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Reality = Real (Truth/Lie) Or Unreal (Illusion)

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:

  1. Thoughts
  2. Feelings
  3. Emotions

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.

Thank you.

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.


Published by philosophy through photography

My philosophy is: Life is hard, but God is good. Try not to confuse the two. Anne F. Beiler

37 thoughts on “Reality = Real (Truth/Lie) Or Unreal (Illusion)

  1. 🙂 That is one very interesting synopsis on reality and illusion, Dr. Sridhar.

    I will be paying close attention to the comments section with the intention of finding out people’s reactions to your guest post.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Very interesting article, dear Philo. Certainly, our reality is nothing but a series of images perceived by our senses and processed by our brain, which is already conditioned by prior perceptions. Sometimes I tell my clients to close their eyes, and ask themselves: what actually happened? What is the fact, rather than the emotional impact of it?

    Liked by 2 people

  3. The world is real to us through our thoughts, beliefs, and what we see, hear and read. But, what we perceive is not what others perceive. I’m not knowledgeable about science but I feel what we see is energy and not solid. “Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one” – Albert Einstein. An excellent and thought-provoking post, Philo.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Eugenia.
      When Einstein quoted this famous words-people wondered about his thoughts.
      His quote resonates with my own experience.

      As a physician, for my patients I am compassionate, kind, soft spoken, helpful and this is their world about me.
      But for the people who are close to me they see a different world in me- in the form of being reserved, introvert, strict etc.

      In the other words the same person viewed differently by different persons!
      So which world is real?

      Is this something to do with the vast difference in professional and personal behavior? And why it is so?

      I don’t know.

      Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you so much Shivani.
      As we age we realize that the concept of ‘Happily ever after’ is just an illusion but none of the seniors are able to help the younger generation, because they themselves were chasing this concept, when they were young.

      And younger generation always see the grass greener on the other side of the fence.

      Liked by 2 people

    1. 🙂 Sorry, Lokesh. I cannot take the credit for this one. This is actually a guest post from Dr. Sridhar (It was mentioned in the “About the guest author” section right underneath his guest post).

      Liked by 1 person

        1. 🤔 In future, read all articles slowly and thoroughly on “Renard’s World”.

          All guest articles have the “About the guest author” at the bottom of the posts (I am surprised that you missed that).

          By the way, Dr. Sridhar would respond to your comment when he comes online.

          Do enjoy the rest of your day, Lokesh.

          Liked by 1 person

      1. Welcome, Sudhir Ji. Your article helped to understand the difference and connection between truth and illusion. It is related to the psychology of our mind and how we perceive things around us. Your article has a smooth flow, seems interesting.👍

        Also thanks to Renard for providing an opportunity to people like you.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. This argument works in reverse as well, coming back to the real from the moment of waves on the surface of impermanence:

    In theory, the physical state of cells inside our brains produces “everything” for us, but this everything represents our real world, so our lives depends on more than our brain alone. Even if we lived in a simulation, our brains would represent the state of the system producing the simulation (which itself depends on an external reality which produces it, etc.) The flow of these states, involving more than just our brains, would still be our real lives.

    Our thoughts, feelings, emotions, and perceptions all have contents: what they are thoughts of, what they are feelings about, what we become emotional about, what we see, etc. As just “thoughts” or “feelings” or “perceptions”, they are vague, difficult to define, and ephemeral, but we reach the real through them..

    We do rely on many shortcuts in thought to make it possible to get by in the world. If we try to doubt every perception and argue every point, try to calculate everything by hand, and only believe what we have recently experienced first-hand, we would waste our time and effort. In general, even though sometimes they lead us to error, the exceptions prove the rule: the shortcuts are effective and useful, or we would stop relying on them. It is useful to take stock sometimes, learn from each other, and dispel illusions that we rely on.

    Illusions refer to a reality: both the apparent reality they show and the actual reality they hide. The concept of illusion depends on a concept of real, so not everything can be an illusion.

    I see the argument from illusion-to-nonduality as a path out of ourselves into an expanded state of consciousness; and I see the path from nonduality-to-reality as a way to bring back insight from this state. The two paths wind through each other and make up the fabric of our meaning.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you my friend for the detailed analysis of ‘ illusion to reality’
      Our brain is a tricky organ and ‘Individuality concept’ plays a major role.
      Agree about ‘short cuts’ and the only Survival guide that is available to us.

      Illusion and reality, I feel is a kind of light & shadow and can not be separated.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Eating disorders are an object lesson about reality. They are based on distortions and on believing the unreal. They are all illusory truth (my newest favourite phrase: don’t get too excited, I encounter words that are favourites fairly frequently) and finding a healing reality is the struggle. Eating disorder sufferers are determined to turn subjective reality into objective: we try to convince the world of the reality of our incorrect truth.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Em.
      Couldn’t agree more.
      Psychological causes can include negative body imaging and poor self esteem.
      These are not a reality but the person is made to believe himself or herself, leading to eating disorders and the illusion.
      Love your phrase.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Thank you for the post, i really enjoy it. I think tradition, belief, how we raise by our parents, the story they told us in early age shape our mind to see the reality through our senses.

    Liked by 1 person

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