“Reality is merely an illusion,
albeit a very persistent one.”
— Albert Einstein
Everything you “see” depends strongly on the context and attention you give to it. The mind and the world you experience are inseparable, as it is your 3-pound brain that make the world meaningful. Seeing isn’t some kind of direct perception of reality. Actually, our bairns are cnostanlty itnerperting, correcting, and giving srtuctrue to the viusal ipnut form our eeys. If this were not the case, you would not see any colors (consider that all the beautiful colors you see don’t really exist), and you would probably see the world upside-down! Moreover, you would notice in your visual field a very large dot, called the “blind spot,” where the optical nerve enters the eye.
A Zen master said once: “If you pour water into a cup, water becomes the cup; if you fill a bottle with water, it becomes the bottle!” Likewise, the context shapes the appearance of the world surrounding you. Your brains work by comparing information and stimuli: contrasting colors, shapes, depth in a dynamic changing environment … that’s why perception is relative and not absolute. Continue Reading
The very first illusion is to believe that there is one, unique world of perception. The mind and the world we experience are inseparable, as it is the mind that makes the world meaningful. Our mind IS our world. Despite the fact that our mental construct of what is perceived is distinct from the objective reality, our mind accepts it as real.
Every organism, man as well as animal, lives in its own subjective spatiotemporal world that semiotic philosophers call ‘Umwelt’ (from the German Umwelt, ‘surrounding world’, or ‘life-world’). According to the biologist Jakob J. von Uexküll, organisms and their life-world shape each other in a functional loop (see fig. below): interactions between the subject and the outer world, mediated through the sense and effect organs, determine the world framework of the subject. Thus, a particular stimulus which has a perceptive cue or meaning to the subject induces always a purposeful reaction.
Two Zen monks noticed, at the edge of the river, a beautiful young maiden sat weeping because she was afraid to cross the river alone. She begged them to help her. The younger monk turned his back. The members of their order were forbidden to touch a woman.
The older monk picked up the girl without a word and carried her across the river. He put her down on the far side and continued his journey. The younger monk came after him, scolding him and berating him for breaking his vows. “As monks, we are not permitted a woman, how could you then carry that girl on your shoulders?” He went on and on like this for a very long time. The elder monk didn’t say a word.
Finally, the elder monk, exasperated, turned to the younger one. “I let her go as soon as we crossed the river. Why are you still carrying her?”
How often do we carry around past hurts, holding onto resentments when the only person we are really hurting is ourselves.