inherently separate from your mother (through whom you were created).
Yet, closer to the wisdom of the sages is the insight that the very concept of “otherness” is illusory. There is ultimately no inside, and no outside. It is one. The belief in absolute separation is itself the core of illusion. What we perceive as “other” is none other than perception arising from the core of whom we are, here and now. So, in this sense, every “other” (other person, other dimension, other being, other life) is misconstrued in its inception as separate from the “you” who is perceiving it.
This melting of “otherness” was described by the 13th century Persian mystic and poet Jalaluddin Rumi when he wrote:
“Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing,
there is a field. I will meet you there.
When the soul lies down in that grass,
the world is too full to talk about
language, ideas, even the phrase each other
doesn't make any sense.”

As such, rather than using the illusion card to reject the “other”, perhaps it is worthwhile to inquire into what this illusion is, where illusion begins, and where it ends.
What is the reality that must be here, for us to even make a claim that something is not real?
Where do we draw the line between illusion and reality, and who decides that?
What is illusion?
Illusion is something perceived which is not absolutely real - yet it deceives us into believing it has an absolute, independent reality. The wisdom of unity is paradoxically based on a realization of pure subjectivity. Every impression, every moment of perception, every feeling, every thought, is entirely and utterly subjective. And each happening is relative to each other happening.
Our thoughts, feelings, and sensations are changing in time - they come and go. They are also changing dimensions, sometimes becoming our whole experience (for example, when we are very angry), and sometimes vapourizing to nothing. As such, the very fabric of experience (thoughts, feelings, and emotions) is illusory. The illusion is that we choose to believe that these impressions are experiences that are more real than that which is able to receive the impression, or undergo the experience. We forget who we are - the source of it all.
If all that is changing in space - or passing in time is an illusion, then what is not illusory? The answer can only point towards that which is at the source of all perception, deep inside ourselves; that which is able to perceive all these changing experiences.
As such, creation and life itself, is in a sense illusory. From the perspective of the one that “sees” the coming and the going, or the one that hears all that is said and all that is thought, or the one that feels itself feeling the pain, the joy, the love and ecstasy, all is transient. All is illusion. All is born and all will die.
Illusions about Illusion
Yet if illusion is all that moves, all that changes, all that is caught in time… If illusion is the whole of creation in its dynamic, incomprehensible immensity… If illusion is the tenderness we feel for a baby, or the empathy we feel in witnessing starvation, then illusion is a very precious thing indeed. Not only is illusion precious, it is sacred. It is our purpose. It is who we are, what we are, and where we are. It is the way home to the purity of life - the road by which we left is the road through which we will return.
It is great to realize that all this - this miracle of living - is not separate from who we are but an expression of it. The reward of freedom can be instant. Yet it is a misconception to then reject, or separate from this ‘illusory’ reality as if it doesn’t matter. In this movement of dismissal, we risk reaffirming the basic premise of illusion itself - the illusion of separation; the illusion that anything we see, think, or feel can be inherently separable from whom we are.
All this rich and magnificent illusion arises out of us and returns to us. We are responsible for it, and it is here to be of service to us. We are one with it.
Illusion is the miracle of being here, right now, in a human body, reading these words, even if the reception of the words is entirely unique, subjective, relative, changing, and seemingly non-absolute.
After a spiritual awakening or dramatic shift in a process of inner-growth, for a while there can be a sense of liberation from old beliefs, limiting perspectives, and tired or outgrown identifications of mind. This can be exhilarating. Freedom floods through the windows of the mind and heart with a recognition that this freedom has always been here, was never lost, and that it can never be taken away. Everything is happening, yet we, at source, are beyond all “happening”.
Isn’t it wonderful to be able to rest as the light which is the source of all creation and identify with the creator rather than the created? But identification with the creator that excludes the created is perhaps the most severe illusion of all. Creation cannot be separated from the creator. The very idea that this is possible, is deceptive.
Real and Also an Illusion?
The deepest illusion is the belief in absolute separation between you, and the “other” which arises in experience.
In this, the mind is a key player. The mind is addicted to separating through equations of “either-or”: “Me or you.” “I’m happy or I’m sad.” “It’s an illusion or it’s real.”
One part of the wisdom of nonduality is to bring the mind-shattering concept of the “and-and”. You can be happy and sad at the same time. There is me, and there is you, and we can be one. It can be all illusion, yet at the same time it can be true.
In fact, perhaps the deepest freedom of all is the freedom to be here in human form, with a human mind, and nevertheless always, at the same time, be free.
For this, we need consolidation in the one position where illusion cannot live. This position is beyond duality and at the source of perception. Here we do not “see” ourselves or any other. Just as our eyes cannot see the eyeballs, this source of perception is unconditionally here, in every moment, regardless of whether or not any “thing” is perceived.
When we are able to allow and fall back into this pure “seeing”, without belief, identification, or investment in thoughts and feelings, then illusion itself begins to refine into layers of increasing transparency.
In this space at the source of whom we are, this space of non-reflection, all experience is liberated to happen as needed, and life, the greatest healer of form, is able to move through us directly for the evolution of the whole.

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