How does one escape illusions if we can’t recognize them? When a person suffers from delusions we say they need medical treatment, but when a group of people has delusions we accept it as a religion, another part of the culture.
We experience life as a singularity of awareness as the optics of consciousness. But, groupthink proves that we are linked and one of the strongest links is common ground. It doesn’t matter what the commonality is or whether the beliefs are accurate or true. The need to belong and the need to believe create blinders.
“A human being is a part of the whole called by us universe; a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts, and his feelings as something separate from the rest – a kind of optical delusion of consciousness.” — Albert Einstein
How does this insight help us on our spiritual journey?
Our consciousness contains a broad spectrum of energy and awareness. We are unaware of the subconscious activity that sustains our personality and instincts. Most of our internal organs function without conscious direction. We are consciousness riding a biodegradable meat-covered skeleton.
The Optical Delusion of Consciousness
An optical illusion is a mistake in the perception of something. All perception takes place in the realm of consciousness. So, if our consciousness is distorted, we misperceive things. Yet, we delude ourselves into thinking that the fiction crafted by the mind is reality. How do we identify this kind of distortion, how does it occur, and how d to we correct it?
If we want to know how to escape illusion and the delusion we’ve created, we must first identify it. How does this distortion manifest?
Identifying the Optical Delusion of the Mind
A delusion of consciousness is when our perception of something is skewed and distorted, but we don’t recognize the problem. We think the faulty perception is accurate and act accordingly.
We perceive reality in the mind with the help of a filter known as our worldview or paradigm. This filter tells us what is right or wrong. It contains our values and beliefs about reality. We can diagnose faulty perception by comparing the qualities of a healthy paradigm with the qualities of an unhealthy one. So, we must define the attributes of a healthy and an unhealthy worldview.
An example of an unhealthy worldview is the “Heaven’s Gate” group. In 1974 several members committed suicide as a comet passed earth. They believed they would be transported to the comet, ascend to the next level.
An unhealthy paradigm manifests as sectarianism, racial, ethnic, and gender bias and prejudice. It promotes discrimination, inequality, and inequity. We’ll talk about how it’s possible to escape illusions and delusions of perception in a moment.
Here’s what we believe this ideal template contains the following two main qualities:
1) Pristine and Uncorrupted in Nature
A paradigm that is corrupted deviates from its original unblemished state. A corrupted paradigm contains elements that distort, tarnish, and clutter the original spotless nature. A paradigm becomes contaminated, polluted, and warped when it contains harmful beliefs which deviate from the original state of being.
These cognitive distortions manifest in sectarianism, the belief, and attachment with a religion or sect political party. It’s important here to distinguish between religions and politics which are harmful and those that are harmless or helpful.
They encourage and advance wars, genocide, and ecocide (the misuse and destruction of the environment.) Harmful beliefs promote isolationist preferential treatment for gender, race, or ethnicity. In other words, they exclude others to provide benefits to a select few. Examples of paradigms with harmful beliefs that promote these philosophies include Western Organized Religions (1), Alt-Right, and Conspiracy Theorists.
These distortions contrast with those religions or politics that champion everyone and the planet’s equal rights and protections. Examples of those who promote these philosophies include Atheists, Agnostics, and most Eastern and Pagan religions.
2) Inclusive Purpose, Intent, and Impact
The purpose is the reason or reasons behind the action. The purpose of inclusion is to give everyone equal access to the benefits of culture. The intent speaks to the motives behind your actions. The impact is the measurable results of the initiatives fueled by the purpose and intent.
It’s not enough to say you promote love if your actions are the opposite. Your good intentions must consistently support the goal of achieving a healthy verdant, and inclusive culture.
So, now we have a template of a healthy paradigm. We also know what things can contaminate a worldview.
Religion is the Root Cause
Our modern cultures often promote the programming that creates the optical delusion of consciousness. It creates a collective delusion skewed by harmful beliefs. Our modern cultures carry an infectious disease called Organized Religion. These institutions have a lot invested in keeping people paying customers. But, we are alive for a much greater purpose than to be used as a means for supporting institutions.
If one person has delusions, we believe they need psychiatric help. But, if a group of people has a collective delusion, we call that a religion.
If you travel the world, you will experience first-hand the differences in cultures. Some cultures are more open to inner exploration than others. Most indigenous cultures are centered around the exploration of their consciousness. It is the opposite in cultures that are dominated by organized religion.
Western organized religions (1) discourage with extreme prejudice any techniques that allow someone to explore awareness. The reasons they are against this are simple. They can’t compete with or control what you’ll discover on your own inward quest. They fear losing you as a paying customer. Once you find out you don’t need them, they are a burden and hindrance to your spiritual growth. They don’t want to know how to escape illusion and fabrications they use to control thinking.
Organized religion can’t control you if you venture beyond the fields of time and space. But aren’t we contained within these boundaries? No. We are not. Everything we experience happens within the mind, and we know there are other portals of awareness.
Our dreams are proof of this ability. Yet, we fail to capitalize on the opportunity this portal provides. There are simple, lucid dreaming techniques that help us expand our ability to control and explore deep realms. But, you won’t find any church, synagogue, or mosque teaching classes on how to lucid dream.
“Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason provides us with a basis for understanding the ineffable nature of the divine. As Kant observes, our experience comes to us within the fields of time and space.” — Joseph Campbell
Don’t run past this last sentence too quickly, as it contains an essential element of wisdom. Notice that both space and time are prime “conditioning factors.” It means something or someone is purposely conditioning these limitations on our experience.
Mr. Campbell reveals an essential point. We are conditioned or programmed to stay within the boundaries of space and time, but these are not the only two portals of experience. We’ll look at these after we look at how the delusion manifests.
How to Escape Illusion By the Numbers
We must remember that we do not observe nature as it actually exists, but nature is exposed to our methods of perception. The theories determine what we can or cannot observe…Reality is an illusion, albeit a persistent one.” — Albert Einstein
“The world as we see it is only the world as we see it. Others may see it differently” — Albert Einstein
Einstein is saying our methods of perception are the default settings of consciousness. Within this framework, we create the delusion of “individuality.” Our idea of reality is an individually constructed fiction. We fail to test its boundaries, and so we stay within the margins of the construct we have created.
Einstein isn’t the only great thinker to recognize the collective delusion. Each of the following authors describes the illusion or delusion of culture from a slightly different vantage point.
How to Escape Illusion 1 Modern Culture
“Modern civilization is largely devoted to the pursuit of the cult of delusion. There is no general information about the nature of the mind. It is hardly ever written about by writers or intellectuals; modern philosophers do not speak of it directly; the majority of scientists deny it could possibly be there at all. It plays no part in popular culture: no one sings about it, no one talks about it in plays, and it’s not on TV. We are actually educated into believing that nothing is real beyond what we can perceive with our ordinary senses.” — Sogyal Rinpoche
The pursuit of the collective delusion is what gives it power and control. It is built upon the dictates of religion. Commercialism is a subset of this umbrella. The cult of the culture perpetuates the ideals and values of religion.
“There is no society that protects freedom of religion more than secular democracies because, in societies where one religion rules, different viewpoints will be labeled as heresy and blasphemy. Why? Because society is built on religion – not freedom for all points of view.” — Flemming Rose
How to Escape Illusion 2 Corporate Culture
Corporate culture is another slice of commercialism. It treats people like paper clips, just another asset to create wealth for those who own the corporation.
“I don’t know how it could be more stark or clear: this entire society is being dominated by corporate power in a way that may exceed what happened in the late nineteenth century, early twentieth century.” — Russ Feingold
“Our society nurtures the illusion that all the rewards go to the people who are perfect. But many of us are finding out that trying to be perfect is costly.” — Debbie Ford
How to Escape Illusion 3 Social Sensationalism
The sensationalism of the conspiracy theorists is a symptom of cultural cancer. The illusions of religion become so great that people create outlandish scenarios to motivate activists. We see it in all of the allegations of child pornography. We see it manifest in the storming of the US capital on January 6, 2021.
“Increasingly, the picture of our society as rendered in our media is illusionary and delusionary: disfigured, unreal, out of touch with reality, disconnected from the true context of our life. It is disfigured by celebrity, by celebrity worship, by gossip, by sensationalism, by denial of our societies.” — Carl Bernstein
“Society is a collection of selves perpetuating their myth.” — Chris Matakas
There must be a better way to live and understand life beyond the anti-intellectualism and religious extremists. Are there ways to overcome this mind control?
How to Escape Illusion 4 Morality and Mortality
It’s simple, really. Return to your original state of innocence. Focus your efforts on removing the junk programming of religion, and you’ll find beneath it is a beautiful person. Yes, we are flawed, and yes, we have a limited existence. Our mortality is the essence that gives life its meaning. To fear it is to fear the inevitable, which is illogical.
Moral actions come from a pure heart, not fearing the wrath of an imaginary being. Rules and regulations don’t stop people from harming others; they merely quantify it. The way to stop it is to make the world a better place for everyone. Escape illusions of religion as an answer.
See life as an experiment of sorts? Some think we are merely the universe expressing itself for a grand experiment.
“A human being is a part of the whole called by us universe, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feeling as something separated from the rest, a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.”― Albert Einstein
Our Western culture uses names like Nomad, Sojourner, Wayfarer, Traveler, Wanderer, Gypsy, or Drifter to describe them. Does this resonate with you? If one of these titles feels like a “fit,” this is a clue in determining you may be on the Hero’s Journey.
“Anybody who gives you a belief system is your enemy because the belief system becomes the barrier for your eyes; you cannot see the truth.” — Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, Osho
We have identified four sources that program the optical delusion of consciousness to which Einstine refers. And, we’ve given some tactics and ideas about how to handle them. We know it’s possible to overcome the groupthink programming that causes these kinds of distortions. Everyone has the responsibility within their scope of influence to help those who are under the control of an unhealthy worldview.
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(1) Joseph Campbell & Joseph Campbell’s book The Hero’s Journey, Wikipedia