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Reality and Illusion

Reactions (August 1996)

Reactions are not as many would have it, simply evidence of our weakness, but have a real and positive purpose for those who seek more in life...

There are always two sides to what we commonly call 'reactions'. Most usually, reactions are simply messengers. They highlight issues, they indicate a requirement for change, they imply potential benefits. And they do this through making the individual aware of something that normally remains hidden. They bring to attention, they provide reasons for making decisions, they inspire the individual to examine desires and to act upon them. This is the true function of so-called 'reactions'. They have a positive purpose.

But, however, there seems to be a catch. They only have positive purpose for the individual who desires more in life. For an individual with no aspirations of having anything other than what they already have and no desire to move forward, reactions provide no useful service, instead bringing misery and unpleasantness to the life of that individual.

It is thus useful (for the wayfarer) to begin appreciating reactions and indeed making more use of them. If one has a desire to bring meaning to this life, then approaching every 'reaction' from the point of view of appreciating its purpose, will change the entire experience of life and create opportunities (for the wayfarer) where previously there were none.

Wayfarer International, Copyright © John & Melody Anderson, 1996 - 1999. All rights reserved.

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Reality and Illusion (September 1995)

The subjects of Reality and Illusion continue to stimulate lively debate. Many people like to use the catch phrase "we create our own reality". Richard Bach's popular book "Illusions" suggests otherwise, that it is illusions that we create, not reality. It is not reality or illusion that dictates the nature of our lives however, but our impressions.

If life is reality, then what is illusion? Perhaps some would say that life is an illusion, if that were so, what is reality? Does it exist? Some say we create our own reality. If we can create reality, what place does illusion have in the scheme of things and if reality were able to be created, would it not contradict its own very existence? Can you really create something that already is?

When we consult the Concise Oxford dictionary we find that it defines
illusion as: "deception, delusion; sense-perception of an external object involving a false belief as to its nature; misapprehension of true state of affairs."
Reality is defined as: "property of being real, resemblance to original; real existence, what is real, what underlies appearances."

Given what we have discovered about life, reality or that which underlies appearances, plays little part in our enjoyment of life, for if it did, everyone would respond to reality in the same way. And certainly more often than not, the illusions or appearances are responsible for the undesirable aspects of life.

This would imply then that something else is responsible for how we experience our lives. And how we experience our lives determines our enjoyment of it, the meaning life has for us, our ability to create and so on.

Impression (in this context) is listed in the dictionary as: "effect produced (esp. on mind or feelings)".

And it is this effect produced in our lives, impression, that determines almost every aspect, that creates desire, that sets up requirement, that influences our interactions with others and so on. Impression not only encompasses the physical facts of a situation, but feeds off our perception in ways that can have enormous impact on the life of an individual. Impression
shapes our lives. It can motivate our desires, influence what we acknowledge and what we do not, it can determine how we enjoy life, what we are capable of and so on.

Impression is much much more than perception, because it relies on more than an intellectual concept of what is actually occurring and more than what our senses can tell us. Impression is a product of the
judgments, conscious or otherwise, that we make in response to the input from our ability to sense what is happening. We can make use of aspects in our pasts to justify impressions, we can create illusions to reinforce impressions and of course, in contrast, we can eliminate certain perceptions to suggest a much more positive impression of our lives.

It is important then, to recognize that it is not illusion or indeed reality, that is responsible for our experience of life, it is impression. For example, we can go out and have an experience, we can endure that experience in a certain way and we can create illusions associated with the experience. We can say and do things that convey an impression to others, but in the final analysis, it is how we feel about the experience, the judgments that we make about it that is the true measure of it. These judgments may occur at the time of the experience, however they commonly occur later as the individual may create impressions in order to fulfill a particular requirement.

If those judgments are what could be called negative, then they define that specific experience. Similarly, if judgments exist about one's life in general then those judgments come to reflect life for the individual. If they are not negative, that too becomes representative of life. In other words if your impression of life is negative, then that is, in fact, what your life is. If your impression of life is positive, then your life is positive. If your impression of life is abundant, then your life is abundant and so on and so on. Life is exactly what it is made out to be, nothing more, nothing less. This concept simplifies the process of defining those issues that need to be dealt with. Actuality is irrelevant to an individual. And whether that individual's perception of life is akin to the reality or not, it is the
impression that endures. A person's life is worth only as much as that individual's impression of its worth. What others think is without bearing in such an example.

There are the obvious examples of great people, regarded as contributing much to the world, despite their personal lives in tatters and continual feelings of inadequacy. Whose impression of that individual's life is right? The adoring public or the individual's themselves? It can only be the individual and if that individual's impression of life is of a certain negative nature, then that is an accurate reflection of their life. It has to be. For indeed the only proof that we are alive is the impression of living. Similarly, if we feel we have achieved something worthwhile then that can also be regarded as the truth.

However, what makes things complex is the varying degrees of honesty exercised by individuals who seek to understand their lives. It is possible to convince oneself that we feel we have changed, where the impression could state quite obviously the opposite. Interpreting the genuine impressions and distinguishing them from created illusions once again, is determined by the individual's desire. It must be remembered that an individual's impression has little to do with what they
think about their life or what they tell other people. It is something deeper than thought and even reaction. Impression is always there and is unchanged by thoughts and the like. It can however, be changed by desire and the consequent actions that follow desire.

The link between impression and
desire is strong. When we strive toward something we desire in life, we are striving toward an impression. When someone inspires us, it is our impression that we are inspired by and we will know that we have achieved it by recognizing the impression. We can never duplicate a lifestyle or the characteristics of an inspirational figure, because our impression will not match the actuality and we are often incapable anyway, of perceiving the reality without the natural obstruction of our own interpretations.

We are able to feel the impression of having achieved something even though the actual circumstances may be completely dissimilar. Essentially, this explains why achieving a desired lifestyle cannot come down to the comparison of physical characteristics of aspects of life, impression is not formed in such specific terms. This also explains why only an individual themselves can really ascertain whether the impression has been attained. Another person's impressions will be entirely different and this aside, impression is completely

For example, we hear a song we like and try to play that song on a guitar. We might strive for hours trying to recreate our impression of the song on our own instrument, trying to imitate the subtleties. The tune we create may be a fair representation, but it is those subtleties that matter in terms of our personal impression. Others who are listening may complement us on the playing, some might even say "that's it you've achieved it". Yet we know that until we get that feeling, until we recognize that we are able to recreate the impression on our instrument such as it is in our minds (or wherever), we will not be satisfied. No matter what the opinions of others are, only
we are able to recognize that feeling of having achieved that sense of impression we have been after.

The existence of impression in our lives leads to the coexistence of anomalies, anomalies that would not exist if reality were the driving force. We may have an impression of a lifestyle, strive toward it and even achieve it, yet be unaware that we have achieved it, due to the fact that our present impression may conflict with the impression linked with the original desire. We may manipulate impression in order to maintain anomalies and thus, live a combination of different lifestyles without the conscious acknowledgment of any of them, if there is a requirement to.

Such a requirement can and usually does arise from hatred. We can be led to desire a particular lifestyle in practical terms, yet harbor a hatred for people who live such a lifestyle, creating an irreconcilable conflict, seemingly preventing us from achieving the object of our desire. However, through the manipulation of impression, we can maintain the hatred, live the lifestyle and strive for it,
all at the same time, while also managing to remain ignorant of the entire process, denying the attainment of it for necessary reasons. The dilemma of course, if we have a desire to move on, comes when we must acknowledge the attainment of the lifestyle we have achieved, yet the hatred exists as a demotivating force. We seek to avoid the acknowledgment of the hatred at all costs, yet it is critical that we acknowledge it in order that we may allow our desired impression to match with the impression of the lifestyle we presently live out. A result of being able to do this would mean that we could stop desiring the lifestyle, stop devoting our efforts towards trying to achieve it and could move on to something else.

Moving on to something else essentially sums up the goal of any individual who seeks greatness, for within that goal is the implication of choice. In reality, the impression of our lives is constantly changing. It is the mark of a determined individual who manages to maintain an unchanging impression of his or her life, yet this, to a large extent, is the aim of everyone who is unwilling to face the truth with courage and intention. It is untrue to assume that lack of progress is due to weakness as maintaining a sense of the static in life requires much strength. The catch, of course, is that strength alone is not a guarantee of success, for strength may be used for or against the self. In order to move on, one must be prepared to use this strength, and use it wisely.

Wayfarer International, Copyright © John & Melody Anderson, 1995 - 1999. All rights reserved.

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Responsiveness (November 1995)

The words response and reaction are often interchanged in general conversation, but there is in fact, a significant difference between them.

Responsiveness is a natural state (rather different to reaction), that represents our natural effortless ability to be stimulated by our world. It is a natural state of affairs to find things stimulating - from the simplest aspects of daily life to the more extraordinary ones. The fact is that for an individual not to find everything stimulating, something has to be effortfully done to interfere with this natural responsiveness.

The world is a constant parade of potentially new sights, sounds, smells and experiences. We are naturally endowed with the ability to perceive them through our senses and respond accordingly. There is no logical reason why we are blessed with the senses to perceive the world unless we are also intended to respond to what we perceive.

Everything within the human body has a purpose or function to perform. Our senses allow us to perceive information about our environment - but why? Is it purely to survive? We need our senses in order to make the kinds of decisions that keep the body in good working order and to keep us alive. We are able to perceive for example, physical threat, through the use of our hearing and sight, in order that we may respond to the potential danger and perhaps remove ourselves to a place of safety. This is one of many ways in which our senses can ensure our physical survival, but is this the only function of our senses?

Man's tendency to indulge and delight in his senses, implies that the senses do not only exist for the sake of survival. We may listen to beautiful music, have a passion for beautiful views, wear perfume and cologne etc, enjoy massage and good food - these things are extraneous to our existence in a purely physiological sense. We can survive without them.

Our bodies are equipped with the ability to produce hormones and other chemical mediums, which assist in the experience of happiness, love, exhilaration and so forth. The fact that we are able to experience these things tends to suggest that the intention in life is much
more than to simply exist. All of these things prove that it is the intention for human living to be enhanced by the ability to respond to what we perceive and indeed to enjoy the experience of our responses.

As human beings, we are not only capable of responding to our world, but we are naturally motivated to want to respond and to enjoy these responses. We are all familiar with the natural urge that seems to exist when we are working inside on a sunny day. At times this urge to be outside in the sun can be almost overwhelming. But what is it that makes us feel that we want to be outside? It is that part of ourselves, that response mechanism with a knowledge of the pleasures of responding to being in warm sun that is urging us to go and have a pleasurable experience. Conversely, on a rainy and cold day, our natural urge seems to urge us inside where it is cozy and warm and generally on such a day if we have tasks to perform indoors a conflict does not result. In fact some artists have been known to acknowledge that this kind of weather is more conducive to creativity.

We are
naturally motivated to experience pleasure and pleasure is experienced through responding. Pleasure of this kind must be distinguished from the kinds of malicious pleasure or comforting pleasure inherently gained through effortful actions of various 'impure' kinds.

In society the word response is often used in synonymous interchange with the word
reaction. In fact, the two are entirely different in the context of this discussion and as we understand things to be in life. A reaction is generally experienced as the result of compulsion. Reactions are to a certain extent, predetermined by factors of identity. We tend to regard response as a pure and spontaneous occurrence. Responses are completely free of identity and result naturally, without the influence of compulsion.

Responses also tend to be fleeting. We can go from response to response moment by moment. The body's ability to keep producing the chemicals responsible for experiences such as happiness and love is not such that these feelings can go on for hours on end without variation. Reactions however, because they result from effortful action, can seem to last much longer, because the individual effortfully creates the reaction over sometimes, very long periods. A response that seems to endure without such variation is more probably something effortful that relies on the individual carrying out work in order to achieve the illusion of an enduring response.

This can best be seen in the example of a smile. Generally a natural smile is a response. Usually it comes and it goes, naturally. A genuine smile is normally fleeting. Of course one can naturally be motivated to smile many times in a conversation, but the duration of one smile is distinct from the next smile. Sometimes individuals can be seen to smile and instead of the smile coming naturally over the face and diminishing, as is normal, the smile goes on - and on and on. Certain individuals with a specific requirement can be seen to force a smile across the face for long periods of time. This is not natural and the trained observer can easily perceive the strain that the individual is under in trying to keep the smile there. In such cases, the eyes usually give the individual away, for when pure, it is generally the entire face that smiles, not just the mouth.

The slack expression infants are often seen to wear on the face is of particular interest, because it is neither response nor reaction. One could say it is reflective of a state of being
at peace and this would be true. But in addition to this, it is significant of what can be called "taking in". Taking in is necessary in order to "give out", to respond. Taking in, perceiving, prepares the individual for giving out, responding. It is natural, just as the inhalation is followed by an exhalation in breathing, taking in leads to giving out, if we allow the natural processes of living to occur naturally. An infant will shift from a blank expression, to one of delight, and back to the blank expression effortlessly, a perfect example of the processes of response.

An individual, who takes in but does not give out, is doing something effortful with the information perceived and therefore cannot respond naturally to it. This process is an appropriate summary of the workings of hatred. Hatred is a reaction, it is influenced by the requirements of identity and is compulsive. It is
not natural to create hatred and to maintain it. Hatred is very much reliant on taking information from a situation and using it in a destructive fashion to fulfill specific requirements. A person who is hateful, does not give of themselves, in fact giving of oneself in this situation is seen as the most important thing to avoid in order to maintain the hatred. Not giving of oneself can also be seen as away of harming others, because response is often an expression of sharing, and sharing, of love. If love is the enemy of hatred, then sharing and expressions of it are to be avoided at all costs.

It becomes clear very quickly how hatred can interfere in one's ability to be responsive in life and therefore, how it can effectively destroy one's ability to enjoy and appreciate life. Enjoyment is dependent on openness. Our enjoyment of life is directly derived from our responses. If we are not able to respond to life and to the things around us, then we are not enjoying life. If we are not responding, nor are we able to experience the full range of emotions that we are otherwise capable of as human beings in a physical body. If hatred becomes the dominant motivator in life, then the degree to which we can enjoy and achieve in life becomes very restrictive and our life can only be represented by series of reactions. Responses such as happiness, love, delight and so forth cannot be allowed true abandoned expression.

One would have to ask then, "Without these things, are we really living, or merely existing?"

Wayfarer International, Copyright © John & Melody Anderson, 1995 - 1999. All rights reserved.

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Rightness (June 1992)

As many in the self-help field do today, in 1992, we imagined that rightness, happiness, and similar aspects of a positive nature, were an ideal for human living. And in many ways, they are. In the years that followed however, we began to understand the potential for advancement provided by deviations in rightness and the existence of all kinds of opportunity that result from man's so-called failings. We began to understand that 'even what is not right is right'...

Since man first began his occupation of the earth (and of course exactly when this was, is subject to conjecture) the human condition has been under constant scrutiny and indeed has fallen prey to imbalances that occur in the form of illness, diseases and abnormalities of varying kinds. Similarly, since this beginning, man has been involved in the search for answers which explain failings in his condition and which point to possible remedies. We know for example, that Neolithic man had both the cause and the capability to remove sections of bone from the human skull in perfect circles, surviving the operation to bear the scars of a healing wound. Examples discovered in France are some of the earliest evidence of trepanation known to modern historians. Whether his purpose was as the result of a primitive religious rite or as a search for relief of some disorder, we cannot be sure. The practice was found to be continued by the Judeans and Pre-Columbian peoples, again, healed wound edges proving that the operation was survived. There is as much evidence that the technique was employed to remove bone splinters or to heal fractures, as there is to suggest that it permitted occupying spirits to leave the body. We can only speculate as to the actual reason, but it does present interesting considerations...

The first is that it appears from the outset, that man's body and his condition in general, have failed him. The mere fact that the skull has been tampered with, indicates the presence of some imbalance or abnormality - even if of a spiritual nature. Other examples of bone deformities, tooth decay and abnormal growths found by archaeologists, suggest that early mankind endured similar ill health, to one degree or another, as we do today.

The second consideration is that we humans possess and always have, some inherent leaning toward, or inkling at least, of a state of being that could only be described as
'rightness'. A search to make right what ails us. This concept of the rightful state of being does not, of course, apply exclusively to things physical, but indeed to our ability to be 'right' within every sense of ourselves - without exception. If we have this we cannot want for anything, we have surely attained the ultimate in human existence. Yet with this seemingly instinctual determination to make things right and to be right, illness, unhappiness and dissatisfaction have been persistent characteristics of our history. What is it then that prevents us from expressing what must be a natural state of rightness in our daily lives? What possesses us to deviate from this potential for the ultimate and create the manifestations of these deviations in the form of ill health and unhappiness?

Perhaps there is equally good reason for the existence of those things that appear to be failings...

Wayfarer International, Copyright © John & Melody Anderson, 1992 - 1999. All rights reserved.

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Rocks (March 1996)

We employ the use of an analogy here to demonstrate the requirement for challenge in life and to show that without obstacles in life, much of the enjoyment we get from overcoming these obstacles, and thus our purpose, would be lost.

The world is filled with rocks of all shapes and sizes. Some are large, some are very small, some are immovable and some are not. Yet the rocks that prove to be the most significant obstacles are those that do not exist. Invisible non-existent rocks can be hazardous. They can cause mild abrasions when walked into by an unsuspecting pilgrim. They can inflict rather more serious injuries if the pilgrim is running or moving at considerable speed. And if a pilgrim is endeavoring to clear an area for planting, invisible rocks continue to surface, usually it seems, when the pilgrim is making the most progress. Just as an area seems to become clear, more rocks appear, apparently from nowhere and the pilgrim must begin all over again. This would seem to frustrate the pilgrim who is eager to expose a clear space so that they can build, but until such time must continue to struggle with multiplying rocks.

Little does the pilgrim know that the multiplication of those rocks is crucial to the fulfillment of their initial vision for the piece of land. Commonly, pilgrims misperceive this vision and incorrectly assume that the vision is a piece of land devoid of rocks and stones upon which something may be built. Just what this is however, remains somewhat of a mystery.

The part of the assumption that is incorrect is that the vision is a piece of land devoid of rocks and stones. In fact, it is more correct to hypothesize that the vision is the rocks and stones and indeed the moving of them. It is the interrelationship of these elements that defines such a vision. Move and dispense with the very last rock and stone and the body stagnates, the mind remains unchallenged and what the pilgrim is left with is very little reason to exist at all.

Imagine a world without rocks and stones. Bliss the pilgrims cry. But no, far from it. Imagine again, what then is the substance of the vision? What gives the vision its special appeal?

For the pilgrim who seeks greatness the secret is finding peace amongst the rocks, moving what he can, developing strengths and skills to move what he cannot and greeting the emergence of other rocks and stones with equal relish.

Many of the pilgrims who seek greatness play a waiting game, ever hopeful of one day arriving at that glorious moment when the final rock will be gone from the land and life can be easy at last. Rather misguided is the pilgrim who plays this game, for their joy can only come from an end result and an impossible one at that. The pilgrim who prospers is the individual who is prepared not only to move rocks and stones consistently, but whose love of life does not depend on the absence of the rocks.

In fact, the pilgrim relies on these rocks to satisfy the achievement of their vision. For the vision is not a thing, or even a series of things, nor is it a particular combination of circumstances in an individual's life. Achievement of the vision relies on the interrelationship between individual and rock. In exercising this interrelationship, a way of being is expressed and this way of being either aligns with the vision or directly opposes it.

The vision then, crucial to fulfillment in life, is a
way and the expression of that way in action. This dynamic relationship is self-perpetuating, for as the pilgrim grows in strength, so too, grows that which they desire and in so doing, new challenges are brought forward - and in expressing the way, the pilgrim has cause to further desire and so on. All the while, the love of moving and exposing rocks sustains the pilgrim's requirement for joy and becomes the ultimate reward in life.

This essay was inspired by our Great Land story Hard Labor. Click HERE to read it now.

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