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
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
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,
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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”
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
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
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
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:
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
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
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:
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:
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.