Illusion and Understanding

I live on a bluff above a river. In the summer, we only see flashes of water through the thick woods that separate us from the river below. Because we are so elevated, it is like living in a tree house.

When autumn comes and the leaves begin to fall, more and more of the river is gradually revealed. Then we can see the small houses along the far bank and beyond that what appears to be low hills. The hills are quite beautiful from a distance, reflecting the evening sun as they do. When it snows, they appear to be snowcapped.

If I cross the river and inspect the hills more closely, we see that the “hills” are really the finished product of a now closed waste management landfill. I have been admiring Mount Trashmore…..

Understanding what something really is does not have to negate any pleasure we feel in appreciating the illusion—it provides perspective. Close observation helps loosen the bonds of attachment and we can clearly see the delusion. The hills may be Mount Trashmore, but I can still enjoy how beautiful they are decorated with snow.

The obverse is also true. Knowing that suffering is a delusion does not mean we won’t experience pain or sadness. However, we can recognize arising mental formations (experiences) for what they are, neither rejecting nor grasping them. Instead, as Munindraji said, we can live life fully, clinging to none of it.

Posted by Deb.