What Do the Terms Real, Unreal, Not Real and Illusion Mean?


Most of us have heard some Eastern Philosophy and/or religion say that the world and everything in it is Illusion or Maya.

And, I am sure, most of those have said to themselves: "How can this be an Illusion or not real. I can see it and I can feel it. So can everyone else. How can we all be having the same Illusion"?

I am not going to get Uber-Philosophical now. I am just going to explain a little about what these terms mean to those who know the lingo well. 

Real means to be manifest as its True Nature. It means to be Unchanging.

Therefore, to be Real means to not be an Illusion. To be an Illusion something has to be manifested in something other than its True Nature.

To be something other than its True Nature means that something is subject to change. 

That's it in a nutshell. To be REAL means to be Unchanging.

Most people profess to believe in at least one thing that is Unchanging or Eternal: God, Buddha, The Dao, etc. Other people have more things on their list: 

Their Soul and Love, to name a few.

Now, let's imagine something that is completely Unreal. That is, something that cannot by its very nature(s) exist.

Can there ever be a true circle whose circumference contains a right angle? 

No. Therefore, that is completely Unreal.

OK, so far?


In this context, Illusion means something in-between Real and Unreal. In this context, an Illusion is Real because it has or can be manifest. It is also Unreal because it will change.

That makes an Illusion both Real and Unreal; and, hence our confusion with this term. 

It also makes the philosophers correct when they say everything we can perceive with our senses is an Illusion or "Not Real." We just have to remember that "Not Real" is different from Unreal!