Why the Material World is Called an Illusion

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The Illusion of Perceptual Location

Imagine that you are sitting inside a room. You will likely say that there is a space, inside which there is a planet, in which there is a country, inside which there is a city, inside which there is a house, inside which there is a room, inside which the body is currently situated. If you believe in the existence of a soul, you would likely say that the soul is inside the body, and hence it is limited in what it perceives by the fact that the body is inside space, planet, country, city, house, and room. Modern science will agree.

This idea of being inside the space, planet, country, city, house, room, and body is an illusion in Vedic philosophy. The reality is as follows: There is a conscious person—or a soul—which is outside of space, planet, country, city, house, room, and body. However, the soul’s perspective is limited to a certain body, whose perspective is limited to a succession of perspectives called the material space, a planet, a city, a house, and a room. By limiting the perspectives successively, the illusion of being inside space, a planet, a country, a city, a house, a room, and a body is created. Factually, the soul is outside all this.

Thereby, the world is real in the sense that the perspectives exist even if our vision is not limited to those perspectives. But the idea that I’m inside something because it is precluding my vision of other things, is an illusion. I’m not inside the body, room, house, city, country, planet, or space.

Houdini’s Escape Tricks

You might have heard about Harry Houdini who was well-known for his escape tricks. The standard trick involved being locked into a room or a trunk followed by an escape from those enclosures. This is considered a magic trick because we assume that the person is locked inside the trunk or the room.

Now imagine the converse in which the person is not inside the room, although his perspective is limited to seeing the walls of a room to the exclusion of all else. You can imagine that you are seeing the inside of a room through a camera installed in the room, while you are outside the room, looking at the pictures generated by the camera. If the camera moves, then you see something different.

Now take this a step further. Even the camera is not inside the room; the camera is merely interacting with the room such that at the moment it seems to be close to all the walls of the room, and hence seemingly inside the room. An appearance of proximity is created by a strong interaction between the camera and the room, quite like you can have a video call with a friend and he or she appears close on the screen, although they are far away. In modern science, the strength of interaction increases by reducing the distance; we can flip that idea to say: The distance reduces by increasing the strength of interaction. Things far apart seem close and those that are close seem far. But that seeming proximity and distance are not real. Only the things that you see are real. Things are real, proximity is an illusion.

If we adopt this alternative idea of what puts us inside a room or a trunk, then there would be no mystery if a person disappeared from the room. That disappearance is simply disconnecting their consciousness to the camera, connecting it to another camera, or connecting the camera to another room, and thereby seeing something else. They were never inside the room or the trunk; those were simply perspectives, which created the illusion of being inside something else. By changing their perspective, they could enter into something else.

The difference between these two views is as follows: If we think Houdini’s escape tricks involve magic, then the body moves from one place to another. If instead, we think that moving from one room to another is a change in perspective, then consciousness moves from one perspective to another.  What we call a place in ordinary thinking (and modern science) is a perspective in the alternative view. It is impossible for a body locked in a room to escape. But it is possible for consciousness to move, and thereby change the “camera” through which it sees things, or by connecting the camera to something else by changing its focus and interaction.

The Soul and Houdini’s Escape Tricks

We begin to understand Vedic philosophy when we grasp these basic ideas about reality and illusion. The world is real in the sense that some cameras and the pictures they can show exist. However, the world is unreal in the sense that while seeing those things, we are not “inside” space, planet, country, city, house, room, and body. These are also not material things. They are just the images to be seen. If the soul is locked into some camera and image, then it is said to be locked into a perspective. The sense of being “locked” into some perspective, camera, or image is an illusion because the soul is not locked.

This idea is described by saying that you are not this body, sensation, ideas, judgments, morals, desires, etc. That doesn’t mean those things are unreal or don’t exist. It is also described by saying that the soul is “covered” by the material energy through successive layers of matter. Those coverings give the impression of being locked inside if we think of the covering as a trunk locking in Houdini. But the covering is not a trunk. It is an image attached to the soul’s consciousness and it can be removed.

When we were children, we used to play with kaleidoscopes. You turn the kaleidoscope and it shows you a different image. Now imagine that the whole world is simply a kaleidoscope and we are looking into it. The body we consider as “I”, followed by the room, house, city, country, planet, and space that we consider “mine” are just perspectives created by a kaleidoscope. The kaleidoscope, and the visions it produces, are real but the idea that I am these things, or that they are mine, is completely false.

Similarly, the soul moves from one perspective to another. At each step, it performs Houdini’s escape tricks, which means it exits one perspective and enters another one. At the time of death, the soul changes perspective one more time and enters a new body, house, country, planet, or even a universe. Each of these is a version of Houdini’s escape tricks. Even during this lifetime, when we walk from one room to another, the process is a succession of entries and exits. At the time of death, it is yet another entry and exit. The changes can seem small or big, but they are both appearances. The reality is that they are different perspectives, but because the perspective excludes the other perspectives, therefore, we think we are locked inside a body, room, house, city, country, planet, and ultimately the material space.

How Illusion Creates Binary Logic

That mutual exclusion of inside and outside a room creates binary logic, and then the rest of modern science. We think: Either I’m inside or I’m outside. I cannot be both inside and outside, or neither inside nor outside. But the soul is outside the room and yet inside the room as the illusion of proximity, so it is inside and outside simultaneously. Likewise, the room is outside the soul, and yet inside the consciousness simultaneously. Therefore, binary logic or the idea of mutual exclusion, non-contradiction, and identity is an illusion.

This illusory experience of binary logical separation is called duality in Vedic philosophy. The truth is non-dual, which means duality is an illusion. The term māyā is hence used in many ways simultaneously: (a) that which exists, (b) but as an illusion, (c) the illusion is duality, and (d) the duality is unreal. Since everyone gets confused by these things, hence, we can summarize it differently: The reality is non-dual but seems dual. If you describe reality by binary logic, your description is an illusion. If you describe it non-dualistically, it is reality.

Non-duality isn’t just about the “other world”. Even this world is non-dualistic. This is why in quantum mechanics, people are puzzled about how a quantum particle can be here and there simultaneously. How can something be in more than one place at once? The classical description is dualistic, and the quantum reality is non-dualistic. Classical descriptions cannot capture this non-duality, hence all the trouble in physics. It arises because scientists try to describe non-dualistic reality using a dualistic idea of space, distance, and proximity.

But just for a moment, think of ideas: The same idea can exist in two heads at once, so it is here and there at once. Likewise, if you acquire a new idea, it doesn’t mean others who had the same idea before have now become ignorant. The idea hasn’t moved like a classical particle. Rather it has spread to other places. Hence, the idea is localized as a particle and it spreads like a wave, so it is both particle and wave. There is no problem, except that we have to give up dualistic thinking arising out of object contemplation. If we just elevated ourselves to idea contemplation, we will understand this non-dualism, and that sets us on the road to understanding many kinds of non-dualism.

Two Ideas of Change, Law, and Reality

The dualistic and non-dualistic conceptions of reality result in two distinct ideas about change. Under the illusory conception, the body is moving from one room to another and evolving from one age to another. Under the reality conception, the soul is moving from one perspective (body, room, country, life) to another (body, room, country, life).

Likewise, these two distinct ideas about change alter our conception of space. Space under the illusory conception is a container and it contains things like planets, countries, cities, houses, rooms, and bodies. Space under the reality is conception is a set of perspectives produced by a kaleidoscope. You look at one perspective and you create a new conception of I and mine, but it is not you and not yours.

Accordingly, there are two different conceptions of natural laws. Under the illusory conception, the laws pertain to the motion of objects, planets, galaxies, etc. Under the reality conception, the laws pertain to the succession of perspectives—i.e., which perspective follows another perspective, based on our choices, a history of consequences, and abilities produced based on previous choices.

Finally, there are two different conceptions about matter. Under the illusory conception, the material world comprises things or objects with properties and their evolution. But under the reality conception, the material world comprises information about color, shape, size, taste, smell, hardness, roughness, heat, tone, pitch, etc. When you feel you are inside a room with hard walls, neither are you inside the room nor are those walls hard. The sense of being inside a room is an illusion created by a perspective, and the sense of the wall being hard is another impression on awareness by some information.

Qualitative Conception of Reality

We can understand this by analogically thinking of digital files. If we see color on a computer screen, the computer doesn’t store color. It stores information bits. Those bits are converted into color by a display. In the same way, whatever we call ‘matter’ is information, but our senses generate a color by interacting with those bits. So, color is an illusion, because the reality prior to perception is bits of information. But color is not an illusion because there are indeed bits of information that produce color in our experience.

Similarly, reality is some combination of the three modes of nature (sattva, rajas, and tamas). But what we perceive is not these modes; instead, we perceive taste, color, smell, shape, size, hardness, etc. This is because the soul chooses some combination of modes as its definition of the self. By this choice, it picks its material personality and identity. Once the personality is chosen, everything downstream from that self-definition is automatically defined.

This is just like you choose an arbitrary origin of a coordinate system in space, and every location in space is thereafter designated by different numbers. The values we assign to the points in space using a coordinate system are not real. But they become real after the choice of an origin. Likewise, the modes of nature are not truly sensation, thought, judgment, or pleasure. But they are designated as such after we choose a definition of the self—the origin of space.

Hence, in Vedic philosophy, the first thing to define after the soul’s entry into the material space is a self-adopted conception of a self, called the “ego”. The ego is the origin of space that renumbers all locations in space to create personal qualitative reality. In short, it designates one combination of three modes as sensation, another one as thought, another one as judgment, another one as pleasure, etc. This is the construction of a relative space in which an objective reality of mode combinations is redesignated as personal experience. Without the choice of the ego, reality is simply some combination of three qualities but not sensation, thought, judgment, pleasure, etc.

Therefore, if we change our self-conception, then we will change our idea of pleasure. Once that idea of pleasure is changed, then what we consider true, right, and good will also change. Once those changes have occurred, then our thoughts will change. After those changes, our actions will change. And by those changes, our sensations will be altered. When everything beginning from the ego to the sensation is completely redefined, the consciousness starts interacting with others who have the same self-conception and stops interacting with those with different self-conceptions. With this change in interaction, the person disappears from one world and appears in another.

Why Modern Science is an Illusion

The simple difference between modern science and Vedic philosophy is that science describes the bits as three quantities (three coordinate directions) while Vedic philosophy describes them as three qualities. Just like you can specify an object by describing the X, Y, and Z coordinates of its particles in modern science, likewise, in Vedic philosophy, we can specify all the properties of matter by three qualities. Matter in science is a collection of {X, Y, Z} tuples, and matter in Vedic philosophy is a collection of {S, R, T} tuples. The primary difference is that {X, Y, Z} are quantities and {S, R, T} are qualities.

  1. The order between {X, Y, Z} doesn’t matter; you can change the order without altering the reality. The order between {S, R, T} is, however, immensely important. Changing the order in {S, R, T} changes the reality itself. Thus, qualities are hierarchical because {S, R, T} have a dominant-subordinate structure, which results in a strict order between them, while {X, Y, Z} are independent and non-hierarchical variables so the order among them is not strict.
  2. Due to the hierarchical structure of qualities, the space of qualities is like an inverted tree, rather than like a box for a space of quantities. The box-like space is relative because you can flip the order of {X, Y, Z}. The inverted-tree space is absolute because you cannot flip the order between {S, R, T} without changing reality.
  3. The dominant-subordinate structure within {S, R, T} changes cyclically allowing each mode to dominate alternately. Therefore, time is cyclical; that cyclical change is described as a vibration, pulsation, or sound. It can also be interpreted as probabilities since different orders appear at different times. Thus, vibration, probability, and cyclical time are intertwined, as a result of alternating mode domination. Every location in space is sound because it is some {S, R, T} tuple and it is flipping in order. Meanwhile, {X, Y, Z} extend linearly and hence time is linear.
  4. {X, Y, Z} describe things-in-themselves, while {S, R, T} describe conscious experiences. {X, Y, Z} is independent of any observer, but {S, R, T} are always dependent on some observer (because it is redesignated as sensation, thought, judgment, and pleasure). Hence, matter is personalized instead of impersonalized. It is always the conscious experience of some person, caused or produced by some person, and controlled by that person.
  5. Even as {S, R, T} tuples exist objectively, the observer has a choice to accept or reject one or more of the qualities (the tuples can attach partially or completely to the observer). Thus, it is possible to know the same thing in different ways. Due to the dominant-subordinate change, the same thing is also revealed and hidden with time. Therefore, even if something exists, it may not be known to everyone in the same way at all places, times, and situations. Hence, matter is seen as a potentiality rather than a universal fact.
  6. Since choices are involved in observation and action, therefore, the laws of experience pertain to the succession of quality attachments to consciousness, which means that they are the laws of choice and consequence, rather than the motion of matter. Matter is evolving too, but why we perceive some evolution and state in an objective reality, rather than others, becomes the primary law.
  7. The temporal objective evolution of matter is designated as time selecting and deselecting aspects of matter, as the secondary law. Thereby there is objective evolution of matter, and a subjective evolution of the soul through that objectively changing reality. The objective evolution is the evolution of space, while the subjective evolution is the trajectory through this space. Due to the effect of time, the world evolves objectively even if we don’t exist. But due to our choices, we experience parts of this evolution.
  8. Qualities are governed by a non-binary logic unlike quantities governed by binary logic. For example, under non-binary logic, a person is inside a room and yet outside. Likewise, the room is inside the person and yet outside. Binary logic necessitates the mutual exclusion of inside and outside. Non-binary logic allows inside and outside simultaneously, although in different modalities.
    • Consciousness, content, and pleasure are three modalities of a person; the person is outside the room in the consciousness modality, inside the room in the content modality, and neither inside nor outside (or both inside and outside) in the pleasure modality.
    • The pleasure or pain while within a room are not necessarily due to the room (others in the same room may not feel the same pain or pleasure) nor is the room sufficient to cause it (pain and pleasure are partly self-created based on our desires).
    • When a person is neither happy nor sad in a room, then he is neither inside nor outside. If a person is partly happy and partly sad as a consequence of a mixture of his own state and the surrounding triggers, then he is both inside and outside.
    • We use different ideas of inside and outside to explain different kinds of effects. For one effect, we must say that the person is inside; for another, we must say that he is outside. This results in the problem that the person is simultaneously inside and outside.
  9. Quantity addition is associative, distributive, and commutative, but quality combinations are not. For example, if I give you bad news after good news, the result is not the same as giving you good news after bad news. The result of criticism after appreciation is different from the result of appreciation after criticism. This is due to the non-commutative, non-associative, and non-distributive properties of quality additions. Quantitative arithmetic depends on associative, distributive, and commutative properties. Since nature is qualitative, and qualities break the rules of quantitative arithmetic, therefore, we cannot model nature using quantities.

Thereby, every single idea in modern science regarding logic, number, space, time, causality, matter, property, change, and law is rejected. These rejections are consequences of quality vs. quantity. The change is very subtle in one sense—quality vs. quantity. But it has huge ramifications for everything.

Whatever modern science calls reality, law, and change, is false in Vedic philosophy. That characterization, however, doesn’t mean we are hallucinating, that the world is self-created, or nothing exists objectively. These are Western philosophical contrasts to realism, and entail idealism or solipsism, which are egocentric descriptions of experience. They stumble upon a simple question: Nobody wants to suffer, but we are suffering. So, are we creating our suffering for ourselves despite not wanting it? We are not talking about such egocentric ideas. We are talking about reality and science that is qualitative rather than quantitative. They are so radically different as to change every other idea.

The Illusion of Inside and Outside

The most precarious of these illusions is the idea that I’m inside a body, room, house, city, country, planet, and space. We are not. These are just limitations on what we are seeing right now. One who perfectly realizes this can perform Houdini’s magic tricks without magic—he can escape any prison, room, or trunk, by changing his perspective to something else—because he was never inside.

Two things are involved in appearances and disappearances: (a) the soul remains attached to the same bodily perspective, and (b) the soul changes the association of the body with the prison, room, or trunk to associate with something else. By changing the association to other things, the person appears and disappears. If someone has the capacity to make these changes, then they can escape a locked room.

Such appearances and disappearances are called avatār in Vedic philosophy (the word doesn’t mean a different image or form as commonly used in internet parlance, but an appearance into this world). God appears in this world, without leaving His world. He simply associates with the material world, and He appears in this world. And when He dissociates from the material world, then He disappears from this world. In the same way, an advanced yogi disappears from one place and immediately appears in another place.

Hence it is said that even when God appears in this world, He is beyond this world. This is not unique to God. Rather, everyone is beyond a room even when they think they are locked in a room. They just don’t know how and why. The sense of being locked inside a room with hard walls is an illusion.

Applications of Consciousness Movement

Through the same process, one can have easy journeys to other planets—change the perspective from one planet to another. Through the same process, one can understand how the soul migrates from one body to another—the soul is changing the perspective from one body to another. Through the same process, one can understand why the soul is not burned when the body is burned—the feeling of being burned is one perspective and the feeling of relief is another perspective. Through the same process, one can transcend this world—we can change the perspective to the spiritual world. Finally, by the same process, one can also understand that the soul is never “fallen” into the material world. Rather the perspective of the soul is fallen. Hence, the soul cannot be “lifted” out of the world. The soul’s perspective can be lifted by education.

Thus, all of Vedic science is about the movement of consciousness, the laws of this movement based on choice and consequence, and how we can zoom into the perspective to see deeper and deeper, or zoom out from the perspective to see broader and broader. The entire universe can be seen even when the present body is situated inside a room, because that body is only a perspective, while the entire universe is another perspective.

While dreaming, the consciousness leaves the body’s perspective and goes to another perspective. When we wake up, the consciousness leaves the other perspectives and returns to the body perspective. If we leave the body perspective during the waking stage, then we are said to be daydreaming. This is because both dreaming and waking are simply different inside and outside movements of consciousness.

How Dreams Can Change Science

During the waking experience, if you lift a ball, you feel some heaviness. Science explains this by the gravitational law: We are not aware, but the Earth is pulling objects downward to create the impression of heaviness. However, when we lift a ball during a dream, we feel the same heaviness, although there is nothing being lifted from the perspective of modern physics. You could say: The mind recreates the external reality. But why do the dreaming people remember nothing about calculating the gravitational force, with prior knowledge of the mass of earth and the object they are lifting? Even those who know nothing about gravitational force, masses of objects, and computation of forces experience the same heaviness as those who know. The mind recreating heaviness in a dream thus has nothing to do with gravity computation.

Likewise, we feel hot due to the presence of the sun while dreaming during the night, although there is no sun because it is night, and there is no electromagnetic field, let alone the capacity to compute partial differential equations during the dream. Even those who know nothing about the mathematics involved in the computation of electromagnetic fields feel the heat, so it cannot be called a purely mental creation of reality.

The question is: If we can feel heaviness without a gravitational force during a dream, then why not explain the waking experience of heaviness without the gravitational force? If we can feel the heat without an electromagnetic wave during a dream, then why not explain the waking experience of heat without electromagnetic waves? Unless we can explain both experience in the same way, we cannot assume that the explanation is correct. Otherwise, we have two sensations of heat, and one involves an electromagnetic wave and the other doesn’t. We have two sensations of heaviness, and one involves a gravitational field and the other doesn’t. Why have double standards for waking and dreaming?

The answer to all these problems is that there is no electromagnetic or gravitational field. Rather, the consciousness moves from one quality to another, and it can escape the body during the dream to see and do things that it would otherwise do during the waking. The result is the same in both cases. We can also associate and dissociate with these qualities to feel the heat without heaviness or the heaviness without heat. This is why dreams are beyond science because they violate physical laws frequently.

The Futile Desire for Miracles

People at present are attracted to miracles. They consider something “science” only if it performs new miracles that were impossible by the previous science. Under that view, to “prove” Vedic knowledge, there must be people who can perform Houdini’s escapes. It is also true that such things are possible. But acquiring such powers requires considerable practice. This is why we don’t emphasize them.

We rather focus on things that everyone can see most of the time. For example, everyone knows that we must appreciate before criticizing, or giving good news before bad news. Have we sought a scientific explanation of this fact? Everyone perceives qualities at every moment of our living experience. Have we sought an explanation of that? Everyone breaks many laws of physics during dreams, and when such laws seem to be followed, there is no computational apparatus behind its existence. Have we sought an explanation of both how laws seem to be preserved in dreams and often broken during dreams?

These things need a little curiosity, and a lot of patience, determination, and effort. By those things, we don’t need to perform Houdini’s escape tricks. We can rather seek to understand what is around us. This means that we must bring new ordinary experiences to the table and seek an explanation, which will also show the possibility of mystical powers, and explain the appearance and disappearance of God in this world. We may not see mystics, and we may not see God in this world, but the theory that explains numerous ordinary waking and dreaming experiences will naturally necessitate these truths too.

Therefore, people demanding miracles, expecting to see mystics, or asking for proof of God are a waste of time. The focus can also be on ordinary experiences. That kind of “science” is this-worldly rather than other-worldly. It is available to everyone, not just some advanced souls. Why don’t we focus on those things? Why should religion be obsessed with mysticism, miracles, and proofs of God, when the existence of those things is also necessitated by the explanation of ordinary experiences?

The Inversion of Reality and Illusion

The main reason for the decline in religion is that everyone has been indoctrinated with a false idea of reality and illusion. Anything you can measure and quantify is reality, and all qualitative experiences are illusions. The reality is numerical objectivity and illusion is qualitative subjectivity. Basically, everything you experience by your senses is an illusion, and anything you measure using an instrument is real.

Therefore, even if you see God with your eyes, it is still an illusion because all experience is an illusion. God must be measured by a weighing scale, speedometer, thermometer, gyroscope, and pressure gauges to prove that something exists. But even then, you will still not be able to prove that He is the cause and controller of the universe: God would be yet another object, governed by the same laws as those that cause ordinary measurements. Hence, there is no way to prove that God exists. And God must subject Himself to futile tests to prove His existence, which will always be denied. This nonsensical caricature of religion and God is the output of intellectually impoverished individuals. They cannot imagine that something can be here simply by its choice to associate and not here by its choice to dissociate.

When God wishes to interact, He appears in everyone’s vision. He happily seeks interaction with His devotees due to their love. Without an interaction, God cannot be perceived. Through a weak interaction, a crude image of God is perceived. And through a strong interaction, the same person is seen accurately and intimately. Hence, the “distance” to God has to be bridged by a bidirectional strengthening of desire: We have to want to see God, and God has to want to see us. Under that bidirectional strengthening of desire, a strong interaction between soul and God creates the appearance of proximity. Hence, God can be near everyone who loves Him, and far from everyone who doesn’t care about Him. Since God is near someone, therefore, they can see Him. But since He is far from others, therefore, they cannot see Him.

These principles of proximity and distance being produced by a strong or weak interaction are scientific because they apply to every other interaction, proximity, and distance. Hence, the process by which we see God is the same process by which we see other things. The process of seeing God is therefore not religion, while the process of observing the world is science. They are identical processes.

To go to a new place, one has to leave the current place. The place is not coming to us. Every new experience is a different place. To get there, we have to leave the current place. People with deep attachments to the present claim that free will doesn’t exist. But it is not the absence of free will. It is the unwillingness to cut the rope that binds a boat to the shore that makes rowing futile.

Reality is Seen Only After Detachment

Truth is understood when we start detaching ourselves from this body, room, house, city, country, planet, and material life. If we can detach, then we can understand that what we see is merely due to a temporary attachment. Then we can ask: What else could I attach to? Therefore, the people who are attached to this body, room, house, city, country, planet, or material life are not considered knowledgeable. They are treated as dumb, ignorant, unintelligent, noobs. Although they have no clue about reality, they cannot stop talking and pontificating.

In Vedic philosophy, all experiences are real, but the identification of the self with those experiences is false. So, yes, you experience being inside a room. But if you believe that you are inside the room, it is an illusion. Treat that experience of being inside the room just like you treat images in a movie. This detachment from what you are seeing, putting a distance between yourself and the world, is a precondition to understanding the truth. If we can detach, then we understand what free will is: We can attach and detach to different things. If we cannot detach, then free will doesn’t exist, because the material machine is moving, and we are being dragged by that machine. We have to get off this train onto another train to realize that even as the train could be moving deterministically, we are not bound to a train.

Likewise, all qualities are real, but if we quantify them by measurements, it is an illusion. When the pointer moves on a dial of an instrument, that is an effect on an instrument. But since the instrument is dumbed down, it cannot capture the reality accurately. We cannot measure a tiger to know the tiger. Even if we observe the tiger with human senses, we still don’t know the tiger accurately. We have to become the tiger to know the tiger. Likewise, we cannot measure a tree to know what the tree is. Even if we observe a tree with human senses, we don’t know it fully. We have to become the tree to know what it is.

In simple words, the third-person instrument measurement is an illusion. The second-person observation of something is a partial truth. And the first-person experience is real. That reality of first-person experience doesn’t mean that we have become our experience; the experience is real but identification with it is false; likewise, the quantification of experience is an illusion, and the qualities of experience (especially when they include the deeper recesses of our conscious experience) are real.

Modern science has inverted the reality-illusion distinction employed in Vedic philosophy, whereby, everything considered an illusion in Vedic philosophy is called reality in modern science, and vice versa. Thereby, the first-person experience is completely illusory. The second-person experience (e.g., of color, shape, size) is partially based on reality, but it is not completely real. And the third-person instrument measurement is the only reality. This is worse than theological dogmas because you deny the reality of what everyone can see.

Escaping the Illusion into Reality

The way out of this false inversion is to reexamine ordinary experiences and demand a causal explanation of the illusion. Don’t just accept the verdict that it is an illusion because science says it is so. Demand an explanation, of how scientific reality creates an illusion. How does a molecule become an emotion? How do neural connections create judgments of truth, right, and good? How do moving particles create thought? How do electromagnetic waves become taste and smell? How do we feel pain and pleasure as a result of molecules?

If they cannot do that, then ask them: How can one particle be in many places simultaneously? How can something be both particle and wave? How can two things separated by a large distance be entangled? Why do you say that gravity causes heaviness when I can feel heaviness during my dream without gravity? Why do you insist that heat is caused by an electromagnetic wave, when I feel the heat during a dream without such a wave? Modern science cannot even explain basic experiences. But they like to call them illusions.

So, how do you prove that something is an illusion? You test it more and more to check if it stands up to rigorous and intensive scrutiny. Illusions fall apart on scrutiny and the truth is strengthened upon scrutiny. The same is true of the reality-illusion divide. Scrutinize the scientific reality and you will know that it is an illusion. Then scrutinize the scientific illusions, and you will know that they are real.

Summarizing the Illusion

We can summarize this article into two words: quantification and identification. If we quantify the experience, the result is dualistic separation, binary logic, and mathematical equations that cannot explain the simplest of our experiences. This is the first type of illusion. If we identify with the experience, then we have the illusion of being inside the body, room, house, city, country, planet, and space, and then we cannot explain why we ended up here or how we could enter another life, planet, or experience. This is the second type of illusion.

Both illusions are dispelled not by the volume of our voice or the extent of our popularity. They are dispelled by seeking answers to different questions. The illusion of quantification is dispelled by questioning the failure of scientific theories in explaining numerous first-person experiences, second-person observations, and third-person measurements. The illusion of identification is dispelled by questioning how I came to this space, planet, country, city, house, and body, and how I could be in another place, body, or life, of my choosing.

It is easy to remember two words—quantification and identification—and it is not hard to see how the former is modern science and the latter is atheism. Scientists say: Nature is numbers. Atheists say: You are these numbers. The Vedic response to this illusion is: Nature is not numbers; Nature is qualities. Likewise, the soul is not material qualities, but it is qualities nevertheless. The soul-matter interaction is between two kinds of qualities, not between quality and quantity (as in Cartesian mind-body dualism). How hard can it be to remember two words, and completely dispel the illusion? It is only as hard as we want it to be.

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Ashish Dalela, "Why the Material World is Called an Illusion," in Shabda Journal, June 21, 2022, https://journal.shabda.co/2022/06/21/why-the-material-world-is-called-an-illusion/.