Advaita Vision

Advaita for the 21st Century

Explanation of Illusion
Michael Reidy

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The following was posted to the Advaitin Egroup in August 2008.

If we apply the fundamental view of vedAnta paribhAShA [see the series on Knowledge] re perception as the going out of the mind to the object then the understanding of the tangles concerning confusion/illusion/delusion becomes clearer. For a start we will shed the muddle about the perception of unreal or illusionary objects. This form of words or the linking of the concepts of illusion and object in any language is in itself the source of the puzzlement viz. how can something be at one and the same time an object and unreal. This paradox is an error of juxtaposition. In fact you are suffering an illusion pure and simple. The very fact of being able to perceive brings in its train the ability to suffer illusions.

When the mind goes out and takes the form of something or other there is the base assumption that what it is taking the form of is an object. I believe this to be the meaning behind the somewhat condensed expression in V.P. pg.146: "The validity of knowledge is also spontaneously apprehended." That base assumption is a two edged sword because it gives illusion a purchase. The glint of silver IS the glint of money. In advaita there are no free floating attributes that we infer must belong to something or other. Inference and perception are different and are two distinct means of knowledge according to V.P. So the glint IS the glint of silver until it turns out to be the glint of nacre. How does the defect in perception arise? Essentially all the elements of a successful perception are not present i.e. "owing to an absence of the totality of causes of apprehending the substratum of the validity". To put it simply you have moved too quickly to claim the object as silver before all the other perceptual indications of silver were achieved. You thought you were crossing the finishing line when you had a few more laps to go.

See Michael's own website for many more articles.

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