Questions about a mind-only world

If I created this world:

  • Why does it seem so real?
  • Why don't I create something ideal (in the sense of perfect)?
  • Why don't things happen the way I want?
  • Why can't I make things appear and disappear like magic?
  • Why is everything so hard? Wouldn't I have made it easier?

These pages are meant to be based on reason or fact rather than fancy. I hope most of these matters are in fact rather conventional, so far as modern thinking goes. And this does not mean merely Western thinking, because these ideas are current in the East and have been for thousands of years.

I will give possible answers to these questions, but I want to point out they presume that the world is 'really' ideas or mind:


The conventional, common sense view that there is mind and matter is false.

I am going to say how these questions might be answered. Above all, I think that personal development is about attaining...

for the Reason...


for Behaviour...

The Ethical.

for the Feelings...

Personal Happiness and Wellbeing

and for the Intentions


These ideas can lead to a rationale for enabling us to become better.


Why does everything seem so real, if it isn't!

"The other night, I sat up and watched a horror movie. I got really excited and was on the edge of my chair biting my nails as this thing went creeping after our unsuspecting heroine. And then I began to think. What is frightening me? A film? A light show? Are any of the things I am watching real? Do they have any substance? Is anyone going to get hurt?"

Clearly nothing about this is real...

...So how come I think it is?

Can you deny that I think it is real?

If I do not think it is real, why am I sitting on the edge of the chair biting my fingernails, and glad the cat is there to protect me? Why did I jump when that floorboard creaked so eerily in the next room?

I thought it was real because the film set me up, perhaps by showing emotion evoking scenes, and promised entertainment if I believed and got involved in what was happening. By evoking passion and images in my mind, and causing me to want to play the game for fun, I believed the film was real. Of course, I also got what I didn't want: Jumping when the floorboard creaked!

If films, whether documentary or fiction can make us think they are real, why is it surprising that real life does the same? In a film we have only light and sound, and a framed picture, whereas in real life we have the other senses too and panoramic views!

What, therefore, is incredible about something appearing real when really it is not real?

After all, I made up the above story, and don't have a cat! (Also, I have answered a question like: 'Isn't it incredible that things aren't real when they evidently seem to be?' The 'Why?' will be dealt with later.)

Even if a world of ideas is not incredible, it is incredible that I should create a world for myself which is less than perfect!

So if we create our world, then...

Why don't we create something ideal?

Firstly, even the most ideal being may be limited...

Suppose a being could do anything.

She could create a weight no one could ever lift.


She could not lift this weight herself...

and so...

She would not be able to do anything!

Even an ideal being could limit itself.

By making certain assumptions we can limit what else we can do. So even in an ideal sense we might be limited somewhat.

This is illustrated by many folk stories of the three wishes kind which seem to get the wisher into all sorts of difficulties.

We wish to be the richest person in the world, but then we feel lonely...


We wish to be the most popular person. But too many people make us crave peace and quiet...


We wish for peace and quiet.

We wish that Hitler never existed, but then Stalin becomes very powerful, etc!

It is quite easy to see how power can get very complicated! We can wish for things that may appear good, but suffer from complications.

Just as assumptions can have consequences we have not thought about and which we really don't want, so bad experiences might lead us to rashly postulate new realities which add more confusion.

For example...

A child being beaten by an older and bigger child might wish to be like the older child. To be an aggressor rather than a victim. The child grows up to be a bully.

We might be angry with another and postulate something bad, which rebounds on us! This is the law of Karma.

There is also a learning element in bad experiences. We sometimes have a bad experience because we have not learned a lesson and other people and the physical universe jump up and bite us. This may have the purpose or effect of teaching us something we have refused to learn.

Also we share a created world with others therefore we all want to have our own way, but all of us can't have our own way. Everyone can't be the lord or lady of the kingdom. If everyone were king, then there would be no subjects!

We need to learn about the parts that have been created by others and which we have at some time agreed to. To get our own way we need to learn about the assumptions we have all made to create the universe we share.

When we add to this interactions and agreements with other beings then it is quite easy to see why we might not create an ideal world!

Why can't I make things appear and disappear like magic?

In order to live in a world we need to make certain agreed upon assumptions. In order to interact there has to be some agreements.

For example...

To play a game of football there has to be an agreed upon ball which behaves in a way both of us agree.

If I kick the ball and it always goes into the goal, then there is no game.

If I make footballs appear and disappear at will, then there is no game.


Certain basic assumptions are made by all living things that exist in the universe, and if someone changes these then that person no longer exists in this universe.


A being that does not agree to the assumptions would not even be aware of that universe!

A film director can make anything happen in his film (more or less) but once he has made it, he has no power to control what happens in the film than anyone else! He or she has made the film according to some principles and having made it, he or she is stuck with it! Even if the director changes his or her mind then after many copies have been distributed he or she might not be able to get them back. He could forget about the film and refuse to look at it. But once it is adopted and viewed by many people, then he cannot easily change it.

This section is not saying what is or is not possible, only that there are certain assumptions which might prevent us doing certain things in certain ways, like making diamonds appear in our hands.

Why is everything so hard? Wouldn't I have made it easier?

Would you? Would I? Wouldn't it be more fun if we had a few obstacles to overcome? What good story doesn't have problems? This question has been partly responded to by the above about our basic assumptions.

On another level, we can learn more about life and the basic assumptions to make things easier. We can at least change our minds!

Back to Subjective and Objective



3 August 1998
Copyright 1998 Ken Ward,
All Rights Reserved.