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Buddhists say, "Everything I am is an illusion." What does that mean?

  1. LucyLiu12 profile image85
    LucyLiu12posted 5 years ago

    Buddhists say, "Everything I am is an illusion."  What does that mean?

  2. SidKemp profile image94
    SidKempposted 5 years ago

    Actually, it would be more accurate to say that Buddhists say "Everything I think I am is a misunderstanding."

    The key point here is that we all have an idea of who we are: I am a person, I am an American, I am a man, whatever. That idea is usually associated with this body and this lifetime. Most people are not conscious of who or what they think they are.

    And that idea of who we are separates us from Life and from others.

    And yet we are not really separate. We are all interconnected. We are like a wave on the ocean - we have our unique shape, but our fundamental substance (call it life or reality) connects us to everyone and everything.

    When we see ourselves as separate, we stop caring about others and may even want to be angry or hurt others. Can you imagine what it would be like if your right hand felt that way. It might slap you around or try to run away. That wouldn't work very well.

    When people have unreal ideas about who we are, we act like that runaway hand. When we cut through that idea of being a separate self, we experience the truth of being part of life and everything. We no longer want to hurt others. We want to grow together, to learn, to help. If the left hand gets stuck in a drawer or a door, the right hand naturally works to free it.

    Your health is my health. Your freedom is my freedom. Our ideas that we are separate selves are illusions that keep us from understanding that.

    When we drop the illusion of separation, we are naturally loving - taking care of others as we take care of ourselves. And we can learn from others more easily, as well, growing in wisdom.

    1. LucyLiu12 profile image85
      LucyLiu12posted 5 years agoin reply to this

      Thank you for your generosity of time and thought to answer this question.  It leaves me much to contemplate.

    2. SidKemp profile image94
      SidKempposted 5 years agoin reply to this

      You're very welcome, LucyLiu! Contemplation opens the door to wisdom; loving action transforms the world.

    3. phoenixelliot profile image60
      phoenixelliotposted 5 years agoin reply to this

      Is the quote you used at the beginning of your answer yours? I like it. It is very clever. I really enjoyed your remarks on inter-being.  I believe it was Thich Nhat Hanh who said "Because you are alive, everything is possible."

    4. SidKemp profile image94
      SidKempposted 5 years agoin reply to this

      Yes, Phoenix, I was quoting myself. and yes, you've got the quote from Thich Nhat Hanh correct. Many thanks!

  3. Electro-Denizen profile image82
    Electro-Denizenposted 5 years ago

    I can't add much to SidKemp's answer.

    All these ideas we have about ourselves, and life, are just thoughts. True wonderment takes over when we abandon analysis of everything. We seek answers when in many ways everything is profoundly unknowable though we even like to develop spiritual theories. True wonderment comes with complete abandonment of what we think we know, when we unlearn everything.

  4. tksabresinos profile image60
    tksabresinosposted 5 years ago

    The mind of The All is a complicated thing. Matter is just a different form of energy, like lights and sounds. What I define as myself in my perspective is completely different in another so it would be considered a false idea to them, but a truth in me therefore making a contradiction within the same idea (the idea being the one of myself). When it says in the bible that god made man in his image what kind of image can you give the energy of all beings? When we feel, see, taste, hear, smell do we not just interact with the energy around us? Obviously we can get scientific, but this is just food for thought.

  5. Beata Stasak profile image83
    Beata Stasakposted 5 years ago

    Each of us see the world around us and us particularly from our own perspective, we don't see the world how it is but as the world we want to see...the image of the world and us imprinted in our mind has nothing to do with reality....

  6. phoenixelliot profile image60
    phoenixelliotposted 5 years ago

    There is what I think, and awareness of what I think. This is the illusion of self. We all label ourselves in order to distinguish ourselves from another. We say "I am a car sales person, or I am a Buddhist." but these things are not us. They are parts of our personality and our self image, but they are not us. So what are we beneath the personality, beneath the thoughts and emotions, and beneath all the ideas and notions that we adopt as our individuality? We are what is beneath the mask of persona. We are raw, unfiltered experience of these things. We are experience of thoughts, emotions, sensory stimuli, and much more. We just are.

    1. WalterPoon profile image80
      WalterPoonposted 4 years agoin reply to this

      Based on what I understand, what Buddha meant was that  there is no "I", and  our concept of "I" arises from our ego.

  7. days leaper profile image79
    days leaperposted 5 years ago

    It means they've been on the wacky backy too long.  And have become complete nut cases!!!

  8. WalterPoon profile image80
    WalterPoonposted 4 years ago

    When I was living in the Buddhist monasteries on and off for 8 months, I did often hear the monks saying: "We are all made up of composite matter. And all composite matter must disintegrate sooner or later.... and that's Buddha's concept of "annica" or "impermanence". We look at ourselves. It looks solid, but the bulk of our body is actually empty space. Every object in this world is merely an illusion. It appears and then disappears, just like the waves in the ocean."

    1. LucyLiu12 profile image85
      LucyLiu12posted 4 years agoin reply to this


  9. manatita44 profile image83
    manatita44posted 3 years ago

    Hindu's say this also and some Indians and westerners interpret Vedantic philosophy in this Light. If you look up the word you will get various interpretations and much argument as you occasionally see here in the religious section on Hub Pages.

    Illusion generally is substituted by the word Maya, or Moha.  Maya is the Adversary. We see the phenominal world believing it to be real, while in fact all is impermanent. Maya is also attachment. We cling to things not believing that they will one day go away, like death or sleep, and we consequently suffer.

    Maya says that this world is unreal, and that sleep is also unreal. There is a third state called the Turiya Consciousness, beyond both the waking and the sleep state. We sometimes go there in dreams.

    Spiritual Masters of the Highest Order, say that the Universe is real and that it is God's body. Maya or illusion, do exists, but simply as part of the plan. Nothing comes from an empty void. I also, subscribe to that view. Still, it is good to know in a sense that all things are temporary here and rather like a dream. It is of great value to know that one day you will have to check out.

    This ideally helps you to be discriminatory and prudent, and protects you from the Maya or illusion of attachments and so help you find peace. Suffering comes from going after what appears real but is in fact a temporary dream. Know this, and be free.

  10. profile image60
    Sachini witharanaposted 6 months ago

    We earn, we own, we try to grab everything for a life worth nothing.As a human its hard to let go but there will be a day that we should let go. That is death. It doesn't mean that we shouldn't earn, own things n our life we should because we have to live till death. But learn to let go.All we take after our death is the good and the bad we have done in this birth. So do good derdscas muc h as u want