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Reality and Illusion

Posted by Raunak Mahajan on September 13, 2012

The thoughts in this post were conceived when I was reading Pat Cegan’s wonderful post titled “Figment of My Imagination.”

What defines our interpretation of the world? How can we trust that what we sense is real and not just an illusion? Lets explore a few arguments and see if we can answer these questions, and in the process define illusion.

Human beings have been gifted with two powerful abilities that enable us to interpret events that happen outside our mind. These abilities are Logical Reasoning (LR) and Emotions.  They exist in the form of 2 windows through which information passes to reach our mind, where it is interpreted. Hence, Observation of an external events passes through either or both of these  windows and results in an interpretation by our mind.

When an observation in the form of a sensory stimulus passes through the window of Emotions, it is corrupted by our desires and wants, and the output that reaches our mind is an illusion. When an observation passes through the window of LR, it remains uncorrupted by any of our subconscious biases, and the output that reaches our mind is reality.

The nature of the interpretation that the mind conceives, is naturally dependent upon the nature of data it was fed. Hence the decisions we make will be far from effective if the data that reached our mind constituted an illusion. Responses that we generate from interpretation of data that passed through the window of LR will yield results that are closer to the intended purpose. However, the optimum decision lies in the middle ground. It requires us to activate both the windows, that of Emotions and Logical Reasoning, and make our observations pass through both of them to give rise to an optimal interpretation and subsequent response.

One of our spiritual pursuits should be to master these two windows and be able to activate and deactivate the two at our will. It must begin with becoming aware of which window our observations pass through. And when we do this, we will be able to master both Reality and Illusion.

Comments welcome.


4 Responses to “Reality and Illusion”

  1. Cedric said

    I find it interesting that you tie “Logical Reasoning” with reality if by reasoning you mean “the action of thinking about something in a logical, sensible way”. The trouble with mind is that it does not appear to be ours to control. I suspect this because if we could in fact control it than we would not allow ourselves to think thoughts that are depressing or harmful to our wellbeing. I grant you that at times it certainly feels like we control the thoughts that arise but to me, that feeling is the illusion. If control was ours than turning off thoughts for five minutes would be a piece of cake but anyone who’s tried to do it for even one minute knows how difficult it is. Studies are starting to show that our decisions are based on our beliefs and biases that we accumulate over a lifetime. In other words we are a product of our upbringing and every decision is as good as pre-programmed. As such it is not truly possible for us to “reason” about anything we have some opinion about. Or perhaps I should say: It is not possible for us to trust our reasoning. We like to believe otherwise because the idea of being out of control is too frightning for most. Anyway for us to trust our reason we would first need to know ourselves fully, understand our biases and then somehow let go of all our beliefs. If there is indeed a “method” to achieve this than it cannot involve reason.
    As for emotions, they too are untrustworthy since they are born in the mind but I would suggest that they can be a great pointer to truth but that’s a whole other topic.
    Anyway all of this is just a thought, an opinion, so I would pay no heed to any of it 😉

    • Raunak said

      I would definitely pay heed to it 🙂 Thanks for sharing your thoughts.
      Yes, we are a product of conditioning and that is the “bias” I talk about. For me, these biases constitute the window of “Emotion”. It is true that we cannot control our mind, but it is important to know what is it that the mind actually does. It simply receives data and interprets it to give rise to a reaction. That is a function that the mind of every human being performs and is the common link between all humanity.

      How human beings differ from one another is their use of the windows that the data passes through before it reaches the mind. Unlike the mind, this is something that we can control. Humans use windows of “emotions” and “LR” to varying degrees and we can train our selves to control this. How? By being aware.

  2. tarkart said

    Well said!

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