21 October 2007
The Logic of Illusion
The Advaita school of Vedanta, and the Wujudiyyah school of Sufism, both teach that existence is not-two, or not-more-than-one. In simple terms, all is God.
The idea that all is God is quite logical, given certain commonly accepted definitions of God. If God is truly "infinite" in all ways, then God is indeed not simply "in all" or "everywhere", but simply "all". All of this is God, utterly and indubitably. Whatever is not apparently "God" is, thus, not really real; it is false and an illusion.
Does this mean that the world in which we live, should be thought of as "false", an "illusion"? Should the blue sky, the singing birds, the vast ocean, the cup of coffee, the bright face, the sonorous speech, should all of that be dismissed as false and illusory? Should we try to negate all of that, in the search for the really-real God?
Not at all. To start from the assumption "God is the only reality" or "God is all" is to put the cart before the horse, to violate the true logic of illusion. As an Avatar once said, "God cannot be explained...God can only be lived", pointing to the spiritual fact that God is not subject to human understanding, or human conceptualization, or captivity within human thought. God can only be lived; God can only be loved. And the living-loving of God starts from the living-with-and-loving-of our world, our fellow non-human creatures, and our human brothers and sisters. This true love of God means the surrender of our selves, and the ultimate realization of God as the true Self. This realization involves a radical revolution of consciousness, the implicit knowing that change, instability, and finiteness are not real, are indeed false and illusory.
The realization of God as truth, as reality, does not mean that the blue sky, the singing birds, the vast ocean, the cup of coffee, the bright face, or the sonorous speech, are then negated into "nothingness". They were already "nothing" to begin with -- that is, as entities existing independently of God. Instead, they are "gated" into Somethingness, into reality and truth, into God. But, from the everyday perspective, all these things do seem to exist independently of God; and from the God-perspective, such an existence is truly illusory and false. True existence, whether that existence takes the form of the world, life, or humanity, is existence-from/of/as-God.
The proper approach to Wujudiyyah or Advaita doesn't start with "believing" that the appearances around us are illusions, or with negating the matter/energy cosmos in which we live. Such a path could easily divert us from the proper critique of existence-independent-of-God, and into a mere negation of existence itself. Instead, the proper logic starts with living with God, loving God, and thus loving the world, others, and ourselves; and then letting that process reach its radical conclusion, in its own sweet time.