Mastering the Illusion

Sometimes in spiritual circles we hear things like “reality is an illusion”. What does that mean? The table is real. I’m touching it. The couch is real. I’m sitting on it. If it were an illusion I wouldn’t be able to do that. Here’s what I’ve come to understand about the illusion of reality.

It’s all in your head!

No, you’re not crazy. Reality is based on perception. What do you perceive is happening? Whatever that perception is makes that your reality.

If you think somebody stole the chocolate bar because you didn’t see them pay for it, then your reality is that people steal chocolate bars. That will be your reality until you realize the person actually paid for the chocolate bar and then your reality will shift again.

Whatever you think happened is what happened, whether it’s true or not until you get new information that changes what you think happened.

Here’s the hard part of that – most of the things that you think are happening around you, aren’t happening quite the way you think they are.


Because human perception is very warped. It’s skewed due to pain, previous experience, and limited ability to see or know everything about what’s happening around us. When somebody cuts you off in traffic, all you know is they cut you off and you’re mad. You don’t know what happened prior to the other person prior to cutting you off. You don’t know why they are in a hurry. You don’t know what they are thinking, feeling, or going through because you have a limited perception.

So, how do you react to somebody cutting you off?

You get mad because you just see that one action and you don’t like it. It causes anger. You get frustrated. What you don’t take into account is your limited perception. You don’t take into account all the reasons why that person may be cutting you off. You don’t take into account your limited awareness.

When you start mastering the illusion and unwinding the truth of the reality you see around you, it means you never take an action in isolation. You maintain the awareness that there is always more to the story than you can see. You stop reacting only to what you see and instead you respond consciously knowing you don’t have all the information.

Boy I made that sound easy, didn’t I?!

The truth, of course, is that it’s not easy. It’s not easy to be constantly aware that you don’t know everything about everything, that there are things you aren’t aware of in every single situation or circumstance you find yourself in, and that your perception of what’s happening is probably warped.

What’s the point in knowing or understanding all that?

The idea is twofold. First, we become willing to go digging for our own truth within ourselves. Second, we become willing to accept the behavior of others regardless of our judgment of it, because we recognize that we don’t know what’s causing the person to do what they are doing in that moment.

Mastering the illusion offers compassion, acceptance, understanding, and truth.

Simply accepting that you don’t know what you don’t know about what’s happening around you, offers you the ability to look for the truth of the situation.

But what’s the truth?

Sometimes it’s very simple – the other person is in pain. That’s the only truth you need in every situation. That recognition is enough to allow you to move to compassion, acceptance, and understanding – even in the most extreme of circumstances.

Yes, even when somebody’s behavior is something we consider to be truly horrific, it is our job to stop judging what we see and move to compassion, acceptance, and understanding.

Why? Because the truth of those types of scenarios is simply pain. Yes, we can sometimes gain an understanding of what the person was thinking at the time they acted out. Those thoughts are just a reflection of pain. They are not the truth of the situation. The truth in the situation is whatever the pain is that the person is holding onto that’s making them do those things. You will never know that truth.

Because of the assumptions you make and because the mind needs to try to justify what happened, you move to believing that the person is evil. That’s a story that isn’t true. It’s based on your perception of events, which is inaccurate, incomplete, and warped at best. You believe the story you tell yourself based on the very limited information you have and that causes you to buy into your reality instead of look for the truth in it.

For you, the truth becomes that people are evil. When you look around in your world, you watch the news, and you see all the things that are happening, it validates that belief that people are evil.

Where did that perception come from?

Pain and a limited ability to understand what was happening. The explanation of the other person being in pain isn’t good enough is it? It doesn’t satisfy the mind that’s still addicted to the story of what happened. Just knowing that the person was in pain is boring. There’s no drama in that. There’s no excitement. There is nothing to latch onto. There’s nothing to get mad at.

There is actually a fear of moving to acceptance, understanding, and compassion. The fear is that if we offer those things, the violence and pain in the world will get worse.

What we don’t see, what our limited perception doesn’t offer us, is the idea that when you meet pain with compassion, understanding, and acceptance; and people feel seen and heard; they begin to heal. They stop needing to project all the pain all over the place. They stop needing to act out in those very destructive ways.

Meeting violence with violence doesn’t fix it. Meeting pain with pain doesn’t fix it. It doesn’t have to be an extreme scenario for that to be true. That’s every scenario, no matter how big or small they are.

When we understand how our pain is being reflected through our own actions and words, it begins to change how we show up. Sometimes I talk about finding your point of control. Well, guess what? This is your point of control. Heal the pain that’s affecting your actions and words so that you can change your actions and words. Then watch the outcomes begin to change because you’re no longer responding and reacting the same way.

The fear that things will get worse when we change how we respond, is because we think we need to defend ourselves from our own reality continually. Where does that come from? Our warped perception of reality. It makes us think we need to defend ourselves because we don’t see the whole picture. We get a very narrow view of what’s going on and then we make choices based on that narrow viewpoint.

If we just stepped back, actually noticed what was happening without all the judgment, and understood how our own pain is affecting our perception, we could make better choices. We wouldn’t have to be afraid to drop our guard.

The fear we feel is based on skewed perception. It’s part of the story that we tell about the problems we see around us. It’s not true. The trick is, we have to challenge ourselves to feel the fear and begin to create change anyway. We have to try dropping our guard for a minute, while sitting in the fear, to see what happens. We have to trust ourselves to handle what happens next. That’s not an easy thing to do, but that’s the process we have to go through.

For the most part, the world is stuck in a spin cycle of defending itself and trying to squish the pain that’s visible everywhere around us. That won’t work. Until we recognize that and begin to do something about it, nothing will change. It’s hard lesson to learn, but a necessary one.

Love to all.



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