From the Faculty: Jeffery D. Long

The contemplative traditions are relatively unanimous on the status of “illusion” as an obstacle to contemplative insight. What is the source of illusion, insofar as you understand it?

My understanding of illusion is that we are its source.  It is our own ignorance, interacting with the reality of existence, that gives rise to illusion.  So, to use the great metaphor from Advaita Vedānta, we see a rope.  The rope is real, and is really there, having certain characteristics.  But due to poor lighting (our ignorance) we perceive not a rope, but a snake.  The rope is the reality.  The snake is the illusion.  The poor lighting is our ignorance which makes the rope appear to us as a snake.  The illusion is not entirely false.  Its character is shaped in part by the reality that we are perceiving.  But it is distorted by our ignorance.  We need to awaken, first to the fact that our perceptions are not adequate to reality, and then get on a path that enables us to correct our perceptions and see reality as it truly is: as infinite bliss, infinite joy, and infinite wisdom.

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