Tag Archives: illusion

The “Consciousness is an Illusion” Fallacy

When it is said that X is an illusion, it is meant that what is perceived as X is really Y. Once the false perception is corrected, we can understand the difference: what we are actually perceiving is different from what we thought we were perceiving.

The correction of the false perception reveals that the perception of X as Y cannot be categorical. Meaning that X cannot always by everyone be perceived as Y, because if everyone always perceives X as Y, then it cannot be known that there is in fact a difference; and thus it cannot be known that X is an illusion. As far as anyone can ever know or say, X is simply X

This is precisely the problem we run into when we posit that consciousness is an illusion. To say that what we perceive as consciousness (the awareness of a singular metaphysical Self) is in reality something else implies that a difference can be known—that the false perception can be corrected. However, since consciousness is a frame of reference for perception, itself, it can never be perceived that consciousness is something else. It can never be perceived that “I” am actually “not I” because the perception of such a distinction requires the frame of reference of “I” in the first place. Put another way, the frame of reference of he who makes the distinction between the illusion and what the illusion actually is cannot itself be the illusion.

A distinction between the “illusion of consciousness” and what consciousness “actually is” is something which no one, anywhere, at any time, can perceive. Thus, any claim regarding such a distinction is necessarily false. Further, I would add that since consciousness necessarily implies choice and will, any claims as to the illusory nature of these things must also be false. Much more could be said of choice and will, of course, but we will leave it for now.

Birth and Death: Paradoxical Bookends of the Absolute Self (Part Three)

“…how can one be born if one does not exist in the first place? How can you experience birth if birth is the fundamental beginning? There is no YOU to be born prior to your birth, and so the consequence is birth but there is no action which involves you at all. The action which is entirely mutually exclusive of you somehow concludes with you.”

I understand how abstruse and arcane this quote is, taken from part two of this series, so I decided to dedicated part three to clarifying the point made, and also insofar as this point necessarily relates to death. Also, in reading back this quote I was able to anticipate possible objections and concerns as a function of the overt complexity of the argument; those will likewise be addressed.

To begin with, let’s look at this analogy. The car you drive (if you have a car, that is…if not, well, you’ll still follow) did not always exist as the car, per se. Prior to being your car it was merely a collection of parts, and before that, piles of metal and glass and plastic and paint; and before that, raw minerals which were mined from the ground, or chemicals mixed and refined in some industrial laboratory. After a few years, the car is disposed of, and will then decompose and break down, back into its multiple parts. But these parts, prior to and after the existence of the car, per se, continue to exist. They do not return to oblivion in the same way that they do not spring from it. After all, we know that according to the law of conservation of mass that matter cannot be created and destroyed; and philosophically this is form of the logic of non-contradiction. Meaning that the reason matter cannot be fundamentally created or destroyed is because a thing which exists cannot spring from non-existence, and it cannot become non-existent. Its existence IS; it is axiomatic, it is a-priori; it is de facto.

Likewise, one might say that while a human being did not exist as such prior to birth, there did exist a collection of parts—hormones and fertilizer and eggs and sperm cells and enzymes and proteins, DNA…you get the idea—which eventually came together to form the human being—let’s say you, in the interest  of casualness—that we recognize as a specific individual person. Following death, you shall desololve and decompose back into the many parts which formed you. All of these parts existed prior to you, and they all will exist after you. You are the parts, and the parts are you, and the parts remain in some for as a-priori existing; they are absolute; eternal.

Here is the problem with this explanation, and I’m sure you’ve probably already discerned it. The car, coming from a collection of parts, does not have a sense of Self. It possesses no singular consciousness…it does not recognized, or rather, it does not observe and interpret its environment, and all of reality itself, from a singular, specific, constant frame of reference. The car, in other words, does not know it’s a car. The collection of parts which make up the car do not suddenly, once in “true” car form, begin to associate as a single entity, able to conceptualize itself as a single object, and likewise its environment and all things in it. The parts of the car do not suddenly reject instinctually and naturally their distinct existence and begin to call themselves “I”, “Myself”, “Me”.

Do you see what I am getting at here? The difference between a car and a human being is that human beings DO possess a singular consciousness; a single observational and conceptulaizing frame of reference which demands and necessitates that the parts are not in fact fundamental, but merely form one’s body. Yet one’s SELF—that by which those parts paradoxically utter the words “I”, “Myself”, “Me”, and “Mine”—is the true nature and essence of human existence. To deny this is to relegate consciousness to some inexplicable epiphenomenon, or infinite mystery, or an illusion, or some random blip of mathematical uncertainty…and yet none of these claims can possibly be true because Truth itself necessitates that they be entirely false.

And it is this Self—this singularity—which I mean when I say that the human being is said to begin at birth and end at death. Of course the parts of “you” live on…and of course “you” were born of parts. I am not obtuse or blind to this obvious and pedestrian fact. But the real YOU, your SELF…your agency, awareness, will, consciousness…is NOT of parts, because there is no One from many parts; no I from Not I; no Self Awareness from infinite unconsciousness. And absolute consciousness does not “return” or dissolve into absolute unconsciousness; what IS does not become object oblivion. The law of the conservation of matter must also infer a law of conservation of consciousness (Self Awareness; which is the ability to conceptualize Self and Other) unless we are prepared to claim that consciousness is a lie or an illusion…a claim is very easily debunked and dismissed as the very mysticism and irrationality that those who peddle it claim to oppose.

And this is why I utterly reject the notions of birth and death. Not because they serve as anthropological and biological concepts to describe the cosmically and mathematically prescribed evolution of a human bing, but because they are a deception, and their fundamental meanings are completely spurious at best. Birth and death can only apply to he who is conscious, and yet they utterly contradict consciousness because they render it transitory, coming from oblivion and returning to oblivion, and thus render consciousness a moot and worthless concept. Which renders birth and death themselves moot and worthless. And yet if consciousness IS, and is ACTUAL, it must be absolute and constant, and thus likewise birth and death are rendered moot and worthless. In either and all cases, birth and death are fundamentally meaningless. They may serve as convenient contextual and subjective descriptions of a person’s existence, but they are not absolute, and are not objective, and have no actual bearing on the root nature of human existence. Birth and death are irrelevant with respect to parts. The parts, being absolute and perpetual, according to the law of conservation of matter, are not ultimately born, and do not die, and thus if man is like a car, made up of perpetually existing parts in some form or another, then he does not die and he is not born any more than a car is born or dies, except in the purely figurative sense.

But man is said to be born and then to die; and any way you try to rationalize this claim, it fails. And it fails for one simple reason. Man, unlike his car, knows himself.