Harun Yahya - Eternity Has Already Begun - Chapter 1
Eternity Has Already Begun


Chapter 1

The Secret Beyond Matter

The concept of "the nature of matter" is one liable to change one’s outlook on life, and indeed, one’s whole life, once its essence is known. This subject is directly related to the meaning of your life, your expectations from the future, your ideals, passions, desires, plans, the concepts you esteem, and the material things you possess.

The subject matter of this chapter, "the nature of matter", is not a subject raised today for the first time. Throughout the history of humanity, many thinkers and scientists have discussed this concept. Right from the start, people have been divided into two groups on this issue; one group, known as materialists, based their philosophies and lives on the substantial existence of matter and lived by deceiving themselves. Another group acted sincerely, and being unafraid of thinking more profoundly, led their lives by grasping the essence of the "things" to which they were exposed and the deep meaning lying beyond them. However, advances in the science and technology of our age have finally ended this controversy by indisputably proving the self-evident fact that matter has no substantial existence.

The importance of the subject comes from its impact on man’s whole life. Every person has a limited lifetime, and everyone is tested by God during this period. Each individual will subsequently be recompensed strictly according to the path he chose to follow, the manners and character he displayed in this world, his eternal life being shaped by what he has merited. This means that in his endless life, he will be requited for the life he has chosen in the world, and will never again have the chance to make amends for his mistakes.

From this viewpoint, it is easier to understand the value of people’s lives on earth. Hence the importance of the subject tackled in this book. Since everyone has a short test time, and will be rewarded or punished for his deeds in his endless afterlife, then it surely follows that he must spend this period in the wisest way. If he fails to do that, his ultimate remorse will be of no avail.

The purpose of this book is to help man before he reaches the stage of repentance, with no chance of atonement on "that day" when man will go to his Creator "all alone just as He created him at first." (Surat al-An'am: 94)

The real nature of matter is first addressed, therefore, from a scientific perspective. As we have earlier stated, the subjects described here are definitely not a matter of opinion or a philosophical idea, but facts proved in many fields of science. However, this subject is not a complex, incomprehensible or difficult one, as is commonly supposed. Anyone who does not flinch from thinking and who sincerely reflects upon reality will easily come to a very important conclusion in terms of his own life, once he has grasped these facts.

What you will read now will perhaps become the key to many issues which you were hitherto unable to resolve or completely understand; you will have a fuller comprehension of concepts such as paradise, hell, and the hereafter in depth and live by acknowledging the meaning of life.

The Long Discussed Question: What is the Real Nature of Matter?

Someone who conscientiously and wisely contemplates the universe he inhabits, the galaxies, the planets, the balance therein, the willpower in the structure of the atom, the order he comes across in every part of the universe, the countless living species around him, the way they live, their amazing traits, and finally his own body, will instantly realize that there is something extraordinary about all these things. He willreadily understand that this perfect order and the subtleties around him could not have originated by themselves, but must certainly have had a Creator.

The question we must answer is: "By Whom were all these things created?"

It is obvious that "the fact of creation," which is self-evident in every domain of the universe, cannot be an outcome of the universe itself. For example, a peacock, with its colouring and design implying a matchless art, cannot have created itself. The miniscule equilibriums in the universe cannot have created or organized themselves. Neither plants, humans, bacteria, erythrocytes (red-blood corpuscles), nor butterflies can have created themselves. Moreover, the possibility that all these entities could have originated "by chance" is not even imaginable.

It is evident that everything that we see has been created, but none of the things we see can themselves be "creators." The Creator is different from and superior to all that we see with our eyes. He is invisible, but everything He has created reveals His existence and attributes.

This is the point at which those who deny the existence of God demur. Such people have been conditioned not to believe in His existence unless they see Him with their eyes. In their view, there is a heap of matter throughout the whole universe, spreading out until eternity and God is nowhere in this heap of matter. Even if they travelled thousands of light years, they think they would not meet God. This is why they deny His existence. Therefore, these people, who disregard the fact of "creation," are forced to reject the actuality of "creation" manifest throughout the universe and try to prove that the universe and the living things in it have not been created. However, it is impossible for them to do this, because every corner of the universe overflows with the evidence of God’s being.

The basic mistake of those who deny God is shared by many people who do not really deny the existence of God but have a wrong perception of Him. They do not deny the signs of "creation" which are everywhere manifest but have superstitious beliefs about "where" God is. Most of them think that God is up in the "sky." They tacitly and wrongly imagine that God is behind a very distant planet and interferes with "worldly affairs" once in a while, or perhaps does not intervene at all. They imagine that He created the universe and then left it to itself, leaving people to determine their fates for themselves.

Still others have heard the fact stated in the Qur’an that God is "everywhere," but they cannot conceive of what exactly this means. In accordance with the distorted thought in their subconscious, they think that God surrounds everything—like radio waves or like an invisible, intangible gas.

However, this and other beliefs that are unclear about "where" God is (and maybe because of that deny Him) are all based on a common mistake. They are prejudiced without reason and so are liable to have wrong opinions of God. What is this prejudice?

This prejudice is about the nature and characteristics of matter. Man is so conditioned in his suppositions about the existence of matter that he never thinks about whether it does or does not exist, or whether it is only a shadow. Modern science demolishes this prejudice and discloses a very important and revealing reality. In the following pages, we will clarify this great reality to which the Qur’an points.

We Live in a Universe Presented to Us by Our Perceptions

According to Albert Camus, you can grasp and count happenings through science, but you cannot grasp the universe. Here is the tree, you feel its hardness; here is the water, you taste it. Here is the wind, it cools you. You have to be satisfied with all that.1 All the information that we have about the realness of the world in which we live is conveyed to us by our five senses. The world we know of consists of what our eyes see, our hands feel, our noses smell, our tongues taste, and our ears hear. We never think that the "external" world could be anything other than that which our senses present to us, as we have been dependent solely on those senses since birth.

Modern research in many different fields of science points to a very different fact and creates serious doubt about our senses and the world that we perceive with them.

According to scientific findings, what we perceive as "the external world," is only the result of the brain being stimulated by the electrical signals sent to it by our sense organs. The multi-hued colours you perceive with your sense of sight, the feeling of hardness or softness conveyed by your sense of touch, the tastes you experience on your tongue, the different notes and sounds you hear with your ear, the variety of scents you smell, your work, your home, all your possessions, the lines of this book, and moreover, your mother, your father, your family, the whole world you have always seen, known, got used to throughout your life, are comprised purely and simply of electrical signals sent by your sense organs to the brain. Though this seems difficult on the first analysis, this is a scientific fact. The views of renowned philosophers like Bertrand Russell and L. Wittgeinstein on this subject are as follows:

For instance, whether a lemon truly exists or not and how it came to exist cannot be questioned or investigated. A lemon consists merely of a taste sensed by the tongue, an odour sensed by the nose, a colour and shape sensed by the eye; and only these features of it can be subject to examination and assessment. Science can never know the physical world.2

Stimulations coming from an object are converted into electrical signals and cause effects in the brain. When we "see", we in fact view the effects of these electrical signals on the mind.

Frederick Vester explains the point that science has reached on this subject:

The statements of certain scientists that "man is an image, everything experienced is temporary and deceptive, and this universe is a shadow," seem to be proven by science in our day. 3

The thoughts of the famous philosopher, George Berkeley, on the subject can be summarised like this:

We believe in the existence of objects just because we see and touch them, and they are reflected to us by our perceptions. However, our perceptions are only ideas in our mind. Thus, objects we captivate by perceptions are nothing but ideas, and these ideas are essentially in nowhere but our mind… Since all these exist only in the mind, then it means that we are beguiled by deceptions when we imagine the universe and things to have an existence outside the mind. So, none of the surrounding things have an existence out of our mind.4

In order to clarify the subject, let us consider our sense of sight, which provides us with the most extensive information about the external world.

How Do Our Sense Organs Work?

Few people think deeply on how the act of seeing takes place. Everyone answers the question "How do we see?" by saying "with our eyes for sure." However, when we look at the technical explanation of the process of seeing, it seems that that is not the case. The act of seeing is realized progressively. Light clusters (photons) travel from the object to the eye and pass through the lens at the front of the eye where they are refracted and fall upside down on the retina at the back of the eye. Here, impinging light is turned into electrical signals that are transmitted by neurons to a tiny spot called the centre of vision in the back of the brain. The act of seeing actually takes place in this tiny spot in the posterior part of the brain, which is pitch-dark and completely insulated from light.

Now, let us reconsider this seemingly ordinary and unremarkable process. When we say, "we see," we are, in fact, seeing the effects of impulses reaching our eyes and induced in our brain, after they are transformed into electrical signals. That is, when we say, "we see," we are actually observing the aggregate of the electrical signals in our mind. Therefore, seeing is not a process terminating in the eye; our eye is only a sense organ serving as a means in the process of seeing.

All the images we view in our lives are formed in our centre of vision, in the size of a nut, which only comprises a few cubic centimetres of the volume of the brain. Both the book you are now reading, and the screen of your computer, and the boundless landscape you see when you gaze at the horizon, and the seamless sea, and a crowd of people who participate in a marathon, fit into this tiny space. Another point that has to be kept in mind is that, as we have noted before, the brain is insulated from light; its inside is absolutely dark. The brain has no contact with light itself. The place called the centre of vision is a place which is pitch-dark, where light never reaches, so dark that maybe you have never been somewhere like it before. However, you watch a bright, multi-coloured world in this complete darkness. A multi-coloured nature, a glowing landscape, all tones of green, the colours of fruits, the patterns on flowers, the brightness of the sun, all the people in a crowded street, vehicles moving fast in the traffic, hundreds of clothes in a shopping mall, and everything else are all images formed in this pitch dark place. Even the formation of colours in this darkness has still not been discovered. Klaus Budzinski comments:

… Chromatists cannot answer the question of how the network in the eye that perceives light as well as colours transmits this information to the brain through sight nerves and what kind of physical-physiological stimulations this creates in the brain.5

We can explain this interesting situation with an example. Let us suppose that in front of us there is a burning candle. We can sit opposite this candle and watch it at length. However, during this period, our brain never has any direct contact with the original light of the candle. Even as we feel the heat and light of the candle, the inside of our brain is completely dark and its temperature never changes. We watch a colourful and bright world inside our dark brain.

Rays of light coming from an object fall upside-down on the retina as seen in the above picture. Here, the image is converted into electrical signals and transmitted to the centre of vision at the back of the brain. The centre of vision is a very tiny place. Since the brain is insulated from light, it is impossible for light to reach the centre of vision. This means that we view a vast world of light and depth in a tiny spot that is insulated from light. Even at the moment when we feel the light and heat of a fire, the inside of our brain is pitch dark and its temperature never changes.

The same is true of sunlight. Your eye’s being dazzled in sunlight or your feeling the scorching heat on your skin does not change the fact that these are mere perceptions and the centre of vision in your brain is completely dark.

R. L. Gregory gives the following explanation about the miraculous aspects of seeing — something that we take so much for granted:

We are so familiar with seeing, that it takes a leap of imagination to realize that there are problems to be solved. But consider it. We are given tiny distorted upside-down images in the eyes, and we see separate solid objects in surrounding space. From the patterns of simulation on the retinas we perceive the world of objects, and this is nothing short of a miracle.6

The same situation applies to all our other senses. Sound, touch, taste, and smell are all perceived as electrical signals in the brain.

The sense of hearing works in a similar manner to that of sight. The outer ear picks up sounds by the auricle and directs them to the middle ear. The middle ear transmits the sound vibrations to the inner ear and intensifies them. The inner ear translates the vibrations into electrical signals, which it sends into the brain. Just as with the eye, the act of hearing finally takes place in the centre of hearing in the brain.

What is true of the eye is also true of the ear, that is, the brain is insulated from sound just as it is from light. Therefore, no matter how noisy it is outside, the inside of the brain is completely silent. Nevertheless, even the subtlest sounds are perceived in the brain. This process is so precise that the ear of a healthy person hears everything without any atmospheric noise or interference. In your brain, which is insulated from sound, and where there is dead silence, you listen to the symphonies of an orchestra, hear all the noises of a crowded place, and perceive all the sounds within a wide frequency range, from the rustling of a leaf to the roar of a jet plane. However, if the sound level in your brain were to be measured by a sensitive device at that moment, it would be seen that complete silence prevailed within it.

Our perception of odour works in a similar way. Volatile molecules emitted by things such as vanilla or a rose reach the receptors in the delicate hairs in the epithelial region of the nose and become involved in an interaction. This interaction is transmitted to the brain as electrical signals and perceived as smell. Everything that we smell, be it pleasant or unpleasant, is nothing but the brain’s perception of the interactions of volatile molecules after they have been transformed into electrical signals. You perceive the scent of a perfume, a flower, a food that you like, the sea, or other odours you like or dislike, in your brain. The molecules themselves never reaches the brain. Just as with sound and vision, what reaches your brain as you sense an odour is simply a set of electrical signals. In other words, all the odours that you have assumed – since you were born – to belong to external objects are just electrical signals that you experience through your sense organs. Berkeley also said:

At the beginning, it was believed that colours, odours, etc., "really exist," but subsequently such views were renounced, and it was seen that they only exist in dependence on our sensations.7

Similarly, there are four different types of chemical receptors in the front part of a human being’s tongue. These pertain to the four tastes: salty, sweet, sour, and bitter. Our taste receptors transform these perceptions into electrical signals through a chain of chemical processes and transmit them to the brain. These signals are perceived as taste by the brain. The taste you experience when you eat a chocolate bar or a fruit that you like is the interpretation of electrical signals by the brain. You can never reach the object in the external world; you can never see, smell or taste the chocolate itself. For instance, if the taste nerves that travel to the brain were cut, the taste of things you ate would not reach your brain; you would completely lose your sense of taste.

At this point, we come across another fact:

We can never be sure that what we experience when we taste a food and what another person experiences when he tastes the same food, or what we perceive when we hear a voice and what another person perceives when he hears the same voice are the same. Lincoln Barnett says that no one can know whether another person perceives the colour red or hears the note C in same way as does he himself.8

We only know as much as our sense organs relate to us. It is impossible for us to reach the physical reality outside us directly. It is again the brain that interprets it. We can never reach the original. Therefore, even when we talk about the same thing, others’ brains may be perceiving something different. The reason for this is that what is perceived depends on the perceiver.

The same logic applies to our sense of touch. When we touch an object, all information that will help us recognize the external world and the objects in it is transmitted to the brain by the sense nerves on the skin. The feeling of touch is formed in our brain. Contrary to general belief, the place where we perceive the sense of touch is not at our fingertips, or on our skins, but at the centre of touch perception in our brains. Because of the brain’s interpretation of the electrical stimuli coming to it from objects, we experience those objects differently, e.g. they may be hard or soft, hot or cold. We derive all the details that help us recognize an object from these stimuli. The renowned philosopher Bertrand Russell comments in relation to this:

As to the sense of touch when we press the table with our fingers, that is an electric disturbance on the electrons and protons of our fingertips, produced, according to modern physics, by the proximity of the electrons and protons in the table. If the same disturbance in our finger-tips arose in any other way, we should have the sensations, in spite of there being no table.9

That the outside world can be identified completely through the senses is a scientific fact. In his book, A Treatise Concerning the Principles of Human Knowledge, George Berkeley comments as follows:

By sight I have the ideas of light and colours, with their several degrees and variations. By touch I perceive hard and soft, heat and cold, motion and resistance. . . . Smelling furnishes me with odours; the palate with tastes; and hearing conveys sounds. . . . And as several of these are observed to accompany each other, they come to be marked by one name, and so to be reputed as one thing. Thus, for example, a certain colour, taste, smell, figure and consistence having been observed to go together, are accounted one distinct thing, signified by the name apple; other collections of ideas constitute a stone, a tree, a book, and the like sensible things. . .10

Therefore, by processing the data in the centres of vision, sound, smell, taste and touch, our brains, throughout our lives, do not confront the "original" of the matter existing outside us but rather the copy formed inside our brain. It is at this point that we are misled by assuming these copies are instances of the real matter outside us. However, as seen throughout the book, there are also thinkers and scientists who have not been misled by such a misconception, and who have realized this fact.

Even Ali Demirsoy, one of the most famous Turkish materialists, also confessed this truth:

In truth, there is neither light as we see it, nor sound as we hear it, nor heat as we sense it in the universe. Our sense organs mislead us between the external world and brain and give rise to interpretations which are irrelevant to reality in the brain.11

Do We Spend Our Entire Life in Our Brains?

From the physical facts described so far, we may conclude the following. Everything we see, touch, hear, and perceive as “matter,” “the world” or “the universe” is only electrical signals occurring in our brain. Therefore, someone drinking an orange juice does not confront the actual drink but its perception in the brain. The object considered by the onlooker to be a “drink” actually consists of electrical impressions of the orange colour, sweet taste, and liquid feeling of the orange juice in the brain. The situation is no different while eating chocolate; the electrical data pertaining to the shape, taste, odour, and hardness of the chocolate are perceived in the brain. If the sight nerves travelling to the brain were suddenly to be severed, the image of the chocolate would just as suddenly disappear. A disconnection in the nerve travelling from the sensors in the nose to the brain would completely interrupt the sense of smell.

Put simply, the tree that you see, the objects you smell, the chocolate you taste, and the orange juice you drink are nothing but the brain’s interpretation of electrical signals.

Another point to be considered, which might be deceptive, is the sense of distance. For example, the distance between you and this book is only a feeling of space formed in your brain. Objects that seem to be distant from the human viewpoint also exist only in the brain. For instance, someone who watches the stars in the sky assumes that they are millions of light-years away from him. Yet, what he “sees” are really the stars inside himself, in his centre of vision. During a trip, one looks at the city below from a plane and thinks that it is kilometres away from him. However, the whole length and breadth of the city are inside one’s brain along with all the people in it.

Today, all scientific data prove that the image we perceive is formed in our brain.

All we see in our lives is formed in a part of our brain called the "centre of vision" which lies at the back of our brain, and occupies only a few cubic centimetres. Both the image of a small room and the boundless landscape you see when you gaze at the horizon fit into this tiny space. Therefore, we see objects not in their actual sizes existing outside, but in the sizes perceived by our brain.

There is yet another misleading, but very important factor. While you read these lines, you are, in truth, not inside the room you assume yourself to be in; on the contrary, the room is inside you. Your seeing your body makes you think that you are inside it. However, you must remember that your body, too, is an image formed inside your brain. Bertrand Russell states the following on the subject:

What we can say, on the basis of physics itself, is that what we have hitherto called our body is really an elaborate scientific construction not corresponding to any physical reality. 12

The truth is very clear. If we can feel the external world only through our sense organs, then there would be no consistent reason for us to consider our body to be separate from the external world, that is, to concede that our body has a separate existence.

Our body is also presented to us by the electrical stimulations (impulses) reaching our brain. These impulses, just like all others, are converted into certain sensations, or feelings in our brain. For instance, the feeling of touch occurring when we touch our body with our hand, the feeling of weight caused by the force of gravity, the feeling of seeing caused by the light rays reflected from our body, etc… all these are assessed as a “collection of feelings” by the brain, and we “feel” our body. As revealed by these scientific facts, throughout our lives, we are exposed not to our original body, but to the impulses reaching our brain pertaining to our body. These impulses are identified as “our body” in our perception.

The same applies to all your other perceptions. For instance, when you think that you hear the sound of the television in the next room, you are actually experiencing the sound inside your brain. You can prove neither that a room exists next to yours, nor that a sound comes from the television in that room. Both the sound you think to be coming from metres away and the conversation of a person right next to you are perceived in a centre of hearing in your brain which is only a few square centimetres in size. Apart from within this centre of perception, no concept such as right, left, front or behind exists. That is, sound does not come to you from the right, from the left or from the air; there is no direction from which sound comes.

The smells that you perceive are like that too; none of them reaches you from a great distance. You suppose that the end-effects formed in your centre of smell are the smell of the objects in the external world. However, just as the image of a rose is in your centre of vision, so the smell of the rose is in your centre of smell; there is neither a rose nor an odour pertaining to it in the external world.

The same facts hold true also for heat. One of the foremost philosophers of his age, George Berkeley, clarifies with the following example that senses like coldness and hotness cannot be judged to exist outside the mind:

Suppose now one of your hands hot, and the other cold, and that they are both at once put into the same vessel of water, in an intermediate state; will not the water seem cold to one hand, and warm to the other?13

Berkeley is right in his analysis. Had heat or cold been present in the matter itself, both hands would have felt the same thing.

The findings of modern physics show that the universe is a collection of perceptions. The following question appears on the cover of the well-known American science magazine New Scientist, which dealt with this topic in its 30 January 1999 issue: "Beyond Reality: Is the Universe Really a Frolic of Primal Information and Matter Just a Mirage?"

The “external world” presented to us by our perceptions is merely a collection of electrical signals reaching our brains. Throughout our lives, our brains process and interpret these signals and we live without recognizing that we are mistaken in assuming that these are the original versions of things existing in the “external world”. We are misled because we can never reach these entities themselves by means of our senses. This point is extremely important.

Moreover, again our brains interpret and attribute meaning to signals that we assume to be the “external world.” For example, let us consider the sense of hearing. Our brains transform the sound waves in the “external world” into a rhythm. That is to say, music is also a perception created by our brains. In the same manner, when we see colours, what reaches our eyes is merely a set of electrical signals of different wavelengths. Again our brains transform these signals into colours. There are no colours in the “external world.” Neither is the lemon yellow, nor is the sky blue, nor are the trees green. They are as they are just because we perceive them to be so. The “external world” depends entirely on the perceiver. Colour blindness is important evidence for this. Even the slightest defect in the retina of the eye causes colour blindness. Some people perceive blue as green, and some red as blue. At this point, it does not matter whether the object externally is coloured or not.

According to the prominent thinker Berkeley:

If the same things can be red and hot for some and the contrary for others, this means that we are under the influence of misconceptions and that “things” only exist in our brains.14

In conclusion, the reason we see objects as coloured is not because they are coloured or because they have an independent material existence outside ourselves. Had colours existed outside us, a deficiency called colour blindness would not have existed. The truth of the matter is rather that all the qualities we ascribe to objects are inside us and not in the “external world.”

Is the Existence of the “External World” Indispensable?

So far, we have been speaking repeatedly of the existence of a world of perceptions formed in our brains, and making the assertion that we can never actually reach this world. Then, how can we be sure that such a world really exists?

As a result of artificial stimuli, a physical world as true and realistic as the original one can be formed in our brain without the existence of the physical world. As a result of artificial stimuli, a person may imagine that he is flying an airplane, while he is actually sitting at home.

Actually, we cannot. Since each object is only a collection of perceptions and those perceptions exist only in the mind, it is more accurate to say that the only world that really exists is the world of perceptions. The only world we know of is the world that exists in our mind: the one that is designed, recorded, and made vivid there; the one, in short, that is created within our mind. This is the only world of which we can be sure.

We can never prove that the perceptions we observe in our brain have material correlates. Those perceptions could conceivably be coming from an “artificial” source.

We can visualize this with such an example:

First, let us imagine that we take your brain out of your body and keep it alive artificially in a glass cube. Next to it, let us place a computer with which all kinds of electrical signals can be produced. Then, let us artificially produce and record in this computer the electrical signals of the data related to a setting, such as image, sound, odour, hardness-softness, taste, and body image. This experiment with your brain, which we have taken out of your body, will be carried out on the peak of a deserted mountain. Finally, let us connect the computer to the brain with electrodes that will function as nerves and send the pre-recorded data to your brain which is now high above the clouds. As your brain (which is literally you) perceives these signals, it will see and experience the corresponding setting. For instance, let us suppose that every detail that comes to mind about a football match in a stadium be produced or recorded – in a way to be perceived through the sense organs. In your brain, all by itself at the summit of the mountain, with this recording instrument connected to it, you would feel as if you were living in this artificially created setting. You would think that you were at the match. You would cheer, you would sometimes get angry and sometimes be pleased. Moreover, you would often bump into other people because of the crowd, and therefore feel their existence, too. Most interestingly, everything would be so vivid that you would never doubt the existence of this setting or your body. Or if we sent to your brain the electrical correlates of senses such as seeing, hearing, and touching which you perceive while sitting at a table, your brain would think of itself as a businessman sitting in his office. This imaginary world will continue so long as the stimulations keep coming from the computer. It will never become possible to understand that you consist of nothing but your brain. This is because what is needed to form a world within your brain is not the existence of a real world but rather the stimuli. It is perfectly possible that these stimuli could be coming from an artificial source, such as a recording device or a different kind of perception source. Experiments carried out about this subject demonstrate this fact.

In the U.S.A., Dr. White from Cleveland Hospital, along with his colleagues, all experts in electronics, performed a great feat in making “Cyborg” survive. What Dr. White succeeded in doing was isolating an ape’s brain from his skull and feeding it with oxygen and blood. The brain, which was connected to an artificially produced “Heart Lung Machine,” was kept alive for five hours. The device, called an Electro Encephalogram, to which the isolated brain was connected, identified in E.E.G. records that the noises made in the surroundings were heard by this brain and that it reacted to them.15

As we have seen, it is quite possible that we perceive an external world through externally given artificial stimuli. The symbols you would perceive with your five senses are sufficient for this. Other than these symbols, there is nothing left of the external world.

It is indeed very easy for us to be misled into believing perceptions, without any material correlates, to be real. We often experience this feeling in our dreams, in which we experience events, see people, objects and settings that seem completely real. However, they are all, without exception, mere perceptions. There is no basic difference between the “dream” and the “real” world; both of them are experienced in the brain.

Who Is the Perceiver?

As we have related so far, there is no doubt that the world we think we inhabit and know as the “external world” is perceived inside our brain. However, here arises the question of primary importance. Is the will that perceives all these perceptions the brain itself?

When we analyze the brain, we see that it is comprised of lipid and protein molecules, which also exist in other living organisms. As is well known, the essence of these proteins is, in fact, atoms. This means that within the piece of meat we call our “brain,” there is nothing to observe the images, to constitute consciousness, or to create the being we call “myself.”

R. L. Gregory refers to a mistake people make in relation to the perception of images in the brain:

There is a temptation, which must be avoided, to say that the eyes produce pictures in the brain. A picture in the brain suggests the need of some kind of internal eye to see it – but this would need a further eye to see its picture… and so on, in an endless regress of eyes and pictures. This is absurd.16

This is the very point that puts materialists, who do not hold anything but matter to be true, in a quandary: to whom belongs “the eye inside” that sees, that interprets what it sees and reacts?

Karl Pribram also focused on this important question, about who the perceiver is, in the world of science and philosophy:

Philosophers since the Greeks have speculated about the "ghost" in the machine, the "little man inside the little man" and so on. Where is the I -- the entity that uses the brain? Who does the actual knowing? Or, as Saint Francis of Assisi once put it, "What we are looking for is what is looking". 17

Now, think of this: The book in your hand, the room you are in, in brief, all the images in front of you are seen inside your brain. Is it the atoms that see these images? Blind, deaf, unconscious atoms? How would lifeless and unconscious atoms feel, how would they see? Why did some atoms acquire this quality whereas others did not? Do our acts of thinking, comprehending, remembering, being delighted, being unhappy, and everything else consist of the electrochemical reactions between these atoms? No, the brain cannot be the will that performs all of these.

In previous sections, we have pointed out that our body is also included in the collection of perceptions we call the “external world.” Therefore, since our brain is also a part of our body, it is also a part of that collection of perceptions. Since the brain itself is a perception, therefore, it cannot be the will that perceives other perceptions.

In his book, The ABC of Relativity, Bertrand Russell focuses attention on this subject by saying:

Of course, if matter in general is to be interpreted as a group of occurrences, this must apply also to the eye, the optic nerve and the brain.18

It is clear that the being that sees, hears, senses, and feels is a supra-material being. For matter cannot think, feel, be happy or unhappy. It is not possible to do all these with the body alone. Therefore, this being is neither matter, nor image, but it is “alive.” This being relates to the “screen” in front of it by using the image of our body.

An example about dreams will illuminate the subject further. Let us imagine (in accordance with what has been said so far) that we see the dream within our brain. In the dream, we will have an imaginary body, an imaginary arm, an imaginary eye, and an imaginary brain. If during our dream, we were asked, “Where do you see?” we would answer, “I see in my brain.” If we were asked where our brain is and what it looks like, we would hold our imaginary head on our imaginary body with our imaginary hand and say, “My brain is a hunk of meat in my head weighing hardly more than a kilo.”

Yet, actually there is not any brain to talk about, but an imaginary head and an imaginary brain. The seer of the images is not the imaginary brain in the dream, but a “being” that is far “superior” to it.

We know that there is no physical distinction between the setting of a dream and the setting we call real life. So when we are asked in the setting we call real life the above question: “Where do you see?” it would be just as meaningless to answer “in my brain” as in the example above. In both conditions, the entity that sees and perceives is not the brain, which is after all only a hunk of meat. Realizing this fact, Bergson said in his book, Matter and Memory, in summary, that “the world is made up of images, these images only exist in our consciousness; and the brain is one of these images.”19

Therefore, since the brain is a part of the external world, there has to be a will to perceive all these images. This being is the “soul.”

The aggregate of perceptions we call the “material world” is nothing but a dream observed by this soul. Just as the bodies we possess and the material world we see in our dreams have no reality, the universe we occupy and the bodies we possess also have no material reality. The famous British philosopher David Hume expresses his thoughts on this fact:

For my part, when I enter most intimately into what I call myself, I always stumble on some particular perception or other, of heat or cold, light or shade, love or hatred, pain or pleasure. I never can catch myself at any time without a perception, and never can observe any thing but the perception.20

The real being is the soul. Matter consists merely of perceptions viewed by the soul. The intelligent beings that write and read these lines are not each a heap of atoms and molecules and the chemical reactions between them, but a “soul”.

The Real Absolute Being

All these facts bring us face to face with a very significant question. If the thing we acknowledge to be the material world is merely comprised of perceptions seen by our soul, then what is the source of these perceptions?

In answering this question, we must consider the following: matter does not have a self-governing existence by itself. Since matter is a perception, it is something "artificial." That is, this perception must have been caused by another power, which means that it must have been created. Moreover, this creation must be continuous. If there were not a continuous and consistent creation, then what we call matter would disappear and be lost. This may be likened to a television screen on which a picture is displayed as long as the signal continues to be broadcast. So, who makes our soul see the stars, the earth, plants, people, our bodies, and all else that we see?

The brain is a heap of cells made up of protein and fat molecules. It is formed of nerve cells called neurons. There is no power in this piece of meat to observe the images, to constitute consciousness, or to create the being we call "myself".

It is very evident that there is a Creator, Who has created the entire material universe, that is, the sum of perceptions, and continues His creation ceaselessly. Since this Creator displays such a magnificent creation, He surely has eternal power and might.

This Creator introduces Himself to us. He sent down a book and through this book has described to us Himself, the universe, and the reason for our existence.

This Creator is God and the name of His book is the Qur’an.

The facts that the heavens and the earth, that is, the universe is not stable, that their presence is only made possible by God’s creating them and that they will disappear when He ends this creation, are all explained in a verse as follows:

It is God Who sustains the heavens and the earth, lest they cease (to function): and if they should fail, there is none - not one - can sustain them thereafter: Truly, He is Most Forbearing and Oft-Forgiving. (Surah Fatir: 41)

As we mentioned at the beginning, some people have no genuine understanding of God and so they imagine Him as a being present somewhere in the heavens and not really intervening in worldly affairs. The basis of this logic actually lies in the thought that the universe is an assembly of matter and God is "outside" this material world, in a faraway place. In some false religions, belief in God is limited to this understanding.

However, as we have considered so far, matter is composed only of sensations. And the only real absolute being is God. That means that only God exists; all things except Him are shadow beings. Consequently, it is impossible to conceive of God as separate and outside this whole mass of matter. For there is actually nothing such as matter in the sense of being. God is surely "everywhere" and encompasses all. This reality is explained in the Qur’an as follows;

God, there is no deity except Him, the Living, the Self-Sustaining. He is not subject to drowsiness or sleep. Everything in the heavens and the earth belongs to Him. Who can intercede with Him except by His permission? He knows what is before them and what is behind them but they cannot grasp any of His knowledge save what He wills. His Footstool encompasses the heavens and the earth and their preservation does not tire Him. He is the Most High, the Magnificent. (Surat al-Baqarah: 255)

That God is not bound by space and that He encompasses everything is stated in another verse as follows:

To God belong the east and the west: Wherever you turn, there is the face of God. For God is all-pervading, all-knowing. (Surat al-Baqarah: 115)

Since material beings are each a perception, they cannot see God; but God sees the matter He created in all its forms. In the Qur’an, this is stated thus: "No vision can grasp Him, but His grasp is over all vision." (Surat al-An'am: 103)

That is, we cannot grasp God’s being with our eyes, but God has thoroughly encompassed our inside, outside, looks and thoughts. For this reason, God says that "He controls hearing and sight" (Surah Yunus: 31). We cannot utter a single word without His knowledge, nor can we even take a breath.

While we watch these sensory perceptions in the course of our lives, the closest being to us is not any one of these sensations, but God Himself. The following verse of the Qur’an asserts this reality: "It is We Who created man, and We know what dark suggestions his soul makes to him: for We are nearer to him than (his) jugular vein." (Surah Qaf: 16) When a person thinks that his body is made up only of "matter," he cannot comprehend this important fact. If he takes his brain to be "himself," then the place that he accepts to be the outside is 20-30 cm away from him. According to this reasoning, nothing can be nearer to him than his jugular vein. However, when he understands that there is nothing such as matter, and that everything is imagination, notions such as outside, inside, far or near, lose their meaning. God has encompassed him and He is "infinitely close" to him.

God informs men that He is "infinitely close" to them in the verse: "When My servants ask you about Me, tell them I am indeed close (to them)." (Surat al-Baqarah: 186). Another verse relates the same fact: "We have told you that your Lord encompasses all men." (Surat al-Isra': 60). However, man is misled in thinking that the being closest to him is himself. God, in truth, is even closer to us than ourselves.

He has called our attention to this point in the verse: "Why is it that when it (the soul) comes up to the throat, and you at that time look on, We are nearer to him than you, but you do not see this." (Surat al-Waqi'ah: 83-85). Indeed, someone on his death bed, or lying ill can think, although greatly mistaken, that at that moment, the nearest being to him is his doctor beside him, or his mother holding his hand, or one of his dear ones hugging him. However, as also related in the verse, God is nearer to him than everyone else. Yet, people go through life unaware of this phenomenal fact, because they do not see it with their eyes.

The only conclusion to be derived from the sum total of the facts presented here is that the only and real and absolute being is God. With His knowledge, God encompasses man, who is a shadow being, as well as everything else: "Your god is God alone, there is no god but Him. He encompasses all things in His knowledge." (Surah Ta Ha: 98). In another verse of the Qur’an, God warns people against such heedlessness:

What! Are they in doubt about the meeting with their Lord? What! Does He not encompass all things? (Surah Fussilat: 54)

Quite the reverse is true of man, who is nothing but a shadow being, and who is so wholly dependent on God, that it is impossible for him to have any independent power or will: "You will not will unless God wills." (Surat al-Insan: 39). Another verse showing that everything we experience takes place under God’s control runs: "God has created you and what you do!" (Surat as-Saffat: 96). In the Qur’an, this reality is stated at many points and with the verse "You did not throw, when you threw, it was God who threw" (Surat al-Anfal: 17), it is emphasized that no act is independent of God. Since the human being is a shadow being, he himself does not perform the act of throwing. However, God gives this shadow being the feeling of a "self." In reality, God performs all acts. If someone takes the acts he does as his own, thinks he himself does everything he does, moreover, supposes that he is a being with independent power and puts his trust in this power, he evidently means to deceive himself. For obviously, man is a being totally under the control of God.

This is the reality. The individual may not want to concede this and may think of himself as a being independent of God; but this does not change a thing. Of course his unwise denial is again subject to God’s will and desire. In the Qur’an, this fact is addressed thus:

It is other than the religion of God that you desire, when everything in the heavens and earth, willingly or unwillingly, submits to Him? To Him you will all be returned. (Surat Al 'Imran: 83)

God is All-Knowing

God’s attribute of "al-Muhit" means "He Who encompasses all." Since God encompasses everything, He is the One Who knows everything people live through. God created all feelings such as pain, soreness, love, pleasure, sadness, and happiness, and therefore God knows all of them very well. Because He knows, He creates and makes His slaves experience them as much as He wills. A point has to be made clear here: God is totally away from these pains and deficiencies. Another attribute of God in the Qur’an is al-Quddus, which means "He Who is unblemished by any error or forgetfulness, and Who is free of imperfection or any kind of defect." All imperfections belong to man.

One of the attributes of God mentioned in the Qur’an is al-Muta’ali, which means "He Who is higher than any action, manner or condition, and any thought that any being may have." This means that God encompasses all things everywhere and knows the innermost secrets of everything. This is "knowing" in the real sense. In order to appreciate the almightiness and omnipotence of God, one needs to have a better grasp of this subject. That God knows the pains, soreness, and every feeling we experience makes us once again understand the fact that God is nearer to us than our jugular vein. God sees man everywhere. Even when he is alone in a sheltered, hidden, secret place, where no one sees him, even when he thinks that he is working at something very secret, God sees him. In the Qur’an, it is stated that God is All-Aware.

Do they not know that God knows their secrets and their private talk, and that God is the Knower of all unseen things? (Surat at-Tawbah: 78)

God hears all words: even at a time when an individual thinks that he is whispering secretly behind barred doors, and solid walls, God hears him. God knows what is in his heart, what he hides from everyone else, as well as those things in his subconscious, of which even he himself is unaware. In the Qur’an, these facts are emphasized:

Though you speak out loud, He knows your secrets and what is even more concealed. (Surah Ta Ha: 7)

Everything That You Possess Is Intrinsically Illusory

As is quite evident, it is a logical, scientific fact that the "external world" has no material reality and that it is a collection of images perpetually presented to our soul by God. Nevertheless, people usually do not include, or rather do not want to include, everything in the concept of the "external world."

If one ponders deeply on all that is said here, he will soon realise this amazing, extraordinary situation by himself: that all the events in the world are but mere imagination…

Think about this issue sincerely and boldly. You will realize that your house, furniture, car – which has perhaps been recently bought, – office, jewellery, bank account, wardrobe, spouse, children, colleagues, and everything else that you possess are, in fact, included in this imaginary external world projected to you. Everything you see, hear, or smell – in short – perceive with your five senses around you, is a part of this "imaginary world": the voice of your favourite singer, the hardness of the chair you sit on, a perfume whose smell you like, the sun that keeps you warm, a flower with beautiful colours, a bird flying in front of your window, a speedboat moving swiftly on the water, your fertile garden, the computer you use at your job, or your hi-fi that has the most advanced technology in the world…

This is the reality, because the world is only a collection of images created to test man. People are tested all throughout their limited lives with perceptions having no reality. These perceptions are intentionally presented as appealing and attractive. This fact is mentioned in the Qur’an:

Fair in the eyes of people is the love of things they covet: Women and sons; heaped-up hoards of gold and silver; horses branded for blood and excellence; and wealth of cattle and well-tilled land. Such are the possessions of this world’s life; but in nearness to God is the best of the goals to return to. (Surat Al 'Imran: 14)

Most people cast their religion away because they have succumbed to the lure of property, wealth, heaped-up hoards of gold and silver, dollars, jewellery, bank accounts, credit cards, wardrobes full of clothes, latest-model cars, in short, all the forms of prosperity that they either possess or strive to possess. They concentrate only on this world while forgetting the hereafter. They are deceived by the "fair and alluring" face of the life of this world, and fail to keep up prayer (salat), or give charity to the poor, or perform the kind of worship that will make them prosper in the hereafter. They say instead, "I have things to do," "I have ideals," "I have responsibilities," "I do not have enough time," "I have tasks to complete" or "I will do it later." They consume their lives trying to prosper only in this world. In the verse, "They know but the outer things in the life of this world: but of the end of things they are heedless" (Surat ar-Rum: 7), this misconception is defined.

The fact we describe in this chapter, namely, that everything is an image, is very important in that its implications render all lusts and boundaries meaningless. The verification of this fact makes it clear that everything people value, possess or toil to possess – wealth acquired as a result of greed, children of whom they boast, spouses whom they consider closest to them, friends, their own pampered bodies, the social status which they believe to be a form of superiority, the schools they have attended, the holidays on which they have been – is nothing but an illusion. Therefore, all the effort, the time spent, and the satisfaction of greed, prove unavailing.

This is why some people unwittingly make fools of themselves when they boast of their wealth and properties, or of their "yachts, helicopters, factories, holdings, manors, and lands" as if they really existed. Those well-to-do people who ostentatiously sail in their yachts, show off their cars, and keep talking about their wealth, suppose that their posts rank them higher than everyone else, try to make a spectacle of themselves with their dresses, build their entire lives upon such passions and competitions, and keep thinking that they are successful because of all this, should actually think about the state they will find themselves in once they realize that success is nothing but an illusion.

These scenes repeat themselves likewise in dreams. In their dreams, too they have houses, fast cars, extremely precious jewels, rolls of dollars, and loads of gold and silver. In their dreams, they are also positioned in high ranks, own factories with thousands of workers, possess power to rule over many people, and dress in clothes that make everyone admire them. But just as the dreamer would be ridiculed for boasting about the possession he had in his dreams, so would the wide-awake person be equally ridiculed for boasting of the images he sees in this world. For what he sees in his dreams and in this world are both mere images in his mind. Certainly, this fact has to be thought over. As stated in the following verse, those who realize this fact will be successful:

Clear insights have come to you from your Lord. Whoever sees clearly, does so to his own benefit. Whoever is blind, it is to his own detriment. I am not here as your keeper. (Surat al-An'am: 104)

Similarly, the way people react to the events they experience in the world will make them feel ashamed when they realize the reality. Those who fight fiercely with each other, rave furiously, swindle, take bribes, commit forgery, lie, selfishly withhold their money, do wrong to people, beat and curse others, rage aggressively, are full of passion for office and rank, are envious, and show off, will be disgraced when they realize that they have done all of this in a dream world.

Since God creates all these images, the Ultimate Owner of everything is God alone. This fact is stressed in the Qur’an:

But to God belong all things in the heavens and on earth: And He it is that encompasses all things. (Surat an-Nisa': 126)

It is great foolishness to cast religion away for the sake of imaginary passions and thus lose the eternal life. Moreover, it will lead one to everlasting misfortunes. God predicts the state of the willfully irreligious as follows:

…What they achieved here will come to nothing. What they did will prove to be null and void. (Surah Hud: 16)

As stated in the above verse, both their passions and greed will prove to be null and void, and the things they thought they possessed will be lost in the face of this fact; they will not be of any use, and will become worthless.

At this stage, one point should be understood. It is not maintained here that "the possessions and wealth you have with which you are being stingy, and your children, spouses, friends, and rank will vanish sooner or later, and therefore do not have any meaning," but that "all the possessions you seem to have do not exist; they are merely dreams composed of images which God shows you to test you." As you see, there is a big difference between the two statements. If the former statement were accepted at face value, the individual might be misled into thinking that all these things, people, relationships and worldly status actually existed, albeit temporarily, and he might still work with greed to possess them. But given the latter statement, indicating the true state of affairs, that is, of everything being imaginary, any individual who displayed greed for this purpose would be disgraced and also suffer an unprecedented loss.

Although one does not want to acknowledge this right away and would rather deceive oneself by assuming everything one has truly exists, one is finally to die and in the hereafter everything will be clear when we are recreated. On that day, "sharp is one’s sight" (Surah Qaf: 22) and we will see everything much more clearly. However, if we have spent our lives chasing after imaginary aims, we are going to wish we had never lived this life and will say: "Ah! Would that Death had made an end of me! Of no profit to me has been my wealth! And I am bereft of all my power!" (Surat al-Haqqah: 27-29)

What a wise man should do, on the other hand, is to try to understand the greatest reality of the universe here in this world, while he still has time. Otherwise, he will spend all his life running after dreams and face a grievous penalty at the end. In the Qur’an, the final state of those people who run after illusions (or mirages) in this world and forget their Creator, is stated as follows:

As for the unbelievers, their deeds are like a mirage in the sandy desert, which the man parched with thirst mistakes for water; until he comes up to it, and then finds it to be nothing: But he finds God ever with him, and God will pay him back in full: and God is swift in His reckoning. (Surat an-Nur: 39)

What is the Difference Between the World in Dreams and the World We Perceive Now?

For human beings, reality is all that can be touched with the hand and seen with the eye. Above, we mentioned that our sense organs mislead us and remarked that, scientifically, we can never reach the reality of the external world. The universe of perceptions which we inhabit can be explained also by using the dream analogy. In your dreams, you can also "touch with your hand and see with your eye", but in reality, you have neither hand nor eye, nor is there anything that can be touched or seen. There is no material reality outside your brain that makes these things happen. You are simply being deceived.

What is it that separates real life and dreams from one another? Is it that real life is continuous, and dreams are unconnected, or rather that there are different cause-effect relationships in dreams? Basically, these are not important differences. Ultimately, both forms of living are brought into being within the brain.

For you, reality is all that can be touched with the hand and seen with the eye. In your dreams you can also "touch with your hand and see with your eye", but in reality, then you have neither hand nor eye, nor is there anything that can be touched or seen. There is no material reality that makes these things happen except your brain. You are simply being deceived. What is it that separates real life and dreams from one another? Ultimately, both forms of living are brought into being within the brain. If we are able to live easily in an unreal world during our dreams, the same can equally be true for the world we live in while awake. When we wake up from a dream, there is no logical reason not to think that we have entered a longer dream called "real life". The reason we consider our dream a fancy and the world 'real' is only a product of our habits and prejudices. This suggests that we may well be awoken from the life on earth, which we think we are living right now, just as we are awoken from a dream.

If we are able to live easily in an unreal world during our dreams, the same can equally be true for the world we live in while awake. When we wake up from a dream, we can never be sure that we have not entered a longer dream called "real life." The reason we consider our dream a fancy and the world "real" is only a product of our habits and prejudices.

This suggests that we may well be awoken from this life on earth, which we think we are living right now, just as we are awoken from a dream. This point is very important and definitely needs to be reflected upon.

Therefore, it is useful to think about the example of dreams more deeply. A person can experience very realistic events in dream. He can roll down the stairs and break his leg, have a serious car accident, become pinioned under a bus, or eat a cake and be satiated. Similar events to those experienced in our daily lives are also experienced in dreams with the same persuasive sense of their reality, and arousing the same feelings in us. This shows us that perceptions such as taste, touch, or the feeling of hardness can never be evidence of the substantial existence of matter, for these feelings are experienced in dreams with the same sharpness. However, materialists who hold matter to be the absolute being totally fail in understanding this point. In order to prove the existence of matter, they quote examples similar to those above. According to their crooked reasoning, their feeling pain when they give a kick to a stone, or are slapped in the face, their feeling full when they eat a cake, or people’s running away seeing a bus on the highway so as not to be knocked down by it are evidence of the existence of matter. The point they fail to understand is that the pain they feel when they give a kick to a stone, the taste they get when they eat a cake, and the perceptions of hardness and physical agony perceived during a bus crash also form in the brain.

A person who dreams that he has been knocked down by a bus can open his eyes in a hospital, again in his dream, and understand that he is disabled, but it is all a dream. He can also dream that he dies in a car crash, angels of death take his soul, and his life in the hereafter begins. (This latter event is experienced in the same manner in this life, which, just like the dream, is a perception.)

This person perceives very sharply the images, sounds, feelings of solidity, light, colours, and all other feelings pertaining to the event he experiences in his dream. The perceptions of his dream are as natural as the ones in "real" life. The cake he eats in his dream satiates him, although it is a mere dream-sense perception, because being satiated is also a dream-sense perception. However, in reality, this person is lying in his bed at that moment. There are no stairs, traffic, or buses to consider. The dreaming person experiences and sees perceptions and feelings that do not exist in the external world. The fact that in our dreams, we experience, see, and feel events with no physical correlates in the "external world" very clearly reveals that the "external world" of our waking lives also consists entirely of mere perceptions. Be it in a dream, or in daily life, all things that are seen, experienced and felt are perceptions.

Let us consider the bus crash example: If the crushed person’s nerves travelling from his five senses to his brain, were connected to another person’s brain with a parallel connection, at the moment the bus hit him, it would also hit that person sitting at home at the same time. All the feelings experienced by the victim of the accident would be experienced by the person sitting at home, just like the same song being listened to from two different loudspeakers connected to the same tape recorder. That person would feel, see, and experience the braking of the bus, the impact of the bus on his body, the images of a broken arm and blood, fractures, images of his entering the operation room, the hardness of the plaster cast, and the feebleness of his arm.

All other persons connected in parallel to the man’s nerves would experience the accident from beginning to end. If the man in the accident fell into a coma, they would all fall into a coma. Moreover, if all the perceptions pertaining to the car accident were recorded, and if all these perceptions were transmitted to someone repeatedly, the bus would knock him down many times.

So, which one of the buses hitting those people is real? The materialist philosophy has no consistent answer to this question. The right answer is that they all experience the car accident in all its details in their own minds.

The same principle applies to the cake and stone examples. If the nerves of the sense organs of the person who felt satiety and fullness of his stomach after eating a cake, were connected in parallel, to a second person’s brain, the latter would also feel full when the former ate the cake and was satiated. If the nerves of the materialist, who felt pain in his foot when he delivered a sound kick to a stone, were connected in parallel to a second person, the latter would feel the same pain.

So, which cake or which stone is the real one? The materialist philosophy again falls short of giving a consistent answer to this question. The correct and consistent answer is this: both persons have eaten the cake in their minds and are satiated; both persons have fully experienced the moment of striking the stone in their minds.

In that case, it is not possible for man to transcend his senses and break free of them. As in the above-mentioned examples, it is possible to make a man’s soul be exposed to all kinds of representations of physical events although they have no physical body and no material existence and lack material weight. It is not possible for a human being to realize this, for he assumes these three-dimensional images to be real and is certain of their existence because, like everybody else, he depends on his sensory organs. It is also clearly revealed in these examples that there is no clear-cut difference between dreams and real life. Therefore, we can never be sure that the life we live now is not a kind of dream.

Why Can’t They Understand?

The subject we have explained so far is one of the greatest truths that you will ever be told in your lifetime. Proving that the whole material world is in reality a "shadow being", this subject is the key to comprehending the being of God and His creation, and to understanding that He is the only absolute being.

One who understands this subject realizes that the world is not the sort of place it is thought by most people to be. The world is not an absolute place with a true existence as supposed by those who wander aimlessly about the streets, get into fights in pubs, show off in luxurious cafés, spend their lives in vain talk, brag about their property, are caught up in their miserly and selfish passions or who dedicate their lives to hollow aims. The world is only a collection of perceptions, an illusion. All of the people we have alluded to above, no matter what their posts and ranks are, are only shadow beings who watch these perceptions in their minds; yet, remain unaware of this.

The truths explained here are as definite as a law of physics or a chemistry formula. When necessary, people can solve even the most difficult math problems, and grasp many subjects which seem very hard to understand. Yet when the same people are told that matter is nothing but an image formed in the brain, they are reluctant to accept this. This is a very "extreme" case of mindlessness. Grasping the subject in question is as easy as answering such questions as "What is two times two?" or "How old are you?" Or as easy as someone drinking a glass of water would find it to answer the question: "What are you drinking the water out of?" For these are facts definitely proven by science today.

In the field of medicine, if you ask a specialist how the eye works, he can explain to you the technical subjects we have described here in full detail. He, however, does not admit to what is self-evident in consequence of these technical data; he never concedes that "yes, the image is formed in my brain, so it is impossible for me to have a certain idea of what is happening outside." Or if you ask that person, "Where is the moon?" he will look up and say, "The moon is millions of kilometres above." Yet he can never say: "The moon is actually in my brain." He pleads ignorance of it; because to accept this fact or to pronounce it openly reveals another very important fact for him. Since everything is an illusion formed in the brain and presented to him, then there is a Creator Who makes him watch these images.

This is the reason why one who has spent long years in education, and has become known as having the greatest degree of specialization in his own field, from whom many take counsel on a variety of subjects, and who vaunts his intelligence, cannot understand such an obvious reality. This subject reminds such people of religion, calls to mind the being of God, His endless might dominating everything, and that He is the sole Owner of all things. For this reason, Satan influences people not to think about this subject. As stated in the Qur’an with reference to the people of Saba, "…Satan has made their actions seem good to them and debarred them from the right path so they are not guided to the worship of God." (Surat an-Naml: 24), Satan keeps people at a distance from this fact.

Those influenced by Satan’s suggestions are degraded, being unable to see the plain truth before them. Their situation is like that of one who claims that the images on the movie screen "really exist," and who even attempts to intervene in the doings of these images. It is no different from someone stretching out his hand to a plate of food on the TV, taking it to be real. It is evident that the condition of those who try to escape from this subject is a "very extreme state of heedlessness." Indeed, this heedlessness stems from their having been, as disbelievers, bereft of wisdom by God. In the Qur’an, it is stated that disbelievers "have hearts they do not understand with. They have eyes they do not see with. They have ears they do not hear with. Such people are like cattle. No, they are even further astray! They are the unaware." (Surat al-A'raf: 179)

The message in the verse is a miracle of the Qur’an. In the Qur’an, God refers to the existence of people who are highly knowledgeable, who can grasp technical subjects, yet who cannot grasp the apparent truth about the real nature of matter despite its having been described to them in various ways. Another verse on this subject predicts their fate:

As for those who disbelieve, it makes no difference to them whether you warn them or do not warn them, they will not believe. God has sealed up their hearts and hearing and over their eyes is a blindfold. They will have a terrible punishment. (Surat al-Baqarah: 6-7)

Now, God allows some people to grasp this subject. Yet, those who run away from the truth today must know that this scientific fact will, in a few years’ time, gain general acceptance in all parts of the world. People will certainly come to understand that they live in an imaginary world put on for them like a play. At a time God has determined, He will remove the veil from the eyes of people and show them that He is the nearest Being to them, that everything save His Being is a "dream." People will fully comprehend this fact about the secret beyond matter, as well as other facts communicated in the Qur’an.


The subject we have explained so far is one of the greatest truths that you will ever be told in your lifetime.

You can explore beyond this point by dint of personal reflection. For this, you have to concentrate upon, devote your attention to, and ponder on the way you see the objects around you and the way you feel their touch. If you think heedfully, you can feel that the intelligent being that sees, hears, touches, thinks, and reads this book at this moment is only a soul, who watches the perceptions called "matter" on a screen. One who comprehends this is considered to have moved away from the domain of the material world that deceives a major part of humanity, and to have entered the domain of true existence.

This reality has been understood by a number of theists and philosophers throughout history. Islamic intellectuals such as Imam Rabbani, Muhyiddin Ibn al-’Arabi and Mawlana Jami realized this from the signs of the Qur’an and by using their reason. Some Western philosophers like George Berkeley have grasped the same reality through reason. Imam Rabbani wrote in his Maktubat (Letters) that the whole material universe is an "illusion and supposition (perception)" and that the only absolute being is God:

God… The substance of these beings which He created is mere nothingness… He created all in the sphere of senses and illusions… The existence of the universe is in the sphere of senses and illusions, and it is not material… In reality, there is nothing on the outside except the Glorious Being, (Who is God).21

Imam Rabbani explicitly stated that all images presented to man are only illusions, and that they have no originals on the "outside".

This imaginary cycle is portrayed in imagination. It is seen to the extent that it is portrayed, yet, with the mind’s eye. On the outside, it seems as if it is seen with the head’s eye. However, this is not the case. It has neither a designation nor a trace on the outside. There is no circumstance to be seen. Even the face of a person reflected in a mirror is like that. It has no constancy on the outside. No doubt, both its constancy and image are in the IMAGINATION. God knows best.22

Mawlana Jami stated the same fact, which he discovered by following the signs of the Qur’an and by using his wit: "All phenomena of the universe are senses and illusions. They are either like reflections in mirrors or shadows."

However, the number of those who have understood this fact throughout history has always been limited. Great scholars such as Imam Rabbani have written that it might not be wise to tell this fact to the masses, because most people are not able to grasp it.

In the age in which we live, this has been established as an empirical fact by the body of evidence put forward by science. The fact that the universe is a shadow being is described for the first time in history in such a concrete, clear, and explicit way.

For this reason, the 21st century will be a historical turning point, when people will generally comprehend the divine realities and be led in crowds to God, the only Absolute Being. The materialistic creeds of the 19th century will be relegated to the trash-heaps of history, God’s being and creating will be accepted, spacelessness and timelessness will be understood; humanity, in short, will cast aside the centuries-old veils, deceits and superstitions which have been confusing them.

It is not possible for this unavoidable course to be impeded by any shadow being.


1. Orhan Hançerlioglu, Düsünce Tarihi (History of Idea), Remzi Kitabevi, Istanbul: 1987, p.432
2. Orhan Hançerlioglu, Düsünce Tarihi (History of Idea), Remzi Kitabevi, Istanbul: 1987, p.447
3. Frederick Vester, Denken, Lernen, Vergessen, vga, 1978, p. 6
4. George Politzer, Principes Fondamentaux de Philosophie, Editions Sociales, Paris, 1954, pp. 38-39-44
5. Bilim ve Teknik Magazine (Science and Technology), No. 227, p. 6-7
6. R.L.Gregory, Eye and Brain: The Psychology of Seeing, Oxford University Press Inc. New York, 1990, p.9
7. George Berkeley, A Treatise Concerning the Principles of Human Knowledge", 1710, Works of George Berkeley, vol. I, ed. A. Fraser, Oxford, 1871
8. Lincoln Barnett, The Universe and Dr. Einstein, William Sloane Associate, New York, 1948, p. 20
9. Bertrand Russell, ABCof Relativity, George Allen and Unwin, London, 1964, pp. 161-162
10. George Berkeley, A Treatise Concerning the Principles of Human Knowledge", 1710, Works of George Berkeley, vol. I, ed. A. Fraser, Oxford, 1871 p. 35-36
11. Ali Demirsoy, Kalitim ve Evrim (Inheritance and Evolution), p.4
12. Bertrand Russell, What is the Soul?, Works of George Berkeley, vol. I, ed. A. Fraser, Oxford, 1871
13. Bertrand Russell, Three Dialogues Between Hylas and Philonous, Works of George Berkeley, vol. I, ed. A. Fraser, Oxford, 1871
14. George Politzer, Principes Fondamentaux de Philosophie, Editions Sociales, Paris, 1954, p. 40
15. Bilim ve Teknik Magazine (Science and Technology), No:111, p.2
16. R.L.Gregory, Eye and Brain: The Psychology of Seeing, Oxford University Press Inc. New York, 1990, p.9
17. Ken Wilber, Holographic Paradigm and Other Paradoxes, p.20
18. Bertrand Russell, ABCof Relativity, George Allen and Unwin, London, 1964, pp. 161-162
19. Henri Bergson, Matter and Memory, Zone Books, New York, 1991
20. David Hume, A Treatise of Human Nature, Book I, Section IV:Of Personal Identity
21. Imam Rabbani, Hz. Mektuplarý (Letters of Rabbani), Vol II, 357. Letter, p. 163
22. Imam Rabbani, Hz. Mektuplarý (Letters of Rabbani), Vol II, 470. Letter, p.1432