LITTLE MAN AT THE TOP OF THE TOWER
Let's summarize briefly what we discussed in the previous
chapter: Everything we see, hear, touch and refer to as "matter" actually
consists of perceptions that we experience in our brains. We can never
step outside our brains to have direct knowledge of them and so, cannot
confirm whether they actually exist in any real world. There is no technical
difference between dreaming and real life; we perceive both inside our
brains. The wide world that we imagine to be so very enormous is actually
a totality of perceptions transmitted into our brains. Gigantic galaxies,
which we imagine to be billions of miles away, are actually simply perceptions
in our brains' visual center. They are not "out in space" at all, but
right inside us.
Many, if not almost all, people are unaware of this momentous truth. Yet even if others are unaware of it, that's no excuse for us to be-because the "others" in question are also images in our brains. We experience these images, and are responsible for understanding what we see. Even if everyone we hear around us tells us, "This world is real, not a perception," that still changes nothing. In a dream, you may hear thousands of people shouting with one voice, "This world is real, not a perception". Yet that dream will soon come to an end. All those people will suddenly disappear. Beyond being perceptions, none of them ever existed in the first place.
Real life, too, will also come to an end one day-with death. Everything we see (including those who have told us "this world is real") will vanish, to be replaced by an entirely new reality-that is, the world of the Hereafter. God reveals this fact in the Qur'an, as He describes the predicament of those who make the shadowy entities and goals in this world their whole purpose in living-or else look for assistance from these things, thus turning them into idols:
… [W]hen Our messengers come to them to take them in death, saying, "Where are those you called upon besides God?" they will say, "They have forsaken us," testifying against themselves that they were disbelievers. (Qur'an, 7:37)
Kicking of a stone does not prove that the stone
really exists. That stone is merely a perception in the brain. We
can experience the same perception when dreaming, even though the
"dream stone" does not exist
Those who object to the facts set out here are materialists, ones who
maintain that matter is the fundamental reality and that the human mind
is only another form of matter. Generally speaking, materialists are unwilling
to think about and discuss the obvious truth explained here, that we can
never make direct contact with matter. Often they become quite frustrated
with the idea. Back in the eighteenth century, materialists were incensed
when the British philosopher and clergyman George Berkeley systematically
explained that what we call matter is actually a set of perceptions in
The materialist thinker Samuel Johnson, who lived at the same time, kicked
a stone and shouted out that by doing so, he had "refuted" Berkeley. However,
Johnson's primitive reaction and the similar assertions made by other,
later materialists-merely show how far they are from grasping the truth
of the matter. Neither kicking stones nor punching walls constitutes any
proof of that stones and walls-let alone matter-exist. Everything we do
and feel at that moment is a set of perceptions inside our brains. Indeed,
you can kick a stone just as realistically in a dream, but you will certainly
agree that no such stone actually exists.
Materialists' resistance on this issue is generally based on their failure
to understand it. They've forced themselves into a dogmatic belief in
matter's existence and strongly avoid ever questioning it. Here, we are
pondering and revealing a truth they are unwilling to consider: that if
they accept the existence of matter, then they also must regard themselves
as "the little man at the top of the tower."
The Tower and the Closed Chamber at Its Summit
The image of the tower, which constitutes the title of this book, is just a metaphor we've used to help clarify the subject.
Its meaning is this: Anyone who maintains that actual matter exists at this moment-outside of and apart from the image of the world and your body in your brain-, then you must accept the existence of a giant body that carries all these images inside his skull. In that case, inasmuch as you perceive everything in your brain, you are a tiny person locked into a tiny room, atop a giant tower.
How do we arrive at this conclusion? Let us consider, stage by stage:
1) Look around you at this moment, and you'll
see a large number of objects: furniture, walls, houses, people, cars,
sky-and in addition to all these, your own body. All of these objects,
including your own body, reside in the same place.
2) Where is that? Recall the explanations
in the preceding pages, and you'll realize that this "place" is nowhere
but in the visual center within your brain. In other words, the entire
world you deal with, including your own body, is in an area of just a
few cubic centimeters behind your brain, in your skull. At this very moment,
you're looking at this book in that area in your brain. The hands that
you see, and feel, as you turn these pages are also inside the visual
and touch centers in your brain. All the organs in your body are located
in the same place. The chair you sit in as you read and the room which
houses that chair, are all there too.
3) Therefore, do you believe that outside
this perception inside your skull, you also have a material body? If you
do believe in such a body, then you should realize that you have never
perceived it. Neither do you possess any information about what it might
be like. All you can do is assume such a body's existence.
4) Believe in the existence of such a body,
and you must then accept the existence of a giant outside the body you
see at this moment. Since you and everything you see-your room and all
the objects outside-are in the visual center in that giant's skull. Therefore,
its physical body must also be enormous. Below the area where you are
at the moment, there must lie shoulders, arms, a trunk, legs and feet
(if the giant is, in fact, a two-armed, two-legged person like yourself).
Everything we believe exists outside ourselves
is actually a perception formed in our brains
5) That being the case, you must be a miniature
human being living in a giant's skull. To put this another way, imagine
that you are imprisoned in a locked chamber at the top of a giant tower,
never able to leave that room and merely watching a screen placed in front
of you. In this analogy, the tower is your material body, whose existence
you maintain while the body that you perceive is only the little man imprisoned
at the top of that tower.
If you claim that you have a body whose exterior
you perceive from the outside, then you must accept that you live
imprisoned at the top of a giant tower; that you can never leave that
room, but only watch the screen in front of you.
You can never see this giant tower (the physical body which you imagine exists), because you are locked into a tiny room at its very top. You can never leave that room all through your life. You can watch only the images reflected on the walls of that room. Some objects in those images (stars, for instance) may seem to be millions of miles away. Yet the fact is, you still remain in that tiny room.
In order to better understand this subject, take the example of the animated fantasy cartoons often shown on television. In some of these cartoon films, a giant robot is controlled by someone sitting at the command center in the machine's head. For example, in the well-known film Voltran, giant robots are directed by a man sitting at the command center in the head section. The robot acts in accordance with that person's commands. The commander is a tiny man sitting inside a mechanical man the size of a skyscraper.
If you believe that the body you see and feel at this moment corresponds to any material reality, then you have to accept this system. To put it another way, you must accept that you are a little man sitting in a room at the top of a tower, or atop a giant robot.
Consider that the body that you see and experience at this moment is approximately 5 feet, nine inches-or 1.80 meters-tall. Then, in comparative terms, you have to accept that the body you believe exists "outside" is giant-sized. If the body is a tower and the "I" perceiving it is a person in a cell at the top of that tower, then that tower must be hundreds of feet tall. If you have a 5' 9" image of the body you refer to as "me," then the physical body outside, the existence of which you maintain, must be hundreds of feet high.
Yet another example can make this clearer. Someone who claims that there is a car outside, and that he is seeing that car, needs to think as follows:
The image of the car forms in a person's brain. The visual center is no more
than a few cubic centimeters in size. If the image of a car several feet
in length fits into that area, then that visual center must be the size
of a car, at least.
In the celebrated animation cartoon Voltran,
a giant robot is directed by a pilot sitting in a compartment in the
And if that center is a few meters in size, then the human brain must be of proportionally huge dimensions.
If the human brain occupies such an immense space, then in proportion to his brain, a person's body must be several miles in size.
Here we are referring only to someone who glimpses a car. Consider a person seeing a valley several miles long. If he claims that he sees the original valley, then his visual center must, in the same way, occupy an area of at least several square miles. If so, then the person' brain, internal organs, arms and legs must all be proportionate-and of colossal dimensions.
Since such possibilities are out of the question, isn't it quite illogical
to claim that a car several meters long, or a valley of several square
kilometers, actually exist outside and that the percipient is actually
dealing with them in their original forms?