Words of Hope: Awakening from The External Illusion

Here is an insight into conversations I would have with Dad. One of our favorite topics was how to live outside the external illusion.

Every healthy child exudes a natural joy: the celebration of bubbles or the delight in wrapping paper more than the toy. Anyone around a happy child can envy this unconscious delight. As we age, we become more aware of our external surroundings and more enamored with and enslaved to them. The external illusion is the fantasy that implies, “If only I could change my externals, then life will bring lasting transformation and satisfaction.” We change our appearance to feel more beautiful, we change our jobs to feel more peaceful, we change our location to feel more excitement, we change our churches to feel more spiritual, and we change our spouse or family to feel more loved and admired. The external change helps distract us from our internal emptiness. Yet we soon feel the same emptiness again, and the drive for something new continues. The external illusion keeps us from true transformation because we never get to the core of what is pushing our need for change. 

The illusion tempts us into believing internal transformation is achieved through our externals. Of course, not all external change is negative. Social reform, commitment to justice and mercy, service to the oppressed are crucial commitments of those who live better lives. But when we believe our internal character is beholden to our circumstances, when our focus of control lies in our circumstances and in the hands of those who have power over us, or when we believe externalized change must happen for us to have internal fulfillment or purpose, we are trapped in a lie. 

We begin to move out of the external illusion when we recognize making external changes will not solve our problem if it is internally driven. Dad and I would talk about specific ways the eternal illusion was tempting us away from Christ-like transformation.

Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God. – Romans 8:5-8

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