The Greatest illusionist is ...our mind
Great illusionists are very skillful to mislead or falsely persuade us that what they are doing is real.
Remember Uri Geller bending spoons few meters away or someone cutting a person in half while in a coffin. These shows are very entertaining but we know they are just wonderful illusions performed by masters so we do not believe in them.
Yet, the greatest illusionist of all time is the human mind. The difference between human magicians and our mind is that we believe what our mind is telling us because we are producing the show. We are at the same time the producer, the object and the spectator. A recipe for potential suffering.
Of course thinking is critical in our day-to-day life but most of the time, our thoughts, opinions, judgments and our addictions to be in past/future are just ongoing inner audiovisual illusions. Those thoughts are too often self-centered, useless and trapping us in a virtual prison.
Remember that around 100,000 immaterial thoughts are produced every day. How many are real or fiction?
Learning to be aware of our thoughts / emotions and to assess whether or not they are real, useful or illusions is a critical step towards our serenity. There is no other way.
What is fooling us all the time? The outside world or our inside mind-created world?
This is an important question to ask yourself all the time. If you find the answer and deal with it, how you see your life will change for the better and forever.
Here is a short list, in a non-specific order, of 8 mind-generated illusions/delusions that Zen Buddhism has identified over the last 2500 years. Each illusion listed below can be a great mindfulness-based focusing point during your meditation practice.
1) Because they are coming from our mind, we trust our thoughts. They exist but they are not real and not necessary truthful. Most of them are just ego-centered wishful thinking or acquired values, opinions and judgments. Don’t believe in all your thoughts. Observe them before trusting them.
2) Our mind loves to travel nonstop, wandering back and forth in the future or in the past, doing something else instead of being in the present moment where our body is. It happens mostly when we are on routine and automatic behavior. The mind loves excitement not routine, repetitive or boring stuff of the moment .
We exist only in the present moment. ”Past-you and future-you” are pure illusion, sort of mind-made holograms since we cannot exist in two different space-times. These space-times dissociations between the “present-you and the past or future you” are a great source of nostalgia, guilt, anxiety, worries and other negative feelings.
3) Mostly subconsciously, we believe and expect that things, situations and living beings will remain permanent because, based on our 200,000 years evaluative experience, we resist against change and love our comfort zones. Good and bad stuff are transient and life cannot exist w/o impermanence.
4) We believe that we are a permanent, independent, unique, separate self-entity with a self-intrinsic life.
Indeed, we are physically, mentally & emotionally unique only at our DNA level. In fact all living beings are interconnected and interdependent to each other’s. We cannot survive w/o trees, water, sun and so on.
5) We have this illusion that we are in control of our life. Think twice: do we control our family members, boss, health, weather, relationship, the content of next week, traffic, etc.?
6) We have this illusion that happiness comes from outside and accumulation of goods will do the trick.
Our list of needs can be endless and therefore happiness from outside will never be achieved.
Commercials are brainwashing us with “the more the better”. This is mega illusion.
7) Very often we have this illusion that “Life is not fair”. Is life a living being? Does it care about us?
8) Subconsciously, we are perceiving and judging people (and events) mostly thru an emotional process w/o being in their shoes. Is it reality or illusion?
All of the above are mind-generated and, too often, source of delusions. As long we are aware of their origin we should be able to differentiate genuine thoughts from fictional ones and meditation can be of great help. The human mind is a fantastic instrument but also our worse deceiver. Don’t be attached too much to this magnificent illusionist.