you ever been to a magic show? One of those shows where they release doves from
hats, saw people in half, make them disappear and then reappear? All that kind
of thing. Highly entertaining stuff, escapism even, indeed at times the
illusions can actually seem real.
Now your logical mind knows that it’s all tricks, and that people certainly don’t get sawed in half and then magically reassembled, but for a few hours you let go your judgment. You go in the spirit of fun, but not withstanding that, it is a very serious matter. You are entering a space where there are certain rules, where reality will be suspended and things may get a bit odd.
When we enter this world we make a contract, if you like, with the Illusionist. We say, ‘for a span of time amuse us, and in return we will give you our money and our minds. And we agree to play by your terms’.
And you will be entertained. But the Illusionist is always in control. He is the consummate professional. His performance is watertight. It has to be. None will see through the illusions. When he does a trick it will be perfect. It will be seamless.
And this is how you want it. After all, that’s what you paid for.
Even though everyone in the audience knows it’s all an illusion, a part of them wants to be fooled, temporarily, at least. And in a sense that’s what gives it its congruency. Otherwise it wouldn’t work. What if you were able to see an assistant awkwardly place the rabbit into the hat before the trick? Or the girl escape behind the curtain when she was supposed to be in the box getting sawed in two? The house would echo with jeers and people would demand their money back. The nature of the Illusionist’s world is that it must be flawless. The deception must be complete and without equivocation.
let’s open this up a little. Supposing magic is your passion, you do a little
yourself on the side. Nothing big mind, just to entertain family and friends.
But you know how all this works, even how they do one or two of the tricks.
So you go to a show. Maybe David Blaine, or any one of the big guys. Of course nothing you do can touch what you’re about to see tonight. You’re excited. You’re really entering into the spirit of it. You go with the attitude of, ‘I know what’s up but I really want to be dazzled. Show me what you’ve got’.
Now, also suppose you’re sitting beside someone who’s never been to see a magic show before, and, maybe, just to make it interesting, they’re a little naive. This guy thinks everything that’s happening on the stage is real. He is going ‘Holy Cow!’ he’s beside himself. He cannot believe what he’s seeing and can’t fathom how anyone could be so powerful. He’s thinking the magician has some kind of supernatural powers.
Now he’s entertained too, but in a different way from you. He’s not just entertained, he’s taken in.
I remember something like this happening at a show I was at many years ago. It was a stage hypnotist, Barry Sinclair I think. I remember it was very funny, hilarious stuff, really entertaining. But some people actually thought what they were seeing was real. Now I had read up on hypnosis and psychology (even at an early age) so I knew about the power of suggestion and what was happening. At the end of the show the hypnotist gave a post-hypnotic suggestion to those who participated on stage; he told them they each had a leprechaun they could take home. After the show it was wild, people were chasing leprechauns everywhere, I kid you not! One guy even followed his leprechaun into the pub and bought him a beer!
Anyway, back to our story. The guy beside you is enjoying the magic show, but he’s totally fooled by it. He thinks it’s real, some poor woman had metal spikes pushed through her. Ouch! I bet that hurt! While you’re splitting your sides laughing.
You see where I’m going with all this? The ego-mind is like the professional Illusionist. It operates on the same principles.
It will convince you what it’s showing you is real. Its demonstration will be watertight. Its design flawless. None of its masks will slip. Your dependency on the ego-mind is complete (let’s face it you couldn’t very well perform the trick yourself, and be taken in at the same time, could you?) You need the ego-mind. And that need is its hold over you.
It will keep you entertained too, the ego-mind has an endless array of distractions. And, as we saw last time, you enter into its world freely.
But that’s where the similarity ends. Because, unlike the Illusionist, you don’t suspend your belief for a few hours, here you’re playing for real. When you enter the world of the ego-mind you fall into a trance and forget to leave.
A Course in Miracles tells us the Holy Spirit sees the illusions but does not believe them. In a nutshell that’s all you need do. Realise you are in the illusion (the ego-mind), and that you are also awake (higher consciousness).
Seeing through the illusion doesn’t mean fighting with it, nor does it mean withdrawing in a huff. I’m always a bit wary when people use spirituality to withdraw from life. Life should be embraced fully, lived consciously, with purpose and intention, not avoided.
I never tire of the analogy of the actor. He will fully embrace his role, meet all its vicissitudes, and play it out with integrity, while all the time knowing it’s merely a piece of fiction.
And this is exactly how we must live. Not in some half-assed way, or constantly fighting with the world, or trying to escape it through drink or drugs or sex, or any of the other distractions. When we adopt the actor’s mentality we really are being ‘in the world but not of it’. Now, along with the Holy Spirit, we see the illusions but we don’t believe in them.
is just a thought-system. It is familiar. It was there from the time you were
born. You believe in it. You feed it with your attention and energy. There are
too many things holding the world in place. Your mind. Others’ minds. Feelings.
You are like the person at the Illusionist’s show who knows about magic and is clued in to what’s going on. And someone who is unawake is like the naive guy next to you. He has no idea that he is consciousness itself, that he is source, not subject of his world. Now supposing during the interval you were to take him aside and explain all the rules. Tell him about the hidden trap door where the lady escaped. That things didn’t magically appear out of thin air, and nobody actually got hurt. The Illusionist was using distracting techniques all along to divert your attention, and mirrors to camouflage what he didn’t want the audience to see.
So our naive guy goes ‘ah ha, now I see through that guy on stage. I have his number’. He is now on your level. In the auditorium he can truly be said to be awake to what is happening around him.
And it’s the very same in life. You are that savvy guy who knows what’s happening, and those you help will experience the same awakening as you, and no longer be enthralled to illusions.
The Illusionist reminds us of the wizard in the Wizard of Oz, all puff but with no real power. But he wants you to think he has. That’s what gives him his power.
Illusionist is the world. Once you’ve seen through the veil you cannot wholly
be taken in again.
To be free of the ego-mind is to be awake.
The Consciousness Series:
There is a voice that doesn’t use words - listen!
Reality is merely an illusion - albeit a persistent one.