Rav Avigdor Miller on Optical Illusions and Mind Games

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Q:
What can we learn from optical illusions? How do we know if something is a real phenomenon or just an illusion?

A:
From optical illusions we learn that we have to use all of our faculties to discover the truth. Many times your eyes are deceiving you. Optical illusions are a reminder of that. More important than that, you have to know that your mind deceives you even more frequently than your eyes. You must always be on guard to protect your mind from the illusions of this world. Many people never train themselves to think, and they spend their whole lives running after illusions. A waste. A waste of a good mind.

Now, seeing things is one of the most important ways of ascertaining the truth. And although sometimes there are optical illusions; that’s true, but the consensus of mankind when they report some sort of natural phenomena in the world, is reliable enough upon which to build our understanding of the world.

Food is not an optical illusion. Rain is not an optical illusion. Sunlight is not an optical illusion. Sunshine is a miracle. The sunlight comes here with such speed that it stuns the imagination. Every second, new sunshine is coming down at the world from the sun. Every second. And we need it. Sunshine kills germs. Sunshine causes food and plants to grow. It’s not an optical illusion. And wind? Winds are a miracle. Winds convey air from one place to another. As the plant exhausts all the carbon dioxide from the air around it, the wind brings new air. The wind keeps the air moving so that the plants, the trees and the food can grow. Winds scatter seeds. All the forests are planted by the wind. And there are many other functions that the wind does. Windmills are moved by the wind and sailboats move using the wind. There are so many functions that the wind accomplishes. The weather changes because of the winds. And therefore the wind is not an optical illusion.

And therefore, most of the world is not optical illusions. And so, you have to use your sense of sight to see all of the things that Hashem is doing for you. The sky, the clouds, the trees, the food – it’s endless. And the optical illusions should only teach you the lesson that you have to always be on guard not to be deceived by the false ideas prevelant in the world. And in the practical sense, the very few cases where there are optical illusions, the consensus of mankind is able to overcome those illusions.

TAPE # E-236