An Illusion Concerning Appearance And Reality


To get Enlightened we must next dispel an illusion respecting

appearance and reality. According. to certain religionists, all the

phenomena of the universe are to succumb to change. Worldly things

one and all are evanescent. They are nought in the long run.

Snowcapped mountains may sink into the bottom of the deep, while the

sands in the fathomless ocean may soar into the azure sky at some

time or other. Blooming f
owers are destined to fade and to bloom

again in the next year. So destined are growing trees, rising

generations, prospering nations, glowing suns, moons, and stars.

This, they would say, is only the case with phenomena or appearances,

but not with reality. Growth and decay, birth and death, rise and

fall, all these are the ebb and flow of appearances in the ocean of

reality, which is always the same. Flowers may fade and be reduced

to dust, yet out of that dust come flowers. Trees may die out, yet

they are reproduced somewhere else. The time may come when the earth

will become a dead sphere quite unsuitable for human habitation, and

the whole of mankind will perish; yet who knows that whether another

earth may not be produced as man's home? The sun might have its

beginning and end, stars, moons, theirs as well; yet an infinite

universe would have no beginning nor end.

Again, they say, mutation is of the world of sense or phenomenal

appearances, but not of reality. The former are the phases of the

latter shown to our senses. Accordingly they are always limited and

modified by our senses, just as images are always limited and

modified by the mirror in which they are reflected. On this account

appearances are subject to limitations, while reality is limitless.

And it follows that the former are imperfect, while the latter is

perfect; that the former is transient, while the latter is eternal;

that the former is relative, while the latter is absolute; that the

former is worldly, while the latter is holy; that the former is

knowable, while the latter is unknowable.

These considerations naturally lead us to an assertion that the world

of appearances is valueless, as it is limited, short-lived,

imperfect, painful, sinful, hopeless, and miserable; while the realm

of reality is to be aspired for, as it is eternal, perfect,

comfortable, full of hope, joy, and peace-hence the eternal divorce

of appearance and reality. Such a view of life tends to make one

minimize the value of man, to neglect the present existence, and to

yearn after the future.

Some religionists tell us that we men are helpless, sinful, hopeless,

and miserable creatures. Worldly riches, temporal honours, and

social positions-nay, even sublimities and beauties of the present

existence, are to be ignored and despised. We have no need of caring

for those things that pass away in a twinkling moment. We must

prepare for the future life which is eternal. We must accumulate

wealth for that existence. We must endeavour to hold rank in it. We

must aspire for the sublimity and beauty and glory of that realm.