Four Great Illusions Blog #8
There are four great illusions that have frustrated us human beings from the very beginning from realizing the full meaning and purpose of our lives. These illusions are at the source of almost all of the world’s problems. If we could ever escape the four great illusions, much of our pain and suffering would disappear from the earth.
Of course, a certain amount of pain and suffering go along with being human. Old age, infirmity and death (as the Buddha discovered) will catch up with all of us eventually. But much of the suffering in between birth and death is neurotic and unnecessary and not at all part of God’s plan for us. We therefore have a right and an obligation to liberate ourselves from this kind of senseless suffering.
Traditionally, the great religions of the world have recognized four principal distortions that our mind dream up and rob us of inner peace and clarity. These are the illusions of: 1) identification with the body; 2) identification with the mind and emotions; 3) identification with the ego; and 4) thoughts of separateness.
It is not that our bodies, minds and egos do not exist. They do. It is not that we don’t function as if things were separate from one another. Of course we do. It is just that we err when we identify with our bodies, minds and egos. And we err when we think that we are ultimately separate, independent and alone.
Let us take them one at a time. We have bodies, certainly, but we are so much more than our bodies. Yet we say things like, “I’m getting old.” If we were in touch with our True Selves, and operated from that consciousness, we might say to someone- for the sake of social convention- “I’m getting older”, but we would not believe this for a second. We would be thinking to ourselves, rather, “Well, my body is forty-five years of age, or whatever, but I am an eternal child of the universe, a child of God.”
Naturally, we do not always go through a logical thought process each time, but the awareness is there, deep in our consciousness, that we are so much more than our bodies.
The same could be said about identifying with our thoughts or our emotions. We have thoughts and emotions, but we realize that we are not identified with our thoughts or our emotions. In prayer or meditation or in whatever spiritual practice brings us into the Loving Center, we can disidentify from our thoughts and emotions as defining whom we are.
This is easier said than done for many of us, however. We easily get trapped in our thoughts and we cannot seem to shut off the inner chatter. We become victims of “paralysis by analysis.” But the awakened individual uses their mind but is not used by it. As Divine beings, we are so much more than thinking machines.
And, certainly, we are more than our egos. This little pretender to the throne wheels and deals and tries to make itself somebody. As children of the Creator, however, we already have inestimable dignity, value, and self worth. But, because we have forgotten this truth (that we all knew as little children) we try desperately to impress others and to act like we are in control. We are so, so much more than our egos, but discovering this truth is the work of a lifetime.
The three big illusions mentioned above lead us to the fourth: feeling separate from one another. The ego thrives on feelings of separateness. It sees others as competitors, the enemy.
“God”, however, looks at the big picture because “God” is the big picture. As we have seen in previous blogs, “God” is the dance of the universe, as planets and galaxies pirouette through the heavens. We are a part of “God”, radically interconnected with all life past and present. Any other belief is an illusion.
Next posting: A Self to Give Away
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