Appearance is never reality and reality never appears. They are two different dimensions altogether. Whatever appears is bound by duality and relativity, whereas reality is only one and absolute.
This is not a statement of abstract philosophy. Neither our reality nor that of the world can be found in the realm of appearances as revealed by the senses, or by any extension of sensory knowledge, including by the subtlest scientific instruments. Reality is the inner consciousness that can never become an object of examination for the externally oriented mind. Similarly, whatever we can observe or see must be ultimately unreal because it is not the awareness within.
The world and how we appear within it can never be the truth and are constantly changing. We will never find reality in the world of appearances, just as a light cannot be found by tracing its shadows on the wall. Appearance is name, form and limitation, which remain trapped in alternating waves of pleasure and pain, joy and sorrow, coming and going, birth and death. Appearance can never become perfect, however hard we work to refine it. Appearance remains relative, bound by duality, shifting up and down but never arriving at any lasting state of being.
Whatever world we appear to be in, and whatever body we appear to inhabit, is never ultimately real. They are reflections of our inner consciousness and its karmas, like the waves that rise from the sea. They are products of an outgoing view based upon thought in ignorance of our true Self.
We cannot find peace or fulfillment in any appearance, however great. Only in the depths of consciousness does our innate happiness abide. This is not to denigrate the outer world but simply to see it as it is. The world of appearance is like an image, symbol or play—a magic show lasting a few days. It has its wonder and beauty, which can be considerable, but it does not have any lasting reality of its own. To believe that any appearance is real is to be taken in by appearances and lose our inner Self. To see the illusory nature of all appearances is to allow reality to shine forth, through which we pass beyond all illusions and enter into the eternal light of awareness.