Friday, November 12, 2021

Freedom From Illusion

A friend who attended the lecture I gave last Sunday (A New Vision of how our Minds Work), and mentioned in a Monday post, sent me an article from The Buddhist Review "TRICYCLE" by Pema Düddul titled "Freedom From Illusion". If you scan both texts, I suspect you will find, as I do, a striking consonance between the neuroscientific and Buddhist perspectives on "Illusion." 

From the beginning of the Düddul article:

A shooting star, a clouding of the sight, 
a lamp, an illusion, a drop of dew, a bubble, 
a dream, a lightning’s flash, a thunder cloud: 
this is the way one should see the conditioned.
This revered verse from the Diamond Sutra points to one of Buddhism’s most profound yet confounding truths—the illusory nature of all things. The verse is designed to awaken us to ultimate reality, specifically to the fact that all things, especially thoughts and feelings, are the rainbow-like display of the mind. One of the Tibetan words for the dualistic mind means something like “a magician creating illusions.” As my teacher Ngakpa Karma Lhundup Rinpoche explained: “All of our thoughts are magical illusions created by our mind. We get trapped, carried away by our own illusions. We forget that we are the magician in the first place!”
Compare this with my talk's description of predictive processing, and how what we see, hear, touch, taste, and smell are largely simulations or illusions about the world. Here is a summary sentence in one of my slides, taken from a lecture by Ruben Laukkonen, in which I replace his last word, 'fantasies,' with the word 'illusions.'
Everything we do and experience is in service of reducing surprises by fulfilling illusions.


  1. Lots of Buddhists just can't escape from Buddhist philosophy. Pema Duddul writes, "Contemplating the way our senses and brain fabricate our experience reveals the dreamlike quality of it all." Wrong! Contemplating how our senses and brain fabricate our experience reveals what? - it reveals how our senses and brain fabricate experience. 'Fabricate' is a loaded word, too, and it misleads. 'the dream-like quality of it all' is sheer projection of his particular realization. Sigh.