Thursday, 24 March 2016

A comfortable illusion

Sometimes one is left to wonder whether the thoughts one experiences are the symptoms of depression or merely the accepting of grim reality. As more and more memories come flooding back of things long suppressed I find that a stark yet very simple image begins to appear, one profoundly illustrating the distinction between illusion and fact.

I would venture to say that it more or less started a few weeks ago when it suddenly occurred to me that everything I have gone through over the past decade and then some was never about this body that I inhabit. This wasn't very shocking in light of that one of the more profound things I struggled with as a child was the thought of my own mortality, as well as that of others, and how to give that all a place.

Then, as a young teenager, the acceptance of the utter meaninglessness of the universe and that of every existence inside of it. The realisation that 'meaning' is something so very human that it is completely alien to the universe and the laws governing it.

For the years afterwards I have sought for the meaning that I would wish to assign to my own existence. My quest to find answers about my own body and identity was part of that. Through it I have learned many things, experienced even more and seen too much.

Through it I can see just how profoundly comforting those illusions were which I grew up with as a child and initially as a teenager. Illusions of a 'normal' life. Of finding 'love', of becoming famous and wealthy. Of starting a family and making humanity just that little bit better.

The fact of the matter is that none of that is real. 'Humanity' as a concept is already an illusion in itself. This world we create for ourselves and which we inhabit, it's all an illusion. We are all at least partially aware of this fact, through science, much as most wish to deny and ignore its findings.

I have not found the meaning of my own existence, but I have slowly come to see that by existing, and through that fact learn about everything which this universe has to offer, some meaning is given to said existence. Maybe at the end of that journey I will find the insight to resolve that one nagging question which has troubled me since childhood.

Living without the comforting blanket of a deceitful illusion is not easy, but as with a dream, once you know it's not real, it loses its glamour. In the end accepting reality is all one can do.



Frans Faase said...

Is that not wat enlightment is all about, the realization that reality as we precieve it, is only an illusion. It also seems that there is no way to know reality. All our perceptions of reality are coloured by the processing done by our brain. I am afraid that there is no meaning of our existence, that it is also totally useless, as in the end all information will be lost when maximum entropy is achieved. I am also seems that our free-will is an illusion, that the talk we hear in our brain and precieve as ours, is simply our brain generating rationalizations of our behaviour for the purpose to defend our actions for those around us. One could argue that these thoughts are primarily a form of lying, as all forms of rationalizations of unconscious behaviour constitute some kind of lie. We are lying the most to ourselves, especially with respect to our addictions: "O, this evening I can stay up one hour longer without falling into the trap of going to bed in the middle of the night" is a lie that I tell myself almost every evening.

Maya Posch said...

Yes, I guess that's the basic summary of enlightenment. While I'd argue that we have some level of free will, it's curbed by our level of self-realisation.

Full enlightenment is maybe impossible, but we can at least strive to reach some level of it :)