Is the world an illusion?

No, of course not. When someone says the world you perceive is an illusion, they are either being figurative or they are mistaken. The world is the world. It is that in which we live.

Why do they say the world is an illusion, then? Because, as I have mentioned in other articles, too many of our perceptions are clouded by judgement we make that are other than that which we perceive.

Think of the beginning of vision. Think of different animals and the way they see. Certainly the eyesight of various animals is different. Do they all live in the same world?

Of course they do. To say they don't is to be figurative or to believe in something different from what I believe.

I don't just mean the way their brains process the visual data they receive from their eyes. That is obviously different. A rabbit cannot read.

I mean the actual visual data received. Now, think about how you think about the world you live in. There is data missing.

Part of advanced mindfulness and meditation is contemplating this fact, in a way. It is coming to terms with this. It is not an easy thing. One must accept that one has a uniformly incomplete picture of the world in which one lives.

But that is a very different statement than saying that the world one lives in is an illusion. It is not an illusion. It is an incomplete picture of the world.

What is an illusion is when you are looking but not seeing completely, listening but also daydreaming. To walk around half perceiving and half in a daydream, this is to walk around in an illusion and in a dream. What is worse is when the dreams of the mind cloud perception.

This is the reality for most people. It is not the perception that is an illusion. It is that sometimes perceptions are confused by dreams that we let our mind live while we think we are living totally in the world.

How to combat this?

The best way to combat this, according to monks who have confronted this problem for centuries upon centuries, is to best discern the difference between when we are dreaming and when are are perceiving. This necessitates an initial strengthening of concentration so that one may discern the difference between internal thoughts and perceptions.

One of the best ways for learning how to do this is meditation. Often this meditation revolves around centering one's consciousness upon the body so that one has a solid "grounding" in the world to be perceived. Localized sensation concentration, such as concentrating on the rise and fall of the chest, combined with a focus on breathing is a common way for beginners to start with this kind of meditation.

Take a deep breath. Feel your chest expand to make room for the air, which was before outside of your body. Think of that air now in your body, as if a messenger from the outside world. Now exhale. Continue to focus on the same spot in your chest which will expand shortly. Continue.

As you struggle to maintain concentration on your chest, you will feel your mind's focus shift. This is the beginning of a strengthening that will allow you to discern what is perceived and what is thought.

Author's Bio: 

Brian Miles blogs about mindfulness and meditation at his blog, You can also follow him on twitter at