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illusion - Dhamma Wheel

illusion

Exploring Theravāda's connections to other paths. What can we learn from other traditions, religions and philosophies?
kayy
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illusion

Postby kayy » Sun Feb 07, 2010 9:38 pm

I read and hear a lot of Buddhists talk about the world as "an illusion." What exactly does this mean? Am I right in thinking that it would be more accurate to say that our view of the world is an illusion (that is, unless you're a Buddha) ?

I fail to see how the world is an illusion. OK - nothing inherently exists in itself and independently of anything else, but I can tell you that my arms exist, this computer exists and the books on my desk exist, society exists, human beings exist. It's just the way we see them that is illusory, i.e. as permanent, inherent and so on.

Or have I totally missed something?

If my understanding is correct, why do people not amend their speech to be more accurate, i.e. "the way we see the world is an illusion"?

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retrofuturist
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Re: illusion

Postby retrofuturist » Sun Feb 07, 2010 9:57 pm

Greetings Katy,

I think you've got the gist of it. The classic sutta regarding "illusion" is:

SN 22.95: Phena Sutta
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

Combine that with the realisation that our "world" is nothing more than that experienced through the senses...

SN 35.82: Loka Sutta
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

... and you've got a pretty deep and powerful teaching on your hands.

Metta,
Retro. :)
"Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education." - Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh

"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"To argue with a person who has renounced the use of reason is like administering medicine to the dead" - Thomas Paine

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Goofaholix
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Re: illusion

Postby Goofaholix » Mon Feb 08, 2010 4:37 am


Paññāsikhara
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Re: illusion

Postby Paññāsikhara » Mon Feb 08, 2010 5:01 am

My recently moved Blog, containing some of my writings on the Buddha Dhamma, as well as a number of translations from classical Buddhist texts and modern authors, liturgy, etc.: .

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Dan74
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Re: illusion

Postby Dan74 » Mon Feb 08, 2010 5:04 am

_/|\_

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retrofuturist
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Re: illusion

Postby retrofuturist » Mon Feb 08, 2010 5:06 am

Greetings Dan,

I thought that Dhammapada quote might come up. ;)

Hence the Loka Sutta link provided above, detailing what "world" means in the Buddha's parlance.

The Buddha is cool. 8-)

Metta,
Retro. :)
"Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education." - Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh

"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"To argue with a person who has renounced the use of reason is like administering medicine to the dead" - Thomas Paine

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Dan74
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Re: illusion

Postby Dan74 » Mon Feb 08, 2010 5:25 am

_/|\_

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Re: illusion

Postby Paññāsikhara » Mon Feb 08, 2010 6:05 am

My recently moved Blog, containing some of my writings on the Buddha Dhamma, as well as a number of translations from classical Buddhist texts and modern authors, liturgy, etc.: .

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Goofaholix
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Re: illusion

Postby Goofaholix » Mon Feb 08, 2010 6:37 am

I'd have to say looking through the Phena Sutta, and the quote from the Dhammapada I'm not seeing any definitive existential statements along the lines of the world being an illusion.

"so should the world be viewed" is quite a different statement than "the world is".

They read like reflections to me, themes of contemplation.

Like an illusion is a far cry from actually being an illusion, "like an illusion" prompts one to question, contemplate, and test.

chownah
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Re: illusion

Postby chownah » Mon Feb 08, 2010 3:12 pm

People say that the world exists...my arm exists...that ball exists....but really all you really know is based on the five senses and whatever the mind can make of it.

Example: the sun is going down it will be dark soon....but the sun isn't really going down and it will only be dark where you are and not on the other side of the world........this is a sort of a silly example.

Example: you think that the desk has a smooth surface.....but in fact the closer you get to the desk's "surface" (like zooming in with a microscope to get really really close) the more it becomes obvious that the desk's surface is not only not what you think it is (smooth) but this "surface" idea does not really exist at all but is just an illusory idea which you have extracted from your sense experience and then attributed to the desk top..........this is a less silly example than the previously one and is closer to what I think the Buddha was getting at.

There is no way to know if what we call "reality" is actually out there or not....all we have in our experience are the senses and the mind....all we really know is that we see, hear, smell, taste, and feel sensations and our mind puts these together to create an idea (or illusion of you like) of a world. Babies are great....when they are just a few days old if you watch them carefully you can almost see them putting the pieces together to create this "real world" they are experiencing.

chownah

p.s. but don't worry, it doesn't really matter if reality is out there or not....my firm belief that all we experience is illusion has not hampered me in any way I have been able to determine....the fact that the world seems to exist is just as remarkable as it actually existing (but of course this is just a theoretical observation in that the world as we experience it assuredly does not exist.....whatever reality is out there is certainly much more complex than our limited persepective could conceive)
chownah

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baratgab
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Re: illusion

Postby baratgab » Mon Feb 08, 2010 8:37 pm

You may want to give a try to Ajahn Brahm's talk on "Emptiness"; in the first part he talks about the nature of the material world:



The following text also seems like a good reading:
http://www.thebigview.com/buddhism/emptiness.html

Others already pointed out that there is no "world" for us apart from "the way we see the world", because everything is a matter of perception through the senses. What I would like to add is that maybe "existence" is not a good word either, because all we have is simply interdependence. I think it is hard to say that something really exists, while its existence can only be grasped in other things, whose existence can only be grasped in other things, whose existence can only be grasped in other things, whose existence can only be grasped in other things... So, there is no inherent existence in anything. It is tempting to contemplate on whether there is a ground at all for differentiating anything from anything (possibly starting at your own body and its surroundings). :P
"Just as in the great ocean there is but one taste — the taste of salt — so in this Doctrine and Discipline there is but one taste — the taste of freedom"

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Re: illusion

Postby Sanghamitta » Mon Feb 08, 2010 9:00 pm

The going for refuge is the door of entrance to the teachings of the Buddha.

Bhikku Bodhi.


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