Piercing the Veil of Illusion

It has been said that meditation allows us to pierce the veil of illusion and to glimpse the Truth.  It’s rather poetic, isn’t it?  I tend to think that that is both it’s strength and it’s weakness.

Let’s demystify this concept a bit, shall we?

Meditation allows us to figure stuff out.  I know that doesn’t sound nearly so exciting; but, it’s a good, practical working definition.  Sometimes, excitement is good.  It can propel us forward.  It can keep us motivated and driven.  But, sometimes, overly romanticizing things gets in the way of rational thought and can keep us stuck.  Other times, overly romanticizing things can propel us forward when we are feeling stuck.  The human mind is funny in that way.

Meditation gives our minds space to make new connections.  It helps us to find a place of detachment so that our emotions don’t get in the way of uncomfortable truths and insights.  It takes us beyond our current mental model of the world and allows us to consider possibilities that we hadn’t before and to integrate those insights into our personalities.

Let’s take the concept that the self is an illusion.  I’ve discussed that I believe this mostly just means we all have potential.  Everyone has potential.  And, that potential that we have is more real in a lot of ways than the current iteration of the self.  This is a really useful perspective.  This can give us more flexibility and keep us from getting stuck by focusing too much on the past.

We all have illusions.  It’s really difficult to function without making assumptions.  For example, the assumption that you can change is a really freaking useful operating assumption.  The assumption that you can handle it when unpleasant things come up in life is another really useful assumption.  I wholeheartedly recommend that you operate from the assumption that you are an awesome, talented and all-around incredible person.

Another good example is that when you’re dealing with people, it’s a good thing to be able to quickly get a sense of their personality; and, for example, wardrobe choices often allow us to do this.  Any assumptions we make based on someone’s wardrobe choices may well be proven wrong; but, it gives us a starting point in learning more about others and can help us to find others with similar personalities and traits to our own.  I see through my assumptions; but, I often operate from them, at least at first.

Recognizing that the mind creates illusions and perceives meaning which is not necessarily true is useful (especially once you get beyond feeling bad about it.)  Again, there is that whole “behavioral flexibility” thing I keep going on and on about.

Another example lies in the idea that Truth is unfathomably vast.  The universe is freaking complicated.  Our language is useful; but, it’s really easy to forget that words just point in a direction.  Words can reveal some aspect of Truth; but, cannot encompass the whole of Truth.  I often say that as a hypnotherapist I’m not in the Truth business; but, is that true?  Or, is it just one perspective on a bigger Truth?  What do you think the Truth is about me and what I do?  Am I in the Truth business or am I just creating different, more useful, illusions?

I will often apparently contradict myself.  It’s going to happen.  I delight in your confusion.

No, it’s not just because I delight in your confusion.  I do (I absolutely do); but, that’s largely because I consider a little bit of confusion a necessary and unavoidable part of the learning process.  If you’re confused, it means that you’re thinking in new ways and considering new possibilities.  It means that your mental map of reality is expanding.  It may be uncomfortable (or it could feel good, who knows?); but, the same can be said of stretching physically.  Stretching is good for you regardless (so long as you don’t overdo it and injure yourself.)  It’s good to stretch to the point of feeling “comfortably uncomfortable”; that’s the point at which your flexibility expands the most.

(See, there I go contradicting myself again…)

I try to keep the confusion to a moderate level and not overwhelm you; but, I’m going to confuse you.  It’s going to happen.  I’ll confuse you and then do my darnedest to lead you out of confusion to new insights and understandings.

Confusion means that we are piercing the veil of illusion in your mind.  It means that you are seeing things you hadn’t seen and starting to understand things you hadn’t before.  Isn’t that exciting?  Isn’t confusion wonderful?

I think that I’d be a pretty crappy teacher if I didn’t confuse you from time to time.  I tend to say if you’re learning something new and not at least a little confused, you’re not really thinking.  You’re not analyzing.  There is just no way for us to cover advanced philosophical concepts without confusion.  (Although, it may also mean that I so deftly lead you out of the confusion that you don’t notice it.  I am pretty good at that.  What?  You don’t think so?  Shut up!  Who asked for your opinion?  You’re not allowed to have opinions here.  I did not give you permission to be human.  I did not give you permission to have opinions and you need to stop it right now.  Didn’t you know that my permission is the most important thing in the world?  I’m infallible, you know.  I don’t think I can teach someone who doesn’t think I’m infallible.  There’s no hope for you.  Get out!  I mean it!)

Let’s look back to looking at the idea that self is an illusion for a moment.  I made a pretty big deal the other day about it not being a big deal.  I am very shortly going to be contradicting that.  It’s “not a big deal”-ness is important.  The idea that it’s a simple concept that often gets phrased in a way that increases resistance is an important idea; but, we haven’t yet dug into it’s ramifications.  Some of those ramifications you are likely to find unpleasant.  They are very important and it will help you a lot in life once you really consider them and integrate that understanding into your behavior; but, it’s probably going to suck.  Growing in wisdom and developing humility are important things, if not always pleasant.

Hopefully, I am succeeding at making the journey of personal growth as fun and painless as possible.  I like to think that the comedic way I handle things makes unpleasant concepts more palatable; but, who knows?  Maybe I’m just a bit of a dick who likes to tease people.  (Had you considered that yet?  Why not give it some thought.  Do you think I’m a dick? Or am I wise and compassionate?  Am I both a dick and wise and compassionate?  Am I none of those things?  Is humor a good teaching tool?  Or am I ridiculing people to make myself seem smarter and more important?  And, if I am ridiculing people to make myself seem smarter and more important, is that a bad thing?  If the principles I’m teaching are true, is there value in making myself seem smarter and more important?  Does it make people more likely to listen and learn?  Does what can seem at first to be selfish, really serve a selfless purpose?  Am I, in fact, a duck in human disguise?  These questions need answers.)

I may not always be able to make you feel good; but, hopefully, I can help you to feel good about not feeling good.  (I freaking love paradoxes!  Don’t you?)  Disillusionment isn’t always pretty; but, it’s pretty beautiful, isn’t it?


-Adam Coles-
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