The Real Illusion

Advaita-speak, particularly from its Eastern roots, is full of references to the World being an illusion, or a dream.  Naturally this does not seem to make a great deal of sense to Western ears and minds, being themselves products of a very solid materialistic cultural worldview.  Let’s see if we can unravel this a little bit and arrive at a deeper insight into exactly what’s being pointed to here.

In the first place, if we take a very close look at our immediate direct experience (seeing, hearing, touching, smelling and tasting) we understand that at the very root, all we know of  ‘the world’ is derived, or ‘constructed’ from, those sensations- in mind (or in consciousness).  Remove those five senses, as in deep, dreamless sleep, or in a state of unconsciousness, and for all practical purposes the world ceases to be!  Of course whenever we ‘return’ from that ‘detached’ state, the world (as we conceive it to be), pops right back into place, more or less just as it was before we ‘left’ it.

Let’s look now at what really constitutes this ‘world of our experience.’  As we saw above, ultimately (absolutely) all that we really have to work with is a bundle of sensations, upon which is running our old standard ‘OS’ (operating system), built upon the root belief that ‘we’ (or ‘I’) is a separate autonomous entity encountering and interfacing with an exterior ‘outside world’- the ‘not me’.   That OS software is our ‘GUI,’ a graphical user interface, much like ‘Windows’ on your computer.  It automatically assigns an icon (form) and a label (name) to everything that pops up on your ‘screen,’ or in your ‘field of awareness’ in our case.  And, “Wallah!”  Now we have created an apparent world of objects and people in space and time which we can now apparently manipulate and interact with to our heart’s content!  Naturally this is an incredibly useful and powerful situation to be in (just ask Bill Gates), as it enables us to fully embody the sense of being a ‘real person’ who is having a ‘real life,’ interacting and functioning in a ‘real world!’  Who ever said you were not a Great Magician!  And in spite of perhaps a few little glitches and drawbacks, ultimately what could really be better than this!!

The fundamental problem with continuing ‘to run our lives’ and operate 24/7 with this dependable OS operating system in place is that we wind up believing it!   In the end what we are, all we are, is that state of pure, aware presence from which and in which, all sensations, perceptions and thoughts (including the thought ‘the world’) appear and disappear!  This that we are is a constant, unending and timeless presence.  It is that which ‘we‘ have never left, and cannot truly ever leave.  There are no problems, nor illness, nor death, nor lack, nor needs, nor pain nor suffering there (i.e. here)!  And the most wonderful thing is that it cannot be your destination or goal, since ‘you’ cannot get there, or achieve it, or find it!  There is no spiritual journey, nor practice, nor mantra, nor secret formula, nor act of grace, that can bring you to that which you have always been!  You are, in fact, in Heaven, as Jesus thoughtfully pointed out to us in “The Gospel of Thomas,” and you just cannot ever leave!

But you really are the Great Magician.  You know that now.  So if it happens to be your sincere wish to continue pretending that you are a tiny, mortal, pathetic little creature dragging its sorry ass ever onward to death and destruction, with no hope of salvation, Go For It!

by Les Collins

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About Les Collins

Lifelong student of world spirituality, the perennial philosophy, and eastern religions. Facilitator of "There Is Only God" weekly non-duality discussion group which meets in Rochester, New York, USA. For more info on meetings, click on ABOUT section.
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