Saturday, December 18, 2010

Continuation of Ian's Thoughts

The Buddha talked about illusion. We perceive the world through our senses, but the senses are conditioned and constrained by our beliefs, so we can only receive a narrow stream of information.

Tom and his children live in a garage.

Is Tom a bad father? Does he gamble away his salary? Is he too lazy to work? Does he get a job then get sacked because he has a bad temper? Is he abusive  towards his children? Does he resent the fact that his buddies go out every night and he has to stay home with the kids? Does Tom believe he and his children deserve no better? Should Welfare come and take his children away?

True story. When I was a kid, one of my school buddies lived in a garage.

His mother had died, and there were no family to help with the kids.

My buddy's father worked two jobs to send his three kids to the second-top private school in Adelaide (capital of South Australia), where my dad sent me (and my dad had to get a second job as well to pay fees). And could only afford to rent a garage.

All we can say for sure is that my buddy and his family lived in a garage, because anything else is illusion that we are laying over the bare facts -why didn't Tom send his three kids to public school and buy a house, for

I think it's impossible to live without illusion, because without it, the world is incomprehensible. On a mechanistic level, our senses filter and approximate input so that we can deal with the massive amount of
information  tumbling down on us every second. This works fine, but optical illusions (for example) show that our senses are constantly creating illusory  representations of real-world data.

At a higher level, children operate though uninformed illusion. Loud noise = danger = be scared of loud noises. Distorted faces = danger/anger = be scared of people with facial injuries. Fast movement = threat = be scared of dogs jumping up.

Even the Buddhist statement that all creatures desire compassion and kindness is illusory. It just happens to be the most productive illusion, since it intends no harm to any creature. It's a nice convergence with
evolution, too, as it parallels the notion that creatures adapt for survival, and that social creatures (such as ourselves) only survive optimally if we extend compassion and kindness to each others.

So, I agree that it's neccessary to "look inside", but that looking needs to  examine our illusions about ourselves and the world, and to discover whether  they are productive. "Compulsive helpers" will often justify their actions on the basis of altruism, even when those actions are detrimental to those they profess to help - such people need to hear "but it *is* all about you", and to examine the illusion that they are somehow uniquely called to set  the world to rights.

In the worst case, illusion leads to fanaticism, and we've got so many  examples from history (and right now) that I don't need to list them.

Is the statement "all is illusion" an illusion in itself?

Try this "we believe what we believe because that belief solves more problems than it creates".

No comments:

Post a Comment