If the true reailty is that all of what we perceive is an illusion and reality is void of any perception, in the crudest sense, our goal is to reduce ourselves to being equal with every other substance in the universe. For a while, this seemed like an interesting concept. We are only figments of our perceptions, we can not hope to find purpose while bound by this illusion, and the true purpose is to become one with everything.
Only now, I’ve begun to ask the question, “Then what?” From Aristotle to Spinoza, philosophers throughout history agreed with this same representation of reality. The difficulty in reaching this state of equilibrium with the universe is that our perceptions have created desires which we do not want to relinquish. I’ve personally struggled with the fact that in this purpose, my wife and daughter should be of no consequence to me.
Science has told us that we are 70% water. So does that mean a religion believing that as truth should ask us to dissolve into a puddle of water? The religious argument is to understand our true nature, and that this is all an illusion. As the sayings go, “know thyself” and the “truth shall set you free”. Hinduism and other pantheistic religions take this in not only in the literal sense, but the most basic sense as well.
The key to the entire religion is that this is all an illusion. Without that fundamental fact, we would have no need for change. I was reading Einstein’s interpretation of the discovery that matter is really an illusion created by an energy wave moving at near the speed of light. He stated that we can not make the claim that matter is an illusion and energy is the reality. In fact, both are just attributes of the same “substance”, as Spinoza would phrase it. That is why the Uncertainty Principle works both ways, when we focus on the material attribute, the energy can not be measured, and vice versa.
The same can be applied to this concept of an illusion at our level. What pantheistic religions call an illusion, can also be interpretted as a set of attributes. When a helicopter blade spins, it possesses the attribute of a disc. Similarly, even though we are 70% water, we also possess the attributes of a solid. To classify humans as a solid or liquid would be to ignore a set of attributes which are a part of the definition of a human.
If this is the case, can we really understand what is not the illusion? If we breakdown all forms into their basic building blocks, then any combination of attributes derived from those building blocks should be considered an illusion. However, we could also interperet the attributes, even the compounded attributes, as also part of the fundamental reality of the basic substance.
While pantheism tends to ignore the attributes and focus on the substance, theistic religions focus on the attributes and forget the substance. Which is the correct approach? Or maybe by narrowing our mind to only one set of attributes, we shield ourselves from the other. The difficulty is then that, by merging the definitions of God, we are then forced to meld the purposes, outlined in each religion, that God has for us as both individuals and a part of this cosmos. In some ways, the segregation makes life and purpose simpler to understand and abide, but in doing so, we deprive ourselves of much of what makes God and this Universe so awe-inspiring.