Written Blog: Illusions are Convenient
Removing illusions is a paramount practice in most spiritual paths. Some of my favorite archetypes include Shiva being the destroyer of illusions and maya as the Sanskrit word for illusion. Once we discard our illusions, we can see things as they are.
However, some of these illusions turn out to be rather elusive. I have had teachers put directly illusions directly in front of my face, and I still could not see them. So I got to thinking, “Why are our illusions and the stories we tell ourselves so difficult to see?”
And then I realized, when you let go of your illusions, you often have to make serious changes in your life. Once you allow yourself to see through an illusion, things never really go back to the way they were.
On the other hand, if we find a way to discount the truth, we can avoid making change- especially if it’s inconvenient. So we create a story that allows us to keep our illusion intact. So now we have an illusion and a story. Notice how things are starting to multiply.
Eradicating such illusions and stories involves seeing the truth behind the illusory veil. For me, this often happens when I am at a retreat or ceremony.
I create enough distance between myself and the everyday dreaminess of my life, and something true and real begins to shine through. It could come in the form of sudden insight or feedback in a sharing circle.
Part of me knows right away that it’s true. I can see it and feel it. But it quickly becomes clear that accepting this truth is going to have some serious repercussions in my life.
Perhaps it’s seeing that my job is not a good place for me to be anymore. Or realizing that my significant other and I want very different things. Or maybe its seeing the way I have been navigating life is no longer working.
None of these changes would be convenient. We are talking about potentially having to find a different job or even career, getting couples therapy or a divorce, or establishing a new way to walk through life.
The first couple of times we see an “inconvenient truth” (thanks Al Gore), we typically find a way to brush it under the carpet. But part of us knows that it’s true.
I remember seeing through an illusion about 17 years ago at a Summer Solstice ceremony. It was the realization that my marriage was not working for me. It wasn’t anyone’s fault, we were just growing in different directions.
But I was so invested in my marriage working. So I went home and worked on the marriage until I convinced myself I had fixed the problem.
And then about six months later during a session with my teacher, there it was again. Clear as day. How could I not see this before?
It took about three or four rounds of this until I actually did something about it, which in this case, was ending the marriage. But each time I looked at the truth, it became a little more undeniable, until Shiva finally destroyed the illusion once and for all.
There seems to a point of no return at which you just know too much to reconstruct the illusions and stories.
Then the house of cards collapses, and we finally deal with the inevitable and massively inconvenient change that we desperately need to make.
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