What is the day to day experience of something who understands the Three Illusions?
This is really what people often want to know. How would my life be different if I investing time and energy into understanding this? Is it a profound-enough difference to justify the investment? Or will it turn out to be a waste of time and energy because it’s either ultimately meaningless in terms of reducing my emotional pain, or it will be too difficult for me to absorb and I’ll quit it like I’ve quit other things before, without experiencing much of a return on my investment?
I’ll attempt to answer the first question first.
My day to day experience is much like yours in most ways. I wake up, have a coffee, greet my wife and youngest child, and eventually go about my day – work, play, phone calls, emails, writing, recording, research. Most of it is inherently enjoyable. Some is not. After work, I play with my youngest child, have dinner with the family, get the kid to bed, then go back to work, while my wife usually sits beside me, doing her own work, reading or watching a show. Then we retire to bed, go to sleep to start again.
What may be different from you is that, in my life, there is no stress. No anxiety. No fear about the future. No guilt, no resentment, no anger lasting more than a moment. No feelings of self-hatred, no emotional or psychological pain.
I’m completely at peace with the world around me and my place in it. And that peace has lasted for 30 years.
Why is there such peace?
That’s what understanding the Three Illusions provides.
Understanding the illusion of free will means I know that every single action that I have done, or will ever do, was/is 100% determined by forces beyond any control. This means I can’t feel guilt at my past actions because they had to happen exactly as they did. I can still feel regret that things happened that way – as in, if I could have designed the perfect universe, I would have made things happen differently, either because of the impact of my actions on myself or on others. However, I know that things had to happen as they did, because free will doens’t exist, never did exist, cannot possible exist, and so I fully accept all of my past, present and future actions, just as I fully accept the actions of those around me. This removes anger and resentment from my life, because how can I resent someone who did exactly what they had to do?
Understanding the illusion of time means I don’t worry about the future because I know that everything that will happen in the future is already happening right now. I know that “time is relative” – as in our experience of time is relative to our position in space-time and that the prevaling view of physics is that all of time co-exists with the present moment. Everything that has ever happened or will ever happening co-exists with right now. Which means the future is set in stone. It’s already happened. We just have to catch up to it. And so I accept the future as a foregone conclusion, which prevents me from worrying about it. It’s like watching the first episode of a TV show after the series has already gone to air. I don’t worry about how the characters will end up, because there is absolutely nothing I can do about it. Worry is an activity that is tied to the idea of being able to change future events and the concept that there might be multiple ways things can turn out. Of course, if it’s already happened, there is only ONE way it can turn out and we can have zero impact on that – so worrying about it is meaningless.
Finally, understanding the illusion of identity means I fully accept that “Cameron” is an illusion of the senses and that the reality is that “what I am” is merely the entire Universe – and that this is also true of everyone else, and every THING else. Things that appear to happen to “Cameron” has a little importance to me as things happening right now on the surface of Mars, or things that happened last week in my favourite television show. They are interesting to watch and I might laugh or cry along with them. Last night, for example, I teared up at an episode of 30 Rock. I’m not even kidding. But I know the characters and their situations aren’t real. They are a contrivance, manufactured, and they have exactly as much reality as I give them. I can laugh and cry at them in one moment, then turn the TV off and forget all about their trials and tribulations.
All of this means that life is experience without any significant psychological or emotional pain. All events are greeted with the same level of anticipation and essential happiness. We accept everything that happens as being necessary to the story. Life becomes a breeze.
As for the second question – this isn’t hard to understand. The only questions is whether or not you can accept it. Quite often people will say “I get it, it’s hard to argue with, but I just can’t seem to accept it.”
But I can explain it in a few seconds:
Decisions are thoughts. Thoughts are properties of the brain. The brain is made of atoms. Atoms obey the laws of physics. Therefore all decisions are the result of atoms obeying the laws of physics. Therefore there can be no “free will”. Einstein explained that time and space are dimensions of the same construct. That’s why we call it “space-time”. And, as all points in space co-exist, therefore all points in time must also co-exist. Therefore the future has already happened. The atoms that make up your body are billions of years old. Most of the atoms that made up your body 10 years ago are today something else. The atoms that are you today, were something else 10 years ago. The atoms that will be you 10 years from now are currently something else. Which atoms are you? If we could put on magic glasses that allowed us to see at sub-atomic levels, we would notice (according to quantum mechanics) that atoms don’t have a hard shell. Their outer shell is made of electrons which, most of the time, exist either as a wave function and/or a probability cloud (in QM speak: a wave function from which a probability distribution of the location of an electron upon measurement can be inferred). So the electron “shells” of your atoms cross over with the “shells” of other atoms – in the air around you, the furniture you are sitting on, the people around you. Therefore all things literally blend into one another, and all of these things are the “body” of the universe. We are the universe experiencing itself.
That’s the essence of the Three Illusions. Grasp this and you will live a life free of psychological and emotional pain. It really is that simple.
For more on The Three Illusions, check out the podcast or book.