told him it was simple and i would give him an answer. Well, it turns out, as they say in the 12-Step programs: "It's simple, but it ain't easy" This may take a while -- several posts, so i ask for patience. And i might as well start at the beginning.
All of the "great" spiritual tradition (and the "not so great" ones as well so far as i can tell) assume that if you rely only on the six senses (the mind being #6) and do not see the world as a manifestation of something more basic and more profound, your perceptions are mistaken and you are ignorant, no matter how much you know.
Long befoe i knew i had a spiritual nature or thought abou a a spiritual quest. i discovered this point of view in phenomenology and in its American cousin, pragmatism, both of which showed up in various forms in sociological theory,
Phenomenology tried, in the 19th century, to separate the human tools for gaining knowledge from the objects of knowledge themselves (numena). This project utterly failed as the senses were so intrinsically bounmd up with the objects they were supposed to be studying. Phenomenologists ended up studying the tools themselves together with the other objects of study. In sociology this became channelled into a project to support certain conservative ideas, but i thought the implications of the theory remained quite radical We don't know what is going on and we have no sure way (or perhaps any way at all) of finding out. Once we abandon our dependence on nature we just make stuff up as we go along.
Pragmatism, which took the form of symbolic interactionism under the students of the philosopher/social psychologist George Herbert Mead had equally radical implications which were significanly toned down in practice.
Basicly our perceptions of reality are formed in association with others mostly through the words we speek. We come to agree on the nature of reality. As time goes on more and more of that reality is given by past interactions so that eventually what was once a shared outlook becomes truth based in God's word or basic nature or human nature. In the meantime, of course, other folks in other communities are forming their own realities which might be quite different from ours.
So, when i learned that Hinduism regarded the phenomenol world as illusion, i thought, well of course. Except they did not need gods and demons to create that illusion for them, they could do it by themselves just as we did.