Master of Deceit

By Anthony Gold

There’s a magic trick I can do where I take a playing card and toss it away from me. With a gentle flick of my wrist, the card is gone.

Any observer watching me perform this trick sees the card in my hand and then watches me throw the card off to the side. But the card magically disappears. It’s not off to the side where I threw it, nor is it any longer in my hand.

It can be very unsettling for an onlooker since clearly the card must be somewhere. But it’s nowhere to be found.

And then, just as miraculously, I clap my hands the card re-appears back in my fingers.

Of course, no miracle happened. It’s all sleight of hand.

Magicians are masters at sleight of hand. It works by getting observers to put their attention on one thing while the performer does something hidden. Like making a playing card vanish.

But once we know we’re being fooled, it is very easy to catch the deception. Right?


Even when we know we’re about to be fooled, a good magician still pulls one over on us.

We’re like the dog that loves chasing after a stick that is thrown by its master. If you fake the throw, the dog still runs off in anticipation of catching the airborne stick.

We know there is some trickery about to unfold – we’re ready for it – and yet we’re still deceived.

Our eyes (or attention) get drawn in exactly the place the performer wants, even though we tell ourselves we’re not going to fall for it.

Research has shown how easy it is to deceive our prefrontal cortex and our sensory cortices – the areas responsible for attention. That’s how optical illusions work. And it’s also why multi-taskers think they are truly multi-tasking. They aren’t, but they’ve deceived themselves into believing they are.

And there is one magic trick – perhaps the greatest sleight of hand ever performed – that fools us like none other.

The trick is called the Illusion of Happiness, and the master of deception performing this remarkable apparition is knows as the ego.

It works by convincing us that the source of happiness is in the world, other people, and our body. Likewise, that the source of all our pain comes from things going on in the world, other people, and our body.

Have you fallen for the trick?

If you think any person or situation in the world has the ability to either make you happy or make you unhappy, then you’re falling for it.

The truth is that happiness has nothing to do with anything going on the world. The world and other people are giant smokescreens to keep us looking there. As long as I’m convinced that other people (or things) can make me happy or sad, then I’m being deceived. And not only that, I’ll keep looking in those places to find the joy I desire.

It isn’t until we see through the deception and understand how the master of deceit works that we can finally dissolve the illusion.

Once we know how the trick works, it ceases to capture our attention, and we are no longer fooled by the magic.

Join me in Monday’s class where we’ll explore how easily we’re deceived by the ego and how we can practice no longer being fooled by the master of deceit. I look forward to seeing you then.

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