If you have ever come across the notion that life, or the ego, is just an illusion, you may have been puzzled by this idea. It may sound like esoteric nonsense unless you have seen the logic behind it. Illusion versus reality can easily be understood with reference to a pet or plant that you may have in your room. The pet or plant, relatively speaking, is living in reality, while you, the advanced human, is living in the illusion of the mind for, quite possibly, long periods of time. The thoughts we have are real, but when we mistake these thoughts for being us or objective reality we are entering delusion. (Refer Sadhguru’s air balloon metaphor mentioned in Part 2 of this series).
Simply stated, when you are present, you are living in reality and you transcend thought. If not, you are suffering from delusion to varying degrees from mild and normal to highly troubling and dysfunctional. [Note that this is a human perspective – from nature’s perspective the evolving human condition is perfectly natural].
Generally, then, the “illusion” refers to things going on in our heads that are not in current reality – they are thoughts about past and future – what might happen, what will happen, how you will respond to these imaginations,’ and so on. And, through the eyes of a conditioned mind you see a filtered subjective reality, often seeing and acting upon what you believe, whether or not it’s true.
Things that happened, did in fact happen, although we do not store the events in our head or body as such. What we do is store a representation of what happened – an encoding informed by our biological and electrical processes involving our neurons, synapses and certain parts of our brains. These encodings and memories help us to respond or react to new events. Our conventional five senses and thought-emotions are involved both in the encoding and in reacting or responding.
But, there is another important aspect too. You are the animating presence expressing through a human form. You are not your body – lose an arm, lose a leg, replace an organ, etc. and you remain you – maybe a less happy you, (although many people recover psychologically from such trauma), but still you. This means you retain the same awareness that you have always had as far as you can recall. And, mind aspects, thoughts and emotions are temporary – they come and go – these are not you either. Similarly, your beliefs can change with time, experience and observation. None of these things or forms are the real you.
Yes, you say, “I agree I’m not my thoughts and emotions. But, this seems a little pedantic because I’m still affected by them!” While this is true for you now, you can learn to let go of these thoughts and emotions or see, feel and respond to them differently. As an example, you can indirectly control your thoughts through non-thought forms of object identification and by realizing that you are in fact “awareness.” In addition, there are a variety of techniques that can help in the way that we consciously use our minds. These include: “The Work,” of Byron Katie, the Sedona method, the Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT), Cognitive behavioral therapy, (CBT), hypnosis, visualization, and neuro-linguistic programming, (NLP). In my view, if we apply such techniques it just becomes part of our evolution and is not going against “God’s plan” for us. I would say however, that awakening to our spiritual dimension is the most important aspect in the renewing of our minds, and this alone may be sufficient, and a catalyst of change.
How can we embrace the human and “Being” sides of us? As human beings we may be perfect – the Cosmos or Creator is just “doing its thing,” and we’re part of that. And, given our existence, we have no choice but to choose something to do. And, going about our days as a joy to self and joy to the world for everyone, in a way that is uniquely ours as individuals, seems a reasonable way forward. Never under-estimate your capacity to choose your thoughts, habits, beliefs – and life.
The ego has been described as a phantom, as an illusion. What is real is this very moment now, this is the only thing that is real. Your past doesn’t matter, although it may have a habit of catching up with you! Others may label you, judge you, but you don’t have to worry about what others think if you are true to your mission. Nor should you necessarily judge yourself, although you will suffer if you don’t lead a good life of good intentions backed up by action. At the same time, you are human, so some slip-ups are par for the course. These are good opportunities for facing adversities and bouncing-back. As you step into the light of awareness and master your ego well, your character and quality of life will skyrocket!
Source: Peak Performance!! Awaken & Achieve available on Amazon.
In the final Part7 of this series we will investigate the re-conditioning of one’s ego