Beliefnet
Letting Go with Guy Finley

Question: What are illusions and how do they impact our lives and our ability to grow into our true nature?

Answer: Illusions are something we believe we see, but they are not real. When it comes to the illusions that limit our lives, they are the product of an unconscious relationship we have with images (of past events) stored away in our own minds and hearts that condition the way in which we experience our lives. These illusions — our unsuspected relationship with them, and the conditions they create in our lives — do not serve us. They serve the interest of the society from which these images (and their illusions) have sprung.

The life of illusion is the story of humankind, and its deception grows stronger every day — causing most people to fall into a deeper and deeper spiritual slumber. As a result, individuals are no longer in command of their own lifelives. They are ruled by their habitual reactions to events that run counter to the images of security, happiness, etc. to which they have become attached and dependent upon. As a result of this resistance to life’s constant changes, life becomes a never-ending struggle where the illusion of security is threatened by the illusion of its loss! Let’s look at a simple example:

Let’s say we see someone we know talking to somebody, and suddenly we’re pretty sure that they’re talking about us. Then, our mind forms an image of this conspiracy based on some (usually) painful experience of a similar past event, and we are gone! We find ourselves the captive of our own idea about what is happening, followed by those negative emotional reactions that then rule us (and wreck the rest of our relationships). Now multiply this simplest of social conditions by six billion people, add the kind of horrific events that cause global conflict and fears, and it isn’t hard to see how our present day world is the unhappy effect of living in illusion. And, when we mechanically fight with these negative effects, we strengthen that which produces those illusions; so that instead of getting to the heart of the illusion, and canceling it at its core — which is the only chance we have to be free — we actually participate in making ourselves prisoners of further illusion. Yet, to be able to see the truth of this negative spiral is a highly positive thing for us. It awakens in us the real need to free ourselves of the false self that is the king of illusions!

Real spiritual work, real spiritual development is not the sense of pleasure that comes when we imagine ourselves being free or new. Real spiritual work is seeing through the need to imagine who we are at all. And as we realize this truth, and do the interior work to give up that image-dependent self, we also let go of its principle illusion: a time to come in which we will be what we imagine is necessary to be whole and happy.

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