Living under an illusion

My grandmother used to say that this is an illusory world….Maya. Something I always dismissed. After all what does a woman who stopped schooling after forth grade know anything about the world, let alone the nature or reality.

As I progressed in Science and read some writings around Eastern philosophy (that I could understand), I realized how both religion and science are on a quest to understand reality of nature albeit for two entirely different purposes. The world as we see certainly is illusory – not in the sense that it does not exist, but, that we see it in its relative form and not its absolute form.

Most people might not quite understand what I might be alluding to (even I might not have an idea either!). But I shall try – our understanding of reality is based on common sense. What we see, smell, feel, taste or hear helps reach us various conclusions on nature of an object. By that I mean if it is a solid or a liquid, how it smells, how it tastes, what kind of sound it makes etc. However, to get us to get us there various reactions are carried out by neurons in our body that convey information to our brain as our senses interact with that object. If that is so, then one might ask how can we conclude that these faculties can be relied upon? Or how can we say that these faculties are absolute in their inference?

Let’s take an example – We know that objects around us become visible to us due to their interactions with light where the reflected light creates an image in our brain. However, light has dual nature. It has wave nature as shown by Thomas Young in a paper published in 1803 – “Experiments and Calculations Relative to Physical Optics” where he was able to prove the wave nature of light. Almost a century later, a young scientist Albert Einstein demonstrated that light has particle nature. Interestingly, he could not disprove the wave nature of light. So light has two mutually exclusive properties. Could that mean that light does not have an independent existence? Could it mean light does not exist? Is it possible that light is giving us answers in the context of our question as repeatedly shown in the double slit experiment? So how can we say that we are looking at reality in its absolute form? Off course this defies everything we know. This is un-commonsensical (is that a real word?).

To quote Albert Einstein : Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one – Maybe he got that from my grandma.

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