A Brief Primer on Illusion

By George A. Boyd © 2011

In an East Indian wisdom tale, Sage Astabakra gave a response to a king’s question, “Which is real, the waking state or the dreaming state?” Astabakra replied, “Oh King, neither this waking state or this dream state is real.”

In this viewpoint, both the subjective sense of a Soul—the ensouling entity or eternal essence—and the embodied life that the ego and the Self know, are both illusory. Not all hold this perspective, however. We compare the perspectives on what is real and what is not in different spiritual and secular traditions in the table below.




Is It Real?

Approaches that embrace this perspective


Embodied Life


Both are not real

Satchitananda [In Advaita and Vedanta Paths of the First Cosmic Initiation, they use this rejection of both objective and subjective life to re-identify with Brahman. It also appears in the Third Transcendental Path, where chelas are taught that only God is real.]



Brahma Vidya (Path of T7)


EE is real; EL is not real

T1 to T5 spirit and ensouling entity; Supracosmic Soul or Supracosmic seed atom; Astral Soul or Cosmic Sphere nucleus of identity; or Monad



Groups that operate at the Transcendental (T1 to T5), Supracosmic, Cosmic, and Monadic levels of the Continuum


EE is real; EL is real

Subtle of Planetary ensouling entity and nuclei of identity, Soul of the Bridge Path, T6



Groups that operate in the Subtle and Planetary Realms,and Mudrashram®


EE is not real; EL is real

Self or ego; some operating at this level may mistake the activity of the brain as consciousness



Science, materialistic worldviews, atheists, unawakened individuals

When you work at the cutting edge of spirituality, as we do in Mudrashram®:

  • You do not drop into the Uncreated (Avayakta) and postpone spiritual development, regarding this as illusion.
  • You do not regard the personality as an illusion and relate to the world from a detached spiritual perspective
  • You do not abandon spirituality altogether, as the materialist and atheist do.

In this Integral approach, we ask you to work on and make a commitment to both personal and spiritual growth. We say, you should honor both worlds; and make progress in both worlds.

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