Paul Brunton Philosophic Foundation homepage > Notebooks of Paul Brunton > Category 21 : Mentalism > Chapter 2 : The World As Mental

The World As Mental

Mind, the projector

We can find no direct connection or immediate operation between a thought and a thing. We instinctively rebel at the notion that there could be one. And rightly so. For there are no things apart from the thoughts of them.

It was Plato who rightly pointed out that experience is really a medley of changing opinions and conflicting beliefs, thereby offering contrast with the orderliness and consistency of reasoned knowledge. This is why we have to begin intellectual analysis of the world by separating the realm of sense perception from the realm of reasoned perception, as though they were entirely different. But we must not end with such an artificial separation. For in the higher stages we climb to the viewpoint which reunites them again. The Thought is then the Thing. The Appearance is then also the Real!

The falsity of the view that the real world is outside consciousness and that the mental copy of it alone is inside consciousness, becomes known only after thoroughly deep penetrative thought. There is no world apart and separate to be copied, for the idea is the world.

We do not have a direct acquaintance with an external, material object; we have a direct acquaintance with our own perception only, the rest being a process of unconscious inference. We do not arrive at the notion of the man as a whole until we have experienced a compound of sensations such as his height, form, colour, and feel. A percept is the discrimination and combination of sensations, to which is added the assumption of extra-mental, separate, independent existence of the thing perceived. That a man is standing two feet away from our body in the domain of objectivity is an inference which we draw unconsciously, for the only experience which we have of him are these happenings in the eye and ear--that is, happenings which are ultimately within mind. It is only at the end of this whole process that we assume the object is in an independent, outside world. From these personal impressions our mind gets to work and makes a deduction that an outer man is there. What we really see is something mental, the existence of the material man being deduced from that of the mental experience. We do not immediately see any separate, independent, external, material man.

Things that can be seen and handled are not the less seen and handled mentally.

The first question which needs to be asked and correctly answered is: In what relation does our thought of a thing stand to the thing itself?

If a thing really stood aloof from consciousness, we could never obtain knowledge of it. Some relation must subsist between the two. To deny this, to assert that consciousness merely lights up the object's separate existence for us, is unconsciously to assume and take for granted as true a theory that still remains to be proved.

When we believe that we are experiencing the world outside, we are really experiencing the self inside.

The common belief is that the correct order is: first the world of things exists for us, and second we form an idea of the world afterwards.

We all firmly believe in the existence of this material world and we all appeal to common sense and common experience in support of our belief. Idealism retorts: That a world of which we are conscious exists is undeniable; but that this world is material in nature is disputable.

Only when an object is registered in consciousness is it really seen at all. Not even all the physical details of vision constitute the real experience of seeing it, for the awareness of it is not a physical experience at all.

What we first become acquainted with are thoughts and sensations, feelings and percepts, memories and anticipations--that is, with mental things.

The mind deals directly with its objects and not through the intermediary working of ideas for the ideas are its only objects.

Such is the make-up of our habitual outlook that we take it unquestioningly and immediately for granted that the presence of a sensation in our field of awareness indicates the presence of an external material thing.

All experience is thought-experience. What we know as the world is a series of thoughts, not a number of material things plus a number of mental thoughts. Consciousness runs through all of them as their common element: they originate from it, exist in it, leave it behind when they vanish.

The thought of a thing invariably follows attention to a thing, but the almost instantaneous rapidity with which it does so, together with the momentary character of both, produces the illusion of a single conscious act and we remain ignorant of the succession.

We have now been able to discover that our ordinary sense of self is a muddled one, confusing thought and thing, mind and body. It may be thought that the statement of mentalism contradicts our natural belief in the solidity of the material world. But as a matter of fact it does not really contradict either of the aforementioned beliefs; it merely corrects them. For it does not deny that the world is external to the body, and it does not deny that all tangible things are solid to the touch. What it does say is that the world is internal to the mind and that its solidity is likewise present in the mind alone.

The fountain pen, being a mental appearance, and one's awareness of it, being a mental activity, are therefore separated only within the world of mind and possess it as their common factor.

All we can rightly say is that the idea of the world is present in our consciousness. The moment we assert that the real world corresponding to it is outside, independent, and apart from us, we assert a supposition.

We form an idea of a table and unconsciously assume there is a separate object without us which corresponds to the image formed, but actually the existence of the external table is an assumption, for we know and have only known the mental table.

Does the world exist outside of and separately from the mind that knows it? This is quite a different question from that which deals with its relation to the body. Nobody could dispute its outsideness and separateness then. But the question we are really asking is not so simple. For the light-born image of the world which forms itself on the retina of the eye, the awareness of things touched, smelled, or tasted, is all that the mind actually knows. It cannot speak and has no right to speak of any world which possibly lies beyond its frontiers.

We are easily deluded by the solidity of things into a belief in "matter." The solidity is certainly there, it is real enough, but the "matter" is not.

The fact is we have never seen more than our idea of the external world, never known its physical nature, the latter being our own imagination or mental projection.

What is the use of maintaining that the universe has an existence of its own, entirely separate and apart from that which our minds give it, when we have never been able to know it and obviously can never know it except through our minds? Any such statement is a mere assumption for which we have no grounds at all.

The world is to be sought within consciousness, not outside it.

The objection is made that even if the world does not exist for us when we do not think it, it still exists for all the other human beings. The answer to this is: How does it exist for each of this multitude of persons? It is in his thought just as much as in ours.

The Chinese Chan-jan wrote, as far back as the twelfth century: "No objects exist apart from the mind."

The antique Indian division of manifestation into self and not-self and the labelling of the latter as maya because it wears a misleading garb is quite understandable on a mentalistic basis. For if the universe is really our thought of it, its seeming separateness and apparent externality do not make it, as a thought, any less a part of our own self.

Lao Tzu's definition of intelligence as the ability to see things in the germ is excellent, but the ability to see things as ideas is even better.

Philosophy is nondualistic in its view of mind and matter. They are not two separate things, it says, but one.

The notion that there is an inner representation within the consciousness of another world, a mental existence of this world corresponding to a physical one, is not admissible.

The statement that we can know only our own sensations and that we do not experience the world directly constitutes the very beginning of the doctrine of mentalism.

The physical senses do not provide a picture of the object to the mind for the simple reason that all objects, including the senses themselves, are held in the mind. This is possible, this could only be possible, because the individual mind is not separate from the universal mind. As the Hindus say: Atman and Brahman are one. But that is carrying the discussion to a level that must be deferred for later study.

Our thoughts cannot be separated from our world. The two come into being together.

There is no difference whatever between the things of his experience and the thoughts whereby these things are known to him. In fact the things are the thoughts and vice versa.

There cannot be any contact with a world outside consciousness. This is a tenet fundamental to mentalism.

We are not asked to doubt the actuality of the ground beneath our feet or the music in our ears, but to understand that they have reached our consciousness because we have thought them.

What, beyond a continuously flowing stream of moments of sensation, do we really know as ourselves?

The view which critical reflection gives of an object does not coincide with the view which common sense gives of it. The first turns it into an idea whereas the latter retains it as something material.

No one can contest that the idea of the world surrounding us is in the mind. But that there is something else beyond the idea itself is contestable.

The wall which I see is seen as something separate--as apart from my body. This is the external aspect of perception. The colour, the size, and the form of the wall are sensations which are experienced mentally and therefore within me. This is the internal aspect of perception. That a wall is without me I know only by something that happens within me. This may seem paradoxical but the truth is I do not know the externality of the wall but infer it. It is now necessary to attend closely to an examination of the mechanism of what follows. For having surmised the separate and external existence of a wall I have really projected part of my mental experience into the world outside. I have objectified an idea.

Consciousness presents its own products to itself, fabricating an entire world in the process. Mind makes and sees the picture.

The mind has the power to externalize the very thing it perceives.

The world is apparently suspended in time and space but actually all three are suspended in the mind.

A distinguished musician once said to me that the effective power and reality of music lay not in the sensory impressions it causes, but rather in the mental ones, not in the sounds that enter the ear but in the thoughts provoked by those sounds. He added that its essential features of time and number are mathematical ones--that is, mental ones.

Mind constructs its own concepts and its own space wherein to set them up, and finally views them as different from itself and external to itself. Yet both differences and externality are illusions.

Herbert Spencer admitted the truth of mentalism in his Principles of Psychology (Vol. 2, Part 7). He admitted that the world we know is mentally constructed and mentally existent. Having got so far, he then fell into error, for he said that our experience of the resistance which objects in the world offer us proves that they also exist independently of and outside the mind. What was Spencer's mistake "of all of the objective idealists"? It was the failure to penetrate sufficiently far into the meaning of these two words: "independent" and "outside." How can the world have an independent existence when it has no significance for us before we actually experience it? It must touch our body or affect our senses before its existence comes to have any meaning at all for us. When this happens we have the feelings or thoughts which science calls sensations. Whether they are feelings of hardness, resistance, or weight, thoughts of redness, fragrance, or noise, they are still nothing else than our feelings and thoughts. Where is the independence here? The objects in the world are only objects of our consciousness. They may be independent in relation to our body but they are not independent in relation to our senses and hence to our mind. The sensations of resistance and hardness are no less mental ultimately than are any of the other sensations. Again, where is the outsideness here? Does the world really stand outside the mind that knows it? It is only at the cost of self-contradiction that we can answer that it does so stand. For whatever is in consciousness, whatever is mental, can be explained by the mind alone. It is the mind's own activity which makes resistance as it makes smells, sounds, and sights. Furthermore it is this same activity which creates the space-relationships between objects and hence the thought of their outsideness.

It is the starting point of all error to assume that at some point in time if not in space the mind suddenly made its appearance in the universe. This is the initial error of all materialism--whether it be scientific or theological or metaphysical. Mind is supposed by all these views to start functioning after matter has had a long inning on the cricket-field of the cosmos. Insoluble problems flow naturally out of this error.

All forms of the past have existed in time and place but many of them are now existing only in memory, that is, in thought. Mentalism says, "They were always in thought only."

All our experience is ordinarily confined to what the five senses present us--that is, to the sounds touches smells tastes and colours which are their objects. All these may conveniently be called our "sensations." These are what we really know, they are ours individually, and anything which we believe we know beyond them--such as separate and independently existent material objects--are mere suppositions and inferences. Therefore, there must be something in us which projects them so as to appear outside or interprets them as caused by something outside--which amounts to the same thing. Both projection and interpretation are governed by conditions of space and time. The obscurity in which all these operations are carried on does not cancel out the operations themselves. The world does not exist outside of our mind.

The existence of the world is not a testimony to the existence of a divine creator, but to the constructive capacity of the mind.

Stereoscopy offers an excellent illustration to help us realize that space is an illusion created before our very eyes. If two photographs of the same object are taken from different angles, placed in a simple stereoscopic apparatus, and looked at through its little window, the resulting picture is no longer a flat two-dimensional thing but a bulky three-dimensional one. There has been added to the height and width of an ordinary photograph the new element of depth, which makes the object stand out in relief. What seems to be a tangible space has been created behind and in front of the object. The consequence is that the image is transformed in a startling manner from a lifeless representation to something that seems vividly real. When such an apparatus so obviously creates space for us we ought not to regard it as fantastic when mentalism tells us that the human mind subconsciously creates its own forms and projects them into a fancied space.

All this vast and wonderful universe is in the end only the play of mind. We are imprisoned in our own involuntary creation.

The necessary action of human reason when at its best and sharpest, and when directed inwards upon itself, leads it to this irresistible conclusion--that the whole experience of this world is but the end-product of a process of the human mind.

It is not the clock or the sun which really measures time for us but the mind, by feelings and moods. Time, space, cause, and form are all of subjective origin.

Is it possible that the mere operation of thought suffices to produce this vast and wonderful universe in our field of awareness? We have only to study carefully, by way of illustration, the experiences of the dreamer, the novelist, and the hypnotic subject to understand that the answer may be in the affirmative.

"The mind, generated by thy ignorance, imagines the entire universe," says an old Sanskrit text, Sankshepa Sarirake, by Sarvajnatma Muni.

The molds of time and place, ego and its extensions, which shape human mentalism, the forms of thought, belong to this maya, this alchemically transforming power of mind.

How can you have movement without space? But if space is in the mind, so must movement be there too.

His difficulty may be self-created because he may think of the spiritual world as something still on a space-time level, only far finer than the physical world--something outside himself awaiting his entry. But like all the dream worlds, it is inseparable from his mind--only it is free from the space-time characteristics inherent in the present level of mental experience.

What I experience in my mind is projected out in space, but the ordinary person in his ignorance believes the very reverse is happening.

The world that you have is created by your mind. This applies to the after-death state and to the present state. Ideas manifest themselves in this world. Thus an architect's ideas manifest as a palace.

We experience the world as outside us not because we choose to do so but because we are obliged to do so.

The world seems to be "out there at a distance" but it is actually here within the consciousness.

The seeming reality of physical movement is not less yet not more than the seeming reality of mental awareness. Movement implies the existence of space in which it happens. Where is this space? It is in us, in our mind. All motion of the body is an item of the mind's awareness.

If the past is a memory and the future a dream, then both are thoughts. And if the past was once the present and the future will one day be the present, what else but a thought too can today's present be?

All questions about the universe's creation presuppose the previous existence of time and space since they unwittingly look for its beginning in a particular place at a particular moment which, in turn, suggests a previous one, and so on in an endless series. These questions defeat themselves: unaskable and unanswerable. Every experience of the world involves thoughts of it: this remains true when going backward into its past or forward into its future. Thoughts rise, or appear, in Consciousness. The universe is inseparable from this consciousness of it. This, isolated from every thing, should be the subject of our questions.

Mind, the image-maker

The difference between the chair thought and the table thought, the red thought and the green thought, the innumerable relationships among ideas, are all explicable by the fact that the mind's primary power is image making. This is a power which, in human beings, can be called into play deliberately and voluntarily, as we often do during wakefulness, or spontaneously and involuntarily, as we invariably do during dreams. The moment mind emerges from deep sleep and becomes active, it begins to imagine the wakeful world. What happens with men on a small scale happens also with the Universal Mind (God, if you like) on a cosmic scale. Its first activity is imagining.

The mind exists and develops on its own latent resources and needs nothing from outside. There is nothing outside. Nevertheless, its imaginative and creative power calls into play an environment which seems to be outside and which elicits those resources.

Two persons seeing the same fountain pen will experience two distinct sets of sensations and therefore what they actually see must inevitably differ. For each person perceives his own mental construction, despite the apparent reference being the same.

To have seen Himalaya's snows turn pink at sunset and the Taj Mahal's marble turn phosphorescent in moonlight, is to have seen beauty indeed. Yet after all it is not the place or the handiwork that really matters when we have gone, but the emotion evoked, the memory etched, and the taste refined. All these are mental things. We find at such high moments of appreciation, of aesthetic uplift, that the very essence of beauty is already present within ourselves, is an internal fact, made momentarily vivid by an external stimulus.

The mind forms its ideas and images. Hence "mental formation" would be a correct term to replace "mental construction."

I live in a world of Mind. The material forms which I see only appear as if they were non-mental.

If Matter has any existence at all, it is as the externalizing power of the mind.

When we pierce through the illusion of matter we discover that his environment is as mental as the man himself.

The ego, the consciousness of the personal and physical "I," is that of which we are most vividly aware. And this essence is the mental, not bodily, part of us. But we are a part of the universe. Therefore the universe's own essence is also mental, not the physical part which we see and experience all around us.

Matter is merely something we imagine. Causation is merely succession and coexistence.

It is not possible to explain intellectually how sensations of the physical world are converted into ideas, how the leap-over from nervous vibrations into consciousness occurs, and how a neurosis becomes a psychosis. No one has ever explained this, nor will any scientist ever succeed in doing so. Truth alone can dispose of this poser by pointing out that sensations never really occur, but that the Self merely projects ideas of them; just as a man sees a mirage and mistakes it for real water merely by his mental projection, so people regard the world as real when they are merely transferring their own mental ideas to the world.

His mind is much more a man's own than anything else could possibly be.

All other people throughout the world may apparently be sharing the same experience of its existence as our own but it is never really so. Each one's is wholly individual to himself and is lived only within himself, his consciousness.

We must firmly grasp this principle, that the only objects we know, the only world of our experience, have no existence apart from the mind. They do not and cannot subsist externally by themselves. That which projects them into space is mind, and as space itself is within the mind, their independent existence is sheer illusion, or Maya as Indians call it. We must look behind their illusory independence into the mind from which they spring.

Analyse your awareness of the physical world and, if your analysis is deep enough, you will be unable to avoid the conclusion that it is really a series of changes, or a group of states, of your consciousness. In other words, matter is something presented in my consciousness, whether it be now, at some time past, or in the future, even though it gives the impression of outsideness.

I see something, it may be a post or it may be a man. Then by the sense of agency one out of these possibilities is associated with ahamkara and I then know--I know I see a post.

"Thou art only thought," said the philosophic yogi whom Alexander the Great interviewed. He then proceeded to prove his statement by mesmerizing the king into believing himself to be a poor man struggling against destitution. I do not know if this anecdote exists amongst the Greek records of Alexander's adventures, but I found it amongst the Indian traditions about him.

If we do some act without attending to it but, on the contrary, with our thoughts engrossed on an entirely different subject which perhaps fills us with anxiety or joy, we are often later quite unable to remember whether we have done it or not. Here is an indication that if, as mentalism declares, it is not man's surface mind nor his everyday consciousness which presents the universe to him as an outside appearance then, in fact, he has a deeper unconscious mind which does it.

If the world is an idea, the ego which perceives it is itself an idea too.

The first step toward ceasing such wrong self-identification is to recognize the body to be but a state of consciousness, and the ego to be but an idea.

The life which is everywhere apparent, the forms in which it is constantly embodying itself are the effects of the mysterious movement which is the kinetic aspect of the Overself.

Mentalism tells us not only that matter is an unreal show but also that motion is just the same. The events and movements on a cinema film are not affecting or moving the white backsheet at all. Yet withdraw matter and motion and the whole universe will become nothing more substantial than a cosmic cinema picture.

The sensations of seeing, hearing, touching, smelling, and tasting things combine to make up our knowledge of the world around us in space and time. This knowledge depends therefore on egocentric personal experience. This is very easily proven by contrasting the statements made by a hypnotized subject about an object, and those made about it by a person in normal condition.

Every presented thing which is seen smelled, heard, felt, or tasted, no less than every representative thought, idea, name, or image, is entirely mental. The streets of busy towns and the forests of lonely mountains are all, without exception, mere constructs of the imagining faculty.

He who doubts the power of mind to fashion its own world should consider such authentic instances of this power as those provided by the hypnotist's art. This has turned water into wine for its victim, chilling cold into heat, and volition into paralysis. The transformations are all imaginary ones yet are not bereft of their reality for him because of that.

The mind creates these images by its own power and their totality constitutes the universe of its experience.

His own past, once so intensely real, so vividly actual, has become only a faded and broken panorama of mental pictures. The "matter" of which it was made is now nothing more than "thought-stuff."

The chair which we see at an instantaneous and simple glance was really built up in the mind out of several separate elements.

The moods succeed each other--sometimes bright, sometimes dark--but who is the experiencer of them? It is the ego. The first stage of philosophy is to learn the secret of mentalism. Look upon every mood as a bunch of thoughts. The second stage is to look upon the experiencer as an object of those thoughts.

This is knowledge of the highest order, that everything around us and within us, every bit of Nature and creature, the experience of life with a physical body and of death without it--all are but forms of consciousness.

My experience of a thing is received from the body's senses. Sight: the eyes tell me its shape and colour. Touch: the skin tells me its hardness or softness, solidity or liquidity. Smell and taste may give more information. These perceptions make up the thing for me. But they would be non-existent if they failed to reach consciousness as thoughts. It exists because my consciousness exists. If this consciousness did not exist by itself alone before the thought my experience would be impossible. It is primary. It will continue to exist even between two thoughts, and, even more important, between two sensorial thoughts--sight and touch--connected with the physical body. But the brain is part of the body. So mind is not the same thing but exists as an independent entity, however close their working connection may be. This mind has no shape or colour, whereas the brain has. It being formless, no one can see or take hold of it, yet it is there. Now drop the term mind, the term consciousness, and let the term spirit take their place. Here psychological analysis of experience seems to cross the border into religion. For mind is a real thing, not a no-thing. It exists in its own right. More, all experience is an uninterrupted spiritual experience, whatever man has done to degrade it.

Every man knows that he is aware of himself, others, the world. But that awareness exists also in an unlimited uninterrupted way he does not know. Yet to the extent that he has this limited kind of consciousness he derives from It, shares the spirit, is part of it.

It would be absurd for him to deny the actuality, the living presence, of all that is happening to him in every moment of the day. They are there and they are real as experiences and he would be a fool indeed to deny them. Nor does mentalism ask him to do so. What it does say is that if he analyses the actuality of all these experiences, if he tries to trace out their beginning and end, their existence and continuity, he will discover that consciousness is their seat, that this consciousness can by profound thought be separated from its projections--the thoughts, the scenes, the objects and events, the people and the world--in short, that everything including himself is in the mind.

It is not merely a personal speculation but a commonplace fact of science, an item of the accepted physiology of the senses, a known result of anatomical research, that the consciousness of what we see and feel is what we really experience, not the things themselves. In the end all our facts are mental ones, all our surroundings are known only as our own thoughts.

The mentalness of all existence is not a theory nor a belief. It is an incontrovertible actuality.

If the world were not in the mind to start with, we would never know that there was world at all.

Just as the electric current must meet a second thing, resistance, before it can appear as light, sound, heat, or magnetism, so mind must meet with an idea before it can appear as consciousness, in the way we humans know the latter. Until then it must rest in the blankness of sleep, or the latency of subconsciousness.

It is not possible for sincere, scrupulous thinking to admit, and never possible to prove, the existence of a world outside of, and separate from, its consciousness. The faith by which we all conventionally grant such existence is mere superstition.

The world is never really given to us by experience nor actually known by the mind. What is given is idea, what is known is idea, to be transcended only when profound analysis transforms the Idea into the Reality.

We cannot help taking objects into our consciousness so long as we take the ego into it.

It is not because a thing is existent that you think it but because you think it, even if involuntarily, that it is existent. And this thought of it is a part of your own consciousness, not outside you.

It is absurd even to suggest that there is an external world wholly outside of one's consciousness and wholly independent of it. One knows only certain changes of mental awareness, never of externals. The mind can only know its changes of individual consciousness. All its observations, each of its inferences, everything it knows--these lie enclosed within that consciousness and are never beyond it.

One's knowledge of anything whatsoever is simply one's thought of it. This is not to be confused with one's right thought of it. It is a conscious mental state, and even other persons are but appearances within this state, creatures in the cosmic dream. To follow this line of reflection to its inevitable end demands courage and candour of the highest kind, for it demands as ultimate conclusion the principle that knowledge being but ideas in the mind, the whole universe is nothing but an immense idea within one's own mind. For the very nature of knowledge is thus internal, and hence the individual mind cannot know any reality external to itself. It believes that it observes a world without when it only observes its own mental pictures of that world.

It is a generative idea. Here is a whole philosophy congealed into a single phrase: the world is an idea.

Unless we are in personal touch with the world, it is not present for us. The relation ends the moment our ego is withdrawn. Without it, without a viewing subject, the world as object simply does not exist. And nobody living in the ego-consciousness has any way of knowing what the world is in and by itself.

All experience is experience in the world of consciousness. There is no other.

So far as it appears in any creature's experience, the world is only a thought in that creature's mind. All creatures may banish the thought by sleep but only a human creature may banish it by yoga.

The only world we know, the only one we can ever know, is the one within our mind. The first proof of this is that when it leaves the mind in deep sleep, it has no existence for us at all; the second proof is that when it re-enters the mind on awakening, the sense-perceptions which tell us of its existence re-enter it also.

The hill or the star is a perception in your mind. You cannot now say exactly when your mind began to exist or when it will cease to do so, but only conjecture about it.

Such is the metaphysical importance of memory that it gives us the key to existence. For what is the once so real-seeming world of the now-shadowing past when recalled again into being by its magical power but a procession and collection of mental images of like texture to a dream? Did it not then exist like a common dream only in the consciousness of all its creatures? And do not the places and things and persons take on a curiously dream-like character when we bring it back into remembrance? Thus we have to step out of the past, which means to step out of the chains of time, before we can discover the essential mentalness of all our experience.

All that is real in human experience is the mind's experience; all that is received into the mind are ideas; all events of whatever kind are mental, that is, ideas.

Men talk of the solidity of their material existence yet a whole continent--Atlantis--vanished in a day.

What is experienced is nothing other than yourself, for it is nothing other than your thought and your perception.

When we give ourselves up to a desire or an attachment, why do we really do so? It is because we seek the state of happy consciousness which the thing obtained or the situation realized would, we believe, lead to. What we really desire is in the mind.

The doctrine of mentalism begins and ends with the bold pronouncement that all experience and even all being is in the mind.

How can a thought exist apart from its thinker? One can imagine this, but philosophy does not deal with imagination, only with known facts. The notion that thoughts are set out into space and that others tune into them is based on the illusion that mind is in the body or brain, whereas the reverse is true. Has anyone ever measured the mind and shown where it started and ended? The very notion of the world is within one's mind. This shows that he cannot say that thoughts are outside the mind merely because he believes they touch somebody who is hundreds of miles away. There is no more separation between thoughts and thinker than between dreams and the dreamer.

We have no other contact than with our own thoughts of the world, yet those thoughts are as truly and actually our experiences of it as anything else could ever be.

It is utterly impossible to explain the material world satisfactorily without reference to mind, and this reference must come first, not last, because it is the mind that tells that the world exists.

When the Naqshabandi Dervish Mullah (expounder and explainer of the teaching) says to a crowd around him, "You are here because of me!" his meaning can come alive only in a mentalistic sense.

We are able to think our surroundings only because ultimately they are as mental in substance as our commonly accepted thinking.

What fact is more certain, what part of human life more inescapable, than that of consciousness? What would become of our experience of the world without the awareness which is basic to it?

Mind is the foundation of all our existence. It is always there even when, as in deep sleep, we are not personally conscious that it is there. Any materialistic denial of its self-existence can be made only because mind is present to make it.

Mind, the knower

What is Mind? It is that in us which thinks, which is aware, and which knows.

There is one natural capacity which is common to every human being and to every animal being--a capacity which is the very essence of its selfhood. It is consciousness. The most important of all states of consciousness is knowledge.

The only real existence is the mind's. But we ordinarily know only its projections and retractions, its phases and states, its consciousnesses and lapses.

Mind is that quality or capacity in man which enables him to be aware of both himself and his surroundings.

We are conscious of a world outside through the knowing faculty, the mind. The various ideas which we form of the world are simply states of the mind. These ideas are not separate from the mind itself and could not be. If they were, then we would have to become conscious of them, as we are of the world, through other ideas, through other states of the mind.

There is a region of mind which lies beyond the intellect's immediate reach. Because it holds so many lower but repressed desires, some psychologists have called it the subconscious. Because it holds so many laudable but vague aspirations, most religionists have called it the Soul. Because it is not ordinarily in the focus of awareness, other psychologists have called it the unconscious mind. All three groups are right, but each is limited in what it sees and what it understands, as if groping for knowledge in the dusk.

It is not that there are different minds in man, but different qualities of one and the same mind in each.

What we are is what we are conscious of. The mind makes its own reality. Consciousness is king.

Why is it that so many people are so unaware of their own higher existence? The answer is that their faculty of awareness itself is that spiritual existence. Whatever they know, people know through the consciousness within them. That in them which knows anything is their divine element. The power of knowing--whether it be a thought that is known, a complex of thoughts such as memories, a thing such as a landscape--is a divine power for it derives from the higher self which they possess.

The mind interprets its own experience in a particular way because, owing to its structure, it could not do so in another way. But these limitations are not eternal and absolute. When, as in dream, yoga, death, or hallucination, they are abruptly loosened, then experience is interpreted in a new and different way.

To feel and to know are attributes of consciousness, not of brute matter.

We know only by inference or analogy that the minds of individuals exist, not by direct perception. Our social life is based upon this knowledge and, acting on it, we find it largely true.

Just as we first find water to be a liquid and later to be a gaseous combination, so we first find in vision that all the world is light, and later, in knowledge, that it is Mind.

Thinking is an act done mentally and, like all acts, points to the existence of someone who already exists or to something independent of it.

The writer George Moore was not particularly interested in metaphysics and usually left the subject alone. Yet half of a sentence he wrote upon writing itself contained the most important and significant metaphysical principle. It was: "My own mind alone is known to me."

There can be no thought without a thinker, and when we begin to search for that which thinks, we begin to follow a trail which leads to the Soul.

"I see" and "I know" are two very ordinary phrases. But what tremendous metaphysical meanings are hidden behind them!

When man turns to observe himself in the effort to know himself, what he first notices is not at all what he will have to notice later in the end: that is Consciousness.

By the light of mind, man is able to know, think, reflect, and feel.

If the human being finds that he has the capacity to think, to produce ideas, to discover the words or pictures in which he can clothe these ideas, he should remember that all this becomes possible only because of the primacy of the mind; that is, mind consciousness already existed, and hence they are able to exist. Without its prior existence they could not come to birth.

This deep unknown basis of mind determines its surface life and is the key to its conscious trends; therefore it should become our chief object of study.

That which enables us to know the world outside and to be aware of the self inside, is Mind.

Is man nothing more than nerve-stuff, flesh, and bone? Thought asks this question. Thought alone can answer it. No butcher shop, however crammed with nerve-stuff, flesh, and bone, will ever answer it. Only the thinking principle in man, which is an emanation of his soul, can explain itself.

It is mind which makes thoughts intelligible, things experienceable, and the thinker (the experiencer) self-conscious--Mind! the mysterious unknown background of our life.

We do not know the self directly but only through the thoughts it produces. It is impossible intellectually to examine it and equally impossible to exclude it from our examinations.

Things exist only in the character of known things. If they are absent from our senses they are present in our thoughts. If they are absent from our consciousness they must be present to the universal consciousness. Whatever is characterized as something known, cannot be the knowing principle itself.

Thinking is possible only where there exists an object about which to think, whether it be a material thing or a mere idea. We cannot think unless we have something in mind. This means in every act of thought there are two elements: the thinking itself and the object or idea thought about. These are so coupled together by the psychological constitution of man that the first cannot exist without the second.

This is equally true of the act of seeing. We cannot see anything unless there is some object, something to be seen. Hence sight depends upon both seeing itself and the object seen. Both are so interrelated that the former could not exist if there were not the other.

These statements may be more easily understood after due reflection, but it will be much more difficult to understand that the contrary ones likewise hold true. That is to say, no object or idea can exist without being thought of, and nothing perceptible can exist without something or someone to see it. In short, the factors which have been coupled together here are mutually dependent.

It is impossible for a thinkable object or idea to exist in a state where thought itself is impossible. It is impossible for a seeable thing to exist in a state where sight is impossible, as in deep sleep. And, since everything material is either thinkable or seeable or both, it follows that the entire material universe has its being in being thought of or perceived. It is only an appearance within the mind of the thinker or dependent upon the perceiver. No idea, no object, could have any conceivable existence if the perceiver himself never had any. Something living and conscious that can think and become aware of them must first exist through their relation to it. They cannot possibly exist in disconnection from a conscious mind.

If we imagine a universal state wherein there was no body present, no mind that could think of anything, perceive it, or be conscious of it, then we are quite unable to put any idea or object or sound or colour into this state.

This is true whether we apply it to mere ideas or to hard and heavy things which we see and feel, such as houses and trees. The point cannot be grasped by the understanding without previous reflection and meditation, for it appears to be contrary to common experience and common sense. In short, matter is a mental sensation and not the cause of a mental sensation.

Whatever thought, idea, image, or remembrance comes to us is not separate from our mind and consequently from us. And because every object, thing, or creature in the world around us is only a thought, idea, image, or remembrance to us, it is likewise not separate from us.

Anyone who is able to imagine or feel a real separation between thought and being, has done what I am quite unable to do. On the contrary, I find myself always constrained to imagine or feel that an essential and inevitable relation exists between them.

We never know things by and in themselves but only by and in the mind.

Mind can know only that which is of the same nature as itself, namely, thought.

If the object of my experience had nothing in common with my idea of it, it could not even stand in this alleged relation of cause and effect. If it does so stand, then what is the common thing between them? There is no answer to this question except the mentalist one.

Space is simply the way in which our minds see the world; that is, it is purely mental and not really outside us. The corollary to this is that as all things have their being in space, they must likewise have their being in the mind. But mind alone can only entertain mental visitors; it is too subtle to receive non-mental materials. Mind cannot receive that which is wholly dissimilar to it. Therefore all things must enter it as ideas only.

The mind can have dealings only with kindred objects formed from its own substance, that is, with thoughts, ideas. Therefore when it knows material objects they must really be ideas.

Mind and matter are incommensurables. Mind can enter into relations only with something allied to its own subtler nature, not with something wholly dissimilar, as matter is said to be. That which the mind knows must be relevant in relation to the Mind itself. There must be a community of kind between the two, a common identity of substance. The world as known cannot possibly be extra-mental in nature. Hence the characteristics of what the mind knows must be mental--that is, they constitute our ideas.

The human mind can enter into relation with--that is, become aware of--that which is of the same nature as itself, that which is correlated to it, that which is also mental. It is impossible for material things to enter directly into the immaterial consciousness of man.

Were our consciousness of the world and the world itself so essentially different after all, then no real contact between them could ever be possible. But contact does happen. And it does happen because the world is nothing less than the mind's idea.

If a man would be willing to think deeply enough, he would be obliged to agree with the assertion that he can know only the idea of a thing, and not the thing-in-itself.

Two things which are totally different from one another, quite unrelated, cannot work together or affect each other. This is mentalism's case.

The human mind is forever dealing with human conceptions of things under the belief that it is dealing with the things themselves.

Two lips utter a single word. The experiencer and the experienced object are a single stuff.

Mind is the knowing agent and mind is the object known. In the first case it assumes the internal form of self-consciousness, in the second case, the external form of experienced world.

When we analyse the experience of human experience itself, we find that it reduces down to the knower and the known, the mind and its thought. All attempts to separate the physical object from sense data and these from mental perceptions end in artificiality.

Mind cannot project itself outside itself to observe what it is. Only through what it knows or does or desires, only as its existence is expressed in any given situation, can it perceive itself.

The object seen, the eye which sees it, and the act of seeing are all part of a mentally created scene; all are idea.

The philosophical meaning of Einstein's discoveries--that the nature of the world depends on the nature of its relation to the one who sees it, that we cannot truly speak about any object independently of the observer, and that time is the hallmark of this relativity--is in perfect accordance with our own doctrine. Whatever is seen, is seen by the mind. Apart from the mind we know nothing of its existence and apart from the mind the thought of time could not arise for us. In short, every existent object is wholly relative to the subject--Mind.

Experience is a unity and cannot be broken into mind and matter. We cannot possibly separate the world from the mind that knows it. The two are always related. To object that such a relation need not exist outside the act of knowing the world, even though it must exist inside it, is to utter words which dissolve away as soon as their meaning is analysed. For the only world which human beings can ever discuss is one which they can think about and which is therefore an idea for their minds.

Because I am a conscious being I am aware of physical sensations and mental thoughts; but the consciousness which enables such awareness to exist itself existed before sensation and before thought, and this is as true of newborn babies as it is of dying men. This is what the materialistic anatomist dissecting the body fails to perceive. This is the forgotten self of the fabled ten persons crossing a river in Indian mythology, and this is the great secret which mentalism unveils for us.

The tenth man in the Hindu story, who failed to count himself when checking if all the party who waded across a river were safe; the Hebrew rabbi who said on his deathbed, "If there proves to be no future life, how I shall laugh!"; and the scientist who denied the existence of mind because brain-flesh produces consciousness--all three show how easy it is to forget the subject when looking at the object.

The object which the senses directly establish contact with is regarded as one thing; the mental impression they have when thinking of that object is regarded as another and totally different thing. This is a very simple and apparently very obvious view of the matter. To the ordinary mind, by which I mean the metaphysically unreflective mind, the statement is unarguable and its implied division of Nature into mental and material, uncontestable. But if you analyse the way you perceive objects you will find that both the perceiver and the perceived are inseparable in the act of perception. You cannot show a duality of idea and thing but only a unity of them.