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The Great Illusion

[Part 1, of 3]




The whole order of things is 

as outrageous as any miracle 

which could presume to violate it.

                                      –  G. K. Chesterton





The universe is not only queerer than we suppose,

it is queerer than we can suppose.

                                                                        –    J. B. S. Haldane







If you sometimes feel that Existence is a bit ‘ho-hum’  or boring


if you have wondered WHY everyone (in the world) seems always to think ‘that they are RIGHT’,


if you are uncertain whether human beings (or animals) actually deserve compassion respect, love, and care …


this essay may be of some help to you.

And it WILL be of use to you …




Now … the REASON I say that … is because it’s a hard idea to entertain.   

It’s simply a DIFFICULT idea.


And what makes it difficult is that (in order to see it) … one is required to interpret our (most fundamental) waking experience in a different way from how we’re used to.


I’m telling you … it’s a TALL ORDER.


[It’s possible, of course, that you already understand it … but it’s not likely]


In MY case, it took me nearly TWO YEARS to see it –

(between my receiving the ‘assignment’ [which I did not clearly understand] …

and the experience of the necessary insight.

[which insight amounts to a Reinterpretation of Reality])


(If you are interested in the story of the “assignment”

I’ll include it at the end of this essay.)


Actually I suspect that there are quite a number of people who (over human history) have also come to the same realization.  But it has never become common knowledge, simply because the idea itself is nearly impossible to share.


Between 1976 and 1980 I attended MIU (Maharishi International University, now called ‘Maharishi University of Management’).  It’s a small Liberal Arts school in southeast Iowa … apparently rather ordinary … except that at this college – everyone practices the Transcendental Meditation Technique.  Faculty, staff, and students.

(I count myself Very Fortunate to have been able to spend those four years there.  Wonderful people.)


In my (graduating) class were about 200 students.  Now, it wasn’t till well into my second year there that I (finally) had the insight.

But, of course, after I did, I tried my best to share it with my fellow students.  And at that school, CONSCIOUSNESS is understood to be the basis of EVERYTHING, so it’s a common topic of conversation; and – people there are actually interested.  And (besides that) there is considerable opportunity to share ideas (with one’s entire class).  Nevertheless, I think I was successful in sharing this idea with only a few people … perhaps 10% of my class (and they ALL HEARD what I had to say)


My brother is smart … (Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering  and and M. D.).  A Data Whisperer.  A scientist. And he assures me that he believes that HE does (still) not understand it.


It’s a HARD Idea.




            Let’s just assume we can DO this.

    Let’s GO for it.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~


We THINK that we see the world … but we don’t.  (at least – not the way it seems)


(I mean – the world REALLY IS THERE … only we don’t “see” it the way we think we do)


We think that our ‘sight’ goes out from our eyes … and (sort of) feels the environment.

(out there where it is … however far away)


We say that we look out of a window.  We think we look out through the windshield –  

“This windshield is so dirty (or – the rain is falling so hard) … that I can hardly see out!”



Every freshman (taking Psychology 101) learns (and believes) that the direction of perception is (always) inward.   Only this understanding has no effect on the way we construe the experience of seeing.

It still seems to us … that the direction of seeing is outward.



Most of us (now) believe – that the sun does not (actually) “rise” … or “set”.

We now believe – that this phenomenon is due to the rotational motion of the earth on its axis … that it rotates one full turn every 24 hours … and that’s why the sun appears to come up in the morning and go down in the evening.


We still “see” the sun rise … and we see the sun set.

(despite the fact that we believe, on the level of intellect, that that’s not what’s happening)



When we become infatuated / “fall in love” with someone … (the Jungians would say that) we project upon that person … our own anima (the Jungian word for ‘soul’) … and that we do not realize that we are “projecting”.          And I think that this is basically true.


THIS projection is CHILD’S PLAY compared with the Great Projection which we create … ALL DAY, EVERY DAY (when we’re in the Waking State).  

We live BY this great projection.      And we even seem to live IN it.


How did this come to be?


How did it happen ?


We LEARNED TO DO IT … when we said goodbye to … when we graduated from our own infancy.


By about the middle of our first year of life … we learned to have a fairly ‘high fidelity’ experience of our surroundings (even though we did not yet BELIEVE IN our surroundings)


Here’s what we can observe –


An infant is put in his high chair and is given something (on the tray) to play with.  He will play with it … and maybe he will inadvertently knock it off the tray. It falls to the floor, where it is hidden from his field of view.  And (at first) – HE WILL NOT HUNT FOR IT. (It’s simply GONE)


But then he goes through a transition, such that (in a similar situation) – when something he likes disappears from his field of view – he will HUNT FOR IT.  He (evidently, now) believes that it still exists.


Psychologists say (with Piaget) that he has learned to ascribe (to objects) the ‘property of object permanence”.


Now … while this explanation is NOT INCORRECT … is assure you that this description    does NOT begin to do justice to the Philosophical MAGNITUDE of what has taken place.  

At the core of our transition from infancy is an AUDACIOUS philosophical transaction.   What allows us to move into childhood is … that we POSTULATE THE EXISTENCE OF THE WORLD.


We (further) postulate … that WE ARE SEEING IT.


So … right then … in that one stroke of cognition and recognition

(which, in a strict sense, is a MISRECOGNITION)

the WORLD appears before our eyes AS the WORLD.

[and now – HERE WE ARE in the WAKING STATE ! ]


And … just prior to this Great Transition … what was going on?  (what is the nature of Infant’s Consciousness?)

Well … we were watching the show … only we did not realize that it was a SHOW OF SOMETHING.

(And, of course, we could hardly participate in the events of the world, because we did not yet believe in the world … or think that we can SEE it.)


But … we FIGURED IT OUT … that the WORLD is REAL …  and THAT’S what I’m seeing !


(THAT is the Great Transition)






It’s (somewhat) ILLUSIONARY.


We ARE (in a PRACTICAL sense) “seeing” the World (and we can now PARTICIPATE in it)


(in a strict sense) 

We are NOT seeing the (actual) world


We are (instead) looking at our own (internal) WORK-UP of the world

(which, during our first half year of life, we learned to construct.  It’s a “dream” of the [real] world … in Real Time.)

And eventually we learn to “recognize” that (inner) dream-world … AS the (actual, material) world !


(strictly speaking) 

that (brave and wonderful and empowering) Recognition

Is (in fact) a misrecognition.





I am unaware of any reason to conclude – 

that there is any such thing (in the strict sense)    as ‘red’ light … or ‘purple’ light

(or light which is [inherently] any other “color”)


What scientists know … is that there is a (particular) frequency (and wave-length) which corresponds to light which we experience as a particular color (such as ‘green’ … or whatever) but

THAT DOES NOT MEAN THAT THE COLOR INHERES IN THE LIGHT (as a property of the light itself)


To me it makes (much) more sense – to regard that color (rather than being a property of the WORLD) … is instead – a property of CONSCIOUSNESS.


While color is (admittedly) a very important aspect of our (day in and day out) experience of the world … I think we should realize that it (color) is OUR contribution.


Anyway, it’s not the COLOR which makes our Great Projection (the “world” which we seem to live in every moment we’re awake)  – so “REAL”.    It’s the WHERENESS of it (of our projection)

We seem to see the world OUT THERE    where we know it to be !

THAT’S what makes it so utterly and compellingly (and inescapably) convincing!



It is miraculous … is it not?


And all the animals (even insects, with eyes) see “the world” by means of this very same illusion.


We are all the same in this way … (which is partly why we are all in the same Family)


And because we all see the world through this (illusionary) Projection, we all have the experience (all day, every day) – that we are in Direct Contact with Reality.


And it’s because of THIS … that we all think we’re (always) Right.



“A’Journe Gets an Assignment”


I grew up in semi-rural northwest Ohio.  

When I was 14,  just after I entered Shawnee High School, I matriculated also into a school which I could not see. 

I do not know whether I had more than one teacher, or of what order of being they were, but they were not human.  I couldn’t see them.

Nevertheless, I was being taught.

There were no scheduled classes.

I was simply having my attention directed to certain things that were happening around me.

For example: to what was happening when a fellow student eagerly filled in a gap in their understanding.  Clearly this was being done because they were not comfortable with the “hole”; and they didn’t much care what it got filled in with.

Well !

That very moment I vowed I would never do such a thing.

If I didn’t understand something, I would live with the “blank”. 

(I would wait TILL I DIED if necessary.)

I would wait till the understanding came.


I gave myself – completely – to this Training.

I was more devoted to it than to the education I was receiving in the school I could see, and from the human teachers I could see and hear (and whom I liked quite well enough)


Fifteen years later I was living in Seattle, Washington.

One day (in the spring of 1976) I was “auditioned”.

I was asked to work through, to think through : the Freewill / Determinism Paradox.  

(Do human beings have free will, or not?)

I agreed to do so.

It was not the first time I had thought about this issue.  I had not thought much about it for some time; but I agreed.

After a couple weeks, it occurred to me that I had done what I could do with the idea.

So I “notified my Teacher”, and “handed in my work”.  

There was nothing written down.  I guess I figured they would be able to handle my thoughts directly (as perhaps they may have been recorded).

I sort of just “handed in my mind” to be reviewed and considered.

I didn’t hear any applause or anything like that; but I got the feeling that it was considered to be Satisfactory.

Soon after that, a certain thought came into my mind:  that there are two components (or aspects) of what we call  (here & now) “Experience”. There is an outer, material aspect; and there is an inner, subjective, non-material aspect.

(As I look out my window, I see a pond.  It has water and fish, etc. That is material.  

Also there is my (inner) experience of it.  And this is made of Mind Stuff. It is not material.)

Now, everybody knows this.

And I had no reason to be thinking about it.

Furthermore, attached to this idea – was an INTENSE sense of URGENCY,

which I did not put there.

(And the idea didn’t come from me, either.)

I had been auditioned … and then had been given an assignment.


For the next year and a half (till the “answer” came)  I was, I believe, as true to my assignment as I could have been.

Those next (4) years – I spent at MIU (now MUM) in Fairfield, Iowa.  A liberal arts college where everyone – faculty, staff, and students – practices TM (Transcendental Meditation).  And since consciousness is there regarded to be the basis of everything, there is more than a little talk about it.

So whenever it seemed pertinent to a given discussion, I would interject something about my assigned idea (the outer and the inner).

Students came to talk to me.  In a steady stream. To encourage me.  

The environment was about ideal.

But it was not until late in the fall term of my second year there that the Insight finally came.

In the class I was taking we were watching one day a film strip about a baby in a high chair, playing with some toy on the tray in front of him.  He knocked it off the tray, and the object fell out of his field of view. But he does not hunt for it.

Then the baby goes through a Transition.  THEN when his toy lands outside of his field of view, HE HUNTS FOR IT.

This immediately struck me as very important.  Significant.

But it took about two weeks for the Insight to present itself.

Then I understood it !  

I had completed my assignment.


RECOGNITION is the key.

We watch the inner

And we recognize it 


The outer.

4 thoughts on “The Great Illusion

  1. OK, I’ll read this again. I am always interested in “reality” as in a scientific way. So, of course, when I look at my environment, I see processes and changes. Nothing exists for me very long as it first appears. The make up of the world is dynamic to me. So what does that have to do with what you have said. I don’t know, but everyone of us is unique in our genetic make up and no one has the exact same experiences. So generalities are not true are seldom. We and the world are extremely complex. So what? I doubt if anyone will understand exactly how you explain your world.

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