In Ram Dass: Going Home, Ram Dass says that life is an illusion. For him, close to death, it’s natural that he looks on the illusion side of our perception. And I am sure he also took care of his life in all the ways most people do.
So is life an illusion?
The answer, as so often, is yes and no and it depends.
Yes, life and existence and we are not exactly as most people perceive it. Some of the most fundamental assumptions are not entirely correct.
Our world happens within and as what we are, it happens within and as consciousness. Our fundamental nature is awake space wide open for the world.
Our thoughts are questions about the world, temporary guides. There is some validity in each of them, and we often need some discernment and experience to tease out how there is validity in them. And there is no inherent or absolute or final truth in any of them.
So if we take ourselves to primarily be a human in the world, and if we hold thoughts and assumptions as the final truth, then that’s living in a kind of illusion, and it’s an inherently painful illusion.
And no, life is not exactly an illusion. Many of the conventional views have validity. Our actions have consequences and we have to live with and deal with these consequences. We need to be good stewards of our own life.
If we take “life is an illusion” as a belief, make up stories about it, and live as if nothing matters, life will give us feedback. And, hopefully, it will encourage us to take a closer look.
DISCERNMENT – YES & NO TOGETHER
As so often, we have to use our discernment to see the validity in both sides of the “life’s an illusion” statement – how and when it’s valid and not.
For ourselves, it matters a lot how we perceive the world. If we find our true nature, it sets our whole life in a very different context. To the extent we see it and live from it, it can be liberating and healing.
As for our life in the world, many of the practical conventional views have validity and can be invaluable and useful for us, especially if we hold them lightly.
WHO AND WHAT WE ARE
I often talk about who and what we are. What we are is what our experience – of the world and ourselves – happens within and as. And who we are is this human being in the world.
Another way to talk about this is from the Headless Way and Douglas Harding, where he differentiates what we are to ourselves, and who we are to others and in the world.
To ourselves, we are capacity for the world. We are this awake space our world happens within and as. Here, we see that many of the assumptions of our culture and most people are not entierly true. What we most essentially are is not what the world tells us we are. Many of the fundamental assumptions about the world and how we should live our lives are just that, assumptions, guesses, and based in fear and unquestioned beliefs.
To others, we are a human being in the world. And as a human being in the world, it works best if we do all the usual things to take care of our life: brush our teeth, get enough sleep, eat healthily, get exercise, be kind to ourselves and others, take care of our family, make enough money for a good life, save, plan for the future, find a way to live that is more likely to benefit the larger whole, and so on.
Both are valid and true. They are two sides of the same coin.Read More