Monday, 1 August 2016

Afflictions of the Mind : Part-1 (Deception of the senses)

We will now begin a series of articles on afflictions of the Mind. Afflictions are undesirable side effects produced by the highly complex processes that occur in the Mind. While bearing in the mind that the afflictions are also perfect, there is nothing wrong with them and there is no natural law that compels anyone to remove them, we will still try to see what are the possible ways to see them clearly and in case of extremely dysfunctional ones, how one can eradicate them effectively. There are certain tricks that I learned from great masters, that I found work nicely in my experience, however, everyone has a unique Mind and these may or may not work for all. This is not an article on medical/psychological matters, so those who are crazy beyond repair will not find it useful. These afflictions are seen as "normal" by the human society, and are good examples of socially accepted madness. Those who are on the path, know them very well and strive to stay uninfluenced by them.

How can I know that I'm afflicted? Everyone is, don't worry. The telltale sign of afflictions is suffering and bondage. That is the main motivation behind hunting them down. It is not really important to completely cure them, in most cases, simply being aware of them is enough.

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1. Deception of the senses

Almost all of the contents that the Mind organizes originate from senses (internal or external). What we perceive is only as good as what the senses are capable of. Our world views are totally dependent on what we perceive. The reverse can also be said, our perception gradually becomes dependent on our existing knowledge. So much so that we are unable to perceive anything that is outside the narrow beliefs derived from extremely narrow sensory contents.

It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.
– Henry David Thoreau

It is debatable what lies outside the sensory radar. It does appear that whatever lies in its range is being created and perceived simultaneously. In other words, there is no difference between creation of the contents and perceptions of them. When there is no perception, there are no contents, things do not exists if they are not perceived. This is seen very clearly during an out of body trip (aka Astral Projection) where there is no difference between an intention to see something, its creation and its perception. It is less obvious in normal waking state, but can be experienced with some careful observation.

Gradually, as the Mind gathers knowledge, it erects walls of knowledge and beliefs around itself, becomes more and more limited. It can be counter intuitive, more knowledge should lead to more freedom not less. The freedom does not come from sense perceptions and their organization, this should be seen clearly. Freedom comes from not taking sense perceptions literally, not letting walls of belief form, and clearly understanding how the senses build up a limited world, a VR like immersive environment around the Mind. Once this is understood, freedom results, else one is trapped in this sensory game forever.

Two-thirds of what we see is behind our eyes.
– Chinese proverb

The firm conviction that the absolute “reality” or “truth” is nothing but what the senses tell us is an affliction of the Mind. The belief is complete and strong, and most of the time nothing can be done to eradicate it, if one is not willing and open. Mother nature comes to help in the form of suffering, beliefs begets suffering….. always. Not only that, such people cause suffering for others and also destroy their physical surroundings, they find enough justification for that. The sensory illusion creates a separation of “me” [1] from the rest, and so, for the one who is afflicted, it is not possible to see that the damage is being done to the self, not to the others or objects. There are no others and no separate objects, the separation is an illusion (really? refer previous entries please for a discussion on Identity).

How to get rid of this affliction? If you are reading this blog since start, the answer should be obvious, I repeat it again and again because this is the only trick that works most of the time, and it is – be aware of it all. Being aware, conscious, attentive towards how the senses limit us will help in getting rid of this limitation. Does it magically make the usual world disappear and will another “more real” world appear to me instead? No! Everything remains as is, only the Mind changes, not the external forms. The awareness of the illusion will not make the illusion go away, instead, simply, one is not fooled by it anymore. Our choices and actions are now free from the influence of the hypnotic senses. This is a great achievement in itself.

If you are on your own, it will appear almost impossible to go beyond the senses. A teacher who is free from the trap of perception is needed. Books, discussions, audio-visual material – all this also helps. Fortunately, there are many studies and enough material out there that shows how the Mind creates a sensory world out of mere information. Anyhow, if you are on a path of knowledge, you will want to see it for yourself, and not depend on other’s experiences. For those who are daredevils, I recommend learning Astral Projection or Lucid Dreaming. These techniques directly show the practitioner the illusion that we call a physical world. One should not make a mistake of assuming that it is just one of trillions of worlds, physical or non-physical, it is merely an illusion. These “worlds” are not pre-existing, they are not there actually [2]. Worlds can be created on demand, the Mind is a mean-machine when it comes to creation. Words cannot describe how powerful the Mind is, it is flabbergasting and beyond comprehension. One needs to experience it first hand, even a short experience is enough to give you an idea, to free you from the illusion of senses. One need not spend their entire lives exploring the creative powers of the Mind. Get the point, get out of it.

If the doors of perception were cleansed, everything would appear to man as it is – infinite.
– William Blake

So its all an illusion and once this affliction of seeing it otherwise is gone, one can simply torch everything around him, kill people randomly and let it all crash and burn. Its only an illusion, right?, nothing should matter here. Well, I say - try it, go ahead, you are setting yourself up for a big surprise if you do that, you will not like it, it will not be a pleasant surprise, I bet. The sensory world is an illusion, but illusion does not mean that there is nothing there, it merely means that the underlying structures appear to us in a form that is iconic, not literal. It is not possible (in my opinion) to see structures as they are, there will always be an interpretation, and the interpretation appears as an illusion. Structures stand on the shoulders of other structures, and once they begin forming, they produce a unique creation – an illusion, if you will, when they are interpreted by other structures. In the case of our physical universe, the “other structures” I mention are senses, and the more fundamental structures are material in nature, the illusory particles – atomic or subatomic or subsubatomic, depending on how deep one is willing to dig.

When one destroys the worlds or its inhabitants, one is destroying these structures, the destruction is there, no matter how they appear. This should be clear. Even if the structures and processes of the Mind are presented in an iconic “illusory form”, they are there and are “real”. One should not destroy them for the same reason one does not delete a file icon on your computer just because it doesn’t look like a series of voltage spikes (1/0s). The file represents a meaningful structure and the fancy graphic icon is there for a purpose, it is an illusion though, it is not what the file is [3]. You might lose your precious work if you think you are deleting an icon, and you will not like the consequences. Especially, in our physical universe, there is no recycle bin, one cannot simply restore everything as it was, and the consequences are unforgiving, they will come back and bite you. And therefore, it is so important to realize the illusion for what it is. One must not meddle with it, justifying one’s actions on incorrect assumptions. Once one is free of the illusion, one sees the underlying immensity and beauty of it, and one automatically perseveres to enhance it, and if nothing else, will not mess with it at least [4].



[1] The “me” is to be discussed in detail later, it was already discussed under the topic of Identity. It is just a concept and is derived from how far the nervous system extends (among other things). Its obvious that it does not extend beyond one’s skin (and hardly extends inwards into the body also). The pain/pleasure signals from senses and limited ability to influence one’s body (affecters and effecters) help to form a belief that one’s self extends only up to one’s skin and everything beyond it is not self, or is others/objects. The funny thing is – if one is fed with pain signals coming out of a table (say), which is somehow fitted with neural structures or similar, one would start perceiving the table as self too. Just hit that table with a hammer, if you wish to experimentally confirm this. There is a tendency to cut off hair and nails etc from one’s body (no neural structures there, so no pain etc), and as soon as they are cut off, they become not-self, just trash. We do not see this tendency in regard to one’s own head... for example. Another exotic example is – a player perceives his avatar in a game as himself (when the immersion is deep, the game is realistic and the player is playing that avatar for a long time), and any damage caused to the avatar is “felt” as if caused to oneself. There is some pain and suffering, even if the connection is not physical (neural, like in the case of the table). A mere conceptual connection – the idea that the avatar is me, is enough. Ask any gamer. Something similar happens with mothers, who tend to consider their child as their extension, and with car enthusiasts, for whom any damage caused to their car brings a huge amount of suffering. The concept of identity is arbitrary and is useful, but only when it is seen for what it is.

[2] That said, experts will tell you that it is possible to build a world that is stable and openly accessible (objective) by others. Our physical universe can be said to be one such creation. It does sound very strange to newcomers in this field, and frankly speaking, I’ve personally not created any worlds or universes, never seen any other than our good old physical one, where you are currently reading this. So take it or leave it.

[3] One can take this analogy further to understand one important thing – nothing is created and nothing is destroyed in a fundamental sense. If you destroy the file, say by overwriting it with a random string of bits, you are only destroying the structure, not the fundamental entity that supports the bits (e.g. a hard disk). There were bits before and there are bits after. Only thing is that now your program that you use to read that file cannot interpret it, as it was programmed to interpret a specific format, a specific structure. When a mental structure is destroyed, say a body or a tree, it simply gets rearranged into something else, and the Mind simply interprets it differently. Our impressions and knowledge about the thing that was destroyed produce the illusion of destruction, especially when the resulting entropy is higher than before. So one can say that nothing can be destroyed, it was not there to start with in fundamental terms. Similarly nothing is created, its just an rearrangement, an interpretation by the Mind, that is programmed to interpret it in a specific way. It creates a specific “illusion” out of given information using its (evolved) army of programs. More on mental programs can be found in earlier entries in this blog.

[4] Illusion is not an accurate word for the deception of senses we talked about, the proper word is Maya (Sanskrit, that which is not), there is no corresponding English word. It has been elucidated widely since ages. There are many volumes written about it, if you are interested in ancient views on how the Mind creates an illusory world.

Maya is not illusion as it is popularly interpreted. Maya is real, yet it is not real. It is real in that the Real is behind it and gives it its appearance of reality. That which is real in Maya is the Reality in and through Maya. Yet the Reality is never seen ; and hence that which is seen is unreal, and it has no real independent existence of itself, but is dependent upon the Real for its existence. Maya then is a paradox—real, yet not real, an illusion, yet not an illusion. He who knows the Real sees in Maya not illusion, but reality. He who knows not the Real sees in Maya illusion and thinks it real.
- Swami Vivekananda


  1. I am so happy that I found your blog. I have been searching for many years on just being. I did find ton's of articles and research but not one like yours. Thank you so very much. I would like to study with you and try to help others with your wisdom.

    Bless you Sir

    1. You are most welcome, and thank you for your comment.
      It will be my pleasure to help you in your work or answer your questions, if any.
      I've added my contact info in the sidebar, if that is more convenient for you.

  2. I am so happy that I found your blog. I have been searching for many years on just being. I did find ton's of articles and research but not one like yours. Thank you so very much. I would like to study with you and try to help others with your wisdom.

    Bless you Sir