Article Consciousness

Our Struggle Is with Illusion


The misinterpretation of self is at the center of much current unrest. What does this mean?

Many who believe the US election was ‘stolen’, suffer because they mis-equate an erroneous belief (Trump won), with their personal identity or sense of self. We all do this to a lesser or greater extent. We become attached to our opinions and stories, which in turn are conditioned by our childhood, our traumas, and the opinions and stories we consume.

Yes, beliefs matter. Truth and justice matter. Yet, our emotional attachment to any belief or ideology rooted in fear, greed, anger or false-pride should not be confused with who we are.

Einstein called the misinterpreted self “an optical delusion of consciousness”, the incessant stream of chatter in our heads we call “me, mine, I.” None of us are immune to the illusory self. It is the ego craving attention and validation. It criticizes others and can be sharp, sarcastic, selfish and even violent. At Kosmos, we sometimes call the illusory self, wetiko, and you can find articles about this at our website.

Our tendency to crave attention and validation can make us easy prey to elaborately constructed conspiracy theories, which turn our own powers of reason against us. Make no mistake, conspiracy theories are not “organic”, the intentional creators of these mind toxins have agendas. They are the game masters who pose ‘questions’ and plant ‘clues’ that manipulate our natural curiosity and make us feel clever indeed when we discover the ‘answers’ they want us to find.

Rumi, the Persian poet and jurist said, “sell your cleverness and buy bewilderment.” He understood that the illusory self is the barricade we erect against the ambiguities of unconditioned reality.

Recall the last time you were awestruck. Even in the midst of hardship, confusion and pain, we still have the capacity to experience awe  – the vast sea, a bird in flight, the full moon, a newborn child. At the moment we are awestruck, we fully sense our livingness – beyond words or theories. We encounter our true self – our connected self.

This openness to awe and beauty is not conditioned by race, wealth, politics, or age. Awe is a human non-ordinary state of being, available always to anyone.

By awakening to our inter-connection, we discover that “I” am not my thoughts, but instead am the watcher of my thoughts, the seeker poised between the surface world of the illusory self, and the authentic living heart of creation. Grief and loss can also initiate us into this heightened state of wakefulness where feelings of selfishness, vengeance or hostility suddenly seem pointless in the light of unvarnished reality.

And so, what we are experiencing now is not a struggle between good and evil, or right and left. It is an inner struggle between the illusory self that will use anything to fill its emptiness – even violence – and the awakened self.

As the Zen teacher, Thich Nhat Hanh states:

“We can’t change the world if we are not capable of changing our way of thinking, our consciousness. That is why awakening, collective awakening, collective change in our way of thinking, our way of seeing things is very crucial. And all of us can help promote that. Our task is to come together and try to produce that kind of collective awakening.”

A daunting challenge, yes. Yet, the current quality of events suggests a hand of destiny offering us an evolutionary choice, an invitation to wake up to the Source that binds us – to each other and all beings. Ours must be the century of awakening, if we are to survive.


More on the Wetiko Mind Virus from Kosmos

‘Ghosts’ by KagLoos

Covid-19 is a Symbol of a Much Deeper Infection | The Wetiko Mind-Virus

By Paul Levy

For almost twenty years I’ve been writing about an invisible, contagious death-creating virus that no one is immune to that has been insidiously spreading and replicating itself throughout the human species. This deadly disease is a virus of the mind—the Native Americans call it “wetiko”—that literally cultivates and feeds on fear and separation. A psycho-spiritual illness, it is a psychosis in the true sense of the word, “a sickness of the spirit.” The origin and medium of operations of the wetiko virus is none other than the human psyche.

Seeing Wetiko: Through the Eyes of a Seventh Generation Algonquin

By Marcus Grignon

Posoh mawaw niwak. Nekataw manawich kikitem. (Hello everyone. I am going to speak.)

The injustice we witness every day, whether it be environmental, societal, and even economic, has a root cause. Nobody sees it because it has been invisible since the genocide committed against the cultures who lost their voice to speak its name. This being is not one sole individual, but a metaphysical entity bent on destruction. Wetiko in the Cree language, Wendigo in other Algonquin speaking tribes scattered throughout the Great Lakes region is what they call this evil spirit who represents environmental destruction, greed and ego in human beings

About Rhonda Fabian

Rhonda Fabian is Editor of Kosmos Quarterly. She is also a founding partner of Immediacy Learning, an educational media company that has created more than 2000 educational programs, impacted 30 million+ learners, and garnered numerous awards. Ms. Fabian is an ordained member in the Order of Interbeing, an international Buddhist community founded by her teacher, Thich Nhat Hanh.

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