Is the world we experience an illusion? (quotes)

.

We only ever experience the world through our perceptions

.

The world we experience directly is made entirely of mind stuff…

  • We think the world we see around us is composed of matter. As far as the actual physical reality is concerned, this may be so—uncertain though we may be as to the ultimate nature of this matter. But the world we perceive around us is not the physical world. The world we actually know is the world that takes form in our minds; this world is not made of matter, but of mind stuff. Everything we know, perceive, and imagine, every colour, sound, sensation, thought, and feeling, is a form that consciousness has taken on. As far as this world is concerned, everything is structured in consciousness. Peter Russell
  • Everything we perceive is a mental creation. Deepak Chopra and Menas Kafatos
  • Shape and form are generated inside one’s head using all the sensory data collected through ears, eyes, nose, mouth, and skin. Robert Lanza
  • Our whole experience is a construction in the mind, a form appearing in consciousness. These mental forms are composed not of physical substance but of”mindstuff”. We imagine that the world out there is like the forms that appear in consciousness, but it turns out, that in nearly every aspect, the external is not at all like the images created in the mind. What appear to us as fundamental dimensions and attributes of the physical world—space, time, matter and energy—are but the fundamental dimensions and attributes of the forms appearing in consciousness. Peter Russell
  • Sensations and perceptions are made out of mind – that is, they are made out of sensing and perceiving. There is no other substance to them than sensing and perceiving.  Rupert Spira
.

…and we never experience anything directly but the mind itself

  • …there is, in a certain sense, nothing that is directly experienced except the mind itself. Everything is mediated through the mind, translated, filtered, allegorized, twisted, even falsified by it. We are enveloped in a cloud of changing and endlessly shifting images. Carl Jung
  • We have no direct knowledge of objects in the world. Donald Hoffman
  • Matter as we know it exists only in the mind. Peter Russell
  • The mind’s capacity is limitless, and its manifestations are inexhaustible. Seeing forms with your eyes, hearing sounds with your ears, smelling odors with your nose, tasting flavors with your tongue, every movement or state is all your mind. Bodhidharma
  • We are never conscious of any experience separated or detached from the mind.… You yourself enter as a constituent into every mental fact of which you are conscious. William Walker Atkinson
  • It is my mind, with its store of images, that gives the world colour and sound; and that supremely real and rational certainty which I can “experience” is, in its most simple form, an exceedingly complicated structure of mental images. Thus, there is, in a certain sense, nothing that is directly experienced except the mind itself. Everything is mediated through the mind, translated, filtered, allegorized, twisted, even falsified by it. We are enveloped in a cloud of changing and endlessly shifting images. Carl Jung
  • It is necessary to keep reminding ourselves that all knowledge of our environment from which the world of physics is constructed, has entered in the form of messages transmitted along the nerves to the seat of consciousness. . . . It is difficult for the matter-of-fact physicist to accept the view that the substratum of everything is of mental character. But no one can deny that mind is the first and most direct thing in our experience, and all else is remote inference. Sir Arthur Eddington
  • We are all navigating an external world — but only through the prism of our own minds, our own subjective experience… The majesty of the universe is only ever conjured up in the mind. Janna Levin
  • Everything that is known or experienced is known or experienced through the medium of mind.  Rupert Spira
  • The universe is an emanation of mind. Daniel Pinchbeck
.

All we experience of the outer world arises in the mind (our awareness)

  • All experience is in the mind. Nisargadatta Maharaj
  • All experience subsides with the mind. Without the mind, there can be no experiencer nor experience. Nisargadatta Maharaj  
  • All experiences arise in consciousness. Consciousness manifests experience.  Peter Russell
  • All I experience appears in consciousness and is created by consciousness. Rupert Spira
  • Everything I see, hear and touch is a sensation arising within awareness. Tim Freke
  • Everything you are aware of exists within awareness, otherwise you wouldn’t be aware of it! Tim Freke
  • Everything, literally everything, takes place within Consciousness and is an expression of it. Rupert Spira
  • I think I have inner experiences (thoughts and emotions) and outer experiences (the world of the senses) but actually they are all inner experiences. Anthony Lambert
  • If you pay attention to what is happening right now you will see that you experience the world as a series of sensations: visual images, tactile feelings, background sounds, ambient aromas. And sensations exist within awareness, don’t they? Everything you are aware of exists within awareness, otherwise you wouldn’t be aware of it! Tim Freke
  • No one ever saw a picture in an art gallery. You always see the picture in your head. Amit Goswami
  • Nothing is perceived except the perceptions themselves, and nothing exists outside of consciousness. The “outside world” is, therefore, located within the brain or mind.  Robert Lanza
  • Our external and internal perceptions are inextricably intertwined. They are different sides of the same coin and cannot be separated. Tony Lanza
  • The French philosopher Descartes came to the conclusion that there can be nothing external to us because everything we experience always takes place within us (within our mind). Martin E Moore
  • The mind’s capacity is limitless, and its manifestations are inexhaustible. Seeing forms with your eyes, hearing sounds with your ears, smelling odors with your nose, tasting flavors with your tongue, every movement or state is all your mind. Bodhidharma
  • The sages know as a direct personal experience, not just as a theoretical idea, that their entire world is a manifestation within the mind. Peter Russell
  • The universe is in you and cannot be without you. Nisargadatta Maharaj
  • The Universe produced phenomenally in me, is pervaded by me. . .. From me the world is born, in me it exists, in me it dissolves. the Ashtavakra Gita
  • The world is not outside you. Ramana Maharshi
  • You are confused because you believe that you are in the world, not the world in you. Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj
  • You are the entire universe. You are in all, and all is in you. Sun, moon, and stars revolve within you. Swami Muktananda
  • You realize beyond all trace of doubt that the world is in you, and not you in the world. Nisargadatta Maharaj
  • Everything you see is created by you, inside your mind! Isn’t that mind blowing? Tony Phinspire
.

In other words, we only ever experience the external world through our perceptions…

  • The world comes second hand.  Josephine Herbst
  • Our only knowledge of the world is a series of perceptions arising in consciousness. Rupert Spira
  • We never directly experience the world around us. All we ever know are the contents of consciousness, the thoughts, feelings, perceptions and sensations that appear in the mind. Peter Russell
  • Sense-perceptions can only be indirect knowledge, and not direct knowledge. Only one’s own awareness is direct knowledge. Ramana Maharshi
  • We know only our perceptions. Robert Lanza
  • Nothing is perceived except perceptions themselves, and nothing exists outside of consciousness. Robert Lanza
  • We never perceive the world – we perceive perception. The world is apparent. Rupert Spira
  • When the mind, body and world appear, they appear simply as the current thought, sensation and perception. Rupert Spira
  • A physical object is an experience of mind – seeing, hearing, touching, tasting and smelling – not an object made out of matter. Rupert Spira
  • The mind doesn’t experience the world, just sensory reports of it. David R. Hawkins
  • The entire universe – for one thing – only exists in your perceptions. That’s all you’re gonna see of it. To all practical intents and purposes this is purely some kind of lightshow that’s being put on in the kind of neurons in our brain. The whole of reality. Alan Moore
  • My direct experience of the world is always made entirely of perception; not matter. Anthony Lambert
  • We experience the world solely through perception and we cannot know the true nature of objective reality or whether it even exists outside our consciousness.  Anthony Lambert
  • The only way I can know about the world is through my subjective theater of experience. Gregg Henriques
  • Naïve realism is the assumption that the human brain delivers a picture of reality, when in fact it doesn’t. It delivers a convincing three-dimensional image of the world that is nothing more than a perception. Deepak Chopra and Menas Kafatos
  • The experience of the body is a qualia experience. The experience of mental activity is a qualia experience. The experience of the world—and any other worlds—is a qualia experience. Deepak Chopra and Menas Kafatos
  • All that we perceive are our perceptions. We have no evidence that a world exists outside our perception of it. We do not perceive a world ‘out there’. We perceive our perception of the world, and all perception takes place in Consciousness Rupert Spira
  • All there is to any experience is the knowing of it.  Rupert Spira
  • All our knowledge has its origins in our perceptions. Leonardo da Vinci
  • Our objective experience consists of thoughts and images, which we call the mind; sensations, which we call the body; and sense perceptions, which we call the world. In fact, we do not experience a mind, a body or a world. We experience thinking, sensing and perceiving. All that we perceive are our perceptions. We have no evidence that a world exists outside our perception of it. We do not perceive a world ‘out there’. We perceive our perception of the world, and all perception takes place in Consciousness. Rupert Spira
  • What is perception made of?  Nothing other than the knowing of my experience. Knowing is knowing itself. Consciousness is knowing itself.  Rupert Spira
  • No one has ever experienced matter outside consciousness. Outside perception. Rupert Spira
  • All we ever experience of the world is the knowing of it.  Rupert Spira
  • Everything we know of the world is through sense perceptions, and they all depend on the senses.  Rupert Spira
  • We never experience a world made of matter. Our experience of the world is always made entirely of perception. Anthony Lambert
  • We never perceive the world – we perceive perception. The world is apparent. No independent world comes into existence. Rupert Spira
  • When we say that we perceive an object, we mean that that object appears in Consciousness. It is a perception appearing in Consciousness. Rupert Spira
  • All that is experienced of a mind, body and world is thinking, feeling, sensing, seeing, hearing, tasting, touching and smelling; and all these are made only of the knowing of them. Thus, all that is ever known is Knowing, and it is Knowing that knows Knowing. Rupert Spira
  • The only things we can ever perceive are our perceptions. George Berkeley
  • Everything we experience is an experience. Deepak Chopra
  • I think I am perceiving the world around me, but all that I am directly aware of are the colors, shapes, sounds and smells that appear in my awareness. Peter Russell
  • Kant held that there is an underlying reality, but we never know it directly. All we can ever know is how it appears in our minds. Peter Russell
  • Properly speaking, the world is not composed of “things” . . . but of colours, tones, pressures, spaces, times, in short what we ordinarily call individual sensations. Ernst Mach
  • The only reality we can ever truly know is that of our perceptions, our own consciousness… Alan Moore
  • Objects and their functions no longer had any significance. All I perceived was perception itself… Federico Fellini
  • It is impossible to know anything about objective reality without also involving perception and thought.  Donna Lu
  • Because our entire universe is made up of consciousness, we never really experience the universe directly we just experience our consciousness of the universe, our perception of it, so right, our only universe is perception. Alan Moore
  • All that I perceive—everything I see, hear, taste, touch, and smell—has been reconstructed from sensory data. I think I am perceiving the world around me, but all that I am directly aware of are the colours, shapes, sounds, and smells that appear in the mind. Peter Russell
  • Q: If the shape of things is mere appearance, what are they in reality? M: In reality there is only perception. The perceiver and the perceived are conceptual, the fact of perceiving is actual. Nisargadatta Maharaja
  • The entire universe is a matter of transformation whereby something is available to be turned into perception. Deepak Chopra
  • It is impossible to gather direct evidence of matter, as there is no direct experience of matter; all that is experienced is perception, whether internal or external. As such, the existence of matter can only be assumed from the apparent (perceived) stability of perceptions; it finds absolutely no evidence in direct experience. Wikipedia
  • All we experience is our perception of a world but we can’t even be sure of that because we never come into direct contact with that world except directly or indirectly through our senses.  Anthony Lambert
  • The philosopher, John Locke, asked: When I am conscious, what am I conscious of? He answered that he was conscious of ideas, which he defined as wholly subjective mental entities. Locke offered his Causal Theory of Perception: The world causes our ideas/perceptions, and what we are directly aware of is only our own ideas, not the world itself.  Michael Egnor
.

…including our experience of ourselves

  • Every bit of our body is experienced — sensed — by our mind in the same way we sense everything outside our skin, namely entirely a perception in our mind. Scott Owen
  • Minds and bodies alike are nothing but bundles of perceptions. Joseph Selbie
  • There is no body as such. There is a series of sensations and perceptions appearing in Consciousness.  Rupert Spira
  • The body is not an object; it is an appearance in the mind.  Rupert Spira
  • In our actual experience, the body is a flow of sensations and perceptions.  Rupert Spira
.

Perception and reality are not the same thing

  • We must remember that we do not observe nature as it actually exists, but nature exposed to our methods of perception. The theories determine what we can or cannot observe…Reality is an illusion, albeit a persistent one. Albert Einstein
  • Democritus, around 400 BCE, famously claimed that our perceptions of hot, cold, sweet, bitter, and color are conventions, not reality. Donald Hoffman
  • No one can claim to know what is “really” real as long as the brain is their window on the universe. Deepak Chopra and Menas Kafatos
  • Perception is like painting a scenery – no matter how beautifully you paint, it will still be a painting of the scenery, not the scenery itself. Abhijit Naskar
  • We assume that the representation that we experience is much like the world “out there,” what Kant called the “thing in itself.” But it turns out that the two are totally different. Take the color green, for example. In the physical world there is light of a particular frequency, but the light itself is not green. Nor are the electrical impulses that travel from the eye to the brain. The green you see is merely the representation that appears in consciousness. There is no green “out there.” The same is true of our other senses—hearing, smell, taste, touch. The phenomena we experience do not exist in the world out there. They exist only in awareness. I’m not suggesting that the physical world does not exist, only that it is very different from our experience of it. We mistake the representation for reality. Peter Russell
  • One of the most pervasive mistakes is to believe that our visual system gives a faithful representation of what is “out there” in the same way that a movie camera would. David Eagleman
  • The world is not just a bit different from what we perceive, it is actually totally and fundamentally otherwise. Scott Owen
  • You´re not perceiving what’s out there. You’re perceiving whatever your brain tells you. David Eagleman
  • Our whole experience is a construction in the mind, a form appearing in consciousness. These mental forms are composed not of physical substance but of “mindstuff”. We imagine that the world out there is like the forms that appear in consciousness, but it turns out, that in nearly every aspect, the external is not at all like the images created in the mind. What appear to us as fundamental dimensions and attributes of the physical world—space, time, matter and energy—are but the fundamental dimensions and attributes of the forms appearing in consciousness. Peter Russell
  • Your perception of the world around you is not necessarily the same as what is actually occurring. Peter Ralsto
  • Take your perceptions seriously but not literally. Donald D. Hoffman
  • The reality that surrounds us could be very different than what we think since what we see, hear, feel, etc, are merely internally generated representations that help us survive external stimuli. Robby Berman
  • Perception and reality are two different things. Tom Cruise
  • Perception is reality, but it may not be actuality, and you have got to be able to keep the difference between that. Bill Cowher
  • We suffer a delusion when we believe the images in our minds are the external world. We deceive ourselves when we think that the tree we see is the tree itself. Peter Russell
  • While we develop perceptions of objects in our minds, these perceptions are distinct from the objects that created them and not all of our “knowledge” about these objects is correct. Brendan Bernecker
.

Even our view of the external world through scientific instruments is constrained by our senses and perceptions

  • Even the scientific instruments that broaden the scope of our sensory perception – like microscopes that allow us to see beyond the smallest features our eyes can discern, or infrared and ultraviolet light sensors that can detect frequency ranges beyond the colors we can see – are fundamentally limited to our narrow and distorted window into reality: they are constructed with materials and methods that are themselves constrained to the edited ‘copy’ of the world in our brains. Bernardo Kastrup
  • We must remember that we do not observe nature as it actually exists, but nature exposed to our methods of perception. Albert Einstein
  • The delicate and complicated instruments of modern experimental physics penetrate deep into the submicroscopic world, into realms of nature far removed from our macroscopic environment, and make this world accessible to our senses. However, they can do so only through a chain of processes ending, for example, in the audible click of a Geiger counter, or in a dark spot on a photographic plate. What we see, or hear, are never the investigated phenomena themselves but always their consequences. The atomic and subatomic world itself lies beyond our sensory perception. Frifjof Capra
  • All scientific evidence is entirely based directly or indirectly on our senses — colour, temperature, touch, sound, etc. which are mental perceptions which exist only in the mind and contain no attributes intrinsic to physical reality. Scott Owen
  • The belief in an external world independent of the perceiving subject is the basis of all natural science. Since, however, sense perception only gives information of this external world or of “physical reality” indirectly, we can only grasp the latter by speculative means. It follows from this that our notions of physical reality can never be final. We must always be ready to change these notions – that is to say, the axiomatic basis of physics – in order to do justice to perceived facts in the most perfect way. Albert Einstein
  • Even though we can, with the help of technology, observe all these new things, we are no closer to seeing reality as it is. We are just exploring more of our interface, more of what happens within the confines of space and time. Donald Hoffman
  • The claim of physicists claim is more like saying, “I know that the icons on my desktop are not the true reality. But if I pull out my trusty magnifying glass and look really closely at the desktop, I see tiny pixels. And those tiny pixels, not the big icons, are the true nature of reality.” Well, not really. Those pixels are still on the desktop, still in the interface. Donald Hoffman
  • Science is an activity of the finite mind, that is, an activity of thought and perception, and necessarily superimposes the limitations of mind upon everything it knows or perceives.  Rupert Spira
  • Physics is a science of perception. We start with perception and then start to model the behavior of those perceptions. Bernardo Kastrup
.

For this reason, science can tell us how the world behaves but it can’t tell us what it is…

  • Science itself is ontologically neutral and does not entail any particular interpretation of its models. Bernardo Kastrup
  • Science does not say what things are. It only says how they behave. Bernardo Kastrup
  • The scientific method limits itself to what is empirically and ordinarily observed from within the ‘game’ of reality. Scientific modeling requires little or no understanding of the underlying nature of reality in exactly the same way that a gamer needs little or no understanding of the computer’s underlying architecture in order to win the game. Bernardo Kastrup
  • The ability to predict how things behave with respect to one another says little about what things fundamentally are. Bernardo Kastrup
  • Science is not a metaphysical commitment. It should be metaphysically neutral. Science and materialism should never be conflated.  Bernardo Kastrup
  • Science is the search for “laws”. Dr Keith Suter
  • The world according to contemporary physics is made up of a four- (or more-) dimensional spacetime, and the apparently solid objects occupying it are made up of combinations of smaller and more weird and unfamiliar particles held together by fields of force, in what is mostly empty space. But this is not how things seem to us. We don’t see things in four dimensions, we don’t see the past or the future, and objects do not look to be mostly empty space. So even on a naturalistic world picture, any adequate account of the world has to explain how the world as we experience it (the world of appearance) is related to the world as described by physics. I think it’s fair to say that attempts to do this have not got very far. Professor Tim Crane
  • However clear our scientific understanding of the universe gets, we will never know it so well that we can be certain that the measurements we take are of a simulated origin or an authentic one. This means the potential for the universe to be illusory is a non-disprovable. Jack Ester
  • Capturing the observable patterns and regularities of the elements of reality, relative to each other, is an empirical and scientific question. But pondering about the fundamental nature of these elements is not; it is a philosophical question. Bernardo Kastrup\
  • It is time we understood that physics, while valuable and extremely important, just models the elements of the ‘game’: where to shoot, which wall to avoid, etc. The true underlying nature of reality – the inner workings of the computer running the game – is an issue of philosophy. Bernardo Kastrup
.

…for physics too deals with only shadow appearances, and abstractions

  • The external world of physics has thus become a world of shadows. In removing our illusions we have removed the substance, for indeed we have seen that substance is one of the greatest of our illusions. Arthur Eddington
  • The great difference between old and new physics is both much simpler and much more profound: both the old physics and the new physics were dealing with shadow symbols, but the new physics was forced to be aware of the fact—forced to be aware that it was dealing with shadows and illusions, not reality. Ken Wilber
  • Modern physics has definitely decided for Plato. For the smallest units of matter are not physical objects in the ordinary sense of the word: they are forms, structures, or – in Plato’s sense – Ideas, which can be unambiguously spoken of only in the language of mathematics. Rupert Sheldrake
  • The first thing to realize about physics … is its extraordinary indirectness…. For physics is not about the real world, it is about “abstractions” from the real world, and this is what makes it so scientific…. Theoretical physics runs merrily along with these unreal abstractions, but its conclusions are checked, at every possible point, by experiments. Anthony Standen
  • Our concept of particles such as electrons, protons, neutrons, and quarks are literally models of what may occur at the subatomic level. Scientists’ observations and measurements have determined the best way of explaining how matter behaves is through the use of such a model, but one cannot say that is objective reality. Alan H. Dawe
.

The external world, if it exists, lies forever beyond our knowing

.

The existence of an external material world is inferred from our perceptions…

  • We never directly perceive material objects, but rather infer material objects from what we directly perceive. John M. E. McTaggart
  • We never find matter. We only ever find the contents of our minds. Rupert Spira
  • Far from being a material world, this is a psychic world, which allows us to make only indirect and hypothetical inferences about the real nature of matter. Carl Jung
  • If all that we ever know are the images that appear in our minds, how can we be sure there is a physical reality behind our perceptions? Is it not just an assumption? My answer is: Yes, it is an assumption; nevertheless, it seems a most plausible one. For a start, there are definite constraints on my experience. I cannot, for example, walk through walls. If I try to, there are predictable consequences. Nor can I, when awake, float through the air or walk upon water. Moreover, my experience generally follows well-defined laws and principles. Balls thrown through the air follow precisely defined paths. Cups of coffee cool at similar rates. The sun rises on time. Finally, this predictability is not peculiar to my experience of reality. You report similar patterns in your own experience. The simplest way, by far, of accounting for these constraints and for their consistency is to assume that there is indeed a physical reality. We may not know it directly, but it is there.  Peter Russell
.

…yet, in truth, the external world, if it exists, lies forever beyond our knowing

  • The idea that we never experience the physical world directly has intrigued many philosophers. Most notable was the eighteenth-century German philosopher Immanuel Kant, who drew a clear distinction between the forms that appear in the mind—what he called the phenomenon (a Greek word meaning “that which appears to be”) —and the world that gives rise to this perception, which he called the noumenon (meaning “that which is apprehended”). All we know, Kant insisted, is the phenomenon. The noumenon, the “thing-in-itself,” remains forever beyond our knowing. Peter Russell
  • Nothing can be proved or disproved with regard to that which is beyond the five senses. Nagarajan Ramachandran
  • The best we can do is to observe shadows of the real world because we cannot perceive it directly. Rizwan Virk
  • If one accepts the view that perceptions occur only in the sense organs and the brain, one can make no actual claims to knowledge about any external object of perception, or even, ironically, about one’s own perceptions if tested empirically.  Real knowledge is elusive. Michael Egnor
  • The world that is considered to exist independent of perception and of which each of our perceptions is considered to be a single, partial view, has never been experienced. There is no evidence for its existence. Rupert Spira
  • As to the ultimate things we can know nothing, and only when we admit this do we return to equilibrium. Carl Jung
  • Everything we know of reality is in fact a mental overlay, and a physical reality is unknowable Scott Owen
  • We never know the reality of things: we see only what we are aware of. It is our consciousness that determines the shape of the world around us — its size, motion and meaning. Nawal El Saadawi
  • If something is real beyond our experience, we’ll never know it. Deepak Chopra
  • Things which we see are not by themselves what we see … It remains completely unknown to us what the objects may be by themselves and apart from the receptivity of our senses. We know nothing but our manner of perceiving them. Immanuel Kant
  • We assume that the objects we see around us are empirical objects of a common reality—quite objective and public, quite subject to empirical scrutiny. Yet, in fact, our knowledge about them is always gathered by subjective and private means. Amit Goswami
  • What our senses allow us to experience may not reflect what actually exists. It may be a creation of our own consciousness, or a computer simulation designed by superintelligent beings.  Donna Lu
  • We only have direct knowledge of our perceptions themselves; we never have direct knowledge of the objects perceived. And in this Cartesian theater, there can be no reliable knowledge of the external world whatsoever, because any attempt at confirmation of knowledge by correlating internal perception with external reality is rendered moot by my inability to perceive the outside world directly. We are trapped inside the theater, and we can’t get out. The Cartesian theater leaves us practically and even theoretically unable to know reality.  Michael Egnor
  • The Cartesian theater prevents you from having real knowledge of the world, and consigns you to infinite regress if you try to do science or try to understand the nature of the mind. Michael Egnor
.

The belief that there is an external material world is an assumption we make

.

The existence of a material world independent of our perceptions is an assumption or belief, not an indisputable reality…

  • It seems that men are carried by a natural instinct or prepossession to repose faith in their senses, and that without any reasoning, or even almost before the use of reason, we always suppose an external universe which depends not on our perception but would exist though we and every creature were absent or annihilated. David Hume
  • There is no proof of a world independent of perception. Yet me assume it is there. Rupert Spira
  • To the ordinary man, the only evidence available regarding the existence of the world is the evidence offered by the five sense organs. It is ‘evidence’ that is taken up here, and examined to show that it does not prove the world at all. But it proves only sense perceptions, or the senses themselves. In other words, the evidence proves nothing but the evidence. Therefore, it is no evidence at all, as far as the fact to be proved is concerned. Sri Atmananda Krishna Menon
  • Any belief there is matter outside consciousness is an assumption based on faith. It is not something we ever experience. Rupert Spira
  • It is almost an absurd prejudice to suppose that existence can only be physical. As a matter of fact, the only form of existence of which we have immediate knowledge is psychic. We might as well say, on the contrary, that physical existence is a mere inference, since we know of matter only in so far as we perceive psychic images mediated by the senses. Carl Jung
  • We believe that objects exist independently of their being perceived, that Consciousness is personal and limited, that it is a by-product of the mind and that the mind is a by-product of the body. These and many other such beliefs are considered to be so obviously true that they are beyond the need of questioning. They amount to a religion of materialism to which the vast majority of humanity subscribes. Rupert Spira
  • If all that we ever know are the sensory images that appear in our minds, how can we be sure there is a physical reality behind our perceptions? Is it not just an assumption? Peter Russell
  • Our knowledge of the world begins not with matter but with perceptions.… Later we find out that our perceptions obey some laws, which can be most conveniently formulated if we assume that there is some underlying reality beyond our perceptions. This model of a material world obeying laws of physics is so successful that soon we forget about our starting point and say that matter is the only reality, and perceptions are only helpful for its description. This assumption is almost as natural (and maybe as false) as our previous assumption that space is only a mathematical tool for the description of matter. Andrei Linde
  • We conceptualise a mind, a body and a world that exist outside, separate from and independent of experience, that are considered to exist when they are not being experienced. However, such a mind, body and world have never been experienced. Rupert Spira
  • Have you ever experienced something in the absence of awareness? What makes you think anything exists in the absence of awareness? Isn’t direct experience the scientific proof?  To think there is matter is a belief.  Rupert Spira
  • If we can’t test the claim that a peach does not exist when no one looks, then we can’t test the opposite and widely held claim that it does exist. Both claims posit what happens when no one observes. Donald Hoffman
  • The belief in matter existing outside consciousness is an unverifiable belief. It goes contrary to experience which is that all experience, including experiences of matter, takes place in consciousness. Rupert Spira
  • The world I experience, made by and from consciousness, is indisputably real. That there exists a world made of matter, existing independently of consciousness, is a belief based on faith that can never be verified. Anthony Lambert
  • What is the true nature of the world I experience? My experience of the world seemingly “out there” made of physical matter is a actually an “inner experience” arising within my awareness.  In other words, the only world that I know exists for sure is made of perception; not matter. The world of matter out there, existing independently of awareness, is far from indisputably real. In fact, the world of matter is nothing but a belief that our culture holds onto with an almost religious kind of fervour.  Unlike the world of matter, my awareness and my experiences arising within it are indisputably real.   The world I experience in reality is nothing but perceptions arising within consciousness, made by consciousness, made of consciousness, known by consciousness.  Anthony Lambert
  • While our world culture operates on the belief that there is indeed a reality that exists independently of us, our experience could never verify this. Only belief could say that this is so. Joseph P. Kauffman
  • What do we even mean by objective reality? For Donald Hoffman, a psychologist at the University of California, it is something that exists even if no creature perceives it.    Donna Lu
.

…and we can’t ever prove that it actually exists

  • If you assert that the world exists, it is your burden to prove that it does. The opponent has only to deny it, until the existence is proved beyond doubt. Ultimately, even if you give up all argument and say ‘I know the world and so it must exist’, that also cannot hold good, because you cannot know any object except through one of the sense organs. When this is so, it proves again that it is that sense perception or sense alone that is known, and not the object nor the world. Sri Atmananda Krishna Menon
  • We do not perceive a world outside Consciousness. The world is our perception of the world. There is no evidence that there is a world outside the perception of it, outside Consciousness. Rupert Spira
  • We have no evidence of a world that exists outside our experience of it. Nor is it ever possible to have such an experience, because experience itself is the touchstone of evidence. Rupert Spira
  • Every man’s world picture is and always remains a construct of his mind and cannot be proved to have any other existence. Erwin Schrodinger
  • Is there anything that is real “out there” independent of us? Deepak Chopra
  • Nothing exists outside our experience of it, as far as we know. Rupert Spira
  • Is there even a picture out there? All we know for sure is that there is some sort of a picture in our brains, a truly theoretical image. In any event of perception, it is this theoretical, very private image that we actually see. Amit Goswami
  • How do we know that anything really exists, that anything is really the way it seems to us through our senses? Rene Discartes
  • If you assert that the world exists, it is your burden to prove that it does. The opponent has only to deny it, until the existence is proved beyond doubt. Ultimately, even if you give up all argument and say ‘I know the world and so it must exist’, that also cannot hold good, because you cannot know any object except through one of the sense organs. When this is so, it proves again that it is that sense perception or sense alone that is known, and not the object nor the world. Sri Atmananda Krishna Menon
  • If you can’t prove that anything exists outside you own mind, is it all right to go on believing in the external world anyway? Thomas Nagel
  • If you first assume that you are a consciousness with the ability to imagine and create images, sound and other perceptions, why would you then theorise that there is some physical reality outside your consciousness, the true nature of which which you cannot know? If you theorise the existence of something you know you cannot know, then you also know it can never be scientifically tested. Scott Owen
  • The reality of external objects does not admit of strict proof. On the contrary, however, the reality of the object of our internal sense (of myself and state) is clear immediately through consciousness. Immanuel Kant
  • One assumes a real world existing independently from any act of perception.  But this we do not know. Albert Einstein
  • The belief in an external world independent of the perceiving subject is the basis of all natural science. Since, however, sense perception only gives information of this external world or of “physical reality” indirectly, we can only grasp the latter by speculative means. It follows from this that our notions of physical reality can never be final. We must always be ready to change these notions – that is to say, the axiomatic basis of physics – in order to do justice to perceived facts in the most perfect way. Albert Einstein
.

Appearances are nothing but a shadow show

.

Appearances are not reality…

  • Appearances are not held to be a clue to the truth,’ said his cousin. ‘But we seem to have no other. Ivy Compton-Burnett
  • Appearances are not reality; but they often can be a convincing alternative to it. Dean Koontz
  • Appearance is something absolute, but reality is not that way – everything is interdependent, not absolute. Dalai Lama
  • In a deep metaphysical sense, all that is conditioned is illusory. All phenomena are literally ‘appearances,’ the outer masks in which the One Reality shows itself forth in our changing universe. The more ‘material’ and solid the appearance, the further is it from reality, and therefore the more illusory it is. Annie Besant
  • Appearances may not be a reality, so don’t be fooled. Shurangama Sutra
.

…but are only shadows of what is real…

  • The best we can do is to observe shadows of the real world because we cannot perceive it directly. Rizwan Virk
  • We mistake shadows for reality. P. Blavatsky
  • Plato thought that the world we experience is a kind of illusion, not the ultimate reality. For Plato, the world of appearances was, in Yeats’s magical phrase ‘but a spume that plays upon a ghostly paradigm of things’. Professor Tim Crane
  • There are shadows for the shadows of things, as a reflection seen in a mirror of a mirror. We know there are circles within circles and dimensions beyond dimension. Reality is itself a shadow, only an appearance accepted by those whose eyes shun what might lie beyond. Louis L’Amour
  • Appearances are a glimpse of the unseen. Anaxagoras
  • We too, through lack of knowledge and of sufficiently mature reflection, mistook the visible outward appearance of the phenomenon for the phenomenon itself. Leon Jouhaux
  • Trust arises from the mind’s instinctive feeling after fixed realities, after the substance of every shadow, the base of all appearance, the everlasting amid change. James Martineau
  • There are shadows for the shadows of things, as a reflection seen in a mirror of a mirror. We know there are circles within circles and dimensions beyond dimension. Reality is itself a shadow, only an appearance accepted by those whose eyes shun what might lie beyond. Louis L’Amour
  • A shadow cannot be produced without an object; therefore the shadow is not nothing! The shadow appears to be like the object from which it is produced, yet it is not the object. Paramahansa Yogananda
  • Don’t take shadows too seriously. Reality is your only safety. Continue to reject illusion. Wole Soyinka
  • For in and out, above, about, below, ‘Tis nothing but a Magic Shadow-show, Played in a Box whose Candle is the Sun, Round which we Phantom Figures come and go.  Omar Khayyam
  • There is nothing new about asking what is “behind” the appearances and sensations we experience. Philosophers have been doing so for centuries. Plato wondered if what we perceive as reality is like the shadows projected onto the walls of a cave. Immanuel Kant asserted that, while there might be some “thing in itself” that underlies the appearances we perceive, we can never know it. René Descartes accepted, in his famous one-liner “I think therefore I am”, that the capacity to think is the only meaningful criterion of existence we can attest. Rizwan Virk
.

…a truth pointed to by Plato in his famous cave allegory

  • Plato thought that the world we experience is a kind of illusion, not the ultimate reality. For Plato, the world of appearances was, in Yeats’s magical phrase ‘but a spume that plays upon a ghostly paradigm of things’. Professor Tim Crane
  • The universe is the sum total of the objects available to our senses, which we assume to be “out there,” as opposed to “in here,” in our heads. This is not a real distinction, however, because everything inside our heads is also part of the universe. We can never, however, know the true nature of those objects, the “thing in itself,” to use the celebrated German philosopher Immanuel Kant’s phrase.  This is an insight that goes back at least to Plato, who described our limitations in his cave allegory. Tam Hunt
  • Plato asks us to imagine a person who is forced to live in a cave all of his life, completely bound, to the point where his eyes are forced to look ahead at all times. This unfortunate person must watch the back of the cave, on which shadows flicker from a fire’s bright light behind the prisoner. The captors perform their routine activities behind the prisoner and their shadows are cast on the wall. The prisoner, knowing no other reality, mistakes the shadows for reality, not realizing they are cast by the captors behind him.  This is how our life really is. We are prisoners bound by our perceptions and fooled into thinking our perceptions reflect the ultimate reality. It is not that our perceived reality is unreal or illusory. No, it is real, but it is not as real or as accurate as we think it is. There are levels and there are levels.  Tam Hunt
  • This is Plato’s demonstration of monistic idealism. People see only the shadow show of matter and are beguiled by it. If only they knew that the shadows are cast by the ‘realer’ archetypal objects behind them, the ideas of consciousness! If only they had the fortitude to investigate the light of consciousness, which is the only reality.   Amit Goswami
  • The best we can do is to observe shadows of the real world because we cannot perceive it directly. Rizwan Virk
  • Plato’s Allegory of the Cave: One of the most influential philosophers of all time, Plato invites us to imagine a cave. In it, there are people who have been chained and are observing a blank wall. They can see, because of the fire, the shadows of themselves and of whatever is happening behind them. The voices echo in the cave while the shadows dance on the wall thus making the shadows appear real and talking. Plato compares us to those who are chained to the cave wall in his metaphor. He points out that we believe and think we see reality by watching the shadows on the wall. Whereas, beyond our perceived reality, there lies a world of “perfect” forms. Everything that we see is just a shade, an imitation of how things truly are. The theory is closely related to the Indian philosophy of ‘Advaita Vedanta theory’ described in Upanishads. Ashutosh Jain
.

Is there even an objective world independent of our perceptions?

  • Underneath the shifting appearances of the world as perceived by our unreliable senses, is there, or is there not, a bedrock of objective reality? Hans Christian von Baeyer
  • I recognise a distinction between dream life and real life, between appearances and actualities. I confess to an over-powering desire to know whether I am asleep or awake–whether the environment and laws which affect me are external and permanent, or the transitory products of my own brain. H. P. Lovecraft
  • The question of whether the world is an illusion resolves itself into this: Is there a world which we perceive, however inaccurately, which continues to exist when it is not perceived? Martin Jenkins
  • To say that something is objectively real is to allude to how that something actually exists beyond our subjective experience of it. However, the truth is that all we know of the world is the world known through our subjective experience. We only ever experience the world through our perceptions of it. We can’t even be sure there actually is a world outside of our conscious experience of it. Anthony Lambert
.

All of this can make us question what is real

.

All of this can make us question what is real and what is not…

  • Thus arises the old philosophical puzzle about which is real: the theoretical image that we actually see but only privately, or the empirical object that we do not seem to see directly but about which we form a consensus? Amit Goswami
  • We take that which is unreal to be real and that which is real to be unreal. Rupert Spira
  • If you would be a real seeker after truth, it is necessary that at least once in your life you doubt, as far as possible, all things. Rene Descartes
.

…realising how much our senses and perceptions can deceive us…

  • Whatever I have accepted until now as most true has come to me through my senses. But occasionally I have found that they have deceived me, and it is unwise to trust completely those who have deceived us even once.  René Descartes
  • Your eyes can deceive you; don’t trust them. Obi-Wan Kenobi
  • The senses deceive reason through false appearances, and the senses are disturbed by passions, which produce false impressions. Blaise Pascal
  • The first lesson about trusting your senses is: don’t. Just because you believe something to be true, just because you know it’s true, that doesn’t mean it is true. David Eagleman
  • We have a long history of being misled. Many ancient cultures, including the pre-Socratic Greeks, were misled by their perceptions to believe that the earth is flat. It took the genius of Pythagoras, Parmenides, and Aristotle to discover, despite the testimony of the eye, that the earth is roughly a sphere. For many centuries after this discovery, most geniuses, with the exception of Aristarchus (ca. 310 BC–ca. 230 BC), were misled by their perceptions to believe that our spherical earth is the unmoving center of the universe. Donald Hoffman
  • Our penchant to misread our perceptions, as philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein pointed out to his fellow philosopher Elizabeth Anscombe, stems in part from an uncritical attitude toward our perceptions, toward what we mean by “it looks as if.” Donald Hoffman
  • The two principles of truth, reason and senses, are not only both not genuine, but are engaged in mutual deception. The senses deceive reason through false appearances, and the senses are disturbed by passions, which produce false impressions. Blaise Pascal
.

… realising just how deceptive appearances can be

  • Although appearances can be deceiving, they can also be revealing. Chuck Gallozzi
  • Appearances are deceitful, I know, but so long as they are, there’s nothing like having them deceive for us instead of against us. George Horace Lorimer
  • Appearances are often deceiving. Aesop
  • Appearances can be deceiving and can never be taken at face value. World appears flat. Sun appears to orbit. Matter appears solid. Time appears to move forward. Robert Breault
  • Appearances to the mind are of four kinds. Things either are what they appear to be; or they neither are, nor appear to be; or they are, and do not appear to be; or they are not, and yet appear to be. Rightly to aim in all these cases is the wise man’s task. Epictetus
  • If appearances are deceitful, then they do not deserve any confidence when they assert what appears to them to be true. Diogenes Laertius
  • If you judge from appearances here,’ replied Madame de Chartres, ‘you will be often mistaken; what appears is seldom the truth. Madame de La Fayette, The Princesse de Clèves
  • Knowing so much less than nothing, for we are entrapped in smiling and many-coloured appearances. Arthur Symons
  • Many things are not as they seem: The worst things in life never are. Jim Butcher
  • Of the terrible doubt of appearances, Of the uncertainty after all, that we may be deluded … Walt Whitman
  • Reality has changed chameleonlike before my eyes so many times that I have learned, or am learning, to trust almost anything except what appears to be so. Maya Angelou
  • Things are not always what they seem; first appearances deceive many. Phædrus
  • Things are seldom what they seem, skim milk masquerades as cream. W. S. Gilbert
  • Appearances do not deceive if there are enough of them. Laura Riding
  • Weeds grow sometimes very much like flowers, and you can’t tell the difference between true and false merely by the shape. Edwin Paxton Hood
.

The world could conceivably be an illusion

.

It is highly possible that the material world we experience is some form of an illusion…

  • This world is all a fleeting show.  Charles Lamb
  • The world could be anything, you know, It could be a solid state matrix of some sort. It could be an illusion. It could be a dream. I mean it really could be a dream.  Terence McKenna
  • All humanity could share a common insanity and be immersed in a common illusion while living in a common chaos. That can’t be disproved, but we have no choice but to follow our senses. Isaac Asimov
  • Listen; this world is the lunatic’s sphere, Don’t always agree it’s real, even with my feet upon it and the postman knowing my door. My address is somewhere else. Hafez
  • The world, life and human beings are only an illusion, a phantom, a dream image.  August Strindberg
  • Don’t believe what your eyes are telling you. All they show is illusion. Richard Bach
  • It is sometimes said that our model of reality is an illusion, but that is misleading. It may all be an appearance in the mind, but it is nonetheless real—the only reality we ever know. The illusion comes when we confuse the reality we experience with the physical reality, the thing-in-itself. The Vedantic philosophers of ancient India spoke of this confusion as maya. Often translated as “illusion” (a false perception of the world), maya is better interpreted as “delusion” (a false belief about the world). We suffer a delusion when we believe the images in our minds are the external world. We deceive ourselves when we think that the tree we see is the tree itself. Peter Russell
  • Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one.  Albert Einstein
  • An illusion shared by everyone becomes a reality.  Erich Fromm
  • We must remember that we do not observe nature as it actually exists, but nature exposed to our methods of perception. The theories determine what we can or cannot observe…Reality is an illusion, albeit a persistent one. Albert Einstein
  • None of this has ever been or will ever be; all is an appearance, all is an illusion. Illusions are truth. All illusions are real. We say illusion, meaning that they’re shadows. Frederick Lenz
  • The world is changing every moment, and is therefore unreal. It has non permanent existence. Mahatma Gandhi
  • We live in a fantasy world, a world of illusion. The great task in life is to find reality. Iris Murdoch
  • The objective world as it is known from the perspective of the separate self or finite mind is an illusion, but all illusions have a reality to them. In the words of Huang Po, ‘People neglect the reality of the illusory world.’ Rupert Spira
  • Is not this whole world an illusion? And yet it fools everybody. Angela Carter
  • The world is an illusion, but an illusion which we must take seriously.  Aldous Huxley
  • I see the world as an illusion, and we shouldn’t take ourselves so seriously.  Andy Kaufman
  • I called the world of phenomena an illusion.  Hermann Hesse
  • The material world may be nothing but illusion.  Anodea Judith
  • This world is nothing. An illusion. Death is the release.  Jack Abbott
  • There’s no Reality! Just this World of Illusion that keeps on haunting me.  Criss Angel
  • You’re a prisoner of your own illusions – about yourself and about the world. Dan Millman
  • The world is not the illusion. It’s you who are the illusion.  Chuck Hillig
  • Once we’re able to see this world as an illusion and a phantasm, then we can see everything that happens to us as a dream…  Fernando Pessoa
  • No matter what is happening in the world of appearances, beyond the veil of illusion there is love and only Love.  Marianne Williamson
  • Enlightenment says the world is nothing Nothing but a dream, everything’s an illusion And nothing is real.  Van Morrison
  • This is no world. It is God Himself. In delusion we call it world. Swami Vivekananda
  • This world may be only illusion — but it’s the only illusion we’ve got. Edward Abbey
  • Lulled by stupefying illusions, the world is asleep in the cradle of infancy, dreaming away the hours. Mary Baker Eddy
  • It may be that we exist and cease to exist in alternations, like the minute dots in some forms of toned printing or the succession of pictures on a cinema film. It may be that reality is an illusion of movement in an eternal, static, multidimensional universe. We may be only a story written on the ground of the inconceivable; the pattern on a rug beneath the feet of the incomprehensible.  H. G. Wells
  • When we’re born on this planet, we’re taught to believe that what we see is real. But as we grow in understanding, we recognize first that we’ve been hypnotized by that reaching, and second that it’s within our power to de-hypnotize ourselves. And as we do that, the illusion appears to change, to come in harmony with what we most value. Richard Bach
  • When you awaken, you know that everything that occurs at the level of mind is illusory in nature and so you no longer believe in it as the truth of life. Leonard Jacobson
  • Look at the world as an illusion. Seeing this physical world as an illusion ironically allows you to enjoy it more and stay inspired. Wayne Dyer
  • All the manifest forms of existence are but illusions. They are momentary displays of consciousness, flashes of lightening in the sky. They are there for a moment and then they are gone. Frederick Lenz
  • Do not be misled by what you see around you, or be influenced by what you see. You live in a world which is a playground of illusion, full of false paths, false values and false ideals. But you are not part of that world. Sai Baba
  • It is the magical illusion, the marvel that can manifest unity as diversity and the single as the many. Leo Hartong
  • From the viewpoint of absolute truth, what we feel and experience in our ordinary daily life is all delusion. Dalai Lama
  • The Knower – God – is not physical, God does not consist of atoms. God does not create something which is ‘not God’, for where would that something exist, in relation to God? God would be somewhere, in some places, and in other places not. Since God is not physical, then a physical reality would be ‘not God’, and cannot therefore be true. That we experience reality as physical must therefore be an illusion. Scott Owen
  • One should know that Nature is illusion (maya), and that Brahman is the illusion maker. This whole world is pervaded with beings that are parts of him. Svetasvatara Upanishad
  • All art is a vision penetrating the illusions of reality.  Ansel Adams
  • All the concepts and beliefs we possess, no matter how precious, are part of the illusion too. Adyashanti
  • Don’t believe what your eyes are telling you. All they show is illusion. Look with your understanding, find out what you already know, and you’ll see the way to fly. Richard Bach
  • Illusion begets and sustains the world; we do not destroy one without destroying the other. Emile M. Cioran
  • Why struggle to open a door between us when the whole wall is an illusion? Rumi
  • When we look at nature, at the world, we feel that we are seeing something that is real, substantial. However, the world is composed only of fleeting perceptions, arising and fading moment by moment. Rupert Spira
  • Nothing truly existent, all things a great falsity; Sights and sounds I now understand as scenes in a play. The Dalai Lama
  • All things in the world and beyond are simply projections of names and thoughts. Not even the tiniest atom exists by itself, independently and in its own right. The Dalai Lama
  • Then when one looks into the face of the world, everything is seen as being without an essence. The Dalai Lama
.

…a kind of collective delusion or “maya”…

  • Many religions have long considered the physical world an illusion made of light. In Hinduism, Jainism, Sikhism, and Buddhism we find the concept of Maya: the world is a magic show, an illusion of cosmic light, in which things appear to be present but are not what they seem. Joseph Selbie
  • In Sanskrit, maya is a term that means illusion, but it doesn’t refer to just any illusion. Maya is used to represent the fact that we take the world around us to be real when in fact it is a temporary illusory world. What is the nature and purpose of this illusory world? In the Eastern mystical traditions, it is where each of us work out our individual karma in a series of lives. Rizwan Virk
  • Another translation of maya is a kind of magic show that reveals things to us that appear to be real but have no lasting reality. In many Vedic texts, māyā connotes a “magic show, an illusion where things appear to be present but are not what they seem.”  Rizwan Virk
  • If maya is a kind of illusion, then what is beyond the illusion? There is, in the Hindu traditions, Brahman, the absolute “real” world beyond form, and in the Buddhist traditions, the dharma, the absolute basis of reality from which all phenomena emanate. Rizwan Virk
  • At the moment you’re suffering from what we call Maya. Maya is illusion. Maya is a Sanskrit word that suggests that we have forgotten. Frederick Lenz
  • The Oriental thinks everything in the sense-perceptible world is ‘maya’; everything perceived by our senses and all thinking connected with sense perceptions is ‘maya,’ the great illusion. The only reality is the reality of the soul. What a human being achieves in his or her soul is reality.  Rudolf Steiner
  • Maya is the delusory power inherent in the structure of creation, by which the One appears as many. Maya is the principle of relativity, inversion, contrast, duality, oppositional states; Paramahansa Yogananda
  • If someone sees an elephant moving around in the air, it would be said that what he is seeing is an illusion or hallucination; but to him the perception is real. Maya is the mass hypnosis of God by which He makes every human being believe in the same illusory “reality” of creation as perceived by the senses; avidya gives individuality of form, experience, and expression (it supports the ego or I-consciousness).  Paramahansa Yogananda
  • Delusion is so strong that it is pretty hard to believe it is delusion when you have needs and no money to meet them. It is difficult to believe that this world is maya when you are sick and suffering. But when you constantly keep your mind in God, you will realize that this world is His dream. Paramahansa Yogananda
  • Spirit first gave rise to a Magic Delusion, Maya, the cosmic Magical Measurer, which produces the illusion of dividing a portion of the Indivisible Infinite into separate finite objects, even as a calm ocean becomes distorted into individual waves on its surface by the action of a storm. All creation is nothing but Spirit, seemingly and temporarily diversified by Spirit’s creative vibratory activity.   Paramahansa Yogananda
  • How real is the reality as we know it? ‘Maya’ is a Vedic concept of Sanatana Dharma (Hinduism) connoting “ The world as we perceive it through our senses, exists but is constantly changing and thus is unreal, it conceals the true character of spiritual reality”. Ashutosh Jain
  • The ancient Vedic scriptures declare that the physical world operates under one fundamental law of maya, the principle of relativity and duality. God, the Sole Life, is an Absolute Unity; He cannot appear as the separate and diverse manifestations of a creation except under a false or unreal veil. That cosmic illusion is maya. Every great scientific discovery of modern times has served as a confirmation of this simple pronouncement of the rishis.   Paramahansa Yogananda
  • The Hindus have a word for the world of the mentally-created illusion which we all experience. It is called maya, which means both illusion and magical creative power. The so-called veils of maya must be parted if one would glimpse the truth, but maya in and of itself is not a bad thing . . . it is simply the result of the creative process Roger Stephens
  • Maya is neither real nor unreal, nor both together; She is neither identical with Brahman nor different from Him, nor both; She is neither differentiated nor undifferentiated, nor both. She is most wonderful and cannot be described in words. Adi Shankara
  • Everything, from the intellect down to the gross physical body, is the effect of Maya. Understand that all these and Maya itself are not the [absolute] Self, and are therefore unreal, like a mirage in the desert. Adi Shankara
  • In Advaita Vedanta, and in many other ancient wisdom traditions, the world is said to be an illusion. This illusion is commonly referred to as maya, a Sanskrit name which refers to the apparent, or objective reality which is superimposed on the ultimate reality in order to generate the phenomena of what we call the material world. Maya is the magic by which we create duality—by which we create two worlds from one. This creation is an illusory creation—it is not real—it is an imaginary manifestation of the one Universal Consciousness, appearing as all of the various phenomena in objective reality. Maya is God’s, or Consciousness’s, creative power of emptying or reflecting itself into all things and thus creating all things—the power of subjectivity to take on objective appearance. Joseph P. Kauffman
  • The consciousness of the unenlightened person is blinded by four successive veils of maya, delusion, which prevent him from perceiving Truth or God: 1. Atomic form — the world of gross material manifestation wherein the One Substance appears as innumerable objects; 2. Space — whereby the idea of division is produced in the Ever-indivisible; 3. Time — whereby the mind conceives of change in the Ever-unchangeable; 4. Vibration — the universal creative force that obscures our realization of the Ever-uncreated. Paramahansa Yogananda
  • Space-time-causation, or name-and-form, is what is called Maya. Swami Vivekananda
  • Maya, therefore, does not mean that the world is an illusion, as is often wrongly stated. The illusion merely lies in our point of view, if we think that the shapes and structures, things and events, around us are realities of nature, instead of realizing that they are concepts of our measuring and categorizing minds. Maya is the illusion of taking these concepts for reality, of confusing the map with the territory. Fritjof Capra
  • Things constitute Maya in the Indian tradition, a word somewhat misleadingly translated as “illusion” but which works better if understood as “appearance” or “distraction.” It also implies impermanence. The world “out there” appears to be self-sustained, distracting us from the truth: Without consciousness, nothing is experienced, either “in here” or “out there.” Deepak Chopra
  • Everything that has form, everything that calls up an idea in your mind, is within Maya; for everything that is bound by the laws of time, space, and causation is within Maya. Swami Vivekananda
  • In the spiritual parlance, maya means unreality, distinct from the reality represented by God or Brahman. God in His eternal and absolute aspect is pure consciousness and His creation is a mere formation within that consciousness. It exists so long as there is an experiencer distinct from the experience. Jayaram V
  • Brahman is the great magician who transforms himself into the world and he performs this feat with his ‘magic creative power’. The word maya-one of the most important terms in Indian philosophy-has changed’ its meaning over the centuries. From the ‘might’, or ‘power’, of the divine actor and magician, it came to signify the psychological state of anybody under the spell of the magic play. As long as we confuse the myriad forms of the divine /i/a with reality, without perceiving the unity of Brahman underlying all these forms, we are under the spell of maya. Fritjof Capra
  • The phenomenal world operates under maya, the law of duality or oppositional states; it is thus an unreal world that veils the truth of the Divine Oneness and Unchangeableness. Paramahansa Yogananda
  • Through the power of maya, cosmic illusion, the Creator has caused the manifestations of matter to appear so distinct and specific that to the human mind they seem unrelated in any way to Spirit. Paramahansa Yogananda
  • Maya is the mass hypnosis of God by which He makes every human being believe in the same illusory “reality” of creation as perceived by the senses; avidya gives individuality of form, experience, and expression (it supports the ego or I-consciousness). Paramahansa Yogananda
  • This world is a world of maya, delusion, and man is kept hypnotized with that delusion. Paramahansa Yogananda
  • God, the Sole Life, is an Absolute Unity; He cannot appear as the separate and diverse manifestations of a creation except under a false or unreal veil. That cosmic illusion is maya. Every great scientific discovery of modern times has served as a confirmation of this simple pronouncement of the rishis. Paramahansa Yogananda
  • Maya is the force that deceives us into thinking of ourselves as separate entities and the world as consisting of separate, autonomous phenomena. In other words, maya prevents us from seeing the world as it really is. It blinds us to the unity that lies behind apparent diversity. Steve Taylor Ph.D.
.

… a kind of dream…

  • All appearance of materiality is unreal like objects seen in a dream. Jayaram V
  • What we experience as reality is in fact an illusion of consciousness, just as the space and physical matter in our dreams are an illusion. Scott Owen
  • The dream of life is really an illusion, and everybody lives in the reality he or she creates – a virtual reality that is only true for the one who creates it. Miguel Angel Ruiz
  • This world is but a dream. Just as in the movies there is no essential difference between the ocean and the sky, which are simply two different rates of light-vibration, so it is in this world. Sorrow and joy, pain and pleasure, cold and heat are but dreams of this world. We are here today, tomorrow we are gone, mere shadows in a cosmic dream. But behind the unreality of these fleeting pictures is the immortality of Spirit. Paramahansa Yogananda
  • The colossal dramas of creation and dissolution of planets and galaxies; the birth, growth, and decline of empires and civilizations; the countless miniature plays of individual lives with their subplots of health and sickness, riches and poverty, life and death—all are happening in God as the One Dreamer-Creator, a chimerical perception of change within the Eternally Changeless. Paramahansa Yogananda
  • Always discriminate-your body, your house, the people and the world are all absolutely unreal like a dream. Always think that the body is only an inert instrument. And the Atman within is your real nature. Swami Vivekananda
  • Waking life is a dream controlled. George Santayana
  • That which is seen and that which is touched are of a dream-like and illusion-like nature. Because feeling arises together with the mind, it is not [ultimately] perceived. Shantideva
  • The goal of Dream Yoga, then, is to understand the illusion that is the physical world around us—that it is a form of dream. Like all dreams, it appears real while we are in it, but like dreams it is a construction of the mind—perhaps a shared construction, but a delusion nevertheless.  Rizwan Virk
  • The years that are gone seem like dreams–if one might go on sleeping and dreaming—but to wake up and find—oh! Well! Perhaps it is better to wake up after all. Even to suffer, rather than to remain a dupe to illusions all one’s life. Kate Chopin
  • What is life? A madness. What is life? An illusion, a shadow, a story. And the greatest good is little enough; for all life is a dream and dreams themselves are only dreams. Pedro Calderon de la Barca
  • Waking consciousness is dreaming – but dreaming constrained by external reality. Oliver Sacks
  • Cinema is a technologically mediated dreamspace, a way to access, a portal to the numinous that unfolded in the fourth dimension, so cinema became sort of a waking dream where we can travel in space and time, where we can travel in mind. This became more than virtual reality, this became a real virtuality. Jason Silva
  • It is the mind that weaves the dream of life, it convinces us that what we see is what is apparent and what is real, and that there’s nothing else outside of our perception. Frederick Lenz
.

…as philosophers have been saying for thousands of years…

  • There is a long philosophical and scientific history to the underlying thesis that reality is an illusion. This skeptical hypothesis can be traced back to antiquity; for example, to the “Butterfly Dream” of Zhuangzi, or the Indian philosophy of Maya, or in Ancient Greek philosophy Anaxarchus and Monimus likened existing things to a scene-painting and supposed them to resemble the impressions experienced in sleep or madness. A version of the hypothesis was also theorised as a part of a philosophical argument by René Descartes. Wikipedia
.

…and mystics too…

  • Mystics of all traditions, but Eastern mystics in particular (of Hinduism, Buddhism, and related faiths), have been telling us this for thousands of years. In fact, the idea that the world around us is a kind of illusion that is somehow tied to our consciousness has been a central tenet of these traditions.  Rizwan Virk
  • Mystics of all traditions have told us that what we perceive as reality is actually more like a dream. This is particularly strong in the Hindu and Buddhist traditions. In the Hindu Vedas, there is the idea of the lila, the grand play that we get caught up in, which is the maya or illusion that formed the basis for Buddhism. Rizwan Virk
  • Many Buddhist techniques for achieving enlightenment are all about learning to recognize the illusion of the world around us. One Tibetan technique is called “Dream Yoga,” in which practitioners are trained to recognize the world around us is like a dream. Rizwan Virk
  • Mystics, who are even more advanced, conclude that only their ABC level of awareness is “real” and the observable world is a dream or illusion. It should be pointed out, however, that this is only another limited point of view. There is neither real nor nonreal, only that which is. That which is, is so, from all viewpoints or none. David R. Hawkins
  • Many of the world’s religious traditions tell us that the world around us is an illusion created for our benefit. This is particularly true in the Eastern traditions of Buddhism and Hinduism, which explicitly tell us that the world we see is maya, or illusion. This implies that there is something beyond the illusion. Even the Western religions have a similar concept of this world (the “here”) and the other, eternal world (the “hereafter”). Rizwan Virk
  • None of this has ever been or will ever be; all is an appearance, all is an illusion. Illusions are truth. All illusions are real. We say illusion, meaning that they’re shadows. Frederick Lenz
  • Some people claim that our subjective reality is an illusion, but that is misleading. It may all be a creation of the mind, but it is nonetheless real—the only reality we ever know. The illusion comes when we confuse the reality we experience with the physical reality, the thing-in-itself. The Vedantic philosophers of ancient India spoke of this confusion as maya.  Peter Russell
  • Do not be misled by what you see around you, or be influenced by what you see. You live in a world which is a playground of illusion, full of false paths, false values and false ideals. But you are not part of that world. Sai Baba
  • Like a magician’s illusions, dreams and a moon reflected in water, all beings and their environments are empty of inherent existence. Though not solidly existent, all these appear, like water bubbles coming forth in water. Gung Tang
  • Everything generated by the mind including our thoughts and emotions is an illusion. It’s fabricated reality. Adyashanti
  • This phantom world gave you false signs But you turned from the illusion and journeyed to the land of truth.  Rumi
  • In Hindu philosophy the whole creation is regarded as the Vishnu Lila, the play of Vishnu. Lila means dance or play. Also in Hindu philosophy, they call the world illusion; and in Latin the root of the word illusion is ludere, to play.  Alan Watts
  • The only purpose of life is to get away from the delusion of this material world. Paramahansa Yogananda
  • From science, then, if it must be so, let man learn the philosophic truth that there is no material universe; its warp and woof is . . . illusion. Paramhansa Yogananda
  • Brahman is real. His manifestation is unreal. Paramahansa Yogananda
  • Since things neither exist nor do not exist, are neither real nor unreal, are utterly beyond adopting and rejecting one might as well burst out laughing. Longchenpa
  • This idea that consciousness was a part of the material universe was neither new nor surprising. Mystics of all traditions, but Eastern mystics in particular (of Hinduism, Buddhism, and related faiths), have been telling us this for thousands of years. In fact, the idea that the world around us is a kind of illusion that is somehow tied to our consciousness has been a central tenet of these traditions.  Rizwan Virk
  • At the level of the spiritual seeker you have got to say that the world is an illusion. There is no other way. When a man forgets that he is Brahman, who is real, permanent and omnipresent, and deludes himself into thinking that he is a body in the universe which is filled with bodies that are transitory, and labours under that delusion, you have got to remind him that the world is unreal and a delusion. Ramana Maharshi
.

…including the Buddha

  • When one sees that everything exists as an illusion, one can live in a higher sphere than ordinary man. Gautama Buddha
  • A wise man, recognizing that the world is but an illusion, does not act as if it is real, so he escapes the suffering. Gautama Buddha
  • This is how to contemplate our conditioned existence in this fleeting world: Like a tiny drop of dew, or a bubble floating in a stream; Like a flash of lightning in a summer cloud, Or a flickering lamp, an illusion, a phantom, or a dream. So is all conditioned existence to be seen.  Gautama Buddha
  • Know all things to be like this: A mirage, a cloud castle, A dream, an apparition, Without essence, but with qualities that can be seen. Know all things to be like this: As the moon in a bright sky In some clear lake reflected, Though to that lake the moon has never moved. Know all things to be like this: As an echo that derives From music, sounds, and weeping, Yet in that echo is no melody. Know all things to be like this: As a magician makes illusions Of horses, oxen, carts and other things, Nothing is as it appears. Gautama Buddha
  • I knew that most people never see this reality because they attach to the material aspect of the world. Illusions of self and other fill their vision. I also realized there are those with little dust limiting their vision. Gautama Buddha
  • We live in illusion and the appearance of things. There is a reality. We are that reality. When you understand this, you see that you are nothing, and being nothing, you are everything.  Buddha
  • Know that all phenomena Are like reflections appearing In a very clear mirror; Devoid of inherent existence.  Buddha
  • In Buddhist terms, enlightenment is waking up from the dream while it is still going on and recognizing that what we thought was real is actually not real. Rizwan Virk
  • Regard this fleeting world like this: Like stars fading and vanishing at dawn, like bubbles on a fast-moving stream, like morning dewdrops evaporating on blades of grass, like a candle flickering in a strong wind… echoes, mirages, and phantoms, hallucinations, and like a dream. Gautama Buddha
.

In other words, the real world is conceivably not what it appears to be

  • The world is an illusion not because it does not exist, but because it is not what it appears to be. Jayaram V
  • The fact or condition of being deceived or deluded by appearances … a false conception or idea; a deception, delusion, fancy.  Oxford English Dictionary
  • Perception of something objectively existing in such a way as to cause misinterpretation of its actual nature.  Merriam Webster
  • Illusion is appearance of things differently from what they are actually. Jayaram V
  • An illusion is not something that does not exist but something that is not the way it seems.  Susan Blackmore
  • We must be clear what is meant by the word ‘illusion’. An illusion is not something that does not exist, like a phantom or phlogiston. Rather, it is something that it is not what it appears to be, like a visual illusion or a mirage. When I say that consciousness is an illusion I do not mean that consciousness does not exist. I mean that consciousness is not what it appears to be. If it seems to be a continuous stream of rich and detailed experiences, happening one after the other to a conscious person, this is the illusion.  Susan Blackmore
  • Illusion doesn’t mean that something is not real. Illusion simply means that something is less real than something else. This life and this world certainly exist – who is to say the reality of the dream is not real?  Frederick Lenz
  • Things are not what they seem; nor are they otherwise. Lankavatara Sutra
  • Matter is, genuinely, a light-show illusion. By illusion, I don’t mean that it isn’t there; rather, I mean that it isn’t what is seems. Joseph Selbie
  • An illusion is defined as something appearing to be something it isn’t. Jack Nolan
  • An illusion is not what it appears to be. When you experience an illusion, you experience its reality. In fact, there is only its reality.  Eg A mirage is, in reality, a play of light. An illusion cannot exist without its reality but its reality can exist without its superimposed illusion. An illusion is a temporary form of the reality behind it. It comes and goes.  Rupert Spira
  • An illusion always has a reality to it. A mirage in a desert is an illusion as water, but light, relatively speaking, is its reality. Rupert Spira
  • All illusions have a reality to them, and if we are experiencing an illusion we are, by definition, experiencing its reality. It is not possible to watch a movie without seeing the screen. Rupert Spira
  • Many people think of an illusion as something that never exists, which is not true. Falsehood has its own existence. Saujanya Timilsina
  • An illusion, after all, is entirely real – it is the ​interpretations of the illusion that can lead us astray. If I see a smooth blue patch in the desert, I might misinterpret the blue patch as an oasis, but that doesn’t mean my impression isn’t real. I’m seeing something real – not an oasis, but a refracted image of the sky. George Musser Jr
.

The world could conceivably be a dream or computer simulation, or we could even be brains in a vat

.

Rene Descartes made the point that a demon intent on deceiving us could easily make it appear that the world we experience is real when it is not…

  • The more radical Evil Genius hypothesis is this: you inhabit a world consisting of just you and a God-like Evil Genius bent on deceiving you. In the Evil Genius world, nothing physical exists, and all of your experiences are directly caused by the Evil Genius. So your experiences, which represent there to be an external world of physical objects (including your body), give rise to systematically mistaken beliefs about your world (such as that you are now sitting at a computer).  T Brueckner
  • I shall then suppose, not that God who is supremely good and the fountain of truth, but some evil genius not less powerful than deceitful, has employed his whole energies in deceiving me; I shall consider the heavens, the earth, the colours, figures, sound, and all other external things are nought but illusions and dreams of which this evil genius has availed himself, in order to lay traps for my credulity; I shall consider myself as having no hands, no eyes, no flesh, no blood, nor any senses, yet falsely believing myself to possess all these things. Rene Descartes
  • [God may have] brought it about that there is no earth, no sky, no extended thing, no shape, no size, no place, while at the same time ensuring that all these things appear to me to exist just as they do now. Rene Descartes
  • I shall think that the sky, the air, the earth, colours, shapes, sounds and all external things are merely the delusions of dreams which he has devised to ensnare my judgement. I shall consider myself as not having hands or eyes, or flesh, or blood or senses, but as falsely believing that I have all these things. Rene Descartes
  • I am compelled to admit that there is not one of my former beliefs about which a doubt may not properly be raised. Rene Descartes
.

…although he also famously said that, even if it is an illusion, we still know that we exist because our consciousness is indisputable

  • Descartes answered his own version of the experiment with his famous cogito, ergo sum (“I think, therefore I am”). Descartes argues that either the world is real and he is experiencing it, or he is being deceived. Even if he is being deceived, he still exists in order to be deceived. Therefore, the fact that he can question his existence is sufficient to prove that he exists. Importantly, the Cogito does not prove that he is not being deceived (or, to use the BIV terms, that he is not a brain in a vat). What Descartes instead proves is that he is something, not necessarily a human or even necessarily a brain, but something. Based on the Cogito, a BIV can know that it exists, but it cannot know anything else about itself or the world. Brendan Bernecker
  • I have convinced myself that there is absolutely nothing in the world, no sky, no earth, no minds, no bodies. Does it now follow that I too do not exist? No: if I convinced myself of something then I certainly existed. But there is a deceiver of supreme power and cunning who is deliberately and constantly deceiving me. In that case I too undoubtedly exist, if he is deceiving me; and let him deceive me as much as he can, he will never bring it about that I am nothing so long as I think that I am something. So after considering everything very thoroughly, I must finally conclude that this proposition, I am, I exist, is necessarily true whenever it is put forward by me or conceived in my mind.  Rene Descartes
  • Even if I happen to be a brain in a vat at this moment—and all my memories are false, and all my perceptions are of a world that does not exist—the fact that I am having an experience is indisputable (to me, at least). Sam Harris
  • You cannot doubt the existence of your own consciousness. That’s the first feature of consciousness, it’s real and irreducible.  John Searle
  • Nothing is more obvious and undeniable than the fact that you’re conscious.  In theory, everything else you think you know about the world could be an elaborate illusion cooked up to deceive you – at this point, present-day writers invariably invoke The Matrix – but your consciousness itself can’t be illusory.  Oliver Burkeman
  • The fact that you have conscious experience is the one undeniable certainty you have.  Christof Koch
  • The faculty of consciousness is, as we have seen, the only absolute, unquestionable truth.  Peter Russell
.

It is conceivable we are collectively dreaming our lives and all our perceptions of the world are therefore dream illusions…

  • All life is only a set of pictures in the brain, among which there is no difference betwixt those born of real things and those born of inward dreamings, and no cause to value the one above the other. P. Lovecraft
  • The world of matter we actually experience in the waking state is no different from the worlds we experience in dreams. Both the waking and dreaming worlds that we experience are made of nothing but perception. Nothing but pure knowing. Anthony Lambert
  • Waking perceptions are on a par with dream perceptions. Sri Satchidanandrenda
  • I do not know how to distinguish between waking life and a dream. Are we not always living the life that we imagine we are? Henry David Thoreau
  • How can you prove whether at this moment we are sleeping, and all our thoughts are a dream; or whether we are awake, and talking to one another in the waking state? Plato
  • Is there another Life? Shall I awake and find all this a dream? John Keats
  • Dreams are true while they last, and do we not live in dreams? Alfred Lord Tennyson
  • We dream primarily the same way that we have consciousness of the world. Our brains have evolved to simulate reality and to control what’s happening around us. Amy Hardie
  • Waking consciousness is dreaming – but dreaming constrained by external reality Oliver Sacks
  • When we dream we can immerse ourselves in realistic worlds just as real as the ones we experience when we are awake. Martin E Moore
  • Dreams are real. This is unreal. This world is unreal. Everybody has it backwards. This is the dream. This is an insubstantial pageant. Nothing here lasts – that is how you know it’s the dream.  Frederick Lenz
  • Dream delivers us to dream, and there is no end to illusion. Life is like a train of moods like a string of beads, and, as we pass through them, they prove to be many-colored lenses which paint the world their own hue. Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • You’re a dream. Like everything else. Kelly Creagh
  • …all life is a dream and dreams themselves are only dreams. Pedro Calderon de la Barca
  • Descartes argues that if we cannot even tell for sure whether we are dreaming, then how can we know for certain any truth about the world in which we seem to live? His famous statement “I think, therefore I am” comes from the realization that to think or even to be deceived one has to exist and that is the only truth beyond any doubt. The movie ‘Inception’ explores the very topics that Descartes was philosophizing about over three hundred years ago.  Ashutosh Jain
  • Does the real world have any more substance than visions and hallucinations when we’re having them? At any given moment, what’s happening in our minds is all and everything that happens.  Roger Ebert
.

…an argument made by Zhuangzi, an influential Chinese philosopher who lived around the 4th century BC…

  • Once Zhuangzi dreamt he was a butterfly, a butterfly flitting and fluttering around, happy with himself and doing as he pleased. He didn’t know he was Zhuangzi. Suddenly he woke up and there he was, solid and unmistakable Zhuangzi. But he didn’t know if he was Zhuangzi who had dreamt he was a butterfly, or a butterfly dreaming he was Zhuangzi. Between Zhuangzi and a butterfly there must be some distinction! This is called the Transformation of Things. Zhuangzi
  • While he is dreaming he does not know it is a dream, and in his dream he may even try to interpret a dream. Only after he wakes does he know it was a dream. And someday there will be a great awakening when we know that this is all a great dream. Yet the stupid believe they are awake, busily and brightly assuming they understand things, calling this man ruler, that one herdsman—how dense! Confucius and you are both dreaming! And when I say you are dreaming, I am dreaming, too. Words like these will be labeled the Supreme Swindle. Yet, after ten thousand generations, a great sage may appear who will know their meaning, and it will still be as though he appeared with astonishing speed. Zhuangzi
.

…and later by Rene Descartes in the 1600’s

  • How can you be certain that your whole life is not a dream? Rene Descartes
  • It is possible that I am dreaming right now and that all of my perceptions are false. Rene Descartes
  • But I cannot forget that, at other times I have been deceived in sleep by similar illusions; and, attentively considering those cases, I perceive so clearly that there exist no certain marks by which the state of waking can ever be distinguished from sleep, that I feel greatly astonished; and in amazement I almost persuade myself that I am now dreaming. Rene Descartes
  • .. there are no certain indications by which we may clearly distinguish wakefulness from sleep.  Rene Descartes
  • When I consider this carefully, I find not a single property which with certainty separates the waking state from the dream. How can you be certain that your whole life is not a dream? Rene Descartes
  • For how do we know that the thoughts which occur in dreaming are false rather than those others which we experience when awake, since the former are often not less vivid and distinct than the latter? Rene Descartes
  • Even if I were to suppose that I was dreaming and whatever I saw or imagined was false, yet I could not deny that ideas were truly in my mind. Rene Descartes
.

It is also conceivable that our brains could be hooked up to a machine that is making us hallucinate our reality like in The Matrix

  • In 1968 James Cornman and Keith Lehrer suggested something they called the braino machine that “operates by influencing the brain of a subject who wears a special cap, called a “braino cap.” The braino argument was intended to show that, even if it is sometimes possible to tell when we are hallucinating, it is not possible to know that we are not hallucinating.   Wikipedia
  • When the braino cap is placed on a subject’s head, the operator of the braino can affect his brain so as to produce any hallucination in the subject that the operator wishes. The braino is a hallucination-producing machine. The hallucinations produced by it may be as complete, systematic, and coherent as the operator of the braino desires to make them.  James Cornman and Keith Lehrer
  • If real is what you can feel, smell, taste and see, then ‘real’ is simply electrical signals interpreted by your brain.  Morpheus (The Matrix)
  • It might be suggested that you have not the slightest reason to believe that you are in the surroundings you suppose you are in … various hypotheses could explain how things look and feel. You might be sound asleep and dreaming or a playful brain surgeon might be giving you these experiences by stimulating your cortex in a special way. You might really be stretched out on a table in his laboratory with wires running into your head from a large computer. Perhaps you have always been on that table. Perhaps you are quite a different person from what you seem…  Gilbert Harman
.

Taking this further, we could even conceivably be a brain in a vat at this moment being fed false perceptions and memories through electrical stimulation

  • You could be a brain in a vat at this moment. All your memories are false. All your perceptions are of a world that does not exist. You’re confused about absolutely everything, but the fact that you’re having an experience at this moment is indisputable to you, which is all that any sentient creature requires to fully establish the reality of consciousness.  Sam Harris
  • Consider the hypothesis that you are a disembodied brain floating in a vat of nutrient fluids. This brain is connected to a supercomputer whose program produces electrical impulses that stimulate the brain in just the way that normal brains are stimulated as a result of perceiving external objects in the normal way. (The movie ‘The Matrix’ depicts embodied brains which are so stimulated, while their bodies float in a vats.) If you are a brain in a vat, then you have experiences that are qualitatively indistinguishable from those of a normal perceiver. If you come to believe, on the basis of your computer-induced experiences, that you are looking at at tree, then you are sadly mistaken.  After having sketched this brain-in-a-vat hypothesis, the skeptic issues a challenge: can you rule out the possibility described in the hypothesis? Do you know that the hypothesis is false?  T Brueckner
  • Consider the hypothesis that you are a bodiless brain-in-a-vat who has been electrochemically stimulated to have precisely those sensory experiences you have had, perhaps because you are appropriately hooked up to an immensely powerful computer, which, taking into account the “output” of the brain which is you, has seen to it that you receive appropriate sensory “input”. Do you know that you’re not a brain-in-a-vat?  Keith DeRose
  • The “brain in a jar” thought experiment: Imagine that you are just a brain in a jar that is run by a higher power. How would you know? And can you truly deny the possibility that this is your reality? This is a question discussed by thinkers and scientists who, like most people, believe that one’s understanding of reality depends solely on their subjective feelings. A modern interpretation of Descartes’ evil demon problem, this thought experiment leads to the same conclusion: we cannot confirm the actual existence of anything except our consciousness. If this seems to sound reminiscent of the movie ‘The Matrix’, it is only because this idea was part of the very basis of the story. Ashutosh Jain
  • Imagine that a mad scientist created a machine into which he could place a human brain. This machine, which we shall call a “brain vat”, would not only keep the brain alive and functioning, but it would allow the scientist to create virtual stimuli and feed them directly into the brain. The brain would register all of these stimuli in exactly the same manner as normal human sensory experiences, as these are already interpreted as electrical signals anyway. In this way, the scientist could create an entire fictitious world that, to the captive brain, would feel completely normal.  What if I told you that you, the person reading this post, were not actually a human being but instead merely a brain in a vat? You may attempt to prove me wrong, but you would find that quite difficult, and you would not be alone. This thought experiment has puzzled philosophers since it was first proposed in 1641 by René Descartes (Though Descartes’ experiment used an evil demon in place of a vat.  Brendan Bernecker
  • The idea of the brain in a vat is that no brain could ever know whether it was in a skull or a vat, and could therefore never know whether everything it experiences is real or an illusion.  Brendan Bernecker
  • The ‘brain in a vat’ argument is a relatively simple one, and is designed to question our grasp of reality and what we can know about it. It asks us to imagine that all the we see, hear, smell, feel and know isn’t actually the result of sensory information coming in from ‘reality’. Instead of our senses getting information from ‘reality’, our sensory information is being fed to us by a super-computer. One that an evil genius, mad scientist, or overlords have attached our brains to. In fact, that is all we are, we are not these bodies that we inhabit, but simply brains, in a vat, attached by electrodes to a computer that feeds us information through our senses and fools us into believing that this is reality. It is an exercise in scepticism, but scepticism taken to the extreme. A thought experiment designed to introduce doubt to all that we know. Alan T.
.

A modern form of this argument is an assertion by some scientists and philosophers that the world we are living may well be a computer simulation or video game

  • We are now able to create virtual realities on computers. Are we all living in one created by someone in the future? Greg Fitzsimmons
  • Are you living in a computer simulation? Nick Bostrom
  • What if everything around us — the people, the stars overhead, the ground beneath our feet, even our bodies and minds — were an elaborate illusion? What if our world were simply a hyper-realistic simulation, with all of us merely characters in some kind of sophisticated video game? Dan Falk
  • We are living in a computer-programmed reality, and the only clue we have to it is when some variable is changed, and some alteration in our reality occurs. Philip K. Dick
  • Is it possible that we are in a holodeck-like space and there is another world “out there”? Rizwan Virk
  • The idea of living in a simulated reality has been around for a long time in science, religion and fiction. Rizwan Virk
  • Are we, in fact, digital beings living in a vast computer simulation created by our own future descendants or future post human civilization? Recently, a number of philosophers, futurists, science-fiction writers, and technologists — people who share a strong faith in technological progress, have come to believe that the simulation argument is not just plausible, but inevitable. They argue that if consciousness can be simulated in a computer and the advanced civilizations are bound to have access to truly stupendous amounts of computing power, then, the notion that the present physical world itself is virtual is quite reasonable. Ashutosh Jain
  • Science fiction writers are not alone in believing that we are all living in a simulation. Many prominent scholars and renowned physicists are voicing their beliefs that we live in a sophisticated simulation. The celebrated physicist and author of A Brief History of Time, Stephen Hawking, speculated that we have a 50 percent chance of being in a simulated reality. Rizwan Virk
  • Imagine characters in a game – but imagine the game being advanced enough to make each character conscious. He will believe that his world is real – the doors are real, the trees are real, the other characters are real. But it is just a virtual world. In theory, that is possible. And it may perhaps not even be possible to prove that it is not what is happening.  Marius Myburg
  • How do we know this is real life? The short answer is: we don’t. We can never prove that we’re not all hallucinating, or simply living in a computer simulation. Sean Carroll
  • How do we know that the reality we are in is real? The suggestion that we could be living in a computer simulation isn’t just a Matrix-style science-fiction idea. It is a hypothesis that has been discussed and debated by philosophers and physicists since Nick Bostrom at the University of Oxford floated it in 2002. If its startling but logical conclusion is correct, it renders decades of intellectual endeavour obsolete and, ironically, takes us back to the beginning. Donna Lu
.

The truth is that consciousness and the fact we are experiencing something is all that we know for sure

.

Even if the world is an illusion, our experience of it is indisputably real

  • All illusions have a reality to them, and if we are experiencing an illusion we are, by definition, experiencing its reality. Rupert Spira
  • We do not know exactly what the perceived object is, but we know that it exists, that is has Reality. Rupert Spira
  • The world may not be real but the experiencing of it is.  Anthony Lambert
  • Even if the world out there is an illusion, that illusion is still known. It is experienced. Rupert Spira
  • All experience is real. Eknath Easwaran
  • Even if we are experiencing some kind of virtual world with no physical reality to it, the experience of it is undeniably real. Anthony Lambert
  • In this moment there is something that is being experienced. We may not know what that something is –for instance, it may be a dream or a hallucination –but we know that there is something. Rupert Spira
  • There is a Reality to every perception, although the perception itself is fleeting and insubstantial, vanishing at every moment, and this Reality endures from one appearance to another. This Reality is the support or ground of the appearance. The appearance may be an illusion, but the illusion itself is real. There is an illusion. It has Reality. Rupert Spira
  • It may be an illusion, a dream or a hallucination, and yet still it is something. It has Existence. It has Being. It has Reality.  Rupert Spira
  • We know that Consciousness is present now, and we know that whatever it is that is being experienced in this moment exists. It has Existence. Rupert Spira
  • Consciousness is that which experiences. We do not know what this Consciousness is but we know that it is. We know it is present, that there is something that is registering, witnessing, knowing the current situation.   Nor do we know exactly what the perceived object is, but we know that it exists, that is has Reality. Rupert Spira
  • We must agree there is experience. There is not nothing. Experience may not be a collection of things, but there is still not a void. There is something.  Rupert Spira
  • It is the reality of immediate experience, here and now, which cannot be denied. You can question the description and the meaning, but not the event itself.  Nisargadatta Maharaj
  • Even if the experiences of the mirage or the dream buildings turn out to be illusions, there is an element of reality to our experience of them. There is ‘experience,’ there is ‘something,’ even if we are not sure what this ‘something’ is. Rupert Spira
.

In other words, our consciousness and our experience of the world within it are more indisputably real than the “real” world of physical matter out here

  • Consider you are sitting in a room in front of fire. You see the bright color of the fire, you feel the heat and hear the crackle of the burning wood. If you put your hand in the fire, it will burn you. But if you apply Descartes’ method you can doubt the existence of this fire, room or the chair you are sitting in. You may think that this fire does not exist because may be the heat, color, sound, chair, room and everything else is an illusion/apparition created by what Bertrand Russell called ‘sense data’. It is easy to agree that this fire may not exist as it may be an illusion but since you are experiencing this illusion, no matter how much you try to deny the fire and everything in the room, the room itself, your hands, feet, ears, skin, eyes; there is still some entity that experiences the fire and that is you. Now let us consider that you suddenly woke up and found it was a dream and you are now convinced that the fire, the chair and the room did not exist. Yet you are sure that you exist as you are the one who experienced it and are experiencing things in the world outside ‘the dream’ that you just woke up from. Muneeb Faiq
  • Nothing that appears within the mind, the body or the world can be completely trusted or relied upon. Only Consciousness/Being is certain.  Rupert Spira
  • We know that Consciousness is present now, and we know that whatever it is that is being experienced in this moment exists. It has Existence. Rupert Spira
  • I can be far surer of my existence as an experiencer, experiencing, than I can be sure about the existence of the “real” world “out there” made of matter. Anthony Lambert
  • The reality of being an experiencer is more clearly real than the experience itself. The experience may be a kind of dream, but the fact that I am an experiencer, experiencing something cannot be denied.   Anthony Lambert
  • That you hear is a fact. What you hear — is not. Nisargadatta Maharaj
  • The only thing we each know for certain, the only thing for which each of us has irrefutable proof, is one’s own consciousness. Proving physical reality exists is impossible, whereas proving mental reality exists is trivially self-evident: I know I am conscious because I know I am conscious. Scott Owen
  • The only thing we know to be indisputably real is our inner experience of the outer world and our existence as an experiencer. The primary fabric of that reality is consciousness / awareness. Anthony Lambert
  • When we try in good faith to believe in materialism, in the exclusive reality of the physical, we are asking ourselves to step aside; we are disavowing the very realm where we exist and where all things precious are kept — the realm of emotion and conscience, of memory and intention and sensation. John Updike
  • All our interior world is reality, and that, perhaps, more so than our apparent world. Marc Chagall
  • The fact that there is experience tells us two things. First. it tells us that there is Consciousness, that whatever it is that is conscious is present and aware, that it is witnessing or experiencing whatever it is that is being experienced. We refer to this Consciousness as ‘I’, as ‘me’. It is the subjective element in every experience. We do not know what that Consciousness is, but we know that it is. Secondly, it tells us that there is something that is being experienced, that something is present. This something is the objective element in every experience.  We may not know what this ‘something’ is, yet there is no doubt that something is being experienced. It may be an illusion, a dream or a hallucination, and yet still it is something. It has Existence. It has Being. It has Reality.  Rupert Spira
.

It is possible there is no actual world outside our consciousness

.

According to idealism, the world exists only in the mind (ultimately the mind of God)

  • The earliest subjective idealists were members of the Yogācāra school of Indian Buddhism. The ‘mind-only’ school of Buddhism where the world is regarded very largely as a ‘mental projection’ consists the core of the Mahayana and Tibetan Buddhism. Subjective idealism made its mark in Europe in the 18th-century writings of George Barkley who argued that we cannot know objects outside of our perception of them. Barkley claimed that objects maintain their existence when no person is perceiving them because God (a higher being) is constantly perceiving all objects. Thus the world or reality as we know it consists only in the minds of humans and of God. Ashutosh Jain
  • Idealism: the notion that all reality is a phenomenon of, and in, mind. Bernardo Kastrup
  • In vintage monistic idealism, only transcendent and unitive consciousness is real. The rest, including the subject-object division of the world, is epiphenomenon, maya, illusion. Amit Goswami
  • Idealism is the idea that subjective reality is all there is.  Anthony Lambert
.

In other words, no objective world exists outside our consciousness…

  • There is nothing outside of perception. Robert Lanza
  • There is no objective reality. But there is only an illusion of consciousness, there is only an objectivication of reality, which was created by the spirit.  Nikolai Berdyaev
  • There is no reality except the one contained within us. That is why so many people live such an unreal life. They take the images outside them for reality and never allow the world within to assert itself. Hermann Hesse
  • What is the proof of an object? You say you see an object. But you actually see only form. Form is nothing but seeing. So you see only seeing. But did you really see even seeing? No. Because seeing can never exist distinct and separate from you. So you did not see at all. Therefore no object exists. The fact that you see can alone be admitted. But what did you see? Nothing. Neither form nor anything else. Still, the fact that you saw cannot be denied. Therefore, you are seeing the Reality itself and nothing else. Sri Atmananda Krishna Menon
  • Without perception, there can be no reality.  Robert Lanza
  • What is the universe made of? Answer: The real building blocks of the universe are qualia. There is room for infinite creativity depending on the observer. The state of awareness that you are in alters the qualia all around you. A sunset isn’t beautiful to someone who feels suicidal; a severe leg cramp is negligible if you’ve just won a marathon. Observer, observed, and process of observation are intimately linked. As they unfold, the “stuff” of the universe emerges. Deepak Chopra and Menas Kafatos
  • Everything we experience and perceive always takes place within our mind and therefore it is illogical to say that there is something external to us because we know of nothing else but that which takes place within us – within our mind. Martin E Moore
  • ..who pointed out that if the empiricist analysis is carried through rigorously, then it must be admitted that all qualities that the human mind registers…are ultimately experienced as ideas in the mind, and there can be no conclusive inference whether or not some of those qualities ‘genuinely’ represent or resemble an outside object… Richard Tarnas
  • The universe is not an objective reality. It is just an appearance. The fundamental question now is: To whom is this universe an appearance? Nagarajan Ramachandran
  • Psychiatrists like Carl Jung have probed the question of mental projection, where each of us is perceiving the world slightly differently based upon what is going on inside our minds. In this view, most of what we think of as being “out there”—the physical world—is actually “in here,” meaning in our heads, like a dream, there being no objective physical reality. Rizwan Virk
  • Nothing exists to you without your being there to experience its existence.  Nisargadatta Maharaj
  • The world has no substance and has no existence independent of Consciousness.  Bentinho Massaro
  • Outside you there is no eternal sky, no changeless star and no reality. A Course in Miracles
  • There is no world apart from the mind.  What appears as the world is only the mind.  Ribhu Gita
  • Without an experiencer, the experience is not real. It is the experiencer that imparts reality to experience. Nisargadatta Maharaj
  • All that we see or seem is but a dream within a dream. Edgar Allen Poe
  • It is only in the consciousness of the observer that objects exist at all in space and time.  Robert Lanza
  • Nothing you perceive around you—not this page, not this room, not this house—has any reality except through you. Deepak Chopra
  • Without consciousness there would be no world, for the world exists as such only in so far as it is consciously reflected and considered by a psyche. Consciousness is a precondition of being.  C.J. Jung
  • Matter is derived from mind, and not mind from matter. The Tibetan Book of the Great Liberation
  • If there were no intelligent observers in the physical universe, the physical universe would cease to exist.  Joseph Selbie
  • All descriptions of matter are descriptions of modes of human perception within consciousness. Deepak Chopra
  • Matter exists only as a cluster of visual, auditory, taste and tactile perceptions arising in awareness. Anthony Lambert
  • No object has its own independent existence. All objects borrow their apparent existence from the reality of consciousness. Rupert Spira
  • There is no such thing as material substance in the world. George BerkeleyThere is no such thing as material substance in the world. George Berkeley
.

…and that consciousness is the only reality…

  • Consciousness is the ultimate Reality; compared with it, all else is illusion.  Harold Percival
  • If we want to build a model of reality, we must start with first principles. What is the primary element in all experience? Consciousness! To build a theory based upon anything other than consciousness is to build a house on sand. Rupert Spira
  • Consciousness creates reality. Bernard Haisch
  • Reality is a projection of consciousness. Ottessa Moshfegh
  • Reality is where your consciousness is located. Nevill Drury
  • Objects have no existence for themselves, asnd if they are not the contents of my or your consciousness, they are the contents of the divine consciousness. S Radhakrishnan
  • This is Plato’s demonstration of monistic idealism. People see only the shadow show of matter and are beguiled by it. If only they knew that the shadows are cast by the ‘realer’ archetypal objects behind them, the ideas of consciousness! If only they had the fortitude to investigate the light of consciousness, which is the only reality.   Amit Goswami
  • We watch shadow-illusions that we mistake for reality. The real reality is behind us, in the light and archetypal forms that cast the shadows on the wall. In this allegory, the shadow shows are the unreal immanent manifestations in human experience of archetypal realities that belong to a transcendent world. In truth, light is the only reality, for light is all we see. In monistic idealism, consciousness is like the light in Plato’s cave.  Amit Goswami
  • Consciousness is the ultimate Reality; compared with it, all else is illusion. Harold Percival
  • The fundamental axiom, then, for the study of man is the existence of individual consciousness. Murray Rothbard
  • I regard matter as derivative from consciousness. We cannot get behind consciousness.  Dada Gunamuktananda
  • The universe is founded in consciousness and guided by it. The final reality is Universal Consciousness. The Supreme Consciousness is Omnipresent. Its evolutionary powers pervade the entire Universe. All processes of Nature are governed by the laws of this Absolute Force. Shriram Sharma
  • What we think of as physical reality is an intermingling of appropriate realities, a fluid massive consciousness in which each of us exists independently of each other and yet coexists interdependently with each other. Gary Zukav
  • The only thing that is fundamental (real) is consciousness itself; all else is virtual- i.e., a result of an exchange of information within consciousness. Thomas Campbell
  • Consciousness cannot be accounted for in physical terms. For consciousness is absolutely fundamental. It cannot be accounted for in terms of anything else. Erwin Schrodinger
  • I regard consciousness as fundamental. I regard matter as a derivative of consciousness. Max Planck
  • We end with the understanding that Consciousness is the ever-present Reality of all things and that everything appears within it and as an expression of it.  Rupert Spira
  • There is only one real computer – the universe – whose hardware is made up of non-spatial states of consciousness and software is made up of superhuman as well as non-superhuman thoughts. Kedar Joshi
  • Where consciousness is concerned, the appearance is the reality. John Searle
  • The unbroken realization that you are indivisible from the universe, from universal consciousness, from the source of everything – that you are that source, that there is no other, no second, nothing that is not part of that unity, except as transitory illusion. If you could maintain that realization at all times, through waking and sleeping states of consciousness, across the threshold of death itself, what would you be? Daniel Pinchbeck
  • Consciousness does not just perceive Reality. It is Reality. Rupert Spira
.

…while all our experiences of the world are simply appearances in consciousness, made of consciousness…

  • That which we call substance and reality is shadow and illusion, and that which we call shadow and illusion is substance and reality.  H. P. Lovecraft
  • Consciousness is the substance of any experience we can have or hope for, now or in the future. Sam Harris
  • The mind, the body and the world are located inside Consciousness and are made only out of Consciousness. That is our experience. Rupert Spira
  • Our consciousness is our contribution to reality. What we perceive as real, becomes real. Deepak Chopra
  • Is there any substance in seeing other than the knowing of it. All there is is the knowing of this experience. All there is is pure consciousness. Rupert Spira
  • If we explore the substance or reality out which thought and perception are made, we find only infinite Consciousness. That is, Consciousness finds only itself. Rupert Spira
  • Awareness is the sole substance of the seamless totality of experience. Rupert Spira
  • ‘I’, Consciousness, Being, Knowingness, takes the shape of thinking, sensing or perceiving in order to appear as a mind, a body or a world. Rupert Spira
  • All I experience appears in consciousness and is created by consciousness. Rupert Spira
  • The very substance of every experience is the substance of Consciousness. Objects do not just appear in Consciousness; they appear as Consciousness. Rupert Spira
  • We could define consciousness as that with which all experience is known, in which all experience appears and out of which all experience is made. Rupert Spira
  • Experience itself is real, only its reality is not made out of matter or mind. It is made out of consciousness.  Rupert Spira
.

…including our experiences of time and space

  • Time and space are just projections of your consciousness. Jaggi Vasudev
  • Space and time are not conditions in which we live, they are modes in which we think. Albert Einstein
  • Consciousness does not exist in time. Time exists as an idea in Consciousness. Rupert Spira
  • According to the simpler theory [of idealism], the dimensions of space we perceive are in fact a thought, an imagining, like the very real but dimensionless space in our dreams. Scott Owen
  • Time and space appear within Consciousness. Consciousness does not appear within time and space. Rupert Spira
  • Time is the perpetual flow of ever-changing appearances that awareness witnesses. Time exists within awareness. Awareness is outside of time. You are timeless awareness dreaming itself to be a person in time. Tim Freke
  • We must rid ourselves of the notion that space and time are actual qualities in things in themselves . . . all bodies, together with the space in which they are, must be considered nothing but mere representations in us, and exist nowhere but in our thoughts. Immanuel Kant
  • Where did time come from? Answer: The same place that everything comes from, consciousness. Time is a qualia, like the sweetness of sugar or the colors in a rainbow. All are expressions of consciousness once the universe was hatched from the womb of creation. Deepak Chopra and Menas Kafatos
  • Time exists as a thought arising in mind. Anthony Lambert
  • Time is in the mind. Space is in the mind. The law of cause and effect is also a way of thinking. In reality all is here and now and all is one. Multiplicity and diversity are in the mind only. Nisargadatta Maharaj
  • Space is what Consciousness looks like from the point of view of perception. Space is Consciousness objectified by perception. Rupert Spira
.

In other words, our world really is a kind of collective dream dreamed by universal consciousness (God)…

  • This universe is God’s dream. Mellen-Thomas Benedict
  • Life is a dream in Gods infinite mind. Rupert Spira
  • The Hindu philosophers teach that life is the dream of Brahman. ‘Brahman’ is a name for God, so they’re claiming that life is God’s dream. Tim Freke
  • I sometimes subscribe to the belief that all historical events occur simultaneously, like a dream in the mind of God. Perhaps it is only man who views time sequentially and tries to impose a solar calendar upon it. What if other people, both dead and unborn, are living out their lives in the same space we occupy, without our knowledge or consent? James Lee Burke
  • The colossal dramas of creation and dissolution of planets and galaxies; the birth, growth, and decline of empires and civilizations; the countless miniature plays of individual lives with their subplots of health and sickness, riches and poverty, life and death—all are happening in God as the One Dreamer-Creator, a chimerical perception of change within the Eternally Changeless. Paramahansa Yogananda
  • Of the religious and mythological traditions that address this question, most give the same answer, It is the dream of a single divine intelligence, of God. The Hindu Vedas and yogic texts assert again and again that the universe is God’s dream. In Christianity the sentiment is summed up inthe oft repeated saying, we are all thoughts in the mind of God, or as the poet Keats put it, we are all part of God’s “long immortal dream.” Michael Talbot
  • There is the dream, and there is the dreamer of the dream. The dream is a short-lived play of forms. It is the world—relatively real but not absolutely real. Then there is the dreamer, the absolute reality in which the forms come and go. The dreamer is not the person. The person is part of the dream. The dreamer is the substratum in which the dream appears, that which makes the dream possible. It is the absolute behind the relative, the timeless behind time, the consciousness in and behind form. The dreamer is consciousness itself—who you are. Eckhart Tolle
  • This world seems real to you because God dreamed you into existence along with His cosmic dream. You are a part of His dream. If, at night, you dream that you bump your head against a wall, you may get an imaginary pain in your head. The moment you awake, however, you realize that there was no wall there to hurt you. The pain you experienced was in your mind, but not in your head!  The same is true of this dream you are dreaming now.  Wake up to the one Reality, God, and you will see that this earth life is just a show. It is nothing but shadows and light!  Paramhansa Yogananda
  • But are we being dreamed by a single divine intelligence, by God, or are we being dreamed by the collective consciousness of all things — by all the electrons, particles, butterflies, neutron stars, sea cucumbers, human and nonhuman intelligences in the universe? Here again we collide headlong into the bars of our own conceptual limitations, for in a holographic universe this question is meaningless. We cannot ask if the part is creating the whole, or the whole is creating the part because the part, is the whole. So whether we call the collective consciousness of all things “God,” or simply “the consciousness of all things,” it doesn’t change the situation. The universe is sustained by an act of such stupendous and ineffable creativity that it simply cannot be reduced to such terms. Again it is a self -reference cosmology. Or as the Kalahari Bushmen so eloquently put it, “The dream is dreaming itself.” Michael Talbot
  • How would you describe everything in one of your dreams? It’s not that everything in the dream is conscious but, rather, consciousness is everything in the dream. And so if reality is a thought, then it is not that the universe is conscious, but consciousness is the universe. Consciousness is ubiquitous. Scott Owen
  • This material creation is the spirit soul’s dream. Actually all existence in the material world is a dream of [God]. Srila Prabhupada

 

…in line with what some eastern spiritual traditions believe

  • Some Yogic texts suggest that even though the world is an illusion, this doesn’t mean that it isn’t real. It is a real construct as far as our consciousness is concerned, and the things we see have been created in this illusory world. Like the magician who does a trick, the illusion exists in our own minds, in our own perception of the world, just as if we were in a dream. These traditions, when trying to explain the nature of the illusion that surrounds us, use a particular metaphor. It is the metaphor of a dream, but not just any dream. The maya of the world around us would have to be a shared dream that we all live in, with characters created for fulfilling our own personal karma. Rizwan Virk
  • The metaphor of the world as dream is used not just in traditional Buddhism. In the Tibetan esoteric traditions, there are specific practices of Dream Yoga that are there to help us to “wake up and recognize the dream.” Rizwan Virk
.

If this is far-fetched, don’t forget that our consciousness already creates very convincing simulated worlds every night when we dream

  • When we dream we can immerse ourselves in realistic worlds just as real as the ones we experience when we are awake. Martin E Moore
  • Dreams and schizophrenia (consider the movie A Beautiful Mind) prove the capacity of the mind to construct a spatio-temporal reality as real as the one you are experiencing now.  Robert Lanza
  • Dreams are like little simulations. They are created for each of our minds to go into each evening, to serve some purpose. Rizwan Virk
  • Most of us would not consider ourselves capable of writing a screen-play, creating characters and complex dialogues, designing sets and costumes – certainly not without extensive training -, let alone doing it all and simultaneously playing it out in real-time. And yet that is exactly what most of us appear to do when we dream at night. More time appears to pass in a dream than passes in real-time, so it’s massive creativity at a speed faster than real-time. Robert Lanza
  • How do we have this phenomenal creative ability, which we apparently don’t have when awake? Perhaps our sleep-time dreams have the same source as the illusion of physical reality we experience when awake. Scott Owen
  • How would you describe everything in one of your dreams? It’s not that everything in the dream is conscious but, rather, consciousness is everything in the dream. And so if reality is a thought, then it is not that the universe is conscious, but consciousness is the universe. Consciousness is ubiquitous. Scott Owen
  • We experience virtual reality on most nights while we are asleep, through our dreams. Rajesh Mankar
  • There is no objective scientific evidence for the existence of a physical reality. Yet we each have self-evident proof of consciousness. Our dreams are evidence that our consciousness is capable of creating an illusion of physical reality. Rather than assume a physical reality for which we have no objective evidence exists, and believe that consciousness (for which we have proof) is emergent from physical reality, it is more logical and reasonable to assume that consciousness is primary, and that physical reality is an illusion of consciousness. It’s not that the physical universe exists only when some consciousness is there to perceive it — the moon springing into existence only when someone looks at it, so to say… it is that substance is purely a concept, and physical reality exists only in consciousness. Scott Owen
  • In the universal dream, just as in the dreams we have at night, there is the illusion of this and that, near and far, past and future, self and other, which creates the relative experiences of space. Leo Hartong
  • In dreams there are in reality no chariots; no horses, not even the course on which the chariot may run; and yet all these are mentally created in a moment. There are in reality no joys; no pleasures; no delights; and yet all are mentally seen and felt at the instant. There are in reality no ponds, no lakes, no rivers; and yet all are there at the merest thought. This power of evolving any number of forms from Itself is the Creative Power of the One. Brahadaranyakopanishad
  • Our perception of the world has the very convincing appearance of being “out there” around us, but it is no more “out there” than are our nightly dreams. In our dreams we are aware of sights, sounds and sensations happening around us. We are aware of our bodies. We think and reason. We feel fear, anger, pleasure and love. We experience other people as separate individuals, speaking and interacting with us. The dream appears to be happening “out there” in the world around us. Only when we awaken do we realize that it was all just a dream–a creation in the mind.  When we say “it was all just a dream” we are referring to the fact that the experience was not based on physical reality. It was created from memories, hopes, fears, and other factors. In the waking state, our image of the world is based on sensory information drawn from our physical surroundings. This gives our waking experience a consistency and sense of reality not found in dreams. But the truth is, it is as much a creation of our minds as are our dreams.  Peter Russell
  • Because the holographic mechanisms the brain uses to construct everyday reality are the same ones it uses to construct our dreams and the realities we experience during altered states of consciousness, I believe all three types of reality are fundamentally the same. Gordon Globus
  • When you are dreaming, your dream universe replaces your wakeful universe. Which universe is real? The wakeful universe, the dream universe or the no universe?  Nagarajan Ramachandran
  • The dreamer contains the dream and, at the same time, occupies a relative position in the dream. Everything in his dream, whether rocks or clouds, feelings or thoughts, people or animals, is made of ‘dream stuff.’ Leo Hartong
  • In our dreams we may encounter age-old mountains, oceans, stars, and planets. There may be people and animals, cities and forests. We may experience days or even years passing by. To the dreamer, it is all very real. The dreamer may run from an erupting volcano, and the accompanying fear can be so intense that it jolts him awake, at which point he is no longer concerned with what happened to the volcano or the other objects and characters that just moments ago populated his universe. From the perspective of the waking state, the dream may have lasted only a few seconds. Where was the time, the space, and the objects that filled it? We can say it was inside the dreamer, but it’s equally true to say that the dreamer was inside the dream. This common experience clearly shows how apparently solid realities such as the world of objects, space, and time could well be illusory in nature. Leo Hartong
.

Consider also the discovery by quantum physics that matter cannot exist in tangible form independently of consciousness (i.e. until observed by a conscious observer)

  • Everyone is interested in knowing as to what happens to things when we aren’t looking at them. Phenomenalism has a simple answer — they disappear. Well, only because objects only exist as a phenomenon of consciousness. Quantum mechanics seem to favor phenomenalism. Quantum mechanics states that particles do not assume a specific velocity or position until they are observed. This strange behavior of matter particles would correspond with phenomenalism, since things would not exist in a definite form until observed. So, there is no existence without perception. The physical world exists only as sensory data in the perception of minds, and not as a substance or a thing in itself. Ashutosh Jain
  • The world is real as long as there is an observer. Shree Priya
  • Do we make reality?  At first blush, to suggest that we create reality sounds like a combination of arrogance and absurdity. In what warped version of reality could reality only exist because of us? And yet if you spend any time pondering quantum theory – our most accurate description of reality at its most fundamental – it is hard to escape the idea that the world becomes “real” only when we are looking at it. The starting point for this is the peculiar fact that observation seems to play a key part in transforming the ambiguous quantum world into the denite picture we know as classical reality. An electron, for instance, is said to be in a superposition of many places at once because, like all quantum objects, it exists in a cloud of possibilities. These possibilities are encoded in a mathematical entity called the wave function, until it is measured. At that point, the wave function collapses and all the possibilities are reduced to one. The electron assumes a single, definite position or state something we would recognise as real.  Donna Lu
  • Nothing is more astonishing about quantum mechanics than its allowing one to consider seriously that the universe would be nothing without observership.  John Wheeler
  • It has been impossible to erase the conscious observer from quantum mechanics. If anything, subjectivity has recently begun to reassert its centrality in the making of objective reality. Donna Lu
  • Take quantum Bayesianism or QBism, a relatively new interpretation of quantum theory. It holds that wave function collapse is caused by observers updating their knowledge. There is no objective reality, only our subjective estimation of it. Donna Lu
.

Notice idealism is not saying that the world is unreal but that is doesn’t exist independently of consciousness

  • Sankara is not literally saying that the universe is unreal, only that it doesn’t have an independent reality. It depends on brahman for its existence; it’s pervaded with brahman, and it can’t exist without it. Steve Taylor Ph.D.
  • The world is unreal in the same way that a dream is unreal, because it’s based on delusion. But in itself, the world is inseparable from spirit. It’s a manifestation of spirit. Steve Taylor Ph.D.
  • The world has no substance and has no existence independent of Consciousness. Bentinho Massaro
  • We tend to mistakenly think that we are conscious within an unconscious universe that exists independently of us. Eric Wayne
.

If the external world does exist outside consciousness, then our perceptions of this world are likely very different from what is actually there

.

If a physical reality does actually exist, we can still confidently say our perceptions of it are probably an illusion

  • Of course the world is an illusion! We see only a tiny part of the electromagnetic spectrum, which is divided into colours that exist only in our brains. We hear only a limited range of vibrations, onto which we impose meanings the vibrations do not themselves contain. We feel as soft or solid what is nearly all empty space, apart from a few fundamental particles in different arrangements. We think that the present is now, when we’re actually experiencing what happened half a second ago. Dr Nicholas B. Taylor
  • The world you experience is created by your brain inside your head, with some useful properties representing that which is outside. So, yes, your world and my world is kind of illusions, but useful ones, because they corresponds in a useful way with that outside.  Karl Jansson
.

What we experience through our perceptions is not the world as such, but a kind of brain-constructed ‘copy’ of the world

  • [According to materialism], what we experience in our lives every day is not the world as such, but a kind of brain-constructed ‘copy’ of the world. Everything we see, hear, or otherwise perceive is supposedly a complex amalgamation of electrochemical signals unfolding in a kind of theater inside our skulls. Bernardo Kastrup
  • The world comes second hand to us. Josephine Herbst
  • All reality you can ever know directly – is but an internal ‘copy’ of the ‘real reality.’ Nothing you see, touch, smell, feel, or hear around you right now is a direct apprehension of the ‘real reality.’ It is all, instead, an internal copy-of-sorts generated by your brain. Materialism, thus, requires a doubling of all reality: it presupposes an abstract and unprovable ‘external’ universe next to the known, concrete, and undeniable universe of direct experience. Bernardo Kasrup
  • Our entire experience is supposedly a kind of hallucination produced by the firings of neurons in our brains; a hallucinated ‘copy’ of the world. Bernado Kastrup
  • The reigning materialist worldview in our culture is rather abstract: it postulates that, behind the ‘copy’ of the world you’re experiencing right now, there is the ‘real’ world, which is not what you are experiencing. The dynamics of objects and living entities in that ‘real’ world supposedly unfold according to certain regularities and patterns – the laws of physics – that exist outside mind. As it unfolds, it leaves an imprint on your sense organs – like footprints – which your brain then uses to perform a reconstruction of the world inside your head. That reconstruction is, supposedly, what you are experiencing right now. Bernado Kastrup
  • The head you have come to know as your own is not your true physical head, but only a miniature perceptual copy of your head in a perceptual copy of the world, all of which is contained within your real head. Stephen Lehar
.

In other words, the world we experience is a kind of virtual reality simulation of the external world…

  • If you can accept that the technology of virtual reality will one day create for you a compelling experience that is nothing like your experience when you take off the headset, then why be so certain that, when you remove the headset, you’re seeing reality as it is? Donald Hoffman
  • My life is a completely immersive movie that has 3-D vision and surround sound. The world I experience in this movie is a virtual reality world made of perception; not matter. In this sense, the world I experience is no more physically real than the world that Leo initially experiences in “The Matrix”. Anthony Lambert
  • My perception of the external world is an internal construction, akin to a simulation. James B. Glattfelder
  • Naïve realism is the assumption that the human brain delivers a picture of reality, when in fact it doesn’t. It delivers a convincing three-dimensional image of the world that is nothing more than a perception. Deepak Chopra and Menas Kafatos
  • Our brain simulates reality. So, our everyday experiences are a form of dreaming, which is to say, they are mental models, simulations, not the things they appear to be. Stephen LaBerge
  • Space, time, and physical objects are not objective reality. They are simply the virtual world delivered by our senses to help us play the game of life. Donald Hoffman
  • Spacetime is your virtual reality, a headset of your own making. The objects you see are your invention. You create them with a glance and destroy them with a blink. Donald Hoffman
  • Suppose you drive with friends to a virtual-reality arcade to play volleyball. You slip on headsets and body suits, and find your avatars clad in swimsuits, immersed in sunshine, standing on a sandy beach with a volleyball net, surrounded by swaying palms and crying gulls. You serve the ball and start playing with abandon. After a while, one of your friends says he’s thirsty and will be right back. He slips out of his headset and body suit. His avatar collapses onto the sand, inert and unresponsive. But he’s fine. He just stepped out of the virtual-reality interface. When we die, do we simply slip out of the spacetime interface of Homo sapiens? Donald Hoffman
  • The dream of life is really an illusion, and everybody lives in the reality he or she creates – a virtual reality that is only true for the one who creates it. Miguel Angel Ruiz
  • The perception of the external world is a virtual reality simulation. James B. Glattfelder
  • We know that our reality is an illusion, what we see, is not really there. It’s all inside our mind, much like a personal virtual reality. But this does prove that our mind is incredibly powerful, it’s responsible for everything we experience!  Tony Phinspire
  • The world you see is just a movie in your mind. Jack Kerouac
  • What we call our sober state of consciousness is in fact an elaborate hallucination—an internal simulation—guided by some external stimuli. What we perceive is a creation of our minds. James B. Glattfelder
  • Think of it this way: how would a robot be constructed to handle its surroundings? It would need some sort representation of what it perceives and then act according to this model. This is exactly what it is to know something: to have a model of it in your brain. Everything you experience in your mind is this model. So what you experience is an illusion. Its not the “real world”.   Mats Wessling
  • Imagine you are playing a virtual reality game. You might be driving a car, for instance, and can see the steering wheel in your hands. “We all know that these objects don’t really exist, they are the result of computer software that renders them,” says Hoffman. There is a reality to the game, but it is the software and circuits of the computer. It would be impossible to play the game if we operated at this level. Instead, our brain perceives constructs such as the steering wheel, letting us play. Hoffman argues that this trickery doesn’t just happen in video games, but in every moment of our lives. “What I’m claiming is that we’re born with a virtual reality headset on. Evolution gave us a VR headset to simplify things, to give us what we need to play the game of life, without knowing what the reality is.” Donna Lu
.

…only a shadow show of what is really there…

  • The best we can do is to observe shadows of the real world because we cannot perceive it directly. Rizwan Virk
  • Plato thought that the world we experience is a kind of illusion, not the ultimate reality. For Plato, the world of appearances was, in Yeats’s magical phrase ‘but a spume that plays upon a ghostly paradigm of things’. Professor Tim Crane
  • There are shadows for the shadows of things, as a reflection seen in a mirror of a mirror. We know there are circles within circles and dimensions beyond dimension. Reality is itself a shadow, only an appearance accepted by those whose eyes shun what might lie beyond. Louis L’Amour
  • Appearances are a glimpse of the unseen. Anaxagoras
  • We too, through lack of knowledge and of sufficiently mature reflection, mistook the visible outward appearance of the phenomenon for the phenomenon itself. Leon Jouhaux
  • Trust arises from the mind’s instinctive feeling after fixed realities, after the substance of every shadow, the base of all appearance, the everlasting amid change. James Martineau
.

…a kind of light show put on by our brain

  • Reality is a cosmic movie, a light-show illusion. Joseph Selbie
  • The entire universe – for one thing – only exists in your perceptions. That’s all you’re gonna see of it. To all practical intents and purposes this is purely some kind of light-show that’s being put on in the kind of neurons in our brain. The whole of reality. Alan Moore
  • Plato likened our perceptions and conceptions to flickering shadows cast on the walls of a cave by an unseen reality. Donald Hoffman
  • What if I told you that the world around you, with its rich colors, textures, sounds, and scents is an illusion, a show put on for you by your brain? If you could perceive reality as it is, you would be shocked by its colorless, odorless, tasteless silence. Outside your brain, there is just energy and matter. David Eagleman
  • Perception is like painting a scenery – no matter how beautifully you paint, it will still be a painting of the scenery, not the scenery itself. Abhijit Naskar
  • Matter is, genuinely, a light-show illusion. By illusion, I don’t mean that it isn’t there; rather, I mean that it isn’t what is seems.  Joseph Selbie
.

Our mind is very adept at making our inner perceptions appear as the outside world

  • If all that we see ‘out there’ is just electromagnetic radiation, with no colour or brightness, why do we see that image out there? That is to say, why aren’t we aware of the fact that the actual image which our mind created is in our mind? Since the image is created in our mind, why don’t we see it like a projection on a screen in a cinema within the mind? Somehow our mind is very adept at creating the illusion that the overlay is outside itself. Scott Owen
  • Existence is a projection from the inner through the brain producing the outer sensory world of what is an amazing complete mystery.  Barry Long
  • There is no world outside. It is what we project outside. Swami Turyananda
  • All objects of the body, mind and world – that is, all thoughts, feelings, sensations and perceptions – appear equally within our self, aware Presence. However, thought exclusively identifies our self with the body and mind and, as a result, the world is projected outside, at a distance from our self, which is now considered to be ‘inside’. Rupert Spira
.

The brain can be compared to a virtual reality headset that creates a three-dimension virtual world made of perception

  • The brain is a virtual reality headset that converts we know not what into a convincing 3-dimensional world of time and space. Anthony Lambert
  • So my brain is actually a virtual reality headset? Yes, indeed! In a particular sense, you live in a virtual reality. The outside world is made out of electrical energy that contains information, much like a video game runs on electricity and contains lines of code. Our brain translates those bits of information outside of ourselves creating a personal virtual reality. Tony Phinspire
  • Spacetime is your virtual reality, a headset of your own making. The objects you see are your invention. You create them with a glance and destroy them with a blink. You have worn this headset all your life. What happens if you take it off?  Donald Hoffman
  • Imagine going to an IMAX cinema, where we are given a special pair of three-dimensional glasses. Without the glasses the image appears in two dimensions on the screen as normal, but when we put on the glasses it seems as if the film is taking place all around us in the entire space of the cinema and that we are situated within the three-dimensional image, under the sea with the fish or on the plain with the lions. If we take off our glasses at some point we will see all the children in the cinema (and some of the adults!) stretching out their hands and trying to catch the fish. But they grab only empty space. It is exactly the same with the world. When we try to catch it, to hold it, to see what it is made of, we find only the empty space of Presence. We are like children, thinking that the fish are real and trying to touch them. But when we look clearly at our experience, we find nothing objective there and, by the same token, nothing subjective. Presence ‘puts on’ the mind, which appears to project a world outside itself. But the mind is itself made out of the Presence from which it seems to be separated. The world is separate from Presence in the same way that the sky is separate from space, that is, in no way at all. Thinking seems to objectify, divide and fragment the seamless intimacy of experience, creating an apparent multiplicity and diversity of thoughts, objects, selves, others and the world. Thinking creates the appearance of time out of timeless Presence, and this appearance is called the dream state. Thinking creates the appearance of space and objects out of spaceless Presence, and this appearance is called the body and the world, that is, the waking state. But when we ‘stretch out our hand’ and try to find time, thought, space, a body, an object or a world, we find only Presence. Presence finds only itself. Rupert Spira
.

Like a movie, our perceptions appear seamless but actually consist of discrete snapshots

  • Is consciousness a seamless experience or a string of fleeting images, like frames of a movie? Christof Koch
  • We experience the world as a seamless stream of percepts. However, intriguing illusions and recent experiments suggest that the world is not continuously translated into conscious perception. Instead, perception seems to operate in a discrete manner, just like movies appear continuous although they consist of discrete images. Michael Herzog
  • Just like watching a movie at the cinema, where the film is projected from a series of pictures on a reel, our brains perceive time in similar static slices processed into a seamless stream. Ryan O’Hare
  • We have the feeling that we experience the world like a continuously sampled data stream. If we perceive multiple objects of events seemingly at the same time, we may actually be multiplexing the several data streams; that is, we take a sample from one data stream, switch to take a sample from the next stream and so on—all on a millisecond time scale. But another possibility is that we perceive objects and events like a movie frame, where the brain takes working-memory snapshots and plays them in succession. Like still frames in a movie, if played at a high-enough speed, the frames will blend in our mind to give the illusion of continuous monitoring. William R. Klemm Ph.D.
  • Our brains constantly process information fed in from our senses to build a picture of the world around us, and our place in it. But a new study suggests that rather than a smooth flow, we actually process information in small chunks of up to 400 milliseconds, with gaps of unconsciousness in between. Ryan O’Hare
.

The inner movie that our brain creates is partly informed by sensory data acquired by our senses

  • With all the signals it receives from our senses and all the prior experiences it has organized into expectations, each of our brains constructs a coherent image of reality — a “multisensory, panoramic 3D, fully, immersive inner movie” — for us to perceive. Colin Marshall
  • According to materialism, the only way you can experience a world outside your head is if signals from that outside world penetrate your brain via the sense organs and, then, somehow modulate the creation of a brain-constructed hallucination that corresponds to the outside world. Bernado Kastrup
  • The brain is the citadel of sense perception. Pliny the Elder
  • For each life, or if one prefers, the one life, there is a universe that involves “spheres of reality.” Shape and form are generated inside one’s head using all the sensory data collected through ears, eyes, nose, mouth, and skin. Our planet is composed of billions of spheres of reality, an internal/external confluence, a mélange whose scope is breath-taking. Robert Lanza
  • In the language of biology, the brain turns electrochemical impulses from our five senses into an order, a sequence, into a face, into this page, into a room, into an environment—into a unified three-dimensional whole. It transforms a stream of sensory input into something so real that few people ever ask how it happens. Our minds are so good at creating a three-dimensional universe that we rarely question whether the universe is anything other than we imagine it. Robert Lanza
  • Our experience of the world is a representation of reality created by the brain. In essence, the senses respond to stimuli in their environment, passing that information along to the brain, where it is analyzed and processed, and a model constructed of the world “out there.” This representation of reality then appears in conscious experience as the 3-D, full-color, surround-sound, touchy-feely world that we know. Peter Russell
  • In terms of neuroscience what we experience is a constructed version based on our senses. So it’s not EXACTLY what we see it to be. It doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist or is not real, just not exactly what we might be seeing. Ian Corral
  • The brain, after all, is sealed in darkness and silence within the solid casing of the skull. It has no direct access to the outside world, and so relies on the information that reaches it via a few electrical cables from our sensory organs. Our eyes pick up information about wavelengths of electromagnetic radiation, our ears detect vibrations of air particles and our noses and mouths detect volatile molecules that we experience as smells and avours. Through complex processes we only partly understand, the brain integrates these independent inputs into a unied conscious awareness.  Donna Lu
.

However, we don’t just passively perceive the world.  The brain actively generates it

  • Consciousness does not just passively reflect the objective material world; it plays an active role in creating reality itself.  Stanislav Grof
  • Perception is an active, not a passive, process, a process of constantly building models of the world. That’s one reason different people see different things in the abstract ink blots used in Rorschach tests: our minds try to turn even the most ambiguous patterns into something that makes sense. We like to have a story about what things are and what they mean. Robert Wright
  • Instead of perception depending largely on signals coming into the brain from the outside world, it depends as much, if not more, on perceptual predictions flowing in the opposite direction. We don’t just passively perceive the world, we actively generate it. The world we experience comes as much, if not more, from the inside out as from the outside in. Seth
  • Everything we perceive is a mental creation. Deepak Chopra and Menas Kafatos
  • Seeing is not a process of building up a picture-like copy of the world for an inner self to look at; it is more like making guesses or predictions about what is there. This kind of conceptual filling-in happens all the time. Susan Blackmore
  • Consciousness does not just passively reflect the objective material world; it plays an active role in creating reality itself. Stanislav Grof
  • Everything that we perceive is a construction of the brain. Anil Seth
  • The world we think is real perceptible reality is instead a creation of our brains, minds and senses. Tam Hunt
  • We’re not really apprehending the world out there but rather are “constructing” it.  Robert Wright
  • Our brains sample just a small bit of the surrounding physical world. Instead of reality being passively recorded by the brain, it is actively constructed by it. You’re not perceiving what’s out there. You’re perceiving whatever your brain tells you. David Eagleman
  • You create your own universe as you go along. Winston Churchill
  • You´re not perceiving what’s out there. You’re perceiving whatever your brain tells you. David Eagleman
  • We live in a world our minds build rather than actually perceiving the endless details of what is happening. Daniel Goleman and Richard J. Davidson
  • Our reality depends on what our biology is up to. David Eagleman
  • All that I perceive—everything I see, hear, taste, touch, and smell—has been reconstructed from sensory data. I think I am perceiving the world around me, but all that I am directly aware of are the colours, shapes, sounds, and smells that appear in the mind. Peter Russell
  • Seeing has very little to do with your eyes. David Eagleman
  • That this whole rich and brilliant universe comes from a quarter-inch opening of the pupil, and the faint bit of light that gains entry thereby? How does it turn some electrochemical impulses into an order, a sequence, and a unity? How can we cognize this page, or a face, or anything that appears so real that very few ever stop to question how it occurs? Obviously, it is outside traditional physics to discover that these perpetual images that surround us so vividly are a construction, a finished product hovering inside the head. Robert Lanza
.

Everything we perceive is an act of interpretation by the brain

  • If real is what you can feel, smell, taste and see, then ‘real’ is simply electrical signals interpreted by your brain. The Matrix
  • All perceptions are acts of interpretation. Anil Seth
  • The eye itself does not see apples and waterfalls; instead, it has about 130 million photoreceptors, and each of them sees just one thing: how many photons of light it just captured. That what we see “is a symbolic interpretation of the world.” Donald Hoffman
  • It’s easy to assume that we see with our eyes. In fact, we see with our brains. Our eyes are of course necessary, but what we actually end up perceiving is much more a product of how our brain interprets all this information from the eyes than the eyes being this window into an objective external reality. Jen Atalla
  • There are no facts, only interpretations. Friedrich Nietzsche
  • There is such dissociation between what the eyes see and what the mind envisions. The final thought is just a matter of interpretation, coloured by our experiences. Anirban Bose
  • Perception is a selective act of attention and interpretation. Deepak Chopra
  • All that you experience (perceive) “out there” is not out there but in your head. All is an interpretation of the brain in your head that puts it all together. Out there might as well not even be there. Scott Kiloby
  • At best we can say that what we see ‘out there’ is a mental overlay we create to make sense of an entirely ‘dark’ reality filled with electromagnetic radiation of various wavelengths. The picture as we see it exists only in our mind. Indeed, the picture we see doesn’t even exist in our brain — if you cut open a brain you will find no ‘screen’, no picture, no place where that image exists in its entirety, not even individual coloured pixels scattered about. Without consciousness, there is no picture. The picture is a purely conceptual interpretation of entirely ‘dark’ radiation. Who is doing the conceptual interpretation — the viewing — of that image, and where is it? Scott Owen
.

Much of what we perceive is the brain making guesses and predictions about what’s out there

  • Our brains are constantly making predictions about what’s out there (a flower, a tiger, a person) and these predictions are what we perceive. Anil Ananthaswamy
  • Predictive processing argues that perception, action and cognition are the outcome of computations in the brain involving both bottom-up and top-down processing – in which prior knowledge about the world and our own cognitive and emotional state influence perception. Anil Ananthaswamy
  • Perception has to be a process of informed guesswork, in which sensory signals are combined with prior expectations about the way the world is, to form the brain’s best guess of the causes of these signals. Anil Seth
  • There’s a whole field of computational neuroscience called Bayesian inference that describes — in an elegant equation — how we combine expectations, called ‘priors,’ with sensory evidence,” Dr. Constantinople continued. So, if the quality of sensory evidence is bad, you rely more on your priors, and vice versa. Christine Constantinople
.

In some ways at least, the world we perceive is as much a creation of the mind as our dreams are

  • Waking perceptions are on a par with dream perceptions. Sri Satchidanandrenda
  • Our perception of the world has the very convincing appearance of being “out there” around us, but it is no more “out there” than are our nightly dreams. In our dreams we are aware of sights, sounds and sensations happening around us. We are aware of our bodies. We think and reason. We feel fear, anger, pleasure and love. We experience other people as separate individuals, speaking and interacting with us. The dream appears to be happening “out there” in the world around us. Only when we awaken do we realize that it was all just a dream–a creation in the mind. When we say “it was all just a dream” we are referring to the fact that the experience was not based on physical reality. It was created from memories, hopes, fears, and other factors. In the waking state, our image of the world is based on sensory information drawn from our physical surroundings. This gives our waking experience a consistency and sense of reality not found in dreams. But the truth is, it is as much a creation of our minds as are our dreams. Peter Russell
  • Even though traditional science divides objective facts “out there” from subjective activity “in here,” this is only a matter of convenience. Everything comes down to experience. A dream at night is an experience, and so is the sight of billions of galaxies. Deepak Chopra
.

One could even say we hallucinate our reality

  • We’re all hallucinating all the time; when we agree about our hallucinations, we call it “reality”. Anil Seth
  • Everything we perceive, including ourselves, are simulacrums of reality. The takeaway here is this wild thought: we are always hallucinating. Anil Ananthaswamy
  • If hallucination is a kind of uncontrolled perception, then perception right here and right now is also a kind of hallucination, but a controlled hallucination in which the brain’s predictions are being reined in by sensory information from the world. In fact, we’re all hallucinating all the time, including right now. It’s just that when we agree about our hallucinations, we call that reality. Seth
  • What we call our sober state of consciousness is in fact an elaborate hallucination—an internal simulation—guided by some external stimuli. What we perceive is a creation of our minds. James B. Glattfelder
  • Our entire experience is supposedly a kind of hallucination produced by the firings of neurons in our brains; a hallucinated ‘copy’ of the world. Bernado Kastrup
.

What then is the relationship between the world we perceive and reality?

  • Plato likened our perceptions and conceptions to flickering shadows cast on the walls of a cave by an unseen reality. Philosophers ever since have debated the relation between perception and reality. Donald Hoffman
  • Any given thing is to me such as it appears to me, and is to you such as it appears to you. Plato
  • What is the nature of the seen, independent of the qualities that are dictated by our eyes?  Rupert Spira
  • The question is, how well does our subjective internal picture represent objective reality?  It is a contentious query, much debated by philosophers and physicists.  Donna Lu
.

We know the external world, whatever form it really takes, is likely to be completely different from our perceptions of it…

  • I believe that nothing can be more abstract, more unreal, than what we actually see. We know that all we can see of the objective world, as human beings, never really exists as we see and understand it. Matter exists, of course, but has no intrinsic meaning of its own, such as the meanings that we attach to it. We can know only that a cup is a cup, that a tree is a tree. Giorgio Morandi
  • Every one of the five senses can be twisted to deliver a completely different picture of the world. If by picture, we mean sight, sound, smell, taste and texture of things, a troubling conclusion looms. Apart from the very unreliable picture running inside the brain, we have no proof that reality is anything like what we see. Deepak Chopra
  • No one can claim to know what is “really” real as long as the brain is their window on the universe. Deepak Chopra and Menas Kafatos
  • Perception is like painting a scenery – no matter how beautifully you paint, it will still be a painting of the scenery, not the scenery itself. Abhijit Naskar
  • One of the most pervasive mistakes is to believe that our visual system gives a faithful representation of what is “out there” in the same way that a movie camera would. David Eagleman
  • The world is not just a bit different from what we perceive, it is actually totally and fundamentally otherwise. Scott Owen
  • You´re not perceiving what’s out there. You’re perceiving whatever your brain tells you. David Eagleman
  • Our whole experience is a construction in the mind, a form appearing in consciousness. These mental forms are composed not of physical substance but of”mindstuff”. We imagine that the world out there is like the forms that appear in consciousness, but it turns out, that in nearly every aspect, the external is not at all like the images created in the mind. What appear to us as fundamental dimensions and attributes of the physical world—space, time, matter and energy—are but the fundamental dimensions and attributes of the forms appearing in consciousness. Peter Russell
  • Your perception of the world around you is not necessarily the same as what is actually occurring. Peter Ralsto
  • Take your perceptions seriously but not literally. Donald D. Hoffman
  • The reality that surrounds us could be very different than what we think since what we see, hear, feel, etc, are merely internally generated representations that help us survive external stimuli. Robby Berman
  • Perception and reality are two different things. Tom Cruise
  • Perception is reality, but it may not be actuality, and you have got to be able to keep the difference between that. Bill Cowher
  • We suffer a delusion when we believe the images in our minds are the external world. We deceive ourselves when we think that the tree we see is the tree itself. Peter Russell
  • While we develop perceptions of objects in our minds, these perceptions are distinct from the objects that created them and not all of our “knowledge” about these objects is correct. Brendan Bernecker
  • The world according to contemporary physics is made up of a four- (or more-) dimensional spacetime, and the apparently solid objects occupying it are made up of combinations of smaller and more weird and unfamiliar particles held together by fields of force, in what is mostly empty space. But this is not how things seem to us. We don’t see things in four dimensions, we don’t see the past or the future, and objects do not look to be mostly empty space. So even on a naturalistic world picture, any adequate account of the world has to explain how the world as we experience it (the world of appearance) is related to the world as described by physics. I think it’s fair to say that attempts to do this have not got very far. Professor Tim Crane
.

…although we cannot ever know for sure what the true nature of the mind-independent world actually is

  • No matter what the nature of the world actually is, I only experience it through my senses and therefore can only know the world in these terms. I simply have no idea whether this is a good representation of what the mind-independent world actually is. Simon Kolstoe
  • The sum total of the perceptions of the world constitute a model of the world; all that one knows of the world is a model. Bruce Robertson
.

One of the reasons our perceptions are different from reality is that the brain is severely limited in what it can perceive

  • The model of reality you are following right this minute is wired into the synapses and neural pathways of your brain. Deepak Chopra
  • Every brain has been trained to perceive the world in ways we can’t escape, no matter how rational we believe we are. Deepak Chopra
  • The brain is extremely fallible when it reports reality. Deepak Chopra
  • No one can claim to know what is “really” real as long as the brain is their window on the universe. Deepak Chopra and Menas Kafatos
.

This means that we perceive of the external world is only a tiny slice of reality

  • We know that we only perceive a tiny fraction of the physical universe. We see just a tiny slice of the entire electromagnetic spectrum. The same is true for the frequency range of human hearing. We are oblivious to much of the richness of the cosmos, as we cannot feel gravity. We are blind and deaf to the forces and activity of the seething atomic realm. “Tens of billions of neutrinos from the sun traverse each square centimeter of the Earth every second” without us noticing. Fukuda
  • We’re trapped on this very thin slice of perception … But even at that slice of reality that we call home, we’re not seeing most of what’s going on. David Eagleman
  • We open our eyes and we think we’re seeing the whole world out there. But what has become clear—and really just in the last few centuries—is that when you look at the electro-magnetic spectrum we are seeing less than 1/10 Billionth of the information that’s riding on there. So we call that visible light. But everything else passing through our bodies is completely invisible to us. Even though we accept the reality that’s presented to us, we’re really only seeing a little window of what’s happening. David Eagleman
  • The majority of human beings live their whole lives unaware that they are only seeing a limited cone of vision at any moment. David Eagleman
  • Our senses represent the limits of what we can perceive. We see with our eyes only a tiny sliver of the spectrum. We hear with our ears only a tiny fraction of the vibrations there to be sensed. Our senses of taste, touch, and smell are likewise narrowly focused. Roger Stephens
  • Perception is one millionth of one percent reality (truth in fact). R. Buckminster Fuller
  • The visible spectrum, from violet to red, that we can see with our eyes is a small part of a much bigger electromagnetic spectrum that we don’t perceive. Imagine the visible spectrum as one octave on a piano keyboard that represents the whole electromagnetic spectrum. How big do you think the keyboard would be? Think big. Think very big, because the keyboard would be hundreds of thousands of miles long. And all we see would be just one octave on it! Tim Freke
  • Our ears can detect sounds that vibrate in the 20 to 20,000 Hz range. But sounds can vibrate at frequencies well beyond 20,000 Hz. Some bats can detect sounds as high as 200,000 Hz. Atoms vibrate at frequencies as high as 10,000,000,000,000 Hz. The lower range of sound, known as infrasound, vibrates as slowly as 0.001 Hz. Sources of such low-frequency sounds include earthquakes, volcanoes, and lightning. Joseph Selbie
  • It is obvious that subjective experience isn’t the whole story. Humans, unlike bees, don’t normally see ultraviolet light; we can’t sense Earth’s magnetic field, unlike turtles, worms and wolves; are deaf to high and low pitch noises that other animals can hear; and have a relatively weak sense of smell.  Donna Lu
  • Our eyes detect only visible light—a very tiny portion of the electromagnetic spectrum that also includes radio waves, microwaves, infrared, ultra-violet, x-ray, and gamma waves, none of which we can perceive through our sense of sight. If our sense of sight were not limited to seeing only a narrow band of the electromagnetic spectrum, if we could “see” the rest of the spectrum, we would perceive a world entirely made up of light. Imagine there being thousands of “colors,” not just the seven colors of the visible light spectrum, in a completely luminous reality. Joseph Selbie
  • The fact is that we are mostly insensible to the world around us. It is safe to say that our senses simply cannot detect more than 99.9 percent of the wavelengths, frequencies, and vibrating substances that are actually present. Joseph Selbie
  • The first lesson about trusting your senses is: don’t. Just because you believe something to be true, just because you know it’s true, that doesn’t mean it is true. David Eagleman
  • When we realise that virtually everything we currently believe about the nature of existence comes from trusting our senses, and yet those very senses can only detect an infinitesimally small portion of reality, we become open to questioning if we actually know the nature of reality at all. Ziad Masi
  • When we look at a given area of place, instead of seeing all theres is to see there, we are actually seeing a tiny frequency range within the electromagnetic spectrum called “visible light.” Joseph Selbie
  • I am telling you that your perception of ultimate reality is more limited than you thought… Neale Donald Walsch
.

We also know the external world, if it exists, is free of all qualities of experience…

  • Democritus, around 400 BCE, famously claimed that our perceptions of hot, cold, sweet, bitter, and color are conventions, not reality. Donald Hoffman
  • Our entire perception of a physical reality is an illusion — none of the physical things we see, hear, feel, taste, smell actually has those qualities our mind gives them. Nothing has that colour green we see, nothing has that sound we hear. Underneath it all, even knowing that our mind creates elaborate overlays in order to navigate reality. Scott Owen
  • The mind constructs our reality. It interprets what is our there into experiences. What is out there? Electro-Magnetic radiation and elementary particles. Sound waves.  Scott Owen
  • The outside, ‘real world’ of materialism is supposedly an amorphous, colorless, odorless, soundless, tasteless dance of abstract electromagnetic fields devoid of all qualities of experience. It’s supposedly more akin to a mathematical equation than to anything concrete. Bernardo Kastrup
  • What do exist independently of our minds are objects consisting of molecules, particles, waves, forces. These are devoid of colour, sound or any of the other secondary qualities: the external world is dark, silent and colourless. Our sensory apparatus – our sense organs, sensory nervous system and sensory cortices – creates the illusion that the world is bright and colourful by transforming the raw data provided by our senses into colours, sounds, tastes, smells, sensations of hot and cold (and pain). These secondary qualities didn’t exist until they were invented by evolution. Michael Brake
  • Without consciousness, there exists no colour, no brightness, no sound, no taste, no smell… no hot nor cold, no smooth nor rough. Scott Owen
.

…for all qualities of experience (taste, sound, touch, sight, sensation etc.) are created by our consciousness

  • All perceived qualities — i.e. all those things by which we supposedly know what a physical reality is like — exist solely in the mind. Put another way: without consciousness, there exists no colour, no brightness, no sound, no taste, no smell… no hot nor cold, no smooth nor rough. So what is physical reality without consciousness? What is it, without a mind to perceive it? Since a physical universe doesn’t actually have any of the properties we perceive, and all those properties exist only in our mind, what sense does it even make to say the physical universe existed and evolved before there was any mind? Scott Owen
  • Color is a sensation and not a substance. That means that color is brain’s reaction to a certain wavelength of the electro-magnetic wave. In other words there is no color “out there” but each brain paints its own universe. Sound likewise is brain’s reaction to vibrations in the air or surrounding medium and so sound is not “out there”. Nagarajan Ramachandran
  • Every experience occurs as qualia—in other words, qualities like color, taste, and sound. Since qualia occur in consciousness, they aren’t limited by physical dimensions. Deepak Chopra and Menas Kafatos
  • For most people, it is simply taken for granted that our perceptions of colour, brightness, tone, volume, taste, smell and touch are actual attributes of the world around us, when in fact they are all mental overlays. Scott Owen
  • Green, screeching, bitter, pungent, hot: none of these are actual attributes of anything physical, they are all experiences created entirely by our mind. Scott Owen
  • Our entire perception of a physical reality is an illusion — none of the physical things we see, hear, feel, taste, smell actually has those qualities our mind gives them. Nothing has that colour green we see, nothing has that sound we hear. Underneath it all, even knowing that our mind creates elaborate overlays in order to navigate reality. Scott Owen
  • Our image of reality is more than physical reality in that it contains many qualities not present in physical reality. The green we see is a quality created in consciousness. It exists only as a subjective experience in the mind. There is no sound in the physical reality, simply pressure waves in the air. Sound exists only as an experience in the mind of a perceiver.  Peter Russell
  • There is no objective scientific evidence for physical reality. That’s not necessarily to say that nothing ‘out there’ physically exists, but if it does then the best we can say is that it’s ‘something’ that your mind paints with its own colours and shades, tastes and smells and sounds. Scott Owen
  • We are accustomed to referring to sight, hearing, taste, smell and touch as “senses”. But in reality we don’t sense what is ‘out there’, we quite literally make sense of it. We create qualities in our mind which are not actually ‘out there’ — outside our mind. We are so accustomed to our perceptions that it can be very difficult at first to separate them from the reality of what we are perceiving. For most people, it is simply taken for granted that our perceptions of colour, brightness, tone, volume, taste, smell and touch are actual attributes of the things themselves, when in fact they are all mental overlays. Scott Owen
  • We assume that the representation that we experience is much like the world “out there,” what Kant called the “thing in itself.” But it turns out that the two are totally different. Take the color green, for example. In the physical world there is light of a particular frequency, but the light itself is not green. Nor are the electrical impulses that travel from the eye to the brain. The green you see is merely the representation that appears in consciousness. There is no green “out there.” The same is true of our other senses—hearing, smell, taste, touch. The phenomena we experience do not exist in the world out there. They exist only in awareness. I’m not suggesting that the physical world does not exist, only that it is very different from our experience of it. We mistake the representation for reality. Peter Russell
.

Modern science suggests the physical world that appears so real and solid to our perceptions is nothing more than localised vibrations in quantum fields or waves of energy

  • Everything is just electricity and magnetism; everything is only an illusion. The reality is in the spiritual plane. Lobsang Rampa
  • If we were able to alter the way the brain decodes information, then instead of seeing separate people and buildings and mountains, we would simply see interconnected waves of energy vibrating at different frequencies. Ziad Masri
  • Our eyes deceive us. What we see as solid and separate is not actually so, but rather seemingly separate waves of energy within the ocean of universal energy known as the “quantum field.” Ziad Masri
  • Quantum physics has shown that the sub-atomic particle is not a particle at all but is just a wave flickering in and out. That means that the universe itself is just a wave flickering in and out. There is truly no such thing as a solid object as per quantum physics. Nagarajan Ramachandran
  • Quantum waves are like Platonic archetypes in the transcendent domain of consciousness, and the particles that manifest upon our observation are the immanent shadows on the cave wall. Amit Goswami
  • Starting with the material world: consider first the fact that an atom is almost empty space. But the illusion gets deeper: quantum scientists are now strongly suggesting that all matter is made up of wavelike entities. If so, then our perception of reality is a major illusion. Alex Clackson
  • The world, if it exists, is perhaps a soup of radiation and forces swirling about in silent darkness, figuratively and literally illuminated by our consciousness. Scott Owen
  • What if I told you that the world around you, with its rich colors, textures, sounds, and scents is an illusion, a show put on for you by your brain? If you could perceive reality as it is, you would be shocked by its colorless, odorless, tasteless silence. Outside your brain, there is just energy and matter. David Eagleman
  • What is “out there” is a vast ocean of waves and frequencies, and reality looks concrete to us only because our brains are able to take this holographic blur and convert it into the sticks and stones and other familiar objects that make up our world. Michael Talbot
  • The world we see with our senses is certainly not the “fundamental” world, whatever that is. In quantum mechanics, for example, we describe the world using wave functions, not objects and forces and spacetime. The world we see emerges out of some underlying description that might look completely different. Sean Carroll
.

The seemingly solid matter we perceive is almost entirely made of empty space…

  • It is still a fairly astounding notion to consider that atoms are mostly empty space, and that the solidity we experience all around us is an illusion. Bill Bryson
  • The physical world has been proved to be 99.999% space and the rest is a mystery. Anthony Lambert
  • 9999999999996 percent of the atom is literally empty space. The nucleus seems to be solid but is so infinitely small as to effectively not be there. The rest is essentially a physical void. It’s like looking at an invisible tornado-like vortex of energy with infinitely tiny particles seemingly popping into existence one moment and then out the next, with the whole thing being as insubstantial as a puff of smoke. Ziad Masri
  • For nearly one hundred years we have known that the material world is an illusion. Everything that seems solid – a rock, a tree, your body – is actually 99.999% empty space.  Deepak Chopra
  • All that we term physical is essentially 99.999999999999 percent no-thingness, and the rest is excitation patterns of energy and information. Jude Currivan and Ervin Laszlo
  • If all the space between the nucleus of the atoms and their orbiting electrons were removed, our bodies would be reduced to less than the size of a pinhead. Our bodies consist nearly entirely of empty space—as in 99.9999 percent empty space. Joseph Selbie
  • If we could take away the empty space then all the subatomic particles in every one of the seven billion people on our planet would be about the size of a grain of rice. Tim Freke
  • Matter is mostly ghostly empty space. Sir Arthur Eddington
  • Physicists have appreciated from the beginning of the 20th century that matter is not at all what it appears to be. Atoms are 99.9999 percent empty space. Further, the orbiting electrons that define the empty space of the atom and the tiny subatomic particles that make up the nucleus of the atom are, themselves, restless energy. Matter is not the fixed immutable substance that it appears to the senses. Matter is intelligently organized invisible energy moving in infinitesimally small patterns at the speed of light. Joseph Selbie
  • If the size of the hydrogen atom’s one-proton nucleus really were as big as it is depicted on the page—say, one inch in diameter—to be in proper scale, the electron would have to be drawn several miles away. Joseph Selbie
  • The percentage of atom which is believed by us to be solid – though a non-solid in scientific terms – is for most part, ninety nine point nine-nine percent in fact, a nothingness and a seemingly ever disappearing and reappearing ghostly appearance. Alternatively, only 00.01% of the atom is seen by us as a solidity; which, in turn, is in fact a chimera, a mirage, and an alluring illusion! Fakeer Ishavardas
.

…and the rest is an ineffable mystery

  • Simply because we perceive the world as ‘real’ and ‘material’ doesn’t mean that it is so. In fact, the findings of quantum physics may shed some doubt on the fact that the material universe is real. The more that scientists look for the “material” in the material world, the more they find that it doesn’t exist. Rizwan Virk
  • Matter is not made of matter. Hans-Peter Dürr
  • Everything we call real is made of things that cannot be regarded as real. Niels Bohr
  • We know subatomic particles must exist, but we still can’t come close to actually seeing them, and no one has the faintest idea how we might ever do that. Tony Deller
  • The physical world we live in isn’t there. The solid objects we manipulate with our solid hands are mostly nothing. Seemingly concrete things are made up of infinitesimally small atoms swirling around in an immense void. And these atoms are made up of unimaginably small subatomic particles dancing in vast emptiness. Time Freke
  • Physicists are still looking for the nature and cause of this stuff called ‘matter’. They’ve been looking for it for two and a half thousand years; they’ve never found it it, and they never will. It’s not there. Rupert Spira
  • Modern physics has definitely decided for Plato. For the smallest units of matter are not physical objects in the ordinary sense of the word: they are forms, structures, or – in Plato’s sense – Ideas, which can be unambiguously spoken of only in the language of mathematics. Rupert Sheldrake
  • Whatever matter is, it is not made of matter. Prof. Hans-Peter Dürr
  • We delude ourselves with the thought that we know much more about matter than about a “metaphysical” mind or spirit and so we overestimate material causation and believe that it alone affords us a true explanation of life. But matter is just as inscrutable as mind. As to the ultimate things we can know nothing, and only when we admit this do we return to a state of equilibrium. Carl Jung
  • On scrutiny the physical is as elusive as anything to which a name can be given. The physical as we have come to know it frays away into dark matter, antimatter, and by implication on beyond them and beyond our present powers of inference. Marilynne Robinson
  • We are no longer very sure of what ‘matter’ is. Is it quarks, or superstrings, or dark energy, or the result of quantum fluctuations in a vacuum? It is certainly not, as the ancient Greek materialist Democritus thought, lumps of hard solid stuff – indivisible atoms – bumping into one another and forming complicated conglomerations that we call people. Some physicists, such as John Gribbin and Paul Davies, in their book The Matter Myth argue that matter is a sort of illusion or appearance produced by some mysterious and unknown substratum in interaction with the human mind. Keith Ward
  • When quantum physicists talk about ‘imaginary time’ as being more real than ‘real time’, about the cosmos being a ten- or eleven-dimensional curved space-time, or collection of space-times, and about electrons being probability-waves in Hilbert space, we may well wonder whether matter is a solid foundation for reality after all, or whether we really know what it is. There is something out there, and it appears to us as a world of fairly solid objects. But modern physics suggests that the nature of reality is very different from what we see, and that it is possibly unimaginable. Keith Ward
.

The process of natural evolution has shaped us to perceive what is most useful…

  • Evolution has shaped us with perceptions that allow us to survive. But part of that involves hiding from us the stuff we don’t need to know. And that’s pretty much all of reality, whatever reality might be. Donald Hoffman
  • Perception may seem effortless, but in fact it requires considerable energy. Calories can be difficult and dangerous to procure, so evolution has shaped our senses to be misers. Donald Hoffman
  • We see objects in three dimensions not because we reconstruct objective reality, but because this is the format of a compression algorithm that evolution happened to build into us. Donald Hoffman
  • Evolution shaped our senses to be a user interface, tailored to the needs of our species. Our interface hides objective reality and guides adaptive behavior in our niche. Spacetime is our desktop, and physical objects, such as spoons and stars, are icons of the interface of Homo sapiens. Our perceptions of space, time, and objects were shaped by natural selection not to be veridical—not to reveal or reconstruct objective reality—but to let us live long enough to raise offspring. Donald Hoffman
.

…not what is necessarily accurate

  • Darwinian evolution would favor an organism with less-accurate perceptions over one that perceived the world as it really is. Dan Falk
  • The concern of your brain is not to see the actual nature of reality, but to represent the reality to you in such a way that suits your needs. Abhijit Naskar
  • Evolution favors physical survival, not per se the accuracy or completeness of internal representations. Bernardo Kastrup
  • Most people, scientists included, far overestimate the survival usefulness of accurate, complete internal representations. My own research on artificial neural networks shows that, very often, it is useful precisely to distort certain parts, and cut out other parts, of the external stimuli when creating an internal representation of the world in an artificial nervous system. Bernardo Kastrup
  • The conventional view that natural selection favors nervous systems which produce ever more accurate images of the world must be a very naïve view of mental evolution. Robert Trivers
  • Evolution has shaped us to see things that we have to take seriously, to see what we need to stay alive,” says Hoffman. But that does not, logically, permit us to say that we’re seeing the truth.  Donald Hoffman
  • We are organisms, not angels, and our minds are organs, not pipelines to the truth. Our minds evolved by natural selection to solve problems that were life-and-death matters to our ancestors, not to commune with correctness. Steven Pinker
.

Through evolution, perception has provided us with a user-friendly “desk-top” interface of the external world

  • Does this mean that our perceptions lie to us? Not really. I wouldn’t say that our senses lie, any more than the desktop of my computer lies when it portrays an email as a blue, rectangular icon. Our senses, like the desktop interface, are simply doing their job, which is not to reveal the truth, but to guide useful actions. Donald Hoffman
  • Donald D. Hoffman offers an analogy with a computer screen: We can move an icon shaped like a file folder into the “trash,” but we don’t really believe the two-dimensional pixel-arrays actually contain files or trash. Instead, they’re conveniences; they’re representations that are useful in achieving goals. Similarly, we perceive the world around us through the interface of our senses. (This is not a brand-new idea; Kant suggested something similar almost 250 years ago, as did Plato in his allegory of the cave some two millennia earlier.) Dan Falk
  • Our brain presents us with a user interface much like a computer does — delayed in time, compressed, summarized, edited and incomplete. Larry Kaplan
  • Perception is not a window on objective reality. It is an interface that hides objective reality behind a veil of helpful icons. Donald Hoffman
  • Some argue the world created by our perceptions can be compared to a user-friendly “desk-top” interface of an external world that is anything but that
  • Spacetime and objects are the perceptual interface used by Homo sapiens. They are our first-person experiences. Donald Hoffman
  • Spacetime is not an objective reality independent of any observer. It is an interface. Donald Hoffman
  • The only reality we can ever truly know is that of our perceptions, our own consciousness, while that consciousness, and thus our entire reality, is made of nothing but signs and symbols. Alan Moore
  • Think of it this way: how would a robot be constructed to handle its surroundings? It would need some sort representation of what it perceives and then act according to this model. This is exactly what it is to know something: to have a model of it in your brain. Everythibg you experience in your mind is this model. So what you experience is an illusion. Its not the “real world”. Mats Wessling
  • We have a dashboard view of what’s out there. Not a clear window. The reality we see is just images and appearances. Bernardo Kastrup
  • Well, fortunately, we have a very helpful metaphor: the desktop interface on your computer. Consider that blue icon for a TED Talk that you’re writing. Now, the icon is blue and rectangular and in the lower right corner of the desktop. Does that mean that the text file itself in the computer is blue, rectangular, and in the lower right-hand corner of the computer? Of course not. Anyone who thought that misinterprets the purpose of the interface. It’s not there to show you the reality of the computer. In fact, it’s there to hide that reality. You don’t want to know about the diodes and resistors and all the megabytes of software. If you had to deal with that, you could never write your text file or edit your photo. So the idea is that evolution has given us an interface that hides reality and guides adaptive behavior. Space and time, as you perceive them right now, are your desktop. Physical objects are simply icons in that desktop. Donald D. Hoffman
  • Our brain and sensory system together make a user interface that simplies the complexity of the world – in the same way that the icons on a smartphone screen are tools to operate the gadget’s underlying circuitry. Everything we see is really an “abstract data structure for something that doesn’t even exist in space and time. Donna Lu
.

As a result of this, our perceptions of the external world can be very deceiving at times…

  • The first lesson about trusting your senses is: don’t. Just because you believe something to be true, just because you know it’s true, that doesn’t mean it is true. David Eagleman
  • We have a long history of being misled. Many ancient cultures, including the pre-Socratic Greeks, were misled by their perceptions to believe that the earth is flat. It took the genius of Pythagoras, Parmenides, and Aristotle to discover, despite the testimony of the eye, that the earth is roughly a sphere. For many centuries after this discovery, most geniuses, with the exception of Aristarchus (ca. 310 BC–ca. 230 BC), were misled by their perceptions to believe that our spherical earth is the unmoving center of the universe. Donald Hoffman
  • Our penchant to misread our perceptions, as philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein pointed out to his fellow philosopher Elizabeth Anscombe, stems in part from an uncritical attitude toward our perceptions, toward what we mean by “it looks as if.” Donald Hoffman
.

…as the example of the jewel beetle of Australia clearly shows

  • Australian jewel beetle’s reproductive strategy proceeded very effectively. Then, Homo sapiens —and its habit of dumping used beer bottles—entered the picture. Unable to distinguish between these brown glass containers and the shell of a potential mate, the male beetles began attempting to copulate with discarded vessels. Donald D. Hoffman
  • The Australian jewel beetle is dimpled, glossy and brown. […] Now, as it happens, these bottles are dimpled, glossy, and just the right shade of brown to tickle the fancy of these beetles. […] Now, the males had successfully found females for thousands, perhaps millions of years. It looked like they saw reality as it is, but apparently not. Evolution had given them a hack. A female is anything dimpled, glossy and brown, the bigger the better. Donald D. Hoffman
.

All in all, our perceptions have been shown to be a highly edited and biased form of reality…

  • The implication of materialism is that we’re intrinsically limited to watching an edited and biased version of the film we’re trying to make sense of. Bernardo Kasrup
  • Man does not see reality as it is, but only as he perceives it, and his perception may be mistaken or biased. Rudolf Dreikurs
  • The brain is extremely fallible when it reports reality. Deepak Chopra
  • Our brain presents us with only a snapshot. If our senses took in every detail, we would be overwhelmed. Did you notice the last time you blinked, or that fleshy protuberance called your nose that is always in your peripheral vision? No, because your brain edits them out. “A lot of what our senses are doing is something like data compression: simplifying, in order to be able to function.  Donna Lu
.

…especially due to the fact perception is a kind of reality filter…

  • Perception is your reality filter. Leo Hartong
  • Perception is merely reality filtered through the prism of your soul. Christopher A. Ray
  • Always, the eye sees more than the mind can comprehend, and we go through life self-blinded to much that lies before us. We want a simple world, but we live in a magnificently complex one, and rather than open ourselves to it, we perceive the world through filters that make it less daunting. Dean Koontz
  • I’ve come to realize that the biggest problem anywhere in the world is that people’s perceptions of reality are compulsively filtered through the screening mesh of what they want, and do not want, to be true. Travis Walton
  • Unfiltered reality would probably blow the brain’s circuits, or simply be blanked out. Deepak Chopra and Menas Kafatos
  • Every moment of the day you relate to reality through all kinds of filters that are uniquely your own. Deepak Chopra and Menas Kafatos
.

…a filter that ensures we are not overloaded with information

  • There is, perhaps, one universal truth about all forms of human cognition: the ability to deal with knowledge is hugely exceeded by the potential knowledge contained in man’s environment. To cope with this diversity, man’s perception, his memory, and his thought processes early become governed by strategies for protecting his limited capacities from the confusion of overloading. We tend to perceive things schematically, for example, rather than in detail, or we represent a class of diverse things by some sort of averaged “typical instance. Jerome S. Bruner
  • The human sensory system sends the brain about eleven million bits of information each second. However, anyone who has ever taken care of a few children who are all trying to talk to you at once can testify that your conscious mind cannot process anywhere near that amount. The actual amount of information we can handle has been estimated to be somewhere between sixteen and fifty bits per second. Leonard Mlodinow
.

As a result, what we perceive of the external world is only partial and selective

  • Making the world into sensual information, is to make nonsense of the world, because our senses are partial, selective, and therefore exclusive, while the real world is complete and inclusive. Roger Stephens
  • Perception is a selective act of attention and interpretation. Deepak Chopra
  • The mind does not pay equal attention to everything it perceives. For it applies itself infinitely more to those things that affect it, that modify it, and that penetrate it, than to those that are present to it but do not affect it. Nicholos Melebranche
  • Our senses forage for fitness, not truth. The eye sports 130 million photoreceptors, which collect billions of bits each second. Billions of bits enter the eye each second, but only forty win the competition for attention. Donald Hoffman
  • What you see is determined to a great extent by your ‘inner selection committee.’ Leo Hartong
.

For example, our perception of the external world is filtered by attention…

  • Attention is narrowed perception. It is a way of looking at life bit by bit, using memory to string the bits together — as when examining a dark room with a flashlight having a very narrow beam. Alan Watts
  • Perception is a selective act of attention and interpretation. Deepak Chopra
  • People generally see what they look for and hear what they listen for. Harper Lee
  • What we see depends mainly on what we look for. John Lubbock
.

…as well as our preconceptions…

  • We hear and apprehend only what we already half know. Henry David Thoreau
  • Constant reminding ourselves that we not see with our eyes but with our synergetic eye-brain system working as a whole will produce constant astonishment as we notice, more and more often, how much of our perceptions emerge from our preconceptions. David Eagleman
  • How you perceive creates what you believe to be true. You see what you are looking for. Story Waters
.

… and our emotions and desires

  • We look at the world through our likes and dislikes, hopes and fears, opinions and judgments. Eknath Easwaran
  • Perception changes with time, mood, recollection, and so on. Deepak Chopra
  • A great deal of distorted reality depends on expectations, memories, biases, fears, and willfulness. Deepak Chopra
  • To hate, to love, to think, to feel, to see; all this is nothing but to perceive. David Hume
  • Where perception is, there also are pain and pleasure, and where these are, there, of necessity, is desire. Aristotle
  • I’ve come to realize that the biggest problem anywhere in the world is that people’s perceptions of reality are compulsively filtered through the screening mesh of what they want, and do not want, to be true. Travis Walton
  • Perception has more to do with our desires-with how we want to view ourselves, than with reality. Dan Ariely
  • The reality we see is a product of our own perceptions and imagination. For example, when we are sad, we see all the people around us sad and when we are happy, we see all the people around us happy. Saujanya Timilsina
.

Onto our perceptions of the external world, we also overlay concepts and memory…

  • We only see wooden tables and chairs, not pixels of various brownish shades coming together in astoundingly rich and fluid combinations. Bernardo Kastrup
  • We tend to tile the entire world around us with an intricate web of concepts derived from language. We live inside a self-woven conceptual cocoon that insulates us from raw reality. Bernardo Kastrup
  • Look around yourself; try to imagine that you were just born a moment ago and you don’t know what chairs, tables, walls, windows, books, or computers are. What do you see? You see just pixels. Bernardo Kastrup
  • Perception is merely reality filtered through the prism of your soul. Christopher A. Ray
  • All you see in your world is the outcome of your idea about it. Neale Donald Walsch
  • Not people or events, but the beholding mind, is the sovereign agent in all human experience. Ervin Seale
  • I believe that nothing can be more abstract, more unreal, than what we actually see. We know that all we can see of the objective world, as human beings, never really exists as we see and understand it. Matter exists, of course, but has no intrinsic meaning of its own, such as the meanings that we attach to it. We can know only that a cup is a cup, that a tree is a tree. Giorgio Morandi
  • Our brains combine real-time sensory information — what we see, touch, taste, hear and smell — with our memories and previous experiences. Stavros Lomvardas
.

…as well as meaning…

  • What we’re seeing “out there” is the projection of where we’re at–the projection of the clingings of our minds. Ram Dass
  • As we are, so we see. William Blake
  • We see people and things not as they are, but as we are. Anthony de Mello
  • We do not see things the way they are. We see things the way we are. The Talmud
  • The whole world is simply my story, projected back to me on the screen of my own perception. All of it. Byron Katie
  • I have given everything I see all the meaning it has for me. A Course in Miracles
  • The human understanding is like a false mirror, which, receiving rays irregularly, distorts and discolors the nature of things by mingling its own nature with it. Francis Bacon
.

…and beliefs, thoughts and judgements

  • All perceiving is also thinking, all reasoning is also intuition, all observation is also invention. Rudolf Arnheim
  • We perceive the world in relation to what we already believe. Tali Sharot
  • Thinking is no more and no less an organ of perception than the eye or ear. Just as the eye perceives colours and the ear sounds, so thinking perceives ideas. Rudolf Steiner
  • We all see the world differently. And thank God for that. Otherwise what a boring this world this would be. Philip Johnson
  • Thought creates things by slicing up reality into small bits that it can easily grasp. Thus when you are think-ing you are thing-ing. Thought does not report things, it distorts reality to create things, and as Bergson noted, “In so doing it allows what is the very essence of the real to escape.” Thus to the extent we actually imagine a world of discrete and separate things, conceptions have become perceptions, and we have in this manner populated our universe with nothing but ghosts. T. Suzuki
  • Belief is the mother of reality. Terry Orlick
.

This explains why we each perceive the external world so differently, each absorbed in our own virtual world

  • If two people can see the same thing and have opposite reactions, their responses are controlling them, not the other way around. Deepak Chopra
  • Perception is fallible because no two people see the world exactly alike. Deepak Chopra
  • We all live in our private world. The world created by our imagination. Saujanya Timilsina
.

The world may even be a holographic projection like a colossal cosmic movie

.

Some physicists argue the world is a kind of holographic projection…

  • This new awareness has radical implications for each and every one of us. For it reveals a wholly interconnected, conscious and holographic universe, a Cosmos where consciousness is primary– and where we are therefore both creator and co- creator.  Jude Currivan
  • Despite how extreme the idea sounds, theories about the Universe being an illusion or a hologram aren’t new. Now, researchers claim to have found evidence towards proving this hypothesis. A team of theoretical physicists at the University of Southampton believes it has found signs our Universe is an illusion by studying the cosmic microwave background (CMB) – radiation left over from the Big Bang. Abigail Beall (2017)
  • Stephen Hawking has revealed from beyond the grave his final scientific theory – that the universe is a hologram. Working with Belgian colleague Professor Thomas Hertog, Prof Hawking extended the weird notion of a holographic reality to explain how the universe came into being from the moment of the Big Bang. The new theory embraces the strange concept that the universe is like a vast and complex hologram. In other words, 3D reality is an illusion, and that the apparently “solid” world around us – and the dimension of time – is projected from information stored on a flat 2D surface. The Telegraph 2018
  • In string theory, the holographic principle proposes that a volume of space can be described on a lower-dimensional boundary; so the universe is like a hologram, in which physical reality in 3D spaces can be mathematically reduced to 2D projections on their surface. Michelle Starr
  • Neither Quantum Field Theory nor Quantum Space Time should be interpreted as saying that universe emerged out of nothing. Nothing in itself is just a projection or a hologram of a larger perspective or energy structures. Gokul Baby Alex
  • Our brains mathematically construct objective reality by interpreting frequencies that are ultimately projections from another dimension, a deeper order of existence that is beyond both space and time: The brain is a hologram enfolded in a holographic universe. Michael Talbot
  • The holographic principle doesn’t mean the universe isn’t real. It just means that the universe around us, existing within spacetime, is ​constructed​ out of more fundamental building blocks. George Musser Jr
.

…like some kind of super-colossal 3-D cosmic movie…

  • The physical world’s lawful consistency is assured by its computer program–like holographic energy template. The continuously playing, not- perceptible- to-the-senses, two-dimensional cosmic movie—what a saint once called, “God’s super-colossal entertainment”—takes on the form of matter and becomes perceptible to the senses when observed by an intelligent observer, but the intelligent observation does not determine the form that matter takes. Joseph Selbie
  • Although not an example with holographic properties, it could be thought of as rather like watching a 3D film in a cinema. We see the pictures as having height, width and crucially, depth – when in fact it all originates from a flat 2D screen. The difference, in our 3D universe, is that we can touch objects and the ‘projection’ is ‘real’ from our perspective. Professor Kostas Skenderis
  • The theory of the holographic universe can be compared to watching a 3D film in a cinema. Although this is not a hologram, we see the pictures as having height, width and, crucially, depth when in fact it all originates from a flat 2D screen. Professor Kostas Skenderis
  • Our light-show illusion universe is a space-filled, three-dimensional, lower-frequency energy bubble in a two-dimensional ocean of higher-frequency energy. Joseph Selbie
.

…a projection of a two-dimensional field…

  • Imagine that everything you see, feel and hear in three dimensions -and your perception of time – in fact emanates from a flat two-dimensional field. Professor Kostas Skenderis
  • Maybe the three-dimensional space we seem to live in is actually a projection of some underlying two-dimensional reality. Sean Carroll
  • Perhaps the most mind-bending theory is the holographic principle. Expanding on the idea that the 2d surface of an event horizon can store quantum information, this principle suggests that the very boundary of the observable universe is also a 2d surface encoded with information about real 3d objects. If this is true, it’s possible that reality as we know it is just a holographic projection of that information.  Fabio Pacucci
  • A holographic universe, an idea first suggested in the 1990s, is one where all the information, which makes up our 3D ‘reality’ (plus time) is contained in a 2D surface on its boundaries. Professor Kostas Skenderis
.

… existing at a deeper level of reality

  • One of Bohm’s most startling assertions is that the tangible reality of our everyday lives is really a kind of illusion, like a holographic image. Underlying it is a deeper order of existence, a vast and more primary level of reality that gives birth to all the objects and appearances of our physical world in much the same way that a piece of holographic film gives birth to a hologram. Bohm calls this deeper level of reality the implicate (which means “enfolded”) order, and he refers to our own level of existence as the explicate, or unfolded, order. Michael Talbot
  • Considered together, Bohm and Pribram’s theories provide a profound new way of looking at the world: Our brains mathematically construct objective reality by interpreting frequencies that are ultimately projections from another dimension, a deeper order of existence that is beyond both space and time: The brain is a hologram enfolded in a holographic universe. For Pribram, this synthesis made him realize that the objective world does not exist, at least not in the way we are accustomed to believing. What is “out there” is a vast ocean of waves and frequencies, and reality looks concrete to us only because our brains are able to take this holographic blur and convert it into the sticks and stones and other familiar objects that make up our world. Michael Talbot
  • … there is evidence to suggest that our world and everything in it–from snowflakes to maple trees to falling stars and spinning electrons–are also only ghostly images, projections from a level of reality so beyond our own it is literally beyond both space and time. Michael Talbot
  • From Bohm’s perspective, what we see as our world is actually the projection of something even more real that’s happening at a deeper level of creation. Michael Talbot
  • Considered together, Bohm and Pribram’s theories provide a profound new way of looking at the world: Our brains mathematically construct objective reality by interpreting frequencies that are ultimately projections from another dimension, a deeper order of existence that is beyond both space and time: The brain is a hologram enfolded in a holographic universe. Michael Talbot
  • The origin of the physical world’s lawful consistency is in the hidden mechanism that plays the cosmic movie: the nonlocal, two-dimensional holographic energy template that creates and sustains the physical universe. The nonlocal, two-dimensional holographic energy template, like film in a projector, contains all the information to project the cosmic movie we know as the physical universe. Joseph Selbie
  • We can think of the nonlocal, two-dimensional holographic energy template as containing the heavens, and of the heavens as the hologram from which the three-dimensional universe takes its form. Joseph Selbie
  • Unlike film in a projector, the holographic energy template isn’t fixed or static; it is dynamically evolving in accordance with its own inherent, intelligently created laws—more like a computer program than like a film. The old computer game SimCity could run a simulation of how a city would evolve over years, decades, and even centuries because its programming contained the basic laws that governed the outcome. The holographic energy template, likewise, contains the laws that govern all matter-energy interactions and contains all the information about the evolving state of the physical universe—the complete history of all matter-energy interactions from the Big Bang to the present. Joseph Selbie
  • Pribram realized that if the holographic brain model was taken to its logical conclusions, it opened the door on the possibility that objective reality—the world of coffee cups, mountain vistas, elm trees, and table lamps—might not even exist, or at least not exist in the way we believe it exists. Was it possible, he wondered, that what the mystics had been saying for centuries was true, reality was maya, an illusion, and what was out there was really a vast, resonating symphony of wave forms, a “frequency domain” that was transformed into the world as we know it only after it entered our senses?” Michael Talbot
  • Pribram’s view, reality at large is really a frequency domain, and our brain is a kind of lens that converts these frequencies into the objective world of appearances. Michael Talbot
.

The idea that the universe is holographic has actually been around in spiritual circles for centuries, even millennia…

  • The Buddha compared the universe to a vast net woven of a countless variety of brilliant jewels, each with a countless number of facets. Each jewel reflects in itself every other jewel in the net and is, in fact, one with every other jewel. … Everything is inextricably interrelated: We come to realize that we are responsible for everything we do, say, or think, responsible in fact for ourselves, everyone and everything else, and the entire universe. Douglas Monroe
  • Fa-Tsang, the seventh-century founder of the Hua-yen school of Buddhist thought, employed a remarkably similar analogy when trying to communicate the ultimate interconnectedness and interpenetration of all things. Fa-Tsang, who held that the whole cosmos was implicit in  each of its parts (and who also believed that every point in the cosmos  was its center), likened the universe to a multidimensional network of  jewels, each one reflecting all others ad infinitum.  Michael Talbot
  • The hologram is strikingly similar to the metaphor of Indra’s net, developed in the 3rd century by the Mahayana school of Buddhism. When Indra fashioned the world, he made it as a net or web, in which there is a glimmering jewel at every knot. The net is infinite in dimension; therefore the jewels are infinite in number. In the glittering surface of every jewel is reflected the image of all the other jewels in the net—an infinite mirroring process, symbolizing the interpenetration, interconnectedness, and simultaneous mutual identity of all phenomena in the universe. Larry Dossey
  • Imagine a shimmering net of light, without beginning or end. At each node of its weave and weft sits a shimmering jewel, and these myriad multifaceted jewels reflect and are each reflected by every other in rainbow-hued radiance of ever-changing illumination. Its infinite oneness manifests in the uncountable creative gems through which its eternal evolution is continually inspired and co-created. Some three thousand years ago or more, this ancient numinous image of the Cosmos was first expressed in the sacred Indian text of the Atharvaveda and termed Indra’s net; it was the means by which the Vedic deity Indra, god of the heavens, created the appearance of the whole world. Now, its revelation of integral reality and self-reflection at all scales of existence is being rediscovered and restated in a less poetic but equally majestic and scientifically based language. Jude Currivan
.

…especially amongst mystical traditions…

  • Both Bohm and Pribram have noted that the experiences mystics have reported throughout the ages — such as feelings of cosmic oneness with the universe, a sense of unity with all life, and so forth — sound very much like descriptions of the implicate Order. They suggest that perhaps mystics are somehow able to peer beyond ordinary explicate reality and glimpse its deeper, more holographic qualities. Michael Talbot
  • It’s taken until now for science to start to catch up with the metaphysical insights and experiences of sages, shamans, and seers throughout the ages. Jude Currivan
  • One of the most basic tenets of Swedenborg’s thinking is that our universe is constantly created and sustained by two wavelike flows, one from heaven and one coming from our own soul or spirit. “If we put these images together, the resemblance to the hologram is striking,” says Dole. “We are constituted by the intersection of two flows — one direct, from the divine, and one indirect, from the divine via our environment. We can view ourselves as interference patterns, because the inflow is a wave phenomenon, and we are where the waves meet. George F. Dole
  • The idea of each particle containing all the others has not only arisen in Eastern mysticism, but also in Western mystical thought. It is implicit, for example, in William Blake’s famous lines : “To see a world in a grain of sand And a heaven in a wild flower, Hold infinity in the palm of your hand, And eternity in an hour.” Fritjof Capra
  • In a notion that parallels Bohm’s implicate and explicate orders, the Sufis believed that, despite its phantasmal qualities, the afterlife realm is the generative matrix that gives birth to the entire physical universe. All things in physical reality arise from this spiritual reality, said the Sufis. However, even the most learned among them found this strange, that by meditating and venturing deep into the psyche one arrived in an inner world that “turns out to envelop, surround, or contain that which at first was outer and visible. Michael Talbot
  • Swedenborg also believed that, despite its ghostlike and ephemeral qualities, heaven is actually a more fundamental level of reality than our own physical world. It is, he said, the archetypal source from which all earthly forms originate, and to which all forms return, a concept not too dissimilar from Bohm’s idea of the implicate and explicate orders. In different in degree but not in kind, and that the material world is just a frozen version of the thought-built reality of heaven. The matter that comprises both heaven and earth “flows in by stages” from the Divine, said Swedenborg, and “at each new stage it becomes more genera) and therefore coarser and hazier, and it becomes slower, and therefore more viscous and colder. Michael Talbot
  • All things are in all. Giordano Bruno
  • Anything we take in the Universe, because it has in itself that which is All in All, includes in its own way, the entire soul of the world, which is entirely in any part of it. Giordano Bruno
.

…and has also influenced philosophical thought

  • Long before the invention of the hologram, numerous thinkers had already glimpsed the nonlocal organization of the universe and had arrived at their own unique ways to express this insight. It is worth noting that these attempts, crude as they may seem to those of us who are  more technologically sophisticated, may have been far more important than we realize. For instance, it appears that the seventeenth-century German mathematician and philosopher Leibniz was familiar with the Hua-yen school of Buddhist thought. Some have argued that this was  why he proposed that the universe is constituted out of fundamental  entities he called “monads,” each of which contains a reflection of the  whole universe. What is significant is that Leibniz also gave the world  integral calculus, and it was integral calculus that enabled Dennis Gabor to invent the hologram. Michael Talbot
  • Many physicists have begun to describe the universe in words that resemble Eastern philosophy. Bohm talks about the “dimension of consciousness beyond the concrete world of our ordinary experience”. Capra discusses the “web of connectedness which cannot be described in words”. Beauregard quotes from ancient Indian scriptures about the “illusionary nature of separateness”. John Wheeler summarized the holographic view of the universe when he said, “There may be no such thing as the ‘glittering central mechanism of the universe.’… Not machinery but magic may be the better description of the treasure that is waiting.” (Toben, 1975) David S. Walonick, Ph.D.
.

What are the implications if the world is an illusion?

.

The idea the world is an illusion can be comforting…

  • The advantages of believing in the world as non-physical or as an illusion and thus essentially spiritual, are very comforting. Peter Morrell
  • When you focus on the fact that what you see is an illusion, you do not become agitated. You know it is just a movie, the projection of light and color on a screen or just actors playing the stage. This is also, what happens after you rise above illusion and experience spiritual awakening. You see the world and live in it, but at the same time, you understand that it is not real and that is the creation of your thoughts, feelings and attitude. When you can see and recognize that things are not they seem to be, the outside world will stop disturbing and distracting your mind and your feelings. You will go on living your life, but you will do so while remaining calm and undisturbed.  Remez Sasson
  • The greatest thing you can do to cultivate true wisdom is to practice the consciousness of the world as a dream. If failure comes, say, “It is a dream.” Then shut off the thought of failure from your mind. Paramahansa Yogananda
  • Listen up! I’ve got some really good news! Everything is okay! Being alive is weird and scary and never really makes sense, but that’s all right because life is like a dream . . . so there’s nothing to be alarmed about . . . it all turns out all right in the end . . . because when you die in a dream, you wake up. Tim Freke
  • In a dream you see death and sickness and happiness and sorrow, and are touched by them. When you awaken from the dream, you know that all things were just a dream. It is only when you awaken from a nightmare that you can laugh at it, but you will have to learn that through meditation alone, not by reading books or theorizing. Paramahansa Yogananda
  • One may gather great wisdom by cultivating the consciousness that this world and everything in it is only a dream. First of all, do not take your earth experiences too seriously. The root-cause of sorrow is in viewing the passing show with emotional involvement. If you continually think to yourself, “I haven’t lived as I ought to have lived,” you only make yourself miserable. Rather, do your best to be better; and no matter what difficulties come, ever affirm, “It is all a dream. It will soon pass.” Then no trouble can be a great trial to you. No happenings of this earth can in any way torture you. Paramahansa Yogananda
  • Do not pay undue attention to the passing scenes of life. You are the immortal Self, living only temporarily in a dream that is sometimes a nightmare. That is the higher philosophy of the masters of India. Paramahansa Yogananda
.

…and liberating…

  • Since everything is but an apparition, having nothing to do with good or bad, acceptance or rejection, one may well burst out in laughter.  Longchenpa
  • Whatever is done, is done on the screen. Joy and sorrow life and death, they all are real to the man in bondage; to me they are all in the show, as unreal as the show itself. Nisargadatta Maharaja
  • Do not take life’s experiences too seriously. For in reality they are nothing but dream experiences. Play your part in life, but never forget that it is only a role. Paramahansa Yogananda
  • Do not take this life too seriously. It will be gone before you know it. Paramahansa Yogananda
  • Don’t take life so seriously. It’s a movie ! Anthony Lambert
  • When you realise it’s a dream you can afford to play. The same thing happens when you realise that ordinary life is a dream, just a movie, just a play. You don’t become more cautious, more timid, more reserved. You start jumping up and down and doing flips, precisely because it’s all a dream, it’s all pure Emptiness. You don’t feel less, you feel more – because you can afford to. You are no longer afraid of dying, and therefore you are not afraid of living. You become radical and wild, intense and vivid, shocking and silly. You let it all come pouring through, because it’s all your dream. Life then assumes its true intensity, its vivid luminosity, its radical effervescence. Ken Wilber
  • The more I see of life, the more I realize it is a dream. I have found the greatest assurance in this philosophy I am giving to you now. Paramahansa Yogananda
  • To awaken within the dream is our purpose now. When we are awake within the dream, the ego-created earth-drama comes to an end and a more benign and wondrous dream arises. This is the new earth. Eckhart Tolle
  • Idealism says, “The voice that tells of bondage is but a dream.” Vedanta says, “We are free and not free at the same time.” That means that we are never free on the earthly plane, but ever free on the spiritual side. The Self is beyond both freedom and bondage. We are Brahman, we are immortal knowledge beyond the senses, we are Bliss Absolute. Swami Vivekananda
  • If you are attached to human happiness, you are in for a lot of trouble, because nightmares are inevitable along with the beautiful dreams. But if you will think of a dream as a dream, whether it is enjoyable or dreadful, you will have peace. When you realize that life is a dream, then you are free. Paramahansa Yogananda
  • The more deeply we realize the world is a dream, three things happen: 1. We become less fearful; 2. We begin to master the laws of this world; 3. The more joyful and expansive our lives become. David Sunfellow
.

…helping us to transcend fear…

  • Once you realise that there is nothing in this world, which you can call your own, you look at it from the outside as you look at a play on the stage, or a picture on the screen, admiring and enjoying, but really unmoved. As long as you imagine yourself to be something tangible and solid, a thing among things, actually existing in time and space, short-lived and vulnerable, naturally you will be anxious to survive and increase. But when you know yourself as beyond space and time — in contact with them only at the point of here and now, otherwise all-pervading and all-containing, unapproachable, unassailable, invulnerable — you will be afraid no longer. Know yourself as you are — against fear there is no other remedy. Nisargadatta Maharaj
  • To the Self, the world is but a colourful show, which he enjoys as long as it lasts and forgets when it is over. Whatever happens on the stage makes him shudder in terror or roll with laughter, yet all the time he is aware that it is but a show. Without desire or fear he enjoys it, as it happens. Nisargadatta Maharaj
  • When I see that I’m essentially safe, I’m no longer a hostage to fear. I can appreciate the story of Tim, with all its ups and downs, surprises and disappointments, beginnings and endings. When I know that fundamentally all is well, I feel courageous enough to really live my life. Tim Freke
.

…and suffering

  • Life is a dream even in its most painful moments, it’s a dream that we can dance to. Carly Simon
  • If you pass through a nightmare, you know that it is no more than a bad dream. If you can live in the world in that consciousness, you will not suffer. Paramahansa Yogananda
  • If you can go to a movie and see a picture of war and suffering, and afterward say, “What a wonderful picture!” so may you take this life as a cosmic picture-show. Be prepared for every kind of experience that may come to you, realizing that all are but dreams. Paramahansa Yogananda
  • This world is a dream place, and we are all dreaming here. This life is not real; you are laughing and crying in the greatest delusion, and it is not worth shedding tears over. To give reality to our earth experiences is to invite untold misery. By identification of our consciousness with this world we see it as a place of suffering. Paramahansa Yogananda
  • As soon as you ascribe reality to the dream thoughts out of which God created all things, that dream reality begins to punish you with dream suffering. But when you realize that God is everything in this universe, nothing hurts you anymore. If you realize that both water and the body are dreams of God, you can walk on the water as did Jesus—one dream form can walk on another dream form. There is no longer a barrier of difference between solids and liquids, or any other form of matter. But you have to realize this; such power does not come to you by mere imagining. Paramahansa Yogananda
  • We are in a dream state. The only way to wake up is to refuse to recognize anything as reality except God. Otherwise you will again and again sink to your knees in a mud of suffering that is of your own making, until you realize that neither good fortune nor evil fortune is real, that He alone is real. Then all earthly delusions (disease and health, joy and sorrow, life and death) will pass away. So many people have come on this earth and have left it; still we live as though we shall be here forever. Only he is wise who lives in constant remembrance of God. To think of Him always is to find freedom from this earthly dream of birth and death. Paramahansa Yogananda
.

To realise the world is an illusion is not to denigrate it.  Far from it.

  • When I compare life to a dream I do not mean to denigrate it as some sort of meaningless fantasy. Life is too wonderful to be called an illusion, unless we whisper the word in amazement, as we might when witnessing the most astonishing magic trick. Tim Freke
  • Waking up doesn’t mean withdrawing from life and becoming detached. Quite the opposite. It means wholeheartedly engaging with the life-dream as an amazing adventure of self-discovery. Tim Freke
    Lucid living doesn’t deny the delights and dramas of everyday existence. It charges them with new significance and meaning. Everything you experience is a manifestation of your essential identity. So everything is showing you something about who you are – like a dream. Tim Freke
    But whether it be dream or truth, to do well is what matters. If it be truth, for truth’s sake. If not, then to gain friends for the time when we awaken. Pedro Calderon de la Barca
    See the world. It’s more fantastic than any dream. Ray Bradbury
  • My goodness, it’s all a dream. But what a magnificent dream! A great work of art. Art in the highest sense. Maya means illusion but a lot more besides. It means magic. It means art. It means creative power. Alan Watts
.

We become less attached to the phenomenal world and less identified with it, taking it all less seriously

  • In Buddhism, there is little doubt that to view the world as an illusion was a conception designed with a specific purpose. It is a spiritual device. One aspect of that purpose was to loosen the ties with the material world (with samsara) and so to encourage practitioners to turn away from the world. Thus, so loosened, one moves closer to the world of spirit. Peter Morrell
  • Advaita Vedanta does not preach renunciation of the empirical world, but leads us to an understanding and acceptance of the reality of Maya along with its natural ability to bind us to the material world. This understanding and acceptance then naturally leads us to detachment. So, without denying the existence of the illusory Maya, it is essential for one to understand and experience, through self contemplation, the impermanence of our body, our mind, and the objects and fruits of our attachments on the one hand and the enduring permanence of our true self on the other.  Dr Ajay Kr. Sharma
  • If the world is not real then not much that happens in it is of any great interest, worth or consequence – precisely the view of detached indifference recommended by the Sutras. Peter Morrell
  • As you awaken, the present moment becomes your home. You still play in the world of time, but you’re not identified with the story unfolding there. Leonard Jacobson
  • Contemplation is an alternative consciousness that refuses to identify with or feed what are only passing shows. It is the absolute opposite of addiction, consumerism or any egoic consciousness. Richard Rohr
  • Do not be bound by this earth. This is just a place where for a time you are to act your part. Do not give undue importance to it. Paramahansa Yogananda
  • We should learn to love each other so much to live outside of time… detached. Federico Fellini
  • My life is a succession of events, just like yours. Only I am detached and see the passing show as a passing show, while you stick to things and move along with them. Nisargadatta Maharaj
  • This world is a terrible place; there is no safety here. But what are we to do? We must stop taking life so seriously. Delusion can be overcome by holding steadfast to one philosophy: Everything here is nothing more than God’s motion picture. We are the players. We must play our parts well, but we must not identify ourselves too intensely with the drama. Meditation shows us the way to this inner freedom. It is the only way by which we can realize that this world is a dream, that the Lord has created the entire cosmos out of His thought. So, though He created this dream earth, He has also shown the way to get out of it. Paramahansa Yogananda
  • Don’t be attached to the passing dreams of life. Live for God and God alone. This is the only way to have freedom and safety in this world. Paramahansa Yogananda
  • Even if you have not awakened, if you realize that your perceptions and activities are all like dreams and you view them with detachment, not giving rise to grasping and rejecting discrimination, then this is virtually tantamount to awakening from the dream. Muso Kokushi
  • This is how to contemplate our conditioned existence in this fleeting world: Like a tiny drop of dew, or a bubble floating in a stream; Like a flash of lightning in a summer cloud, Or a flickering lamp, an illusion, a phantom, or a dream. So is all conditioned existence to be seen. Gautama Buddha
  • When I live lucidly, I find myself in the paradoxical predicament of being in the life-dream but not in the life-dream at the same time. What happens in the life-dream matters and doesn’t matter. I’m attached and unattached. I’m neither lost in the drama nor detached and uncaring. I’m engaged with my life but also free and spacious. Tim Freke
  • Things happen, but are no longer hooked into a personal story. This seeing allows a good deal of mental and emotional turbulence to come to rest. We no longer identify with what happens in our lives. We experience the world as illusory or dream-like. And yet, it is not a detachment from life. Awareness cannot detach from appearances because appearances are inseparable from awareness. Scott Kiloby
  • This earth is a most imperfect place. When prosperity comes, war breaks out and sets mankind back centuries again. But don’t take the ups and downs of this life too seriously. No matter what happens, inwardly say: “It is all right. I am only dreaming in God’s dream—nothing can touch me. I am happy. Nothing holds me. I am ready every minute, Lord, to walk out of this dream, or to remain to do Your will.” Then you will be free. That is a wonderful thought. Paramahansa Yogananda
  • Nisargadatta Maharaj: There is no need of a way out! Don’t you see that a way out is also part of the dream? All you have to do is to see the dream as dream. Seeker: If I start the practice of dismissing everything as a dream, where will it lead me? Nisargadatta Maharaj: Wherever it leads you, it will be a dream. The very idea of going beyond the dream is illusory. Why go anywhere? Just realize that you are dreaming a dream you call the world, and stop looking for ways out. The dream is not your problem. Your problem is that you like one part of the dream and not another. When you have seen the dream as a dream, you have done all that needs be done. Nisargadatta Maharaj
.

Paradoxically, we are able to enjoy life more

  • Look at the world as an illusion. Seeing this physical world as an illusion ironically allows you to enjoy it more and stay inspired. Wayne Dyer
  • When you are free from delusion, you can enjoy illusion. Enjoy the dream but enjoy the dream being free.  Mooji
  • An advantage of the view of the world as an illusion is that we become genuinely fearless and relaxed in our life, accepting things as they are, people as they are and delighting in everything that comes along just as it is something which was meant to happen and which certainly contains something for us of value and benefit. We behave as if we are in a dream and as if all events are happenings within a dream. We regard events as no more important than events occurring in a dream. Peter Morrell
  • Some fear that waking up to the “non-reality” of the world will make them lose interest in life. In my experience, the opposite has been true. Even if the physical world is not real, the experience of it is indisputably real. In fact, the experience of it feels far more vivid and intense for me now. I have awoken to the fact that life is a wondrous, mysterious, joyous experience to be embraced. It still has its ups and downs and challenges, for that is exactly how life on this planet has been designed to be. But I no longer take it all so seriously. I have realised that the life that God is living through the temporary form “I” take is like a kind of dream or movie. And all I need to do is sit back in the seat of awareness and enjoy it. I find myself playing more and laughing more and loving more and creating more, because knowing who I truly am somehow opens the gate to amazing spiritual creativity and power. Also, I am no longer afraid of death. Death is but the end of the movie. It is waking up from the dream. Anthony Lambert
  • Your mantrum is the awareness of the dream – to enjoy and appreciate and have gratitude for all; neither to condemn nor to liberate, but to observe. Frederick Lenz
  • When we awaken to life being a dream, the dream continues but becomes much more enjoyable
    Wake up from the dream called everyday reality in order to really enjoy it. Deepak Chopra
  • Enjoy the dream. And help everyone else to enjoy it as well, because we are all you. Tim Freke
  • When I dream lucidly, the dream doesn’t end—I simply start to dream consciously. In the same way, when I live lucidly, the life-dream doesn’t stop, I simply start to live more consciously. And this is the secret to really enjoying the life-dream. Tim Freke
  • When I dream lucidly, the dream continues. Indeed, I don’t want the dream to end because I’m enjoying it. It’s similar when I’m deep awake and living lucidly. I see the dreamlike nature of life, but the life-dream doesn’t stop. And I don’t want it to stop, because when I’m deep awake, I truly appreciate the magic of existence. Tim Freke
.

We see ourselves as living in the world but not of the world

  • We are in the world. But not of the world. We are to have our boat in the water, but no water in the boat. Steve Lawson
  • We must not just be in the world and above the world, but also of the world. To love it for what it is… is the only task. Avoid it and you are lost. Lose yourself in it, and you are free. Henry Miller
  • My dear young friends, I speak to you as one who stands on the edge of eternity. From that perspective, I see you as the choicest spirits ever placed on the earth… I believe you can be in the world but not of the world. James E. Faust
  • Jnana teaches that the world should be given up, but not on that account to be abandoned. To be in the world but not of it-is the true test of the sannyasin. Swami Vivekananda
  • The world sometimes feels like an insane asylum. You can decide whether you want to be an inmate or pick up your visitor’s badge. You can be in the world but not engage in the melodrama of it; you can become a spiritual being having a human experience thoroughly and fully. Deepak Chopra
  • Wisdom is the ability to do two things at once, to be in the world and enjoy it and at the same time, to be in the realms of light, to be in samadhi. Frederick Lenz
  • Be in the world but not of it
.

Paradoxically, the world can feel more real and alive…

  • In wakefulness, the world actually becomes more real, partly in the sense that it becomes more tangibly real and alive, more vivid and powerfully there, but also in the sense that it becomes infused with spirit. In wakefulness, we realize that there’s no duality, no matter or spirit, no matter or mind. We realize that the physical world and the spiritual world are one, with no distinction. The world is gloriously infused with spirit and gloriously real. Steve Taylor Ph.D.
  • Every day we move between the sleeping, dreaming and waking states. Spirituality can help us add the deep awake state to this cycle. Tim Freke
  • Sometimes when people talk about awakening they describe the dream of life as a pernicious illusion we need to escape, but that doesn’t feel right to me. The more I dissolve into the oneness, the more animated I feel as a unique individual. The more I feel filled with limitless love, the more I long to share it. The more I wake up, the more precious this dream of life becomes to me. Tim Freke
.

…and more full of meaning

  • When I live lucidly, the story of my life seems both meaningless and meaningful like a dream. On the surface, things may seem random and without consequence. But I sense a hidden meaning, which expresses itself symbolically in the flow of events. Strange synchronicities punctuate my adventures. Patterns emerge suggestive of a secret significance. The more awake I am, the more dreamlike life becomes. The more I’m conscious that Tim is a character in the life-dream, the more magical his story is. Then the idea that life is simply the unfolding of chance events seems patently absurd. I may not be able to divine the meaning of events, but that something momentous is happening…of that I’m quietly confident. Tim Freke
  • Haven’t you noticed how full of significant patterns and strange coincidences your experience is? As if there is some hidden meaning? Well, that’s because this is a dream. Tim Freke
  • Sometimes the events of my life are so pregnant with symbolic meaning I find myself asking ‘If this were a dream what would this be showing me about myself ?’ Tim Freke
  • In one way, living lucidly changes nothing: life continues to be a mix of good and bad, pleasure and pain, joy and suffering. Yet in another way, living lucidly changes everything, because we have a new perspective on the challenges of everyday existence. Tim Freke
    Faith is choosing and believing God’s dream for your life. Rick Warren
.

Realising the world is an illusion some believe is a prerequisite step on the path to enlightenment

  • Through cultivating the view of the world as like a dream or illusion, prepares us for the final stages of enlightenment, for the attainment of the view of a Buddha. Peter Morrell
.

Questions

  • Is there a reality independent of our perceptions?  If so, what is its true nature?
  • Is the world an illusion? If it were then how would we tell?
  • Have you ever or could you ever experience matter outside your consciousness? Rupert Spira
  • Is there anything present in perception other than the experience of perceiving? Anything present in sight other than seeing?  Rupert Spira
  • How can you be certain that your whole life is not a dream? Rene Descartes
.

On a lighter note

  • What if everything is an illusion and nothing exists? In that case, I definitely overpaid for my carpet.  Woody Allen
  • Reality is an illusion created by a lack of alcohol. F. Simpson