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
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
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
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, Psy.A., Portland Psychologist Associate • Psychotherapist & Counselor
820 NW 21st Avenue, Suite B. 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
Western Science does its
best to separate truth from
falsity, but always, there is
a glitch. This glitch is known
to physicists, lawyers,
ethicists and anyone who
genuinely tries to seek and
Buddhists tend to believe
that the whole truth is
comprised of "true truths"
and "false truths" ... and
this brings us back to the
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
For me and for many others
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