By BeJoy

What are dreams made of? Is dream furniture made of wood, nails and fabric? Are dream people made of flesh and blood? How preposterous is that! We all know dream objects are not for real, they are made of mind-stuff.

Now what stuff is the real world made of? That cup I see on my desk, what stuff is it made of? Actually, what I see is nothing but light of different shades and hues as presented to the retinas in my eyes. Beyond that, the cup is indeed a bunch of electrical signals through the nerves. Do we know what those neural currents look like? A further hodgepodge of processing in the brain and –Voila!– the cup shows up in the mind! The cup exists only in the mind. And it is made purely of mind-stuff, the same stuff that dreams are made of. Indeed the whole world exists only in the mind!

I brought this up with a dear friend of mine who, I must say, is quite sharp. “True, the world exists in the mind,” he readily agreed, “but there ought be something in the external world causing that cup to show up in your mind.” I just could not resist a smile at this point of time. My dear, dear friend, if the world is in the mind then what in world could exist outside of the mind? The gross is not the cause of the subtle, indeed its the other way around. The gross external world is a product of the subtle mind-stuff just like fabrics of different shapes and sizes are products of the subtle cotton-stuff.

So far so good. Now, what is this “logical extension” we are to talk about? It’s been said that there is something called the spirit, which is subtler than the mind. And that nothing can be subtler than the spirit. Then we have to infer that the whole world is made of nothing but spirit. This is purely a spiritual world!

But how do we know that there is such a thing called spirit and that spirit is subtler than mind-stuff? Good question, but that’s a subject for someone else’s blog post.


  1. I have a bunch of questions. If you can kindly answer them, it will be helpful.

    1.I still cannot understand how the whole world exists only in the mind from your example of the cup. I agree with you that we perceive only the neural signals to create this entity called "cup" in our mind, but from this how can we simply rule out this possibility that there is something "out there" that is triggering this perception in my mind? The mere existence of neural signals and our perception of those is not enough to come to such a conclusion. Please elaborate.

    2. How can we be certain that it is the same mind-stuff that is active in dream and waking state?

    3. Also how could you claim that the external world is "gross" while the mind is "subtle"? Some explanation here would be helpful (analogy of fabric that was given is not an explanation by itself). If we truly have such a dichotomy of "gross" and "subtle", then your claim that only the "subtle" mind exists and not anything extraneous to it, which you call "gross", would be untenable as there is no "gross" to begin with (and hence no "subtle" either). Thank you.

  2. Let us look at another example. We often model the material world being made of particles like electrons, protons, neutrons and such. At a subtle level, universe is an ocean of e, p and n. At gross level however our perception is that gross objects. We say we ate food, not a whole bunch of protons and neutron etc.

    And what is mind-stuff? At a subtle level our experiences are a conglomeration of a whole lot of sensations. Auditory, visual, tactile and such sensations, both while dreaming and while awake. That is mind stuff. At a gross level, however, we see people, cups etc and not mere sensations.

    And what is "out there" outside of mind? Let us try this game. Let us try naming something which is out in the world but is not in the mind. You will not be able to do it because that thing will manifest in your mind. Another game: Try mentioning an attribute of an "out there" object which is bereft of mind-stuff. Things like length, time, inertia, brightness, color, loudness, hotness, likeability etc are all products of sensations, ie mind-stuff. What is inherent about the "out there" object outside of mind?

  3. In your first paragraph, you are hinting at different levels of physical universe, what in physics is called multiscale. The phenomena happening at microscopic and macroscopic levels occur relatively unknown to each other although they may be correlated. So I guess this is your way of answering my third question about sublte and gross relationships. I do see it that way and as you probably hinted, it is the microscopic phenomena (subtle) that determine the macroscopic measurable quantities (gross). The dichotomy exists only when one sticks to one particular scale where as it vanishes if one sees the inter-relationships between them.

    I agree with you that it is the "same" mind-stuff in dream and waking state because the nature of experience (or perception) is same in both the states. So this answers my second question.

    But I disagree with you on the first question. You are stating that since we can know only through perceptions, the notion of existence of an "external perceived object" is invalid as only perceptions exist. This conclusion is incorrect according to me. You can at best state that we are only sure of perceptions and whether an "external perceived object" really exists cannot be ascertained from these perceptions alone. To decisively say an object "out there" does not exist is as untenable as saying an external object really exists by sticking to the field of perceptions alone. I think humbly saying, "I don't know if an object extraneous to mind exists because I cannot know given this mind apparatus", should be good enough here.

  4. Getting back to that question, what is the beyond-mind attribute inherent in all objects? I suspect perceivers of the spirit-stuff may answer: "Existence."

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