What is Illusion?
Illusion is a power that can make a trick appear true and the true appear to be a trick, but can’t change what a trick is or what is true.
- Ego is Illusion
Ego is illusion because it comes from your senses; whatever you take as ego and call “I” is actually all the things that aren’t “I”. Everything you’re aware of tricks you into calling them “I”. I am this body. I am male. I am hungry. These are all “Fake I”.
- Relationship is Illusion
If ego is illusion, then relationships are illusion. When your Fake I connects to someone else’s Fake I, you create a double illusion.
- Society is Illusion
If relationships are illusion, then society is illusion. Society is just a group of Relationship Illusion Egos coming together. Whatever standard society creates one day can be different the next. If something is always changing, it must be illusion.
- Human is Illusion
If society is illusion, then “human” is illusion because humanity is the connection of all the different societies. The identity of being human and all the egos that come with that, such as humans being the dominant species on Earth, are therefore illusion.
- Space is Illusion
If human is illusion, then the space you connect to is also illusion. A dog sees a garden in two colours (yellow and blue). A human sees the same garden in three colours (red, yellow, and blue). A bee sees the same garden in three different colours (yellow, blue, and ultraviolet). The garden doesn’t change to match their seeing abilities; rather, each perspective is different according to the ego and the situation, which change how the space appears. If the space appears different then it isn’t the essence, so it must be illusion.
- Time is Illusion
If space is illusion, then time is illusion as well, because time is just the measurement of space changing.
- Suffering is Illusion
If space and time are illusion, then your connection to them is illusion; if that creates suffering, then suffering is also illusion.
Suffering is a feeling caused by your blind awareness connecting to Illusion Being. Consider the colour green; if you mix blue and yellow together it creates green, but the essence is blue and yellow creating the illusion of green. Anything that is a mixture of others is not the essence, so “green” must be illusion. When you feel suffering, it comes from other things, so it is already illusion.
What is the combination that makes up suffering? First is consciousness, which has no form so it is illusion. Second is your four-element body, which is Illusion Being. Third is the universe, which is also Illusion Being.
These three illusions create your awareness boundary, or feeling. Because your feeling is created by three different types of illusion, it is “illusion of illusion of illusion”. Any feeling you have, such as suffering, is illusion; that’s why your feelings keep changing.
This is not a bad thing.
If you are scared of this word illusion, that’s just your Blind Illusion. In Buddhism, illusion is amazing and beautiful because it means that everything can change. Life is wonderful because it means you have the chance to go to Buddha’s Pure Land. If it wasn’t for this power of changing giving you the freedom to create, you could never become a Buddha and create a Pure Land. That’s why illusion is called the Unlimited Force of Life.
- Suffering is Perfect Illusion
Suffering is the teacher for learning wisdom. By learning to see through your suffering and the trick of illusion, then suffering is actually the illusion that helps you end your suffering. That makes it a perfect illusion, because the trick itself teaches you how to get out of the trick.
- Suffering is Unlimited Perfect Illusion
By being aware of the other people’s suffering of other lives, you can use your compassion to develop your wisdom in more directions to be aware of more truths about life. As your wisdom grows, you are able to help more and more people free themselves from their suffering. Eventually, you can help all lives out of all suffering. So suffering isn’t just perfect illusion, suffering is unlimited perfect illusion.
- Wisdom is Illusion
Wisdom has no form so it is illusion. There is no wisdom that you can “get”. There is no material or idea you can receive that can be called wisdom. Wisdom is an ability to influence all the appearing form, but the ability itself never appears. Because wisdom is an illusion, you can use it to be aware of all the other illusions and it becomes Wise Illusion.
Ego is illusion because ego is you sensing yourself and taking that as the main subject of your life.
What can you sense about yourself? One thing is your body, which is a combination of the four elements. The four elements are constantly changing so they are illusion. The other is your feelings (desire, emotions, and thinking). They don’t come from you; they come from your body connecting to all the surroundings, so your feelings can’t be you, either. If you take this kind of ego as your true self, you right away have Blind Illusion.
The first six illusions listed above have a relationship in that they always get bigger. One ego is the individual, two egos form a relationship, many relationships form a society, many societies form humanity, humanity exists within space, and space exists within time. These six ideas are about our existence. After that, the subject changes to what that existence is: feeling.
Buddhism has one purpose: to be out of suffering and into joy.
Wisdom is your awareness ability, not your awareness boundary (e.g. time or suffering). It doesn’t exist until the first nine illusions exist. These aren’t part of the essence, though; only wisdom belongs to the essence.
Awareness ability is illusion because it has no form: you can’t “find” the ability to be aware of everything and control it.
The tricky power of life is consciousness. Your consciousness wanted to think so it produced the illusion of a human body. If it wanted to swim it would produce the illusion of a fish or dolphin.
Illusion, Illusion Being, and Blind Illusion
Illusion is like the two sides of a piece of paper. One side is consciousness: it is illusion because it has no form, but it can be aware of all forms. The other side is Illusion Being: it has all the forms but no essence. Both appear at the same time, but in a different way.
Everything that you sense in the universe (through sight, sound, smell, taste, and touch) is Illusion Being. When you use that to trick someone, you create Illusion. If they believe it, they have Blind Illusion.
Illusion is like a magician pretending to pull a rabbit from an empty hat. Illusion Being is the hat and the rabbit. If you believe it the rabbit came out of an empty hat, then you have Blind Illusion.
Consciousness is always creating illusion. You have connected to a human body through this power of creation that tricks you into blindness. Amitabha Buddha perfectly developed the Six Bodhisattva Characters and Four Eternal Hearts, and uses this power to create a Pure Land where he can help unlimited lifeforms to purify themselves and become bodhisattvas. He turns the trick away from blindness and towards awareness, so there is no bad karma and no suffering.
Your Heart is your true consciousness. Your Heart has the power to create blindly, resulting in reincarnation, or to create wisely, resulting in the Pure Land. This is the meaning of the One Heart, Two Gates philosophy. The tricky power always starts from the blind gate. In Buddhism we learn to turn that power towards the spiritual gate (i.e. the Four Eternal Hearts).
The trick itself is neither good nor bad, but the outcome depends on your ability. If you are blind, then the trick controls you, and that leads to suffering. When you are wise, you have the ability to see through the trick. Because you know how it works, you can create any trick you want, such as building a Pure Land and becoming Buddha.
The trick is wonderful because it teaches you to develop the wisdom to see through itself.
Illusion Is a Creation so It Has No Essence
Buddhism doesn’t say “Life is suffering”, it says “Life has suffering.” When I say “I am a teacher” that means “I” and “teacher” are one: they have the same essence. When I say “I have a t-shirt”, the shirt is not the essence, it is not me; I can get rid of it at any time. That’s why suffering is illusion: it is something you have, not something you are.
When you understand that the function of illusion is to teach, it becomes the perfect teacher. When you graduate from that teaching you have no more suffering. You learn compassion because other people do have suffering and you want to help them get rid of it and become unlimited perfect.
When you are Buddha, you are the trickiest consciousness for all good, spiritual intentions. The “Convenient System” they use is called Wisdom Compassion Trick, which is great. Without tricks, life is boring. Nothing happens and you learn nothing, but if you use greedy tricks then you create bad karma.
Life is Illusion
These ten ideas are correct, but you can divide illusion even more.
Life is illusion so everything in life is illusion: every “I” is illusion, your seven chakras are illusion, and your desire is a very complicated illusion. Before you get what you desire, it is an illusion. Your ambition to get it is an illusion. Your worry that you’re not going to get it is an illusion. Your excitement when you have nearly got it is an illusion. Your worry that you might lose the chance to get it is an illusion.
Every step in your desire has many tricks.
Once you get what you want, your disappointment that it’s not as good as you imagined is a trick. Your sadness when it wears out and becomes useless is a trick. Your fear that you’ll lose it is a trick. Your worry that someone will take it away from you is a trick. Your regret when you break it is a trick. Finding something else which is better is a trick.
You are caught up in trickery in every moment, but when you can see through the tricks, life becomes awesome because you are creating wisdom and becoming free from them. Then you aren’t scared any more, you become joyful, able to live in any present, enjoy the tricks, and play the tricks back on themselves. Then life is always exciting and interesting.
Imagine if life were always the same; it would be boring, you would never learn anything new, and you would never improve your life.
Bodhisattvas are free and wild. They are free from all the rules, but they don’t break the rules or go against them because if you connect to the rules in any way, you are trapped by them; you aren’t free. That’s the spiritual trick of the Bodhisattva System: to get away from the rules of life and be free.
Life is an illusion, and you have been tricked from the day you were born, for a billion lifetimes before you were born. Who tricked you? Your blind consciousness tricked you. Now, because you are learning Spirits, that blind consciousness is tricking you for a good purpose: to give you the chance to be awakened and free.
What is True Freedom?
True freedom is to break through your awareness boundary, to see through one special trick so you can see through all the other tricks. That one trick is your greed.
You have been a slave of your greed in a billion ways over a trillion lifetimes. No matter how smart you are, you’re still a slave. It’s only when you can trick your greed into a wise, spiritual direction that unlimited joy will appear.
When you observe that life is great you will discover many things. Illusion has more than just ten ideas, but this list is a good foundation. You can make your own links to observe that life is an illusion in unlimited ways because there is no border to illusion.
Before Amitabha became Buddha, his name was Hidden Dharma Bodhisattva. He spent a billion lifetimes in meditation visiting all the Buddhas and learning all their systems to understand all the tricks and illusions. He collected that knowledge with beautiful, perfect, unlimited good principles to create the most amazing, unlimited light so he could offer you unlimited power to live unlimited lifetimes. That is what “Amitabha” means: unlimited light, unlimited lifetime. “Unlimited light” is unlimited power to exist. “Unlimited lifetime” is that power without end.
With this unlimited, perfect force, life becomes so exciting that it can’t even be described. As you have unlimited power and time to become perfect, you surely will become Buddha.
Amitabha’s Will is to bring that perfect power to help you reach it for yourself and live in it for an unlimited lifetime. You are in philosophy class now because you have the karma to study his system and connect to his Will.
This is still illusion, but it is the final, perfect, unlimited illusion. There’s no border, there’s no bad karma, just unlimited joy. That’s the way life should be, and it’s all hidden inside your Heart.
You have the chance to become unlimited joy but there is also a place with unlimited suffering: Hell. If you do something bad, then bow sincerely to Hell Bodhisattva. He will help you not to fall into that karma. Hell Karma is the opposite of the Pure Land; you don’t want that appearing in your future.
All the Buddhas and bodhisattvas will help anyone who is sincere. You should bow to Hell Bodhisattva every week or so in a sincere, humble, and respectful fashion to protect yourself from the bad karma you have created.
When you bow to both Hell Bodhisattva and Amitabha Buddha, you get the guarantee to clean out your bad and hell karma so you don’t experience suffering from them, and the support to connect to Amitabha’s Pure Land and become his student.
This post is taken from a talk by Simon and Lin Yung-Chih on 5 June 2011 at the Sydney dojo.