Saturday, January 17, 2015

Illusions


“What is an illusion?” asked Rahul when he caught up with me during my stroll on the campus after dinner.  I was used to a lot of such questions from Rahul, one of my favourite students.

“Look at the sky,” I said.  A few stars were visible notwithstanding Delhi’s polluted skies.  “Do you think all those are real stars?”

“Aren’t they?”   Rahul was confused.  “We are seeing them.”

“Yes, we are seeing them.  Do you know how many years it takes for the light of a star to reach us here on the earth?”

“The light from the nearest star takes more than 4 light years,” said Rahul.

“Good,” I said.  “It takes many more years for the light from the other stars to reach us.  Many of the stars die by the time their light is seen by us here on the earth.  So how many of those stars are real?”

“Sir,” Rahul appeared slightly confused. “Are you suggesting that what is not real is an illusion.”

“Well, almost,” said I.  “But the light is real, isn’t it, even if the star is no more now?”

“So?”

“Imagine some human being who begins to trace the source of that light whose star is already dead.  Imagine he has some way of tracing the source.  And he finds that there really is no source.  Then he begins to interpret the light in his own way.  He thinks that it is a special light, a revelation from some divine entity, a revelation directed at him.  He begins to see himself as some God’s Messenger...”

“A godman?” asked Rahul.

“OK, let’s call him that.  Our Godman assumes that he is a prophet of god, a messiah of the people, or something like that.  He begins to hear god speaking to him.  He writes them down and calls it scriptures.  People come to listen to the new scriptures.  A religion or a cult is born.  It creates its own truths.  Thousands, if not millions, of people believe in those truths.  These truths create new rules like how we should wear our dress, which part of the body can be revealed and which to be covered, which are the places where people can kiss each other, whom to love and whom to hate, who can learn what and how much...”

“Sir, I’ve understood what illusions are,” said Rahul.  “Why do people accept the illusions so willingly and easily?”

“Illusions bring comfort in times of distress,” I said.  “It is easier to bear some loss in life or some misfortune if we believe that there is a divine entity sitting up somewhere there in the skies watching us and looking after us whatever misfortunes may befall us.”

“Is that the only use of illusions?”

“Not at all,” I said. “You can use illusions for gaining political power, higher positions in society, to become a godman or man-god, to seize other people’s land and other possessions...”

As Rahul walked away having thanked me and wished me good night, I looked at the stars once again.  “Tamaso ma jyotirgamaya.”  Did I hear them say that?  I smiled to myself.  Even if I did hear it, I wouldn’t be able to claim any new revelation.  Somebody had revealed that already long ago, some 3000 years ago.  3000 years of longing to be led from darkness to light.  A long longing, I mused.


PS. Rahul is an illusion.




23 comments:

  1. A very interesting of explaining things. I loved it.
    I knew about the facts of stars and their light, but never gave it much thought.
    From stars to illusions to religion... I had no idea where this was going as I read it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. A foggy starless sky last night gave me these thoughts, Nimi.

      Delete
  2. Very interesting thought. We know these things but reflect rarely upon them.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, Tushar. Reflection is what made the Buddha.

      Delete
  3. Illusions always seem much more real than reality. And there's a chance that the facts, on which we based the truth, are nothing but illusions.
    Great post.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Illusions have become the reality, Kiran. And that's why there are terrorists.

      Delete
  4. What a creative post. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The reality makes me creative, Kalpanaa. Or is it the illusions? :)

      Delete
  5. [ Smiles ] An intriguing piece of writing!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Glad to see a comment from you after a long time, Renard. I think you don't like politics. Yet do we have an escape from it?

      Delete
  6. Twas creative and nicely written. :)

    ReplyDelete
  7. The reference of Godmen and people following reference me to something PK film too tried to convey. Very nice post. My idea of illusion is a person's perception, what one perceives, has faith in and believes as real considers it real and rest all one considers as illusion.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I have been asked to watch the movie PK by umpteen people already, Shweta. I will though I don't think I will benefit anything by it since I think Aamir Khan is not deep enough for India.

      Illusion is merely a matter of perception. And perception is exactly the problem with India now (and it has always been with people anywhere any time).

      Delete
  8. PS - Rahul is an illusion....I found myself smiling :) Brilliant!

    ReplyDelete
  9. and the GODMAN has made a MOVIE also now soon to hit the movie theaters for all of us to see .

    such a shame that this particular has millions of followers so the question is are these followers stupid or RIGHT..

    Illusion is what these people have created in our minds making sure we cant think straight at all, illusion of illusions is what we are seeing these days in our world sir ...

    Bikram's

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Bikram, if i am to answer your question whether millions of people are stupid I think I'll have to answer in the affirmative. If the common person in India begins to exercise his/her reason there would be no godman in the country. Even the politics would be different. We wouldn't be fighting in the name of religions...

      Delete
  10. A very creative and interesting post. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. To the illusions, you can add hallucinations to explain the godmen and their fervent believers.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Godmen and politicians are joining hands now just like the nexus in the medieval Europe.

      Delete
  11. It is frightening to feel resurgence of shadow theocracy in a virulent form around the world.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. When one group begins to assert itself other groups feel threatened and they too begin to assert themselves. The solution is tolerance and cooperation rather than self-assertion and imposition.

      Delete
  12. Your blog posts are more interesting and impressive. I think there are many people like and visit it regularly, including me.I actually appreciate your own position and I will be sure to come back here.
    outlook iniciar sesión l iniciar sesión outlook l outlook l iniciar sesión

    ReplyDelete

Illusions

The first time I read Richard Bach was in 1980. I read Jonathan Livingstone Seagull and it obviously led me on to Illusions . As a 20...