The Truth Is An Illusion

In Buddhism, there is an idea called upaya.

As the story goes, when Buddha was enlightened, he experienced the interconnection of all things beyond words. Then he felt compassion for all the suffering in the world, and he wanted to help, but he knew there was no way he could use words to teach something beyond words.

He decided to try anyway.

Upaya means “skillful means”. It is the idea that, although the words can never convey the experience, they can be used for each person, where they are at, to point at the experience. The words help them move a little further along the path.

This is why, when Zen Masters are asked about the truth of Buddha nature, they tend to respond by shouting “Oak tree!” or whacking the seeker with a stick.

The goal is not to give an answer. It is to look at where a person is at and jar them loose.

The truth is that there is no truth.

Everything is stories we tell ourselves. Tapestries woven after bumping against the edge of the universe.

Humans are small creatures in the universe, and we just don’t know that much.

Put differently, you need the whole truth to have an unchanging truth. Unless you know everything in the universe, there will always be more to learn. So we don’t know the Truth. We know what is relevant to us, and if we stand someplace else, something else will become relevant.

Does this mean that truth is irrelevant? No.

It means that there is something deeper than truth that matters.

The Taoists call this … well … Tao – which means ‘way’. It’s the flow of the universe. It’s the practice, the art, the magic that gives life meaning. And it is beyond words.

The truth is that life is about making friends with your illusions. It’s about choosing and practicing illusions that make you a better, kinder, happier person. It is about practicing the art that gives you that feeling.

Fear, obligation, social propriety – those are all illusions. They are stories in your mind about how the world works. If you tested the boundaries and really looked, you would find that things are not as they appear.

Naps in the Labyrinth

There are a lot of reasons why I haven’t written recently.

I keep falling asleep mid-sentence, for one, at 11 at night when I finally have a few minutes to think. I am trying to shut up long enough to think beyond the words that only point to things I don’t understand. I finally had that conversation with the universe, and the answers I got were the ones that scare me.

But the best explanation I can give is that I have found myself trapped in a floating labyrinth. Forwards, backwards, there are only walls that I cannot or will not climb.

All the walls are true. “It’s dangerous to risk honesty with strangers.” “It’s harassment to ask for the help of people you don’t know.” “Doing strange and new things is hard.” “It’s unpleasant and/or cultish to talk about spirituality.” “Being upstanding and responsible is important.” “People like you if you talk about boring things.” “If you hurry you will get there faster.”

Indeed, they are true and useless.

So I have had no choice but to realize that the walls I have built here are illusions.

They do not help me on the path. They need to go. And they were never real in the first place.

So here is to the dissolution of the true illusions that hold us back. And here’s to the wordless insights that make it all possible.

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  1. So incredibly beautiful Morgan. The moment I realised my life was illusion it gave me such a sense of relief. If it is all an illusion then I can make it what ever illusion I want. Why not create a illusion that serves me then one that doesn’t?
    I cannot wait to see what happens when you break down those walls and allow everything you are to flow beyond them. I cannot wait to see what new illusion you decide to create. If it is anything remotely like your writing it is going to one beautiful illusion.
    Thank you.

    • Morgan Alverson says:

      Thank you so much Nazrin. 🙂 I agree, it is so relieving. Something about pretending all the things you believe about the world are Real is so exhausting. It’s so much nicer to go beyond them.

      You are creating a pretty awesome reality too. I’m glad we can be doing this together.

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