Find the Divine in Everything!
by Tom Razzeto
© Copyright 2007 - Tom Razzeto
Chapter 1 - Is the world an illusion?
Is our physical world the "totality of reality" or is it just "part of the picture"?
Many of us have heard people say, "The world is an illusion." Why would anyone say that? (Knock, knock, knock on a solid table.) It sure seems real to me! What could they possibly mean by this? What evidence do they have? Why would anyone believe them? Why would anyone even listen to them?
Well, I suspect that people who have had a near-death experience or an out-of-body experience might have been saying something like this for thousands of years. Plato wrote about the near-death experience of a soldier over 23 hundred years ago. I'll talk more about these types of experiences later but right now, let's focus on what someone might mean by saying that the world is an illusion.
In our modern society, people frequently think that if something is said to be an illusion that it is completely not real. No reality to it at all. Nothing. But consider a stage magician. He's a master illusionist. Many people have seen the magic trick where he puts his assistant in a big box and cuts her in half with a saw. We see her head, arms and feet sticking out of the box. What we see is real. There really is a person, a box, a saw etc etc. But we are not seeing the whole picture. We don't see that there is another person hiding in the box who makes up the other half of the assistant and creates the illusion of one person cut into two pieces.
So I think that a good definition of an illusion is something whose true reality, whose full reality, is greater than or different from what we at first think. The dictionary says that an illusion is a misleading image, a mistaken idea. So, in a funny way, it can be said that an illusion is real. Yes, it has a reality to it. It's just that that reality is different from what it at first seems.
In the example of the stage magician, it is important to note that our physical senses are doing their jobs perfectly. We are accurately seeing the head and feet sticking out of the box. But we are making a mistake if we think that the feet that we see are the feet of the assistant and that false assumption leads to the incorrect conclusion that the assistant was cut in half. That idea is completely false but our raw perception is accurate. Once we see the bigger picture, we are no longer confused or tricked by the illusion. An incomplete picture can lead to the wrong conclusion.
By the way, if you hear someone say that time is an illusion and it therefore does not exist, don't be fooled. Of course time exists, we experience it at every moment and we have a past and a future. Earlier today, I had breakfast and later I tonight, I'll sleep for hours. But the point of time being an illusion is a good one. Is there more to time than meets the eye?
And this leads us back to our original question: "Is our entire physical world the "totality of reality" or is it just "part of the picture", an illusion? Is there more to reality than that revealed by the physical senses? What is the true nature, the full nature, of reality? What role do we play in it? To what extent do we have freewill? To what degree do we control our own life? What is the big picture?
I like to call the big picture, "The Mystic's View". Let's move on to that right now.