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Optical Illusion of Consciousness
In high school, one of the nicer nicknames people had for me was Newt. Short for Newton. As in Isaac Newton. Presumably because I liked math and science and seemed to be a pretty good student.
Ironically, I was not a fan of the great scientist and author of arguably the world’s greatest scientific work, Principia. It wasn’t that I had any issue with Sir Isaac’s theories nor his incredible insights.
Rather, it was that another scientific genius held the esteemed position at the top of my mathematical pantheon - Albert Einstein.
Einstein not only peered deeper into the physics of time and space than any before or since, but he intuited the nature of reality far beyond the realm of human perception.
The passage below is from a letter Einstein wrote to a man who was overwhelmed by the death of his young son from polio:
A human being is a spatially and temporally limited piece of the whole, what we call the “Universe.” He experiences himself and his feelings as separate from the rest, an optical illusion of his consciousness. The quest for liberation from this bondage is the only object of true religion. Not nurturing the illusion but only overcoming it gives us the attainable measure of inner peace.
While this letter was written twenty years before A Course in Miracles, it foreshadows many of its principles.
We all have the belief that we are separate. Separate from one another, separate from our desires, and separate from our source. And it is extremely difficult to contemplate that it’s all unreal, or an optical illusion of consciousness to quote Einstein.
Yet by practicing the lessons of the course - or any other such non-dualistic thought system - we experience the eternal truth toward which these insights point. In fact, as the great master noted, overcoming the illusion is the means by which we can achieve inner peace.
And the way we make progress on this transcendent journey is by looking at how staunchly we cling to this optical illusion of consciousness. Looking at all the drama in our lives, all our grievances, all our fears - but looking with gentleness and an open mind to another way of perceiving. This is the route to liberation.
Join me in Thursday’s class where we’ll explore the illusory nature of what we consider to be reality, and how we can use our experiences to lead to greater peace. I look forward to seeing you then.