We live in a world of 10 zillion things yet at any given moment we probably only know about 10,000. Which 10,000 do we know? To some extent, what we see or know is arbitrary. To some extent though, it's not arbitrary at all. We see what we want to see.
Why would we want to see or believe in unpleasant things?
Perhaps we believe in unpleasant things for no good reason. Perhaps we believe in unpleasant things for reasons we are not consciously aware of. Perhaps we've tried to stop believing in unpleasant things but have not been able to make our unpleasant beliefs go away.
When we bring conscious attention to our beliefs, we may find that our unpleasant beliefs are not necessary. If they are not necessary, it is reasonable to believe that we may let go of them. We may also find, that when we bring conscious attention to our beliefs, they make no sense.
Do we change our beliefs one by one to make more sense in a world we believe to be the one most sensible? The one most pleasant?
Sometimes, but sometimes the reason something is unpleasant or makes no sense is because our world view is incorrect. That is, of the 10 zillion parts of reality, we sometimes know or believe in the wrong 10,000.
How best to see and feel what we want to see and feel? Most Buddhists believe that all life is illusion and that it cannot be otherwise. To know reality (how things really are) is aspirational. The belief is that it is possible to know the real truth about things - that one may come to be "enlightened," but to do so is arduous, unlikely to be accomplished, and may only be accomplished by a devotion to practice seeing past illusion. In the mean time, we unconsciously believe whatever parents, culture or other influences have lead us to believe, or we consciously create illusions more to our liking. Often it is a combination of both and people defend their view of reality to the point of emotionally driven opposition and defense, and sometimes, to the point of violence against their fellow man. It is not easy for us to accept that what we believe may not be based firmly in reality. Of the 10 zillion things, what are the chances that any other person is going to believe in, know, or see the same 10,000? The odds in favor of us being wrong about nearly everything are astronomical.
Until the day comes that we are enlightened, it may make sense to accept a world of illusion, but to choose the illusion. One more pleasant, sensible, and harmonious with others.
This is a good day because I've decided to believe this to be so.
This is a kind and generous person because I've decided to believe this to be so.
Life is good and full of joyfulness because I've decided to believe this to be so.
Optical illusions: Most of us are familiar with a number of amusing optical illusions which have caused us to pause and reconsider the extent to which we can trust our eyes.
There is a website you may visit to view some of these illusions.
In the same way we may benefit from pausing to reconsider that which we've believed to be visually true, we may benefit from pausing to consider that which we have believed to be true about life.
Buddhist logic allows for invention in creating illusion. As with the western therapist Albert Ellis, Buddhist logic does not claim to help us discover that which is true but more strongly, that which is not necessarily true. When feeling trapped by that which we've allowed ourselves to believe to be "reality," we may stop to ask ourselves, "is this belief necessarily true?" Might something else be true? Is there a way for me to tell that which is true from that which is not? Is reality discovered or created?
Here is the optical illusion website constructed by Michael Bach. Please be careful, some of the images can be tiring to the eyes. Some of the images use stroboscopic effects which have been known to trigger seizures in some people. If you have, or suspect you may have a seizure disorder, do not view these images without consultation with a medical professional.
|Christian Wolff • Portland • Psychologist Associate • Psychotherapist & Counselor
2015 NW Kearney, Suite 403. Portland.Oregon. 97209. 503.381.2032. firstname.lastname@example.org
The Buddhist Paradox
Paradox is not unique to Buddhism or Buddhist Psychology. Something is a paradox when two or more things which seem to contradict one another can also be seen as congruent and non-conflictual.
Western Science does its best to separate truth from falsity, but always, there is a glitch. This glitch is known to physicists, lawyers, doctors, sociologists, ethicists and anyone who genuinely tries to seek and establish truth.
Buddhists tend to believe that the whole truth is comprised of "true truths" and "false truths" ... and this brings us back to the 10,000 things.
How can I assert (to the left) that all life is illusion and cannot be otherwise and state that it is possible to know the real truth about anything?
For me and for many others practicing Buddhist Psychology, paradox is the litmus test of truth. If an idea or belief or statement of truth is not paradoxical, it cannot be real or true or whole.