A World of Illusions
I recently found myself reflecting on the idea that the world is an illusion. In Buddhism, the world is said to be “Maya”, though I prefer English terms for plainness. It can seem pretty strange to insist that the world around us is some sort of illusion; I mean, try to walk through the nearest wall and see how far you get!
What’s more accurate is to say that our view of the world is an illusion. This also sounds a bit odd, but let’s give it a minute. Our view of the world enters via our senses and is then subjected to all kinds of preconceptions. These can be cultural, racial or simply learned from experience. Everything we see or hear get interpreted by our beliefs, tastes and values. I should also point out genetic preconceptions, an anecdote from an ex-army chap I met a couple of years ago serves quite well. During his service, his regiment had several black soldiers. These guys were quite happy operating in heat that the white soldiers found oppressive, however when they were sent up to very cold northerly regions, the reverse was true.
There’s more to it than all of this. To see this, just look around you, just see. Everything in your vicinity was designed. All the buildings, vehicles, technologies, streets and city layouts. Every standard, every language, every concept and belief. Every way we choose to divide and categorise the world. It’s out of someone’s head, all of it.
The world is a huge, communal fantasy. This is an important realisation, especially in these times of resource constraint and peak energy. Our illusions are comforting, but they don’t serve us well.