The Tao, Money, And Illusion
‘Illusion’ is a word that gets knocked around quite a bit. It has a bad reputation; it’s a trickster, a bad egg. But really, it’s just another description for something humans experience and do. It’s really a pretty neutral thing. It describes anything that doesn’t have a literal existence, but influences us nonetheless. Like just about anything, it’s only negative when we choose to use and interpret it in a negative way.
Take money, for example. Just not mine, please. Money is a big fat illusion. Whether your money is a piece of paper or a big fat wad of gold, it’s an illusion. I don’t mean the physical marker you have in your hand is an illusion, I mean its value is an illusion. That paper bill only has worth if the person you’re handing it to agrees it has worth. The same goes for gold. Wait… gold is always valuable, you say. It has been for thousands of years. That can’t be an illusion, right?
Wrong. Imagine we’re both lost in the desert. You have a gallon of water, I have a pound of gold. There’s no rescue in sight. I offer you the gold. Do you give me the water? Well, maybe you do. And maybe I walk out of the desert, hydrated, and send someone back to look for your desiccated corpse. If so, I guess the illusion of worth was a persistent one for you.
We live and die by illusions. Social status is an illusion. Human society is an illusion. Love and friendship are illusions. Feelings of charity or greed are illusions. Philosophy is an illusion. They are not real things. And they are very real. One of the first lessons we learn about illusion is that illusions have a lot of influence on us. This is not good or bad, it is our actions, our reactions, that may be good or may be bad.
This thing I call the Tao, the Way, is an illusion as well. It does not exist, and it means a great deal. Once I realized that, and began to understand just how much of our experience is based on illusion, things began to make sense to me.
Not because I “saw through the illusion to the real Truth”. That’s a load of bullshit people try to foist on other people in exchange for money; we call that either ‘self-help seminars’ or ‘religion’ for the most part. There are other monickers. ‘Drugs’, for example, which I have some experience of in the alcohol form. Drunk, I sure thought I was cutting right down to the bone of “Truth”… but I was just chasing an unhelpful illusion.
Seeing the truth is not seeing through illusion, it is seeing the many and varied illusions that are part of you for what they are, what they are good for, and what they are not good for. Illusion is part of this ‘being sentient’ thing we humans all share. Whatever your ‘Way’ is, if you understand this, you will find your path much, much easier to walk.