In philosophy, illusions are defined as perceptions and conceptions. Illusions are the creations of our mind. They are symbols of what actually exists. Unfortunately, we believe those illusions to be reality. As an example of perception, my being legally blind often makes me perceive things that really are not there. One time, I saw a pillow on the bed and thought it was a cat. As an example of conception, you can go to a restaurant and read a menu. The menu is a symbol of the food and will not satisfy your hunger. These are creations of the mind that are only symbolic and should not be believed as reality.
There are four major illusions we need to recognize in order to free ourselves from these traps:
- The concept of time is an illusion created by the mind. Although the body has a built-in clock and we can use time as a tool that still doesn’t make the concept real. The past and the future are but thoughts in our minds that exist in the moment. That means that they are not real and can be changed if they don’t help you in your struggle. Casey Stengel said, “The future isn’t what it used to be.” This is a good example of putting the illusion of time into words.
- Our perceptions and conceptions are illusions. They may seem very real, but they are created by the mind, and they only represent what is out there. You may say, “I can see the real world, and it is not an illusion.” But if you look up into the sky and see a star, that star may have exploded many years ago and not exist-all you see is the light of that star. The existence of the star is an illusion. Your perceptions of the outer world are just symbols in your mind. They may accurately represent what you perceive, but they are still illusions.
- Our self-image was created by our past conditioning and is also an illusion. The self-image is very significant, for we direct our thoughts to our self-image. If you have a negative self-image, you will get negative responses to your thoughts. Developing a positive self-image gives you positive responses. In a struggle, it is very helpful to accept your Positive Self, so that you can put all of your energy into fighting your struggle instead of fighting your Negative Self.
- Our personality was created by our environment and is also an illusion. The personality is the way we were taught to think and respond to our wisdom. Since we are able to change that which we think to (the self-image), we can also change the thinker or the personality.
If you believe in these illusions, they will be hard to change. In psychology, Dr. Assogioli said that we couldn’t change anything we identify with. Just as you cannot wash the floor you are standing on, you cannot change thoughts you really believe in. In order to change your life, you need to change your inner reality. Your Positive Self is naturally connected to a thought-free Silence and from that place comes the freedom to change the illusions you hold.
Illusions are not good or bad; it is how we use them.