Waking up to the illusion
I forgot to take my earphones with on my way to work this morning. At first, I was a bit disturbed at the prospect of facing the one-hour commute to Centurion without the sounds of Jay Z, Lupe Fiasco or Wiz Khalifa blaring in my ears. But I shrugged it off and carried on. I noticed something interesting, without the constant noise in my ears to distract me, I was free to roam around in my thoughts, jumping in and out of epiphanies, observations and perceptions of life. It was really cool.
Last night, this thought hit me while I walked home from getting supper. – Don’t partake in the illusion’. I’ve been mulling over it intermittently since then. The phrase captures something for me that makes perfect sense, but I will try dissect and articulate this meaning on this post for you.
What is the illusion? Well, life is. That answer would be a major stumbling block because we are all so used to accepting our reality as it is. Cars, buildings, tables are tangible. We live, we breathe, we walk around and operate in this reality. So what is the illusion then? Sure enough, physical objects and phenomena are very tangible and in that sense ‘real’, but there is a whole layer that each of us create and place on the tangible raw material of life, and that is ‘meaning’.
Humans cannot operate without meaning. If we have no meaning, we would create one. A terrible or inaccurate meaning is better than no meaning. Without it, we would despair of life and ultimately die. Meaning is what keeps us going from day to day. The most alive and vibrant people are those who able to find or ascribe deep meaning to their lives, work, play, relationships and general existence. But we forget this meaning is created and we can manipulate it instead of being at its mercy.
Take dreaming for instance. When we dream we are totally immersed in the experience. For all intensive purposes, we are part and parcel of that world. Everything is real. But once we wake up, we realise it was all a dream and settle into our usual level of reality. We were so sure that the illusion was real. Now it is entirely possible to become aware of this illusion within the dream, this is called lucid dreaming. I had one of those recently. At the beginning of the dream, I realised I was in a dream, and suddenly, the colours became more vivid, the environment became more detailed. I began to walk through walls, and explore the dreamscape, interacting and talking to characters while remaining aware that this was only a dream. If we can experience this level of awareness on that level of reality, we can have a similar experience on the level we call life or waking reality.
The illusion is the idea that your job is hard, the idea that a task is difficult, the idea that you are shy. The illusion is the notion that having a rank or degree will give you respect or happiness. The illusion is the idea that the crowd is right, or that the rebel is right. The illusion is the idea that success or financial abundance comes only through very hard work and difficult effort. The illusion is the idea that that the world would collapse if you did not perform your duty. The illusion is a complex matrix of thoughts, ideas, emotions and meaning that we layer upon the foundational realities of our lives. Now I am not saying we must do away entirely with the illusion, but once you realise it is just an illusion, you can now begin to tweak your version of the collective illusion to something that serves you instead of something you are at the mercy of.
Two days ago, I had an hour long conversation with a friend whom I hadn’t spoken to for a year because of a perceived betrayal of trust. Hearing the full story implicated an ex girlfriend in a way I could not have imagined and killed any residue of feelings I still had for her. I was hurt to say the least but I knew enough to consciously explore my emotional response. Reeling with the pain, I crafted numerous messages in my head which I thought of sending to her. I drafted poetry, rap verses to express my pain, my resulting mistrust of people in general, etc. I wondered where I went wrong, why I cared so much, how I allowed myself to be manipulated to such an extent…then it hit me. Don’t partake in the illusion. The facts are the facts but the illusion is the meaning I ascribe to it. I don’t know why she did what she did. I’m sure she had her reasons. It’s probably my fault, perhaps my initial betrayal precipitated the manipulation, deceit, betrayal and disrespect on her part. No one is perfect, least of all me. But it’s all an illusion, all my emotion, my thoughts, the ideas, the blow to my ego, even my ego itself…it’s all an illusion. I cannot waste my life energy by directing it towards hate. All I can do is pick the facts, learn the lessons, lose the ego, shrug my shoulders and move on.
I choose to live from the highest truths: love, peace, harmony, authenticity, and so on. Everything lower is simply an illusion.