Helpful Illusions


Our minds are constantly tricking us. They are filled with lies and distortions. Our memories are faulty, optical illusions fool us, and our vision (and other senses) can actually change depending on our beliefs. However, there is hope. In fact, many illusions are crucial to our ability to function.

What if I told you there was no such thing as color? Or that as more time passes, your memory becomes more distorted? Or that you can alter your body temperature through hypnotism or meditation?

Context is everything. Our brains operate by developing stories about our environment. Our brains are all about relationships. Color is the experience of the relationship between the amount and direction of light to an object in the environment. Optical illusions are mostly about the distance and shape of objects, the object’s relation to your body in space. You’re body temperature is a measurement of the relationship between the speed of your molecules to those of the air around you.

Every experience, ever memory, every sensation is illusory. It doesn’t actually happen. Instead most illusions are just stories. Experience is a process of relation. It is rooted in the context we develop through experimentation, learning, and thinking.

As I’ve said before, nothing exists in a complete vacuum. The human brain cannot conceive of anything in true isolation. This is why we have random thoughts, it’s why quanta are so difficult to measure in more than one way at once, it’s why even silence has a sound.

We are creatures that can learn by relation. We compare, contrast, puzzle, break apart, reassemble, analyze, solve, and do much more. All of these abilities require context. Context is the relationship of one or more objects, ideas, or persons to one another. It is a pull on the web of the universe. It has a connection to everything else, no matter how tenuous. Luckily, we can ignore the effect of context after a certain point.

Please let me know if this makes sense and if I need to explain more clearly. Think about the context of your life and all of the illusions it creates. Which illusions do your find useful and which are more tenuous? Think of people with different sense levels: do you feel like dead or bound people are missing out because their ways of twisting to the world are different? What about people with other modes of experience: the bullied, the praised, the abused, the joyful, etc? Do you feel better about your mind or worse?

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