Illusion

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[W]hat the eyes see and the ears hear, the mind believes ~ Harry Houdini
Your eyes can deceive you, don't trust them. ~ George Lucas

An Illusion is an appearance which is in some manner deceptive, or at least divergent from norms of truth or expectations. These can be sensory, as with optical illusions, or conceptual. Stage magic is a form of entertainment based on illusions, while various forms of fraud are oppressive exploitations based upon them.


CONTENT : A - F , G - L , M - R , S - Z , See also , External links

Quotes[edit]

Quotes are arranged alphabetically by author

A - F[edit]

What is life? A madness. What is life? An illusion, a shadow, a story. And the greatest good is little enough: for all life is a dream, and dreams themselves are only dreams. - Pedro Calderón de la Barca.
  • Most of us, no matter what we say, are walking in the dark, whistling in the dark. Nobody knows what is going to happen to him from one moment to the next, or how one will bear it. This is irreducible. And it's true of everybody. Now, it is true that the nature of society is to create, among its citizens, an illusion of safety; but it is also absolutely true that the safety is always necessarily an illusion. Artists are here to disturb the peace.
  • ¿Qué es la vida? Un frenesí.
    ¿Qué es la vida? Una ilusión,
    una sombra, una ficción,
    y el mayor bien es pequeño;
    que toda la vida es sueño,
    y los sueños, sueños son.
    • What is life? A madness. What is life? An illusion, a shadow, a story. And the greatest good is little enough: for all life is a dream, and dreams themselves are only dreams.
    • Variant:
      What is this life? A frenzy, an illusion, :
      A shadow, a delirium, a fiction. :
      The greatest good's but little, and this life:
      Is but a dream, and dreams are only dreams. (Spanish wikisource translated by Roy Campbell)
Ambition and intrigue abuse the credulity and experience of men lacking all political, economic, and civic knowledge; they adopt pure illusion as reality; they take license for liberty, treachery for patriotism, and vengeance for justice. - Simón Bolívar.
  • That which is changeless, existent only, and beyond both mind and speech, which shines as the Truth amidst the illusion of the three worlds, is the Brahman according to its real nature. That Brahman is known in samddhi-yoga...
  • You can't live without illusions even if you must fight for them. Such as "love conquers all." It's not true, but I would like it to be so.
    • Marlene Dietrich, in "Marlene Says Only the Idle Grow Old," The Atlanta Constitution (November 29, 1966), p. 22
  • ...to say that the universe is an illusion (māyā) is not to say that it is unreal; it is to say, instead, that it is not what it seems to be, that it is something constantly being made. Māyā not only deceives people about the things they think they know; more basically, it limits their knowledge.
    • Wendy Doniger O'Flaherty (1986), Dreams, Illusion, and Other Realities, University of Chicago Press, ISBN 978-0226618555, page 119
To help him, he can indicate the possible alternatives, with sincerity and love, without being sentimental and without illusion. The knowledge and awareness of the freeing alternatives can reawaken in an individual all his hidden energies and put him on the path to choosing respect for “life” instead of for “death”. ~ Erich Fromm
  • This has been the cause of a great deal of wasted time and effort, and industry, which needs young men who are healthy, tractable, unpretentious and, I would even say, full of illusions, often receives engineers who are tired out, weak in body, and less ready than one could wish to take modest jobs and work so hard that everything seems easy to them.

G - L[edit]

Among their fold were engravers, painters, cartoonists and sculptors, and their commander, Major Geoffrey Barkas, was an Oscar-winning film director. The brief was to support the Army using a combination of concealment and embellishment created with whatever came to hand. The Surrealist Roland Penrose tutored them, his lover Lee Miller posing nude in camouflage cream and netting as inspiration. And one of the more grandiose members was the Piccadilly magician Jasper Maskelyne, a Chancer tasked with experimental developments, who fogged his own reputation as much as any desert convoy. ~ Christian House
And if workers ever thought that the day would come when personal appropriation of capital would profit all by turning it into a stock of wealth to be shared by all, this illusion is vanishing like so many others. - Peter Kropotkin.
  • The prophet is not diverted by illusions of past, present and future. The fixity of language determines such linear distinctions. Prophets hold a key to the lock in a language. The mechanical image remains only an image to them. This is not a mechanical universe. The linear progression of events is imposed by the observer. Cause and effect? That's not it at all. The prophet utters fateful words. You glimpse a thing "destined to occur." But the prophetic instant releases something of infinite portent and power. The universe undergoes a ghostly shift. Thus, the wise prophet conceals actuality behind shimmering labels. The uninitiated then believe the prophetic language is ambiguous. The listener distrusts the prophetic messenger. Instinct tells you how the utterance blunts the power of such words. The best prophets lead you up to the curtain and let you peer through for yourself.
  • From the way in which this experience is spoken of by those who have had it, it would appear to be an extremely definite and positive state of mind, coupled with a belief in the reality of its object quite as strong as any direct sensation ever gives. And yet no sensation seems to be connected with it at all... The phenomenon would seem to be due to a pure conception becoming saturated with the sort of stinging urgency which ordinarily only sensations bring.
    • William James (1890; 1950). Principles of Psychology, Volume II. New York, Dover Publications, pp. 322-3.

M - R[edit]

...I was to learn later in life that we tend to meet any new situation by reorganizing: and what a wonderful method it can be for creating the illusion of progress while producing confusion, inefficiency and demoralization. - Petronius.
Acting is illusion , as much illusion as magic is, and not so much a matter of being real. ~ Laurence Olivier
  • Religious suffering is, at one and the same time, the expression of real suffering and a protest against real suffering. Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people.
    The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is the demand for their real happiness. To call on them to give up their illusions about their condition is to call on them to give up a condition that requires illusions. The criticism of religion is, therefore, in embryo, the criticism of that vale of tears of which religion is the halo.
    Criticism has plucked the imaginary flowers on the chain not in order that man shall continue to bear that chain without fantasy or consolation, but so that he shall throw off the chain and pluck the living flower.
  • Huey Freeman: Obi-Wan Kenobi once said: "Your eyes can deceive you, don't trust them." Seems to be getting harder distinguishing reality from the illusions that people make for us OR from the ones that we make for ourselves... I don't know, maybe that's part of the plan. To make me think I'm crazy.
...It's working.
  • The real sky is (knowing) that samsara and nirvana are merely an illusory display.
    • Mipham Rinpoche, Quintessential Instructions of Mind, p. 117; in: Chögyal Namkhai Norbu Dream Yoga and the Practice of Natural Light. Edited and introduced by Michael Katz, Snow Lion Publications, Ithaca, NY, ISBN 1-55939-007-7, pp. 117.
  • As a magician creates a magical illusion by the force of magic, and the illusion produces another illusion, in the same way the agent is a magical illusion and the action done is the illusion created by another illusion.
    • Nagarjuna's Mulamadhyamakakarika Prajna Nama, J.W. DeJong, Christian Lindtner (eds.) quoted in Nagarjuna's Madhyamaka: A Philosophical Introduction, Jan Westerhoff, Oxford University Press, New York, 2009. p. 163
  • We favor the simple expression of the complex thought. We are for the large shape because it has the impact of the unequivocal. We wish to reassert the picture plane. We are for flat forms because they destroy illusion and reveal truth.
  • “Seeing an illusory object (māyā)”: Although what one apprehends is unreal, nothing more than an illusory sign. If one does not admit this much, then an illusory sign should be non-existent. What is an illusory sign? It is the result of illusion magic. Just as one with higher gnosis can magically create forms, likewise this illusory sign does actually have manifestation and shape. Being produced by illusion magic, it acts as the object of vision. That object which is taken as really existent is in fact ultimately non-existent. Therefore, this [Māyājāla] Sūtra states that it is non-existent, due to the illusory object there is a sign but not substantiality. Being able to beguile and deceive one, it is known as a “deceiver of the eye.
    • Nyānānusāra Śāstra, Shi Huifeng. Is “Illusion” a Prajñāpāramitā Creation? The Birth and Death of a Buddhist Cognitive Metaphor. Fo Guang University. Journal of Buddhist Philosophy, Vol. 2, 2016
  • Suppose, monks, that a magician (māyākāro) or a magician’s apprentice (māyākārantevāsī) would display a magical illusion (māyaṃ) at a crossroads. A man with good sight would inspect it, ponder, and carefully investigate it, and it would appear to him to be void (rittaka), hollow (tucchaka), coreless (asāraka). For what core (sāro) could there be in a magical illusion (māyāya)? So too, monks, whatever kind of cognition there is, whether past, future, or present, internal or external, gross or subtle, inferior or superior, far or near: a monk inspects it, ponders it, and carefully investigates it, and it would appear to him to be void (rittaka), hollow (tucchaka), coreless (asāraka). For what core (sāro) could there be in cognition?
    • Pheṇapiṇḍūpama Sutta, Shi Huifeng. Is “Illusion” a Prajñāpāramitā Creation? The Birth and Death of a Buddhist Cognitive Metaphor. Fo Guang University. Journal of Buddhist Philosophy, Vol. 2, 2016
  • This gnosis shows him all beings as like an illusion, Resembling a great crowd of people, conjured up at the crossroads, By a magician, who then cuts off many thousands of heads; He knows this whole living world as a magical creation, and yet remains without fear.
    • Prajñaparamita-ratnaguna-samcayagatha, Rgs 1:19; Shi Huifeng. "Is “Illusion” a Prajñāpāramitā Creation? The Birth and Death of a Buddhist Cognitive Metaphor". Fo Guang University. Journal of Buddhist Philosophy, Vol. 2, 2016.
  • Those who teach Dharma, and those who listen when it is being taught; Those who have won the fruition of a Worthy One, a Solitary Buddha, or a World Savior; And the nirvāṇa obtained by the wise and learned— All is born of illusion—so has the Tathāgata declared.
    • Ibid, Rgs 2:5,
  • Perhaps these were the errors of others rather than his [Jesus] own; and if it be true that he himself shared the general illusion, what matters it, since his dream rendered him strong against death, and sustained him in a struggle to which he might otherwise have been unequal?

S - Z[edit]

Love is a simple thing and a deep thing: it is an act of life and not an illusion. Art is an illusion. ~ George Bernard Shaw
The fundamental principle of art is deception. A work of art is either an illusion or delusion. It is never an exact reproduction of nature or facts. A portrait which accurately represents an original is not artistic. A painting, a photograph, an engraving is such a disposition of white upon black or of colours as to produce the illusion of relief. ~ Dr. C.W. Super
Groupthink is characterized by a shared "illusion of invulnerability," an exaggerated belief in the competence of the group, a "shared illusion of unanimity" within the group... ~ Fredric Solomon and Robert Q. Marston
  • Nirvana is a state of pure bliss and knowledge... It has nothing to do with the individual. The ego or its separation is an illusion. Indeed in a certain sense two "I"'s are identical namely when one disregards all special contents — their Karma. The goal of man is to preserve his Karma and to develop it further... when man dies his Karma lives and creates for itself another carrier.
    • Erwin Schrödinger, in writings of July 1918, quoted in A Life of Erwin Schrödinger (1994) by Walter Moore.
  • Know ye not then the Riddling of the Bards?
    Confusion, and illusion, and relation,
    Elusion, and occasion, and evasion?

    I mock thee not but as thou mockest me,
    And all that see thee, for thou art not who
    Thou seemest, but I know thee who thou art.
    And now thou goest up to mock the King,
    Who cannot brook the shadow of any lie.
  • The atman believes that "it is a consistent reality, but this is an illusion: There is only one reality, which is that of 'God' (i.e. Brahman). In the classic formula, Âtman is Brahman, but until I have attained 'liberation' I am under the contrary illusion."
  • The term Maya has been translated as 'illusion,' but then it does not concern normal illusion. Here 'illusion' does not mean that the world is not real and simply a figment of the human imagination. Maya means that the world is not as it seems; the world that one experiences is misleading as far as its true nature is concerned.
You know, I know this steak doesn't exist. I know that when I put it in my mouth, the Matrix is telling my brain...that it is juicy...and delicious. After nine years, you know what I realize? Ignorance is bliss. ~ Larry and Andy Wachowski

See also[edit]

External links[edit]

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