Truth and Illusion
Over the years I have been disillusioned by public figures and spokespeople for institutions ‘telling lies’ to the public, or twisting the truth, in order to manipulate people’s thinking. I have thought a lot about truth and lies in order to gain some peace with this common reality, and wish to share some of these reflections with you.
I have learned a few things, such as the fact that everyone has some kind of agenda which is frequently self-serving, and they will do whatever they can to fulfill that agenda. I have also learned that the words ‘truth’ and ‘lie’ don’t usually apply in the way we normally use those words. If we think about it, we could always find other ways of more accurately describing what we would label with these words. Most often we use them as value judgements, implying that we agree (truth) or do not agree (lie). What we think we are doing when using these words is making a factual statement, but that is seldom the case.
In spiritual philosophy we separate reality into truth and illusion, equating these terms with the real and the unreal. While these are valid distinctions in themselves, they cannot be applied to describe the manifest world. They are only valid as descriptions of our perceptions. Perceptions, however, can be either superficial or deeply insightful.
Truth is a perception of depth in which we perceive more of what is there, while illusion is a superficial perception of reality.
From this description it is quite obvious that a lot of what passes as truth in the public arena – clearly evident in political statements – and between people, is illusion.
At the superficial level of reality we experience separateness and disconnection. At deeper levels we experience unity. It is through deepening our perceptions that we begin to experience the deeper levels of who we are and of what things are, and there we find connections. This is why people make meaningful connections with one another when they reveal their depths to each other.
Truth is what is real at a deeper level than the form or appearance level of anything. This is why in Eastern philosophies the form world is called the world of illusion. The form is but the outer expression of truth. To put it philosophically, truth is therefore the essence of something or the existence of something, rather than the appearance of something. The essence and existence of anything or anyone are unique in the sense that they each contain both the universal dimension and the individual dimension. It is the universal dimension that links all life and all beings together. Truth is therefore always unifying in its effects. And when we speak the truth we are integrating our inner (soul) and outer (personality) selves.
When we perceive or experience either the essence or the existence of something, we do so with both personality awareness and soul consciousness. The personality awareness enables us to see the individual nature, and the soul consciousness enables us to perceive and experience the universal nature.
Truth is not the same as facts. So in our pursuit of truth, we are not talking about ‘telling the truth’ as opposed to ‘telling a lie.’ We are talking about living truth versus living illusion. What we call ‘telling the truth’ and ‘telling a lie’ are both often different versions of illusion and ways of remaining in control of a situation. We adjust to the version that enables us to be in control, have the upper hand, get what we want, or be ‘right.’
As we develop soul consciousness we increasingly respond automatically to that which is true, good and beautiful because we increasingly experience the essence of things, including our own essence. Then whenever we deny the true, good or beautiful, or attempt to act contrary to them, the brain immediately detects an error. The brain is an instrument of the soul and knows instinctively when we are functioning inconsistently without our true inner nature. It says, ‘There is something wrong that needs to be rectified.’ This creates physical, emotional and mental conflict and anxiety, relative to the degree of soul consciousness a person has. Responding to this inner need for rectification, we are urged to expand our consciousness by going deeper and embracing more fully what is real.
Illusion is an incomplete perception of truth. When we do not perceive with soul consciousness we do not know the universal dimensions of what we are seeing or experiencing. We are then able to perceive or experience only the form or appearance of something. This partial perception, which is personality perception only, is described as illusion. It is seeing the part, the particular, the individual or the appearance, and relating to it as if it had no other dimensions to its existence.
Illusion is rigid, fixed and somewhat static. It is limited and held in place by its form. Truth on the other hand is very flexible as it can express itself in endless ways and still be itself. One truth of who we are is our human nature. All human beings share the same nature but every human being is a unique expression of that nature. So human nature expresses itself in billions of different ways. When we are creative we express this uniqueness, which is not an expression of what is different, but what is real about who we are. This is truth.
1. Think about a situation where you feel separate. What illusion are you holding onto? What do you have to let go of in order to see the truth of the situation?
2. Think of a situation or a person where you can’t see the good, the truth or the beauty. What do you have to do or perceive to see the truth of this person or situation?