The word ‘illusion’ has always been thrown around a lot in spiritual discourses. But what is illusion? How does one know that one is within the illusion, or that one has escaped the illusion?
Illusion is the false perception of reality. Illusion is seeing x and thinking that it is y. In this reality, illusion operates through veils that form over the natural mind. The natural mind simply perceives reality as it is, but when veils are placed over the natural mind, reality starts to be perceived as ‘this way’ or ‘that way’. Gradually, through the process of corruption within consciousness the perception of the reality becomes more obscure and complex and it comes to take on the quality of a dream or a hallucination.
The main veils that creates an illusionary perception of the world are those of an emotional/ mental and thought nature. To be emotionally/ mentally veiled means to perceive the whole reality through the prism of one’s own programs of projection, victimisation, fear, superiority/ inferiority or preconceived ideas about the nature of reality itself. In this state, most of the arising phenomena in the world are perceived as some kind of (to one degree or another) attack upon or challenge to the egoic self. What starts of as a neutral event in the world, once filtered through the perceptual lens of a traumatised and victimised mind becomes something completely different. When one lives from the perspective of a limited, conditioned and emotionally bound self, then one’s contentment and neutrality of perception will be constantly challenged by life. This is the life within the illusion.
In this reality one exists as an individual consciousness with one’s own set of inherent tendencies that influence and shape one’s perception of the world. Every occurrence in the world first must run through one’s individual filter of conditionings before it is even registered as a solid perception and then stored as a memory. Therefore, the world is never ‘this way’ or ‘that way’ because every experience is immediately interpreted and coloured by the impressions within the limited mind. Everyone lives inside their own dream and at the same time participates in the collective dream that is an aggregate and expression of the collective majority’s perception of the reality. The creation is not fixed, but rather operates quantumly as an emotional/ mental house of mirrors that projects the experienced reality constantly as a reflection of the subtler non-physical reality.
In order to step out of illusion, the perception of the manifestation has to become neutralised. To do this one must begin to experience absorption to the extent that one is able to dive into a state of absolute inner neutrality and bring that perception back into the world in order to transform the perception and the entire lived human experience in general.
So is the world an illusion? Well, it depends on what one perceives the world as exactly. On one level, if one perceives the world as an expression of consciousness where one is to refine one’s individual consciousness on a gross/ emotional /mental level through the world that one consciously perceives as a reflection of one’s distortions then one has a rather more realistic and sane perception of the world. When one moves away from this fundamental perception, which is the basis of all real spiritual development, then one moves into the realm of illusion.
Beyond any perception of the world as a realm of doing, whether it be emotional refinement or just ‘enjoying life’, there is the fact that any doing, or any manifestation is just an appearance. When one truly perceives one’s own being, one sees that at the root of the reality, nothing really happens and experience is entirely empty. But if everything is empty then what is illusion? Even one’s perception of illusion or non-illusion, whether covered by veils of the mind or not, is all ultimately empty and insubstantial – the reality is a play of nothingness.
So what is illusion? Illusion is an inescapable aspect of consciousness. Illusion is a byproduct of the revealing and concealing aspect of consciousness. As long as there is perception, no matter how refined it is, there will always be illusion to one degree or another. Walking the spiritual path is a dance within the revealing and concealing aspects of consciousness; one escapes one illusion and enters another. And as long as one has that evolutionary impulse within self, then one will be moving towards a reality that is truer and less illusionary. One’s task whilst evolving is always to see the illusions that are sitting right in front of one’s face, realise, transform them, and then move onto the next layer – eternally.