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Our perception of the World Real or illusion?


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While exchanging comments with others interested in spiritual things, it has become most obvious to me that depending upon who one was talking to, a world appears that is unlike the one we may personally perceive. Our reality of the world is no doubt colored by our perceptions. One may see the world as a hostile place, another as a secure place, one as friendly, another as unworkable or miserable, another sees it as frightening, another as hopeful, another as tragic, another as demanding, another as meaningful and yet another as complete or perfect.

These projections of perceptions seem to create a reality of the world that is ever changing as our perceptions change. One must therefore conclude one is not the witness of the ‘real’ world but rather one is actually the source of its 'seeming' reality. When we choose to strip the world of our perceptions, then the world appears as just an appearance. Its melodrama appears as an artifice of our distorted sense of perception. Shed of its descriptors the world of appearances is just seen as it is. Just like watching a movie, it appears as drama and entertainment.

Suffering, sadness, and emotions seem to loose reality and a new world seems to emerge. It’s scary in a way because the world as exists through our perceptions seems like it will reject such a cold and indifferent view to its perceived reality. Friends expect reactions in-line with society norms that are in place at the time. But the truth is when all perceptions are stripped, even for a moment, the world one thought was the 'real world' stands up as nothing more than amusement or entertainment.

Some have written to me that if this life is not real and is more like a dream then life is meaningless. Yet they may miss the point of all this if one thinks this life is Life. Don't forget there is the dreamer. The dreamer is real. Knowing all this from the perspective of this life as a character in the dream, yes, all does appear meaningless but it is not meaningless from the perspective of the dreamer who is Spirit.

The dream is part of the evolution of consciousness seen in the concept of form and time. The dreamer has existence which is evidenced by the dream. It is the dream character that is fictional, temporary and the illusion and therefore in a sense not real. It is the character that is the mind and body which is ephemeral that is saying it is "I" the dreamer when it is not. That is the false which creates the drama of good and evil and all opposites when in reality opposites do not exist except to the fictional character.

That may be why Jesus is recorded saying, "You have to lose your life to find Life. It seems to me all major religions at least hint to the same thing. Dying to self to reveal the eternal Self. It may sound like perfect Halloween fare to the character in the dream because through his conditioned thinking mind he is convinced that the character is real and this world is real. And from his perspective it is real. But you are not 'he' because 'he' will disappear and decay along with the world when the 5 senses are disconnected. Yet the dreamer remains as he always was and is, the eternal One Spirit.

You may think that what I have said is just a theory but I tell you that when you find your real Self, the one that is eternal and is manifesting the dream, instead of the character in the dream, it seems to me you will know this for yourself. And yes, then this discussion will not matter anyway. It was just another chapter in consciousness being made aware of itself through form.

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Illusion ... calling some thing an illusion can be for some a scary or at least its outcome. So I think we need to practice a bit of rigour here and clarify what me mean by illusion. Otherwise we talk past one another.

Of course our perceptions are not only coloured but actually formed by our experiences, chemistry, genetics etc. So our perception of reality is at best only a reflection of a small part of the universe or more accurately weighted to a small part of the universe. I suppose it could be argued some reflections are more accurate (more complete?) than others. Though it has been demonstrated some take on a post modernist flavour and claim we can't measure the accuracy not even relatively.

I personally might not describe our waking perception as dream but I think our perception is limited and therefore reality cannot be as perceived with absolute accuracy ie, not what it seems. This sort points to Kant's noumenon and phenomenon. Phenomenon is but a refection of noumenon. But by using numerous kinds of phenomena we can build up a more accurate description of the noumenon assuming we have error checking in place. This is hopefully an ongoing process and we are never at the final description and needs to be viewed over centuries.

Carl Sagan ... We are a way for the Cosmos to know itself. (I might argue about the word "know", but I think the general sentiment points in the right direction)'

Edited by romansh
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For me losing the life quote, I interpret as understanding an intrinsic self is an illusion and moving on from there. What the ancient scribes meant by this, I don't know. And where did it come from and was it borrowed from some earlier Eastern tradition, again, I don't know.

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It seems to me that our definition of the word illusion is the same or at the least very very similar (not what it seems). Yes using that word can be scary for many and comparing life here as a dream can also raise a few eyebrows.:rolleyes:

i think it even offends people but i am persuaded that it is logical especially at least for the word illusion when we examine the myriad of factors including the many you also mentioned that indeed color or form our perceptions.

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While I can't immediately put my finger on it, I think there are some major differences between my waking perception and dreams in general. But end of the day as I think you are suggesting both are products of past experience, chemistry and genetics etc.

The largest difference I think is the immediacy of my waking perception ... it stretches back just a couple seconds, though it does draw on historical events from my local past and evolutionary past. Whereas dreams by and large draw on almost forgotten pasts if not forgotten ones. Dreams at least for me are of little sense to me. Tough to remember and generally rapidly gone.

Dreams and waking perception are both of the universe unfolding. I can't help but be reminded of a tom Clancy quote"

  • The difference between reality and fiction? Fiction has to make sense.

For me my waking perception (of reality) makes more sense than my dreams.

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I have found that if one is truly interested in dreams and makes a conscious effort to explore that area one can have not only very explicit/lucid dreams but also consciously have an alarming control over them. There was a time in my journey where i would wake up and record my dreams multiple times each night in a journal by my bed. It was like living in another world where i knew people i had never seen here and had memory of multiple lives  with shocking recollections and different laws whereby travel could be instant and gravity defeated. Rather than continue on that road which seemed never ending with explorations and astral travel, i put it aside. I actually got pretty good at dream interpretation and found direct correlations to waking life. A number of times actually seeing some future events in dreams that actually manifested within days of the dream that were personal and related events to me or relatives that were verifiable. Anyway enough of that.  

As far as i know, most everyone dreams multiple times each night. It seems to me, they are soon consciously forgotten unless one has a strong and persistent desire to remember.

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There are many kinds of dreams, and I think most would find keeping a dream journal enriching.  I had lucid dreams frequently in the past and they were always marvelous experiences. 

I had two distinct dreams in my agnostic period; one of heaven and one of hell.  Hell was peculiar.  A large, desolated beachside picnic area with no other people but plenty of abandoned 60's style hibachi grills.  I was always tripping over them or stepping on odd coals.

Heaven was a huge park and formal garden where everyone was engaged in conversation.


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  • 1 month later...


You and I have had more than a few discussions on this subject. Ha ha! :)  In some sense, I think I understand what you are getting at. If not, you can, of course, correct me. For all intents and purposes, all we have available to us of the "real world" is our perceptions of it. In other words, and relying on science rather than metaphysical notions, we perceive reality through our 5 senses and our brains attempt to interpret and reconstruct our perceptions into a, hopefully, cohesive whole. Whether or not the reconstructed whole reflects actual reality (if it exists) is a matter open for debate.

I love the analogy to this in the movie "The Matrix". Everything Neal experiences while he is in the pod are neurological simulations in his brain created by the aliens in order to use his lifeforce as a "Coppertop". He knows nothing of the "real world." Does that mean, within the context of the movie, that the real world didn't exist? No. It existed, and he lived there, but he couldn't access it or interact with it. He needed a savior to set him free from his illusion. However, when freed he did find the real world, not just another illusion.

Some say that this is what religion does, that we have saviors that come to set us free from our illusions to the real world. These saviors are said to dispel our illusions and lift us to a higher or enlightened plane where we can see that what we now call the real world is but an illusion, a dream, a fantasy. The only way that I can honestly respond to this is to say that such has not been my experience. Jesus has been my savior since I was 12 years old, and the times that he has been the most helpful in saving me is when I've found something in his person or teaching that has helped me to deal with life HERE, with life NOW. If there is life outside of my pod, either now or later, it is, for some reason, still inaccessible to me. I don't know why. Perhaps, as the apostle Paul warns, I am too much "of this world." Perhaps I am still one of those who have eyes but don't see, who have ears but don't hear. Maybe someday a savior will come to set me from my pod and this illusion that I call real life. In the meantime, I will do the best that I can to enjoy the experiences that I have here and now, and to, hopefully, encourage and help others along the way.

PS: BTW, I don't see this as a point of contention between us, just a point of difference.

Edited by BillM
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