March 15    

Today's quotation:

I think my quarry is illusion.  I war against magic.  I believe that, though illusion often cheers and comforts, it ultimately and invariably weakens and constricts the spirit.

Irvin D. Yalom

Today's Meditation:

Which illusions do we accept as real?  How do we determine what is illusion and what is real?  These are questions that almost all of us ponder from time to time, and they're well worth pondering--after all, if we continue to follow illusions, will we be taking a direction that's going to be helpful to us?  When we're very young, we accept the illusion that our parents are all-powerful and infallible; later, when we grow up, we find out that that wasn't the case at all.

Irvin is talking about the illusions that harm us.  Illusion can cheer us when we tell ourselves "our relationship is fine," but that may be us choosing to accept only those things that we want to accept, rather than taking an honest look at what's going on.  Some relationships actually are fine, of course, but many are not--and we often hear the people involved in the bad ones saying just how great the relationship is.  Politicians often carefully craft an illusion to get voters to believe something about them, only to act in ways that completely contradict the illusions they've presented.

To me, it's important to continuously question the possible illusions in my life.  Do I really like my job, or am I telling myself that I do so that I don't feel frustrated and hopeless?  Can this person with whom I have contact be trusted, or do I trust him or her because that's the easiest approach to take?  Am I really the person I think I am, or do my actions contradict that ideal?  Asking myself these questions from time to time can help me to avoid the trap of accepting illusions as truth, and potentially harming myself and others.

Some illusions are wonderful--magicians entertain us well by presenting carefully crafted illusions.  But others hold us back and hold us down, and it's important that we teach ourselves how to recognize them and reject them when they do.

Questions to consider:

Why is it so easy to accept and embrace comforting illusions?

How might illusions actually harm us?

How do you define "illusion" versus "reality"?

For further thought:

Illusions command themselves to us because they save us pain and allow us to enjoy pleasure instead.  We must therefore accept it without complaint when they sometimes collide with a bit of reality against which they are dashed to pieces.

Sigmund Freud

more on illusions



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