Sunday, August 16, 2009

Illusion that sustains Reality

Meher Baba's book God Speaks is dedicated:
To the Universe— the Illusion that sustains Reality.

Here's my best understanding of this - using my own words.

In The Evolution of Perception & the Cosmology of Substance, I explain everything away as a mere perceptual illusion, except the act of perception itself. The act of perception, I argue, is necessarily real. Everything else is an illusion.1

Concrete objects and their concreteness, energy, gravity, special relativity, language, thought, and number - even space and time - all can be explained as illusions of perception - explained in terms of evolved perceptual schemata, i.e. ways of perceiving, and shown to be illusions.

But there is a caveat to this.

Self-awareness (consciousness), while it too can be accounted for in this way, or better said - it can be shown to manifest out of this evolutionary process, cannot be an illusion.2

This is because, if perception is real (as stated above), and perception comes to perceive itself (becomes aware of itself, i.e. becomes self-aware), then self-awareness becomes a brute fact by definition - and is not an illusion.

But - and this is the irony - this real self-awareness (consciousness), which is the very purpose of Creation, comes about as a result of illusion. It supervenes upon a set of illusory perceptual schemata that can then be discarded.

This is why God Speaks is dedicated:

To the Universe— the Illusion that sustains Reality.


1. In this instance, by "everything" I don't mean the real EVERYTHING, but the everything in its ordinary sense. Baba also distinguishes two senses of the word "everything."

Out of Mind came this everything
Out of Mind came Energy
Energy holds this everything
Out of Mind came this Matter
Matter means this everything
This everything is also NOTHING
coming out of THAT Everything

— Meher Baba, from Stay With God by Francis Brabazon, 3rd ed. p. 13

2. In God Speaks Baba refers to the "factory of evolution of consciousness" (p. 23 of PDF version).


  1. Very very interesting post. Where are the lines of (1) from?

  2. chris, i'm curious to hear your reasoning for granting perception "real" status (to which you refer in your post) unless i missed it somehow. it seems that you've shown that self-awareness is real IF perception is real. i've always been attracted to this dedication and am interested in your line of thought. Jai Baba.

  3. To Stelios - I added the reference. It is an introductory quote, attributed to Meher Baba, in Stay With God by Francis Brabazon. So far I have not been able to find the original source of the quote. It is the preface quote for the book.

    To Anonymous - In Evolution of Perception, I make a very simple argument that perception is real because its occurrance is self-evident (stands as its own evidence). Be sure not to think I am referring to the percept (the objects of experience), but merely the act of perceiving. Perception has to be occurring in fact (thus real in that sense) because you cannot deny that you are experiening without appealing to your experience in some sense - thus perception cannot be denied without self-contradiction - which would be incoherent. It's discussed further in Essentials of a Spiritual Metaphysics.

  4. Hi Chris - Did you ever hear what Eruch said about this Dedication to God Speaks? I did. First hand. And it was definitely along the lines of: (not a literal quote, but an accurate paraphrase) 'It's the only thing from Baba that I could never understand; since it seems to be contradictory to everything else Baba gave. That is: Reality is what sustains Illusion'
    Did you ever hear this from Eruch?
    Jai Baba from down under!

  5. Hi Jim, I might have heard that about Eruch from someone, but if I did I forgot. I don't really know if I'm right. It was just a thought. I've had other thoughts on it while reading what Baba says. I guess it's just one of those things. (: