The illusion is ...

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The illusion is ...

Postby zoofence » May 21st, 2005, 5:08 pm

The last week or so, I have been reading again from Mary Baker Eddy's Science and Health. As all here are undoubtedly aware, she is the founder of Christian Science. Her writings and accomplishments would be impressive enough under any circumstances, but they are particularly so considering that she lived during the nineteenth century, when powerful, insightful, and assertive women were probably not welcome in polite society.

Anyway, reading her raised again in my mind the question of “What is real?” or “What does the word ‘Real’ really mean?”

Virtually all the Teachers, including MBE, agree that what we call “the world” is not “real”, that it is an illusion, what we might call a sleight of mind.

But, again, what exactly does that mean?

Some years ago, I stumbled across what I have come to call “the sacred riddle” (please see here), which is fundamentally a struggle with the sense that if God (however defined or named) is Infinite, then presumably God is all there is; but if that is so, how can there be anything (however perceived or defined) which is not “real” or “really God”? Can there exist any thing (however defined) any where (however defined) which an Infinite Being is not?

One day while wrestling with this stuff, I heard “The illusion is it is not God”. For some time, I was not confidently certain just what the sentence means. But after endlessly parsing and dissecting and analyzing it, I concluded that what it means to me, is: “My sense that there is some thing, some ‘it’, any ‘it’, which is not God, is an illusion, precisely because being Infinite, God is All There Is and therefore Whatever There Is – or whatever there seems to be – must be God”. Or, it is an illusion for me to believe that there is any thing (however defined) that God is not. That is, although I did not specifically hear a comma, I inserted one thusly: “The illusion is, it is not God”. For me, the first clause ("the illusion is") defines the second clause ("it is not God") as "the illusion". And because the "it" was not specifically identified, I take it to mean any it.

So, when the Teachers all tell me that what I call “me” and “my life” and “the world” is an illusion or is not real, I understand that to mean that those things are not really what I perceive them to be, but they are nonetheless Divine. Call it a Divine Illusion. Naturally, I do not know precisely – or even roughly – what that means, but I do know, increasingly without a doubt, that it is an inescapable truth, at least for me.

Here, an oft chosen metaphor is a movie theater. We just watched the movie Entrapment, which, if you’re a Sean Connery fan, as we are, is great fun, even though, having aged along with the rest of us, he might have been more convincingly cast as Catherine Zeta-Jones’ father rather than her lover! Anyway, on our television screen we saw Connery and Zeta-Jones planning and executing schemes and counter-schemes. Of course, Connery and Zeta-Jones were not really on our television screen. And the schemes we saw them plotting were not really being hatched. It was all just images and fiction. An illusion.

But the images were real, by which I mean, they were real images. To be sure, they were a technological phenomenon created by a play of light on a cathode ray tube, but the light was real, the cathode ray tube was real, by which I mean it was real light being played on a real cathode ray tube. And the images themselves were real; they were not really what they appeared to be, but they really were what they were. They were real images. Likewise, the fiction was real; it was not true, but it was real fiction.

Surely, our lives are like that.

They are illusions in that they are not what they seem to be, but they are real (even Divine) in that they are what they are, whatever precisely that is.

I guess the point is, an illusion is something that appears to be something it is not. That’s where a seeker's focus should be. It is not enough for me to say that the illusion does not exist; it does exist. I simply need to remember that it exists as it is, as an illusion, not as it seems to be. But because it exists, it must somehow be Divine, because there is nothing else it can be.

Or so it seems to me.

Here's a thought from Ibn Arabi – Know, O noble brother, that while the paths are many, the Way of Truth is single. The seekers of the Way of Truth are individuals. So although the Way of Truth is one, the aspects it presents vary with the varying conditions of its seekers; with the balance or imbalance of the seeker's constitution, the persistence or absence of his (or her) motivation, the strength or weakness of his (or her) spiritual nature, the straightness or deviation of his (or her) aspiration, the health or illness of his (or her) relation to his (or her) goal.

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Postby zoofence » May 26th, 2005, 12:12 pm

After posting last week's Here's A Thought and the previous item in this thread, I received the following from WindAbove which seemed to me worth sharing with everyone here.

Yes, considering the social context, Mary Baker Eddy was all the more remarkable, but, I hasten to add, her human accomplishments are the very least part of her. Near the end of her sojourn she said, "You will find me (and Me) in my books". The biographical MBE is as much about the real MBE as the historical Jesus is about Jesus. Along that line, MBE should not be associated with the Christian Science Church. By its nature, the Church is committed to expounding a religion; Mrs. Eddy is the re-discoverer of the Science of divinity. Spiritual understanding (divine Science) and belief (religion) are not differing methods to the same truth.

It's rather strange, but I am increasingly convinced that until one is inwardly prepared to allow the realization that "I"=God, no amount of reading or study, even in the non-dual traditions, will reveal it. We will always find a "work-around", or why it's not present fact, or an exception, or some but this or but that. "BUT there went up a mist from the earth ..." (Genesis 2:6)

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Postby anna » May 27th, 2005, 3:43 pm

zoofence wrote:It's rather strange, but I am increasingly convinced that until one is inwardly prepared to allow the realization that "I"=God, no amount of reading or study, even in the non-dual traditions, will reveal it. We will always find a "work-around", or why it's not present fact, or an exception, or some but this or but that. "BUT there went up a mist from the earth ..." (Genesis 2:6)


WindAbove, who wrote that, in my mind, hit the nail on the head. It is this preparation, or state of mind, that determines everything, including the realization that ""I"=God." It is preparation that determines any form of growth in consciousness, whatever its sector, mundane, or spiritual.

Thus, I have found in my own life, as well as in that of all my acquaintances, that progresss, internally, as well as externally out in the world, depends upon one's ability to truly "listen", and to approach consciousness in all its forms with an open and receptive mind. If one doesn't do that, then there does not arrive that progressive state where the realization, or the mere possibility, that one is more than one is at any moment of time, does not occur. It is at these moments that courage is required, the courage to risk, even one's survival, to see what is beyond the unseen corner of the known. There used to be times when I literally trembled at the prospect of releasing the comfort of the known in order to discover the unknown. It is that trembling that requires
one to summon up courage, faith, and effort. In my own life, at least, without that courage, nothing occurs other than predictability.
Last edited by anna on May 27th, 2005, 3:55 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Postby anna » May 27th, 2005, 3:52 pm

And yet - that said, "to each his own" is appropriate and gorgeous in its ramifications. Just because I dug down to find courage and faith at the time I needed it, in the effort to reach beyond myself, does NOT imply that those who do not do so, but pursue a different course in life, are in any way lacking, or deficient. My position is my position, and is different from other's positions, obviously, and it all contributes to the great variety of the soup of life. Indeed, without the variety, who would say anything to anyone, because there would be absolutely no need, and God would cease the process of creation.

I suppose what I am saying here is variety is good, and perhaps one can extend that a bit further, and say, please, just don't try to damage or kill me if we disagree. It is the latter that creates so much suffering, not the former.

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the illusion is

Postby windabove » May 27th, 2005, 5:36 pm

I used to think the non-dualistic traditions afforded, at the very least, an 'enlightenment' advantage or expediency over religious or secular traditions, –not anymore. The sense of a resident “i”, as God finit-ized (misunderstood), can easily agree with “I” is God, yet argue for its own limitations or Not-God existence without the slightest sense of contradiction. This used to puzzle me. Now it’s apparently simple. Even the ability to argue for a personal finite mortal self proves there is none! The Self remains infinite, omnipotent, almighty, no matter the 'what'!

Any non-dual initiate will agree with the statement I=God, big deal. What we miss is that that statement is the same as, identical to, the statement “i”=Not-God (not yet anyway). When it comes to the question of WHO, the 'what', be it the affirmation, the understanding, or the experience makes no difference whatsoever.

So what if we insist our self as one among six billion other little “i’s” fully experiencing our own personal limitations and finite-ness? Does this make it so? The Who knows, and knows Itself perfectly and absolutely!
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Postby Clarence » May 31st, 2005, 4:41 pm

To i=Not God, the difference between I=God and i=Not God is immense, isn't it? But what is the difference to I=God? There is none, I suggest.

Somewhere here I read something about Truth being in the "I" of the beholder. Now, we should add: or the "i" of the beholder.

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the illusion is ...

Postby windabove » May 31st, 2005, 8:29 pm

To i=Not God, the difference between I=God and i=Not God is immense, isn't it? But what is the difference to I=God? There is none, I suggest.
Ah precisely, that's the point, there is, can be, no difference, no other, to I=God. What is illusory cannot form a valid exception or separation, small or great. And attempt to do so only further proves omnipresent Being.
Somewhere here I read something about Truth being in the "I" of the beholder. Now, we should add: or the "i" of the beholder.
Yes either works just fine, since
"You are the proof of all that exists." -Nisargadattta (and others)
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Postby zoofence » June 1st, 2005, 2:44 pm

Following on the thoughts of WindAbove and Clarence, can we say that the distinction between I=God and i=Not God is an illusion (a creative illusion?) manufactured by "me" to prove and justify "my" perception of "my" existence separate and unique from all else?

After all, everything "i" consider "my" self to be depends upon "me" being a separate and unique being. Everything "i" own (all the stuff, of course, but also "my" religion, "my" path, "my" teacher, "my" salvation, even "my" god and "my" life) depends on there existing a "me". If there is no "me", there is no "my".

Stated that way makes the illusion, makes "i" and "me" and "my", sound like a "bad" thing, an undesirable. And certainly all the traditions seem to suggest that.

But the question that haunts me (yea, well, "me") is, Why? Where did the "undesirable" come from? What was it made of? Who authorized it?

The traditional answer, of course, is "The Fall" in the Garden of Eden. There, we are told, we were offered the privilege of being "I", but made a choice to be "me"; so stop whining. Choices have consequences.

But, as I've written elsewhere on TZF, I can't get comfortable with the idea that an Infinite (and therefore Infinitely Wise) God would (or even could) create an environment (the Garden of Eden) where failure, or the choice for failure, where an un-Godly alternative, was an option.

But that suggests that somehow, even though it is an illusion, and sometimes admittedly a very painful illusion, what each of us calls "me" and "my life" is not a failure, not a fall, not a sin, but something else.

Many traditions teach the principle "as above, so below". Darwinian evolution seeks to explain the development of species on earth ("below"). Is Darwinian evolution a reflection of something "above". Is there a "Divine Evolution"? If so, is that what the illusion (and the attendant spiritual process) is about?

--
Here's a line from Charlie Chaplin (from the 1952 movie "Limelight", the last film he made in America): "The mind is the greatest toy ever created". (The actual line is, "This is the greatest toy ever created", but as he speaks them while pointing to his head, I take the liberty of assuming he is referring to "the mind".)

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Postby windabove » June 1st, 2005, 10:43 pm

Probing why the false is not true is a bottomless pit. There is no answer to why an illusion appears real. The distinction between I=God and i=Not-God is an illusion because there is no distinction between them, True=True, False=False, both are True. An illusion has no author, no creator. It’s belief that holds (creates) the believer, not the other way around.

As for The Fall in the Garden of Eden, reading carefully you note that this entire allegory proceeds from an entirely different paradigm than does the first chapter. The Fall really begins, not with a presumed choice and temptation, but with a presumed affirmation, one that begins with, Yes BUT! That little word ‘but’ has a remarkable power. It wipes out, negates, all that precedes it. BUT a mist (illusion) arose from the earth (finite-ness). Gen.2:6 So now we’re going to do a little earth tilling, and reason from the basis of personal experience (mortality) instead of from the divine Self Itself. But how can we do that without the belief of another self, a chooser? So, no problemo, enter “the chooser”, and guess What this new Who chooses? Any surprise?

Religious traditions, which are all inherently dualistic, do attach an undesirability or bad connotation to self, “i”. Spiritual traditions (if there is such a thing) do not. Better said, spiritual teachers do not do so. The non-dual teachers I’ve met or read tend to be only concerned with distinguishing true from false, correct from incorrect, and have a pronounced under-concern for good vs bad, desirable vs undesirable.

Indeed, as you suggest, “what each of us calls "me" and "my life" is not a failure, not a fall, not a sin, but something else.” What that something else is, is not discovered in analyzing why “me” and “my” appears as they do.
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Postby zoofence » June 2nd, 2005, 1:11 pm

WindAbove, excellent post! Thank you for keeping us focused.

Thanks too for the reference to Genesis 2:6, which you also referred to in an earlier post about Mary Baker Eddy. Until you mentioned it, I had never considered the “rising mist”as you interpret it. I love it.

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I have just posted to TZF a graphic of "A Daoist Immortal" which somehow seems appropriate to this discussion. To see it, please go to Anna’s page, and there scroll down to the bottom of the page. I scanned it off a torn page from a catalog of Chinese art. The label reads, “Yan Hui, one of the eight Daoist immortals, enjoying a fierce playfulness with the world”.

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Postby anna » June 3rd, 2005, 1:59 pm

Windabove states: "Probing why the false is not true is a bottomless pit. There is no answer to why an illusion appears real. The distinction between I=God and i=Not-God is an illusion because there is no distinction between them, True=True, False=False, both are True. An illusion has no author, no creator."

I would like to suggest that there is indeed an answer as to why an illusion appears real, or for that matter why there is an "illusion" at all. (My position has evolved to suggest that there is no illusion at all, indeed, this world is every bit as real as God is.....maybe we need to define what we each mean as illusion, perhaps?) And following that thread, I would suggest that the illusion does have an author or creator, God itself.

Thus, it seems to me that it is possible that the "illusion", the "world", with all its sorrows and all its joys, is in fact God incarnate. Seems incredibly logical to me. God is all there is: God radiates, God can't experience, because there is no one to experience, and nothing to experience, because God is all there is (.e.g, dualism is necessary for experience to occur.) Therefore, God creates a universe out of itself, in order to enjoy itself and know that it is enjoying itself. Interestingly, this is no different from what we humans do when we create something outside, or from within, ourselves, for the pure enjoyment of it, and in order to "experience" that which we initially created" in our consciousness. (As above, so below.)

In this case, then, the problem, or the world, or the "illusion", becomes a problem when we focus on the illusion, or creation, exclusively, as opposed to inclusively, which would include a focus on the creator and its purpose. In that case, then, the sorrow results from a misunderstanding, or we could use the word "illusion" perhaps, to describe this misunderstanding, of who and what we are, simple as that. And when we return to an understanding of who and what we are, sorrow ceases, because we discover that it is all us, as God, radiating out of God, experienced by God, as us. With this of course comes all that that implies, and all those subjects that are addressed by religion -- mortality and immortality, salvation, and revelation, and so on.

The inquirer, who is trying to find the answer, then has to realize, first and formost, that the motivation for the question is always, in the end, the effort to escape pain, sorrow, suffering, and all religions (at least "down town religions") attempt to address that in a dualistic way. I would suggest instead that the way out of this endless wheel is to know who we are, which includes suffering of a sort, but that knowledge will automatically prevent the discoverer from prolonging suffering by virtue of knowing who we are in fact, which includes all of it, including the suffering. To support this, I have known of individuals, who through that discovery, do not experience suffering, or death, for that matter, in a manner which most of us presently do. This is proof in my mind that suffering is not what we think it is, nor is death, and the way to discover what both those fearful subjects truly are, is to discover who we truly are, and the answer brings to an end the fear of both of those occurrences.

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Postby Clarence » June 3rd, 2005, 8:22 pm

The following is something I copied from some book or magazine. It seems relevant to this thread.

Our everyday awareness is defined thusly. Even though a cognitive object (such as "tree") appearing within awareness is, in fact, an aspect of that awareness, we unreflectively apprehend it as though it existed outside of awareness, as if it existed fully formed and conceptually structured as "tree" before it ever entered our awareness.


A seeker's challenge is to be willing to substitute for "tree" every other word and idea and concept and phenomenon ever encountered, including or perhaps especially "myself".


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