The first secret to mystical knowledge: [Insert Anything] is an illusion! And the second secret to mystical knowledge: Well, that can be experienced behind the paywall – welcome to my church!
The oldest trick in spirituality and religion is the illusion.
I, as your master, tell you how your way to interpret life is a complete illusion! You were tricked to believe in the wrong things. And now I will tell you the truth. Your mind is about to be blown! And then you will be a free woman or a free man! From this point in time everything will be alright! You will be reconnected with the truth!
That’s how Moses, Abraham, Jesus, Buddha, Mohammed, Krishna or any religious figurehead did it. Or, to be more precise and to not hurt any religious feelings, which I really don’t want to do here: Their first followers did as they organized the institution.
And that’s what how cult leader do it to this day, too. You were sold an illusion, you poor sheep – and here’s the truth. Today only five dollars!
Illusions are distortions of our perception of reality. And because our senses are often doing a quite sloppy job, we are all used to the fact that we sometimes experience illusions and not the reality. That makes us easier to fool!
Because the old world you are living in is the bad world, the one with the illusions and misconceptions and lies and betrayal. And the new world that I will awake you to, is all about the truth and the real things of importance. In the old world you were sick and in the new world you will be healthy!
So. Would you please sign here … and here … and here …
That’s the business of illusions!
So, let’s have a dive into the most popular illusions out there in the illusion market!
“Time is an illusion! Because there is no past and no future, only the present!”
I guess your mind was not too blown by that one. You must have read that one already. Or heard about that in a cheesy tv show or in an old kung fu movie.
“What is the past? Just memories of things that once have been! We can’t visit them again. They are not real anymore! We can’t re-live them. They are just dust in the wind!
And what is the future? It’s just a concept we made up to have a home for our hopes and our fears. We cannot experience the future at all – until it becomes the present!”
That leaves us in the present. And what is the present?
“The present is nothing but a single spot in time where I whisper esoteric nonsense in your ears, thus spending your time! Really, it just took about 106 seconds to explain this time illusion to you.”
And, did you learn something? No, you did not!
It may be the case that some people live in the past too much. Reliving wonderful moments, thinking about what could have happened, if they only … You know: subjunctives.
It may be the case that some people live in the future too much. Planning every step they make, before they do it. If they sit, they already think about standing up. If they stand up they think about walking.
But I am not sure, if that is true. If you make your memories your present, what is your present? If you make plans your present, what is your present?
So, is time an illusion?
Well, we may not understand how space and time are organised in the universe, the concept of space time is not really intuitive – at least I do not understand it.
But the common premise that all living creatures, even crocodiles, use is that things we already have done are in the past and the things we will do are in the future, even if crocodiles have no language at all. But that’s how time worked in every civilization on this planet until now.
Because that’s the way our brain organizes the things, just to rank them in an order relevant to your survival. Things that have happened to you already are no risk for your life right now, things that may happen to you could be. So the brain is trying to find patterns in our experiences and then uses these patterns on the present to predict the future.
Yes, I personally believe that the idea of time being a physical constant in our life is not describing reality. Time is relative not only in dependency to speed, but in relation to the point of observation. That’s not only true for Einsteins relativity, but for mystic experiences too. I have no words to describe my understanding of time – but that does not mean that the common crocodile concept of past and future is not a useful tool.
I mean, if someone shoots your husband or your wife right before your eyes, drops the weapon and says: “Sorry, but this murder is now in the past and time is an illusion anyhow”– what would you say?
Time is an illusion, but one that works well enough – most of the time.
Okay, then let’s talk about you!
Because you are an illusion, too. Or I am. Or the ego is. Or the self is. Let’s use the word “self” from here on, okay. The “self” is an illusion, isn’t it?
The last time I really thought about “self” was at the deathbed of my mother two years ago. She was very annoyed with her cancer and with having to stay in a hospital. She hated almost everything about this experience and I am quite sure, she didn’t accept at any point that these were her last moments on earth.
Was she really the same woman I grew up with? This good looking young woman smoking two packs a day? Always a little too nervous and a little too self secure?
The same person as the little girl that had to flee from her hometown in the middle of the war about 80 years ago? The same as the girl that a man from her new village pulled into the bushes and … let’s not talk about it?
Is that all the same person? Especially now that even this moment on the deathbed – when she ordered me to leave because she was so ashamed of being sick – when even that moment is now only a memory?
Am I the same person as this little boy in the corduroy suit on that photograph in front of my school? Is there a part of me that stayed the same during 55 years? While my physical body changed every molecule in the body that is me right now?
Or is this self just an illusion? Maybe we are not separated at all?
Not seven billions of individual little selves, but in reality one huge body, one huge consciousness? One self called humanity?
Or maybe we are one huge self called “Living things with a consciousness?” Or just one huge self called: “Everything”. Period.
Possible. I believe so.
But, after this confession: The thing with the story of the “self” is quite useful, too.
The “self” that stretches over time tells a story of many thousands of decisions that were made. Of the luck that was had and of experiences that were shared. This self did laugh and cry, it felt hurt and it was hurting. This “self” is just the story we tell about ourselves. And though it is an illusion, it is important!
It’s this self that we talk about when we explain why we do things this way or that way.
And we explain this constantly to ourselves, in our mind, without interruption. Any given minute we work on the story called “self”.
Like time, the “self” may be an illusion, but it is useful.
Okay, let’s bring this home with the biggest illusion of them all: Reality itself!
Is there an objective reality? Or is everything relative, because our senses betray us? Because everything could be an illusion?
You could argue: Roses are not ‘really’ red. It’s just that their surface is made in a manner that does not reflect red light, so the photons reflected by the rose that reach our eyes tell the brain to substitute this experience with the colour “red”.
Red is an illusion! Though it proved useful to find ripe fruit which made the red-colour-seeing people a little more sated and thus sexy and more successful in reproducing.
The same thing could be said about anything we can hear. We hear sound only some small percentage of all wave frequencies out there. The fact that infrasound or ultrasound is silent in our ears does not make any sound an illusion. There is music to be heard.
Our senses are tuned to a specific spectrum of reality. But reality itself is much broader than that. In reality there is no colour, no sound, no smell and no time, no space and no self.
The reality may be made out of strings vibrating in eleven dimensions, if you believe the majority of modern physical theorists. Space time itself as we can experience it with our senses and our machines may only be an interface we made up to exist in this eleven-dimensional-thingadingie-buster-thingabum.
So, you could in fact say: Reality as we can perceive it, is an illusion.
Our senses do not describe reality at all – they just collect some data which is then computed by our brain in a simulation of reality that we can work with.
You could say: Our way of understanding existence is so restricted that any discussion about the nature of reality is distorted. Or, in other words: Even the statement that the reality we perceive is an illusion is an illusion.
So, now that we freed the word “illusion” from any possible meaning in a very postmodern, almost sarcastic manner, let’s conclude this with some illusions that are really, really dangerous and wrong!
Because: Before you buy into some religion or spirituality that tells you that yourself is an illusion or that time is an illusion, let me tell you about some illusions that are more important!
The myth of ‘hard work’ is an illusion, but everybody believes in it. At least everybody who was born with a good starting place. It’s not true that you only need to believe in something and then work hard and you will get it! That’s just propaganda which intends to make you easier to exploit. Think about it: Who’s working harder? The kid in the waste dump in a slum in India or Jeff Bezos?
The idea that human beings have different value because of their political views is an illusion. And it’s getting more dangerous every day on the left and the right. Political convictions are the new races. That’s an illusion!
The good old times that were so much better are an illusion. An illusion shared by old people of all times and all civilisations. But right now my generation writes books and finances movies and makes politics and we are about to make the whole world believe that times were never as bad as they are now! That’s an illusion! That’s nostalgic nonsense!
There are more illusions worth talking about. The illusion that nuclear weapons are not dangerous anymore. The illusion that poverty is a problem of the poor. The illusion that illiteracy is only happening in Third World countries – which leads directly to the illusion that there are three worlds!
The title of this episode was “Is [Insert Anything] Just an Illusion?” and the answer is “Yes.” Anything is just an illusion. Because our senses are somehow flawed. But – who cares?
The concept of the past and the future was not made up by the Illuminati or the reptilians – it just worked rather good so far. The idea of a self, something that stays the same through time and space is not brainwashed into us by Roman Catholics or the New York Stock Exchange – it simply helps us handle ourselves.
This whole “illusion” business is like a magic trick. Just an amazing, mind-blowing distraction from something else. If someone tries to persuade you that [Insert Anything] is just an illusion – stay alert, pay attention, have a closer look and reflect why this is important to him or her. And then: Think before you buy what they are selling!
You have to know: Even Illusions are just illusions!
All we got is life. Life itself!