The title is a simple formula existing in our life.
Surprisingly, none of us are willing to accept the fact that the external world (what we see and experience) is nothing but an illusion.
I shall try my best to convince you, but I understand that it is a tough job, since your mind is wired deeply by your perception of the outside world.
What Is Reality?
According to the Cambridge Dictionary, reality is:
- The state of things as they are, rather than as they are imagined to be.
- A fact.
- A television programme about ordinary people, who are filmed in real situations, rather than actors.
Let us try to analyze reality.
Reality can be an objective reality or a subjective reality.
Objective Reality – It is a reference to the things that exist regardless of our perception. These things exist even before humans existed; for example, the Sun, the Moon, the Universe, mud, sand, etcetera.
This also includes innate objects.
Subjective Reality – This is known as perceptual reality. It is nothing but our imagination.
Here something becomes actual, depending upon the state of the mind.
Only when the mind relates to the earlier experience from its stored memory, you feel the subject.
While reality is a fixed factor, the perception of reality is variable.
What Is Illusion?
When something looks right, feels right, sounds right, but is not the fact… then it’s an illusion.
We all depend on our five senses (sight, hearing, touch, smell and taste) and along with the mind, we create the world for ourselves.
It’s a perceptual reality.
Here your brain creates an illusionary reality by assimilating inputs from (sight, hearing, touch, smell and taste) and then creating its own manufactured expression of that reality, resulting in an artificial reality.
A simple example is that everybody thinks differently about a situation, though the cause for the situation remains the same.
For a minor road traffic accident, there may be half a dozen versions, though we are aware that one single thing has caused the accident.
The illusion is effective because each person feels that they are correct in concluding as to the reason for the accident.
Some Other Examples Of Illusions
Mirage – You think that there is a water pond in the desert, though no such thing exists.
Colour Blindness – One person can identify a colour properly while the other person with colour blindness is unable to identify a colour properly (The colour remains the same, but perception differs).
Magic Tricks – You can’t believe your eyes when the magician shows you an empty hat and the next second he pulls out a rabbit or a pigeon from it (Here your brain is easily tricked and goes blind during a fraction of a second that the empty hat and the rabbit or the pigeon comes out of it).
Awaken – Though you are awake, you may not observe what is happening in your surroundings because, at that moment, you were busy concentrating on something else (That resulted in your external world being non-existent).
Sleep – When you are asleep, the external world does not exist for you (When you are dreaming, you believe that you are in the real world).
Watching A Tragic Scene In A Movie – Sensitive people often get involved with the character in the movie and start crying spontaneously as though what was happening with the character in the movie was happening to them (They are fully aware that it is not real and it is just a movie).
Hologram – You experience a 3-D effect, but it’s only a flat surface.
Four Blind Men And An Elephant – Four blind men who never came across an elephant in their lives touches it for the first time; but each blind mind places their hands only on one part of the elephant with the intention of conceptualizing it; thus coming up with four different descriptions of the elephant (They did not place their hands on the entire elephant; their perception was a fragmented one and not a full description of the entire elephant).
Lived Happily Ever After – We all know that this is a farce and that all teenagers dream of this illusion because they believe it’s possible based on their exposure to romantic novels and romantic movies.
“Love is the child of illusion and the parent of disillusion.” ― Miguel de Unamuno
Many times, these kids ruin their lives of the happily ever after illusion.
This clearly explains that humans tend to claim truth based on their limited, subjective experience.
Why Do Such Things Happen?
Every person interprets things that are based on their previous experiences and details; which further depend on the subconscious mind, programmed by our traditions, our culture and our belief system.
What Is The Illusory Truth Effect?
This is where your brain tricks you into accepting something as being the Gospel truth, though in the beginning, you thought otherwise.
Humans tend to believe something is true after being exposed to it multiple times (This happens because of cognitive ease).
Cognitive ease is nothing but how comfortable we are in identifying familiar things rather than struggling to know newer things.
Cognitive ease comes to your rescue when you have to decide what to believe and what not to believe.
You will be surprised to know that we always make decisions in favour of:
- Things we are familiar with.
- Things that are easy to understand.
- Things that validate our pre-existing belief system.
We struggle when we face challenges that we are unfamiliar with, difficult to understand and against our belief system.
What Exactly Is Our Reality?
Our reality constitutes three elements and our entire life revolves around these three:
This is what we refer to as, individuality ― a sort of villain and the culprit of our ego.
This is where our perceptions come to play.
Perceptions are manufactured in your brain from the inputs via your sensory stimuli (sight, hearing, touch, smell and taste) and the final product results in cognitive ease rather than reality.
Here your brain does magic on you to accept easier things rather than difficult things.
Anything repeated to you (whether it be sight, hearing, touch, smell or taste) becomes familiar and you are at ease.
Here are some examples:
- By seeing an advertised product repeatedly, you end up believing all that was said about the product; which results in you venturing to purchase the product.
- By listening to a song repeatedly, you end up becoming at ease and familiar with it, in spite of the fact, that you did not like the song when you first heard it.
- By listening to or reading fake news repeatedly, you end up thinking that it is factual.
Life Is Not Real
Don’t take the meaning of life literally (I am talking about life in general).
“Life is an illusion and everything you have ever known or learned is a lie.” ― Unknown
What you think is real is an illusion.
What you think is false is an illusion.
Everything depends on how your brain interprets things at the moment.
What Exactly Is The Truth?
Truth is an undulating wave on the surface of impermanence; which is akin to illusion.
“In the world of relative truths and opinions, many opinions, viewpoints, possibilities and probabilities can coexist, and each can stand on its own merits in particular contexts and conditions. This is the truth of Truth. Every truth or principle is a possibility in some context, condition or situation. Sometimes you may find it worth fighting for and sometimes not. Truth is an undulating wave on the surface of impermanence. You may call it by any name, but we consider it to be Maya, the deluding power of existence which hides in the play of light and shadow to create the illusion of something or the other. You will find it only in the unstable currents of life just as the sunlight that reflects upon the waters of an ocean, but you cannot truly grasp its brilliance or immensity until you cross those waters and stand on the shore. ” ― Jayaram V.
The Take-Home Message
The world we create for ourselves is an illusion.
Your reality might not be mine. But we can empathize with each other and try to understand each other’s version of reality and move on without any hard feelings.
“The mind is a wonderful servant, but a terrible master.” ― Robin Sharma
Please share your thoughts.
About the guest author:
Dr. Sridhar is the man behind Philosophy Through Photography.
This deep thinker from India wears many hats; he is a physician, a blogger, a philosopher and an amateur photographer.