As you rise every morning, one aspect of your self reassembles: the first-person observer of reality, inhabiting a human body. As you move on throughout your day, so does your sense of having a past, a personality and motivations. Your self is complete, as both witness of the world and bearer of your consciousness and identity. You. This intuitive sense of self is an effortless and fundamental human experience. But it is nothing more than an elaborate illusion and how you perceive reality is very unique to you and defines every moment of who you are.
Our concept of ourselves as individuals in control of our destinies underpins much of our existence, from how we live our lives to the laws of the land. The way we treat others, too, hinges largely on the assumption that they have a sense of self similar to our own.
So it is a shock to discover that our deeply felt truths are in fact smoke and mirrors of the highest order. What are we — whatever it is we are — to do?
First of all, keep it in perspective. Much of what we take for granted about our inner lives, from visual perception to memories, is little more than an elaborate construct of the mind. The self is just another part of this illusion.
And it seems to serve us well. In that respect, the self is similar to free will, another fundamental feature of the human experience.
The of illusion of self is so entrenched, and so useful, that it is impossible to shake off. But knowing a different aspect of truth far from your own will help you understand yourself — and those around you — better.