Suspension of disbelief or willing suspension of disbelief is a term coined in 1817 by the poet and aesthetic philosopher Samuel Taylor Coleridge, who suggested that if a writer could infuse a “human interest and a semblance of truth” into a fantastic tale, the reader would suspend judgment concerning the implausibility of the narrative. Suspension of disbelief often applies to fictional works of the action, comedy, fantasy, and horror genres. Cognitive estrangement in fiction involves using a person’s ignorance or lack of knowledge to promote suspension of disbelief. The phrase “suspension of disbelief” came to be used more loosely in the later 20th century, often used to imply that the burden was on the reader, rather than the writer, to achieve it. This might be used to refer to the willingness of the audience to overlook the limitations of a medium, so that these do not interfere with the acceptance of those premises. These fictional premises may also lend to the engagement of the mind and perhaps proposition of thoughts, ideas, art and theories. Suspension of disbelief is often an essential element for a magic act or a circus sideshow act. For example, an audience is not expected to actually believe that a woman is cut in half or transforms into a gorillain order to enjoy the performance. (As explained in Wikipedia)
The first time I heard this term was in my film class.The professor said this is how we enjoy the films; by suspending our disbelieves; we suspend our logic and reasoning to enjoy all that happens as a projection on cinema screen. It was a revelation for me. Like the hero of the film fighting alone with 20-25 rowdies and not getting hurt; like the random song sequences that come out of nowhere and like many other things which cannot happen in our real lives but only on the cinema screen. We believe all that because of something called ‘suspension of disbelief’. In a film we live those 90 minutes (or more) with the characters; we cry, laugh, experience all the emotions the characters of the film are going through but only by suspending our disbelief of reality we perceive.
Reading Yoga Philosophy; I often came across the way sages compare this world similar to the projection on the film screen. This world is not real. Real as in – of course the world is tangible; we are living it but it’s not the ultimate. Well, it sounds totally absurd if someone tell us, what you are living and believing is only a projection, only a role play. Is there an easy way to understand and grasp this idea to share it through words? I don’t think so.
So what are we doing in this so-called life of ours then? If we go the sages’ way; we are so fascinated with what’s going on, on the screen of our lives; we start to identify with it and that’s the cause of all miseries. Is it really not real? Are my emotions only a silly game. If am not my emotions, my thoughts, my actions then who am I? What is the existence of a film beyond it’s projection? What is the existence of this so-called life of mine beyond all this drama? How to find out?
May be, may be just by experimenting, by playing a bit with what the sages are saying… For a time being, let’s suspend this disbelief that the world is not real. And believe that it’s only a projection of our mind and nothing more. All this running around after bank-balances, careers, proving yourself, finding life-partner(s), big house, luxurious holidays, will look like a delusion. So immediately the mind says if not this; then do I have to be passive, lethargic and lazy. Not running after anything means to have no goal in life. And that’s a sin. Isn’t it?
What if we act like the extras in the background in a scene of the film. You come, do your thing and just pass by without getting much noticed. And not to actually believe that the film is running on your shoulders. Don’t carry the baggage of being a superstar in your life. My god! am already feeling a ton lighter just by writing it. We can’t escape doing our actions and that’s not even an option. But we can live a lot happier by not taking ourselves too seriously. Right? At least it’s worth a shot.