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Illusion in the mind’s eye

KeromeKerome Love, love is mysteryThe Continent Veteran

I was watching a documentary on Philip Roth, and it gave a really good impression of his major works. It inspired me, causing various images to arise in my mind’s eye, and swept me away to the America of the previous century. It occurred to me that what we see in the mind’s eye is not always inspired by truth... Philip Roth is a novelist, and the illusions his voice creates are bright and colourful creations which invigorate and teach us to see the world anew.

So what we see in the mind’s eye is often illusion, whether driven by a novel or our own thoughts or dreams. Yet it can bring us a new way of looking at things, fresh insights that inspire, that sometimes reflect the truth. I find it interesting how illusion can bring forth new energy, realisations yet unlooked for.

My point is this: can you look for truth in what appears in the mind’s eye? Or should we be content that it’s one long series of beautiful illusions, created by a talented painter and architect? Or is there something more that we should look to do with the mind’s eye.

personkando

Comments

  • lobsterlobster Veteran

    Good question be interested in others insights.

    Personally I find fantasy, art, films provide a trigger or insight into what my sister said recently:

    'We are flawed - it's annoying!'

    In a sense most of the entrancement and enchantment industry is providing an unfolding and hopefully recognition of our dream psychology. Often it is nothing more than dream within dreams ...

    In dharma we aim for clear thinking, which also enables us to unravel/learn and find insight in much more of what there is to experience ...

    person
  • personperson Don't believe everything you think 'Merica! Veteran

    Good question and insight. You might like Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari, he makes the point that so much of what we take for granted are just stories we tell ourselves, like money. Not that it's totally arbitrary though, some stories do work better than others.

    My current thinking is to think of society as being built on three things, systems, culture and human nature, or more broadly empirical reality.

    There are systems and cultures that produce better and worse outcomes and I doubt we've arrived at the optimum (for human well being). Really what is optimum probably changes depending on conditions so we do need to constantly make efforts to see the world differently and experiment with new ways of doing things.

    At the same time though reality constrains us in what will actually work and what won't, and it's important to recognize what is already working so our efforts at seeing things differently and making improvements don't actually make things worse.

  • KeromeKerome Love, love is mystery The Continent Veteran

    Indeed we tell ourselves stories, but these stories have the power to reinvigorate us and basically give us the feeling we’ve travelled and experienced where really we haven’t, and while we may have been engrossed in The Lord of the Rings with its epic battles of orcs versus men and elves and overcoming of great problems, in reality we have been sitting on the couch perfectly safe.

    In a way fiction in all its various forms can transport us, and cause memories to be formed in us of things we haven’t done, but which have impacted us. I have clear memories of numerous books from my childhood and adulthood which have shaped my dreams — I literally dream of moving home from one planet to another on large spaceships — and which have somewhat impacted my practical understanding of life as well.

    So in a way these things live within me still, they regularly arise in my mind’s eye.

    personlobster
  • personperson Don't believe everything you think 'Merica! Veteran

    @Kerome said:
    Indeed we tell ourselves stories, but these stories have the power to reinvigorate us and basically give us the feeling we’ve travelled and experienced where really we haven’t, and while we may have been engrossed in The Lord of the Rings with its epic battles of orcs versus men and elves and overcoming of great problems, in reality we have been sitting on the couch perfectly safe.

    In a way fiction in all its various forms can transport us, and cause memories to be formed in us of things we haven’t done, but which have impacted us. I have clear memories of numerous books from my childhood and adulthood which have shaped my dreams — I literally dream of moving home from one planet to another on large spaceships — and which have somewhat impacted my practical understanding of life as well.

    So in a way these things live within me still, they regularly arise in my mind’s eye.

    I agree, fiction does a lot of work in shaping my worldview and a lot of Buddhist practice is just creating imagined worlds to effect our minds in a positive way such as metta practice.

    On the negative side though I'm reminded of a misquote of Mark Twain's :

    “Some of the worst things in my life never even happened”

    Or Shakespeare:

    ...there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.

  • kandokando northern Ireland Explorer
    edited June 9

    @person said : ...Not that it's totally arbitrary though, some stories do work better than others.
    ... There are systems and cultures that produce better and worse outcomes and I doubt we've arrived at the optimum (for human well being). Really what is optimum probably changes depending on conditions so we do need to constantly make efforts to see the world differently and experiment with new ways of doing things."

    Like that - it's a case of choosing wisely. I have always relied on books, stories, films, theatre, narratives of every kind. For inspiration and hope.

    @ScottPen said: The mind's eye could be the only eye that matters

    Absolutely.

  • ShoshinShoshin No one in particular Nowhere Special Veteran

    @Kerome said:
    My point is this: can you look for truth in what appears in the mind’s eye? Or should we be content that it’s one long series of beautiful illusions, created by a talented painter and architect? Or is there something more that we should look to do with the mind’s eye.

    The use of the mind's eye is just a person's ability to visualise/imagine things and it would seem more often than not we tend to get caught up in this visualisation/imagination...(like a self fulfilling prophecy )

    I'm reminded of this Tibetan dedication prayer.....(which if I'm not caught up in self fulfilling prophecies then I'm looking for the wisdom displayed :) )

    "May I clearly perceive all experiences to be as insubstantial as the dream-fabric of the night and instantly awaken to perceive the pure wisdom displayed in the arising of every phenomena"

  • lobsterlobster Veteran

    So in a way these things live within me still, they regularly arise in my mind’s eye.

    Tantric sadhana makes skilful use of our capacity for interior story telling. As examples:

    • The Lama is visualised, emotionaly intensified as the personification of 'A Living Buddha'
    • We generate a thought form/relationship/interior dialog with a personfication of an abstract idea such as 'wisdom' (Manjushri) compassion (Chenresig) or the many forms of Tara (fierce, wrathful, compasionate, healing, wise, compassionate etc)
      http://www.landofenlightenedwisdom.org/tara_practice.html

    • We sit like a lemon, until we realise a sitting lemon has Buddha Nature

    https://cundi.weebly.com/yidam.html

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