I wrote this article: Do people leave in Matrix? Information, entropy, time and cellular-automata.

The article tries to prove that the visible world is an illusion or a "dream".

My question here is, is "the visible world is an illusion or dream" the main topic of Buddhism?

Also, the article includes a proof of the existence of a Higher Conscience. Is that in direct relation with Buddhism (i.e. the topics discussed here on this site)?

Also, if you found any logical flaws in this article then please mention/list them.

  • 1
    The title asks a question, but the body-text does not. The body-text is a copy of this paper which is not a question about Buddhism. So, as currently phrased (i.e. in its current format), this doesn't seem to be a question about Buddhism. Why did you post that paper: are you asking for a critique of it? It seems to me to have so many logical flaws that they cannot all be addressed in this format (and addressing them isn't on-topic for this site).
    – ChrisW
    Sep 21, 2016 at 10:46
  • hello ChrisW, there is an obvious connection with Buddhism. The article tries to prove that the visible world is an illusion or a "dream". Is that the main topic of Buddhism? Also, the proof of Higher Conscience existence is given. Is it a direct relation with the topics discussed here? If you found any logical flaw please mention. I put the article here for discussion and the questions stated in the article Title. I put the article here because i read in Buddhism section of this site - share your research. And, if you have nothing to comment and did not read anything please donot be negative
    – user10080
    Sep 21, 2016 at 11:48
  • hello ChrisW, you claim there are logical flaws. i would like to hear at least one. do not be harsh as it is usually in forums. Buddhism section is promoting research, so here it is. If there is a logical flaw, please list it.
    – user10080
    Sep 21, 2016 at 11:56
  • 2
    IMO the paper did not ask questions and is not about Buddhism, and therefore it wasn't a suitable 'question' for this site. I have edited the question (above) to include the actual questions, which you asked in your comments above. Is this OK with you, shall I reopen the question in this format, are these the questions which you want to ask?
    – ChrisW
    Sep 21, 2016 at 12:35
  • 2
    Thank you. FYI all Stack Exchange sites including this one are Q+A ("question and answer") sites: they're designed for "Q+A", and not for "discussion". Their format is that each page/topic starts with a question, and other users post answers which reply to or address the question. For that kind of reason it's important that topics start with an specific/explicit question (and are not just a copy of or link to an article to be reviewed/discussed). The body text of the question should explain/define as clearly as possible what your question is; and the title should be a summary of that question.
    – ChrisW
    Sep 21, 2016 at 13:58

5 Answers 5


"My question here is, is "the visible world is an illusion or dream" the main topic of Buddhism?"

No, it's not the main topic of Buddhism.

From the Pali canon point of view, it's also not a claim of Buddhism that the world is an illusion.

In contrast, the main topics of Buddhism are the nature of suffering, the nature of pleasure, the ultimate freedom of suffering, and the ultimate pleasure (born from the freedom of suffering).

It's visible from the sutras that the Buddha refrained himself from making many ontological statements -- statements about "what is out there" and the nature of "what is out there". And some people seem to believe he refrained from making any ontological statements at all, which may induce the idea that he regarded the world as an illusion.

In general, however, his concerns with the world starts when a stimulus is "perceived" -- when sense data is contacted. The nature or reality of what lies behind what has been sensed is not dwelled on. Thus, generally speaking, the formulations of the World from the Buddha are in terms of the senses.

At Savatthī. “Bhikkhus, I will teach you the origin and the passing away of the world. Listen to that and attend closely, I will speak.”

“Yes, venerable sir,” the bhikkhus replied. The Blessed One said this:

“And what, bhikkhus, is the origin of the world? In dependence on the eye and forms, eye-consciousness arises. The meeting of the three is contact. With contact as condition, feeling comes to be; with feeling as condition, craving; with craving as condition, clinging; with clinging as condition, existence; with existence as condition, birth; with birth as condition, aging-and-death, sorrow, lamentation, pain, displeasure, and despair come to be. This, bhikkhus, is the origin of the world. [...]

“And what, bhikkhus, is the passing away of the world? In dependence on the eye and forms, eye-consciousness arises. The meeting of the three is contact. [...]

-- SN 12.44

When he doesn't ignore "the outside world", it's possible that he could be speaking in conventional terms instead of positing a view, as in "there's a house behind that mountain" (and not as in "that house exists and it's real", in the ontological sense). When he speaks of characteristics of "the house", his focus arguably lies in what is perceived by the senses and his interest is in how these perceptions affect us.

The closer he gets to an ontological view (i.e. when the nature of the "house" is of interest) could still not really be about trying to pinpoint the actual nature of the thing "out there" independent of observer, but about the perception of it, in particular, associated with three characteristics: being subject to change, it's unsatisfactoriness as ultimate protection of all suffering and, upon inspection, showing a lack of ultimate stable essence.

On the other hand, he is known to have "proclaimed the world with it's devas, Mara and Brahma" against those who proclaimed otherwise, which is an assertion about "objective reality". Also, he taught a moral law which distinguish between sentient beings and non sentient beings which seem to imply some ontological distinction. But I think the interest to investigate the non-subjective actual nature of things is generally lacking when such knowledge does not benefit the path to terminate suffering.

Finally, since Buddhism regards mind as a sense (in the same category as taste and sight), then even in a universe where all interactions are confined within ones own mind, Buddhism still applies.

  • Why is this sutta not an ontological statement? Thanks accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/an/an03/an03.134.than.html Sep 21, 2016 at 20:41
  • @Dhammadhatu I think many syntactically apparent ontological statements (e.g. "all X is Y") in the suttas can be seen either way: it can be seen as actual ontological assertion qualifying the external thing independent of the observer or, for example, it can be seen as a "conventional" assertion about the perception of the external thing (where "is" really is just a shortcut for something longer such as "is perceived as", e.g. "all X is perceived as Y"). I think the latter fits nicely with the rest of the doctrine, and considering how conventional language issues are dealt within the canon
    – user382
    Sep 21, 2016 at 22:43
  • The sutta quoted is obviously not conventional language since it is about Dhamma Law. If the later fit nicely then enlightenment would be subjective or imputed by the observer. The sutta does not state that. The sutta states X = Y independent of any observers; independent of the arising of Buddhas. Conventional language in the Canon refers to worldly idioms such as "I", "you", etc. It does not apply to impermanence, not-self, etc. All language or description is not "convention". Refer to SN 5.10; SN 1.25; MN 98, etc Sep 22, 2016 at 0:38
  • I don't mean "conventional" as just "sammuti sacca", i mean informal (in contrast to a formal statement in a logical system) therefore imprecise, ambiguous. One could say "the ball is red" and take this as an ontological assertion declaring "red" to be a property of "ball", however "red" is a phenomenom created by the eye organ and vision system (e.g some people and animals see different colors according to their biology). So "red" is not a property of the ball, it's just perceived as "red", despite the syntactical form being accepted and obviously showing otherwise. Thus i have reservations.
    – user382
    Sep 22, 2016 at 12:50
  • Impermanence, not-self, etc, are not phenomenom created by the eye organ and vision system. Impermanence, not-self, etc, are properties of a ball, Sep 22, 2016 at 20:42

In the Diamond Sutra the Buddhas says “All conditioned things are like dreams, illusions, bubbles, shadows they are like dew or lightning this is how they are to be viewed"

This is since all phenomena like the world are impermanent and therefore subject to an end like an illusion

  • 1
    Can you recommend (or link to, online) a specific translation of the Diamond Sutra?
    – ChrisW
    Sep 22, 2016 at 12:45
  • Sorry I mostly read it in Chinese but I also read Master Xuan Hua's version in English which was pretty good cttbusa.org/vajra/vajrasutra.asp
    – O_O
    Sep 23, 2016 at 9:50

..is "the visible world is an illusion or dream" the main topic of Buddhism?...includes a proof of the existence of a Higher Conscience...if you found any logical flaws...please mention/list them...

In my fleeting personal illusory opinion, there is no obvious connection to Buddhism here at all.

In Buddhism, it is consciousness that is an illusion or dream, i.e., there is no higher consciousness in Buddhism. To quote from the Buddhist (Pali) scriptures:

Now suppose that a magician or magician's apprentice were to display a magic trick at a major intersection, and a man with good eyesight were to see it, observe it & appropriately examine it. To him — seeing it, observing it, & appropriately examining it — it would appear empty, void, without substance: for what substance would there be in a magic trick? In the same way, a monk sees, observes & appropriately examines any consciousness that is past, future or present; internal or external; blatant or subtle; common or sublime; far or near. To him — seeing it, observing it, & appropriately examining it — it would appear empty, void, without substance: for what substance would there be in consciousness?

Phena Sutta

While it is difficult to argue using Buddhism, the quote below does lend support to a theory that the visible world is less an illusion than consciousness. For example, it would take a lot of arrogance or hubris to suggest Mt Everest, which has logically existed for millions of years, is an illusion, yet consciousness, which only lasts a short moment, is not an illusion but something "higher".

It would be better for the uninstructed run-of-the-mill person to hold to the body composed of the four great elements, rather than the mind, as the self. Why is that? Because this body composed of the four great elements is seen standing for a year, two years, three, four, five, ten, twenty, thirty, forty, fifty, a hundred years or more. But what's called 'mind,' 'intellect' or 'consciousness' by day and by night arises as one thing and ceases as another. Just as a monkey, swinging through a forest wilderness, grabs a branch. Letting go of it, it grabs another branch. Letting go of that, it grabs another one. Letting go of that, it grabs another one. In the same way, what's called 'mind,' 'intellect' or 'consciousness' by day and by night arises as one thing and ceases as another.

Assutavā Sutta

My impression is the questioner might find an answer that might suit their tastes on the Hinduism forum: https://hinduism.stackexchange.com/ since Hinduism might teach more inherently the external world is an illusion & the Higher or True Self is permanent.

  • But, hubris is so much fun...
    – user2341
    Nov 23, 2016 at 21:23
  • the "fun" is the ego not willing to die 100%... "ego" clinging Nov 24, 2016 at 1:26
  • Regarding how long something has existed, Robert M. Pirsig (Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance) said basically: can something have existed before it was known of? Did 2 + 2 = 4 "exist" before anyone cognized it? In what sense? Further, he said: did the fundamental laws of the universe, such as gravity, "exist" before the universe (supposedly) came in to being? This is perhaps the basis for people saying that there is only the present moment -- the moment of perception -- and thus no past or future. Stretching that, it is logical to say that everything is either illusory, or empty.
    – user2341
    Nov 25, 2016 at 0:26
  • the pali suttas state consciousness depends on sense organs & sense objects (rather than sense objects depend on consciousness). this is the buddhist view. to believe consciousness is the creator of the universe is believing consciousness is god. this is brahmanism rather than buddhism. AN 3.134 states the laws of nature exist regardless of whether they are known. this is buddhism rather than popular novels Nov 25, 2016 at 0:48

This is not the main topic of Buddhism. Such ideas are called 'speculative views'. I think a good reference would be MN 63.

"It's just as if a man were wounded with an arrow thickly smeared with poison. His friends & companions, kinsmen & relatives would provide him with a surgeon, and the man would say, 'I won't have this arrow removed until I know whether the man who wounded me was a noble warrior, a brahman, a merchant, or a worker.' He would say, 'I won't have this arrow removed until I know the given name & clan name of the man who wounded me...

"In the same way, if anyone were to say, 'I won't live the holy life under the Blessed One as long as he does not declare to me that 'The cosmos is eternal,' or 'The cosmos is not eternal,' or 'The cosmos is finite,' or 'The cosmos is infinite,' or 'The soul & the body are the same,' or 'The soul is one thing and the body another,' or 'After death a Tathagata exists,' or 'After death a Tathagata does not exist,' or 'After death a Tathagata both exists & does not exist,' or 'After death a Tathagata neither exists nor does not exist', the man would die and those things would still remain undeclared by the Tathagata.

"And why are they undeclared by me? Because they are not connected with the goal, are not fundamental to the holy life. They do not lead to disenchantment, dispassion, cessation, calming, direct knowledge, self-awakening, Unbinding. That's why they are undeclared by me.

"And what is declared by me? 'This is stress,' is declared by me. 'This is the origination of stress,' is declared by me. 'This is the cessation of stress,' is declared by me. 'This is the path of practice leading to the cessation of stress,' is declared by me. And why are they declared by me? Because they are connected with the goal, are fundamental to the holy life. They lead to disenchantment, dispassion, cessation, calming, direct knowledge, self-awakening, Unbinding. That's why they are declared by me.

  • Also referred to as "Thicket of Views" and "Vexing Questions".
    – user2341
    Nov 23, 2016 at 21:24

My question here is, is "the visible world is an illusion or dream" the main topic of Buddhism?

I'm not sure. I think the main topics of Buddhism include, "What is good and not-good for people?", and "Why do we suffer or find things unsatisfactory? What can we do about death and illness and so on?"

I've heard "the world is an illusion" as a (uninformed?) summary or paraphrase of Buddhism, but I don't know where that summary comes from. That's not the message that I get when I read translations of the suttas.

The word I associate with "illusion" is Maya. Wikipedia's article on Maya (illusion) suggests that's not really a feature of Theravada Buddhism; and when it's used within Mahayana it's used in the context of "misunderstanding based on ignorance".

It is apparently a feature of Hinduism and other Indian philosophies. I guess that possibly that's where the impression that "Buddhism teaches that the world is illusion" comes from, i.e. maybe it comes from people being vague about the difference between Buddhism and other eastern philosophies (some views which are, IMO, vague and similar were also maybe popularized as a take on 'physics' e.g. in the 1970s -- see Quantum mysticism).

I won't say that the theory the "the world is an illusion" is useless, but my very limited (or non-existent) understanding of the theory is more-or-less useless to me: because (unlike the more useful scientific 'models') this theory is neither predictive (explaining/predicting what's going to happen), nor prescriptive (explaining/recommending what we should do about that).

It's possible that "illusion" is a poor translation of something which is a topic of Buddhism. One of Buddhism's themes is "ignorance" or avijjā. I think there are various forms of ignorance, especially "seeing impermanent things as permanent" or not properly considering that things are impermanent.

Buddhism distinguishes between so-called right and wrong views. 'Right view' is the right way to view things, wrong view is the wrong way. Right view is the "fore-runner" in the sense that it's because of (or conditioned by) having right or wrong view that we think and do right and wrong things (where "right" is the translation of an adjective Sammā which is e.g. described/defined here).

This summary of right view extracts definitions of 'right view' from various suttas. IMO this passage ...

And what is wrong view? 'There is nothing given, nothing offered, nothing sacrificed. There is no fruit or result of good or bad actions. There is no this world, no next world, no mother, no father, no spontaneously reborn beings; no brahmans or contemplatives who, faring rightly & practicing rightly, proclaim this world & the next after having directly known & realized it for themselves.' This is wrong view...

... says more-or-less explicitly that disregarding or denying the existence of these things (e.g. regarding them as illusion) is 'wrong'.

To the extent that Buddhism does talk about illusion, I think that illusion consists of placing an improper value on something. If I hate something, if I fear it, or if I crave it, then it's important to me ... perhaps an undue importance, whereas it would be better if I were more equanimous towards it.

There's part of Buddhism teaching that's interested in, I don't know what you call it, 'phenomenology'? Maybe 'phenomenology', I don't know (I was never taught philosophy).

Buddhism is interested in how 'craving' comes to be (because 'craving' is identified as a or the cause of suffering). This Wikipedia article Ayatana is a summary of that: it says that 'craving' arises from 'feeling'; and that 'feeling' arises from 'contact' between three things, i.e. a 'sense-object' (e.g. "something seen"), a 'sense-organ' (e.g. "eye"), and 'sense-consciousness' (e.g. "sense-consciousness of sight").

Maybe it's important to be aware that what/all you crave (or used to crave) comes from senses in this way, and that these sense-impressions are transient or fleeting (impermanent). I think some Buddhist literature describes these fleeing sense-impressions (or moments of consciousness, or more specifically moments of contact between consciousness and senses) as "like foam" or like a soap bubble. Our consciousness of things is, what shall I say, unstable: e.g. it's one thing after another.

Anther kind of "illusion" is that there's a continuous "I". I think that Buddhism does not argue that the world is an illusion, rather that it's the "I" that's an illusion ... or if not an illusion, that "egoism" is "wrong" in the sense that having a sense of I results in a "thicket of views" and no end to suffering.

One of the most famous suttas (Anatta-lakkhana Sutta: The Discourse on the Not-self Characteristic) says,

Any kind of (form, feeling, perception, determination, and/or consciousness) whatever, whether past, future or presently arisen, whether gross or subtle, whether in oneself or external, whether inferior or superior, whether far or near must, with right understanding how it is, be regarded thus:

'This is not mine, this is not I, this is not my self.

Later Buddhist doctrines begin to emphasize that the world is empty (note, not 'illusory' but 'empty'), by which I think they mean, 'empty of self'. It's also emphasized that things don't have an 'independent' existence, i.e. they're caused by things (or they arise when the conditions for their arising are present), and dissolve when those conditions are no longer present.

Taking Dhammadhatu's example of Mount Everest I'd say it arises as a result of (or, 'is conditioned by') tectonic plate movement (and isn't or won't be eternal), and also that perception of it arises from causes (and is also impermanent).

In other words is it a Matrix?

Really? The capital M implies you're referring to the movie. I suppose I recommend this answer.

Any proof for this?

Any proof for what: proof for the world being illusion, or proof for what Buddhism teaches?

I find that part of what Buddhism teaches seems self-evident and/or common-sense, and/or it's a good description of already-observed phenomena (e.g. unhappy when a loved one dies).

It has also plausible theories (e.g. unhappiness may be caused by becoming emotionally attached to or expecting permanent happiness from something impermanent), which are also useful in the sense that they're prescriptive (e.g. to avoid unhappiness, you should avoid unwise attachment), with techniques and practices for doing that.

Also, the article includes a proof of the existence of a Higher Conscience. Is that in direct relation with Buddhism (i.e. the topics discussed here on this site)?

For reference, here is the article "proof of the existence of a Higher Conscience":

Definition: Higher Conscience is a conscience that has always more knowledge (amount of information) than all people have.

Theorem: Higher Conscience exists.

Proof: Assume that Higher Conscience does not exist. Then the number Pi can not exist in Human Conscience (knowledge of all people) since people know, describe and operate only with what they see or sense. But number Pi can be derived only from the fact that someone saw or sensed the circle (“perfect wheel”).

I think this is a fallacious proof: I think it's based on the assumption that the ability to reason about irrational numbers implies that there exists a "higher consciousness" which "knows" an infinite amount of information.

So far as I know that's nothing to do with Buddhism. FYI I think there are Early Indian treaties on mathematical infinities (but not especially Buddhist).

There are some supernormal abilities described in Buddhist literature: see e.g. Ṛddhi and Abhijñā, but I think consensus is that these aren't very important to the practice of Buddhism.

What is important to the practice of Buddhism is to eliminate or abandon mental stains such as greed and conceit.

Also, if you found any logical flaws in this article then please mention/list them.

I think that's off-topic for this site, but in case this helps ...

The paper proves that we leave in Matrix. We show that Matrix was built by the creator. By this we solve the question how everything is built

Just re. a spelling mistake, I think that "leave in Matrix" should be spelled "live in a 'Matrix'".

Anyway, IMO you don't "prove" those things: instead you state that you choose to describe or model the world in that way. However you don't IMO demonstrate that it's a good model. A good model would:

  • Account for many/all current observations
  • Make predictions about the future
  • Ideally make useful/testable predictions, be 'falsifiable'.

Then the number Pi can not exist in Human Conscience (knowledge of all people) since people know, describe and operate only with what they see or sense.

People (mathematicians) define Pi based on (some finite number of) axioms. For example a 'perfect circle' might be defined as 'a line whose points are equidistant from a centre', and that definition doesn't take infinite or 'higher' consciousness.

Mathematicians can also show that Pi is irrational/transcendental, and can't be expressed in finite decimal digits. I don't think they infer that there's an infinite matrix or Matrix which contains these digits.

It's a bit of a jump (too much of a jump) to say, "I can do geometry, therefore an infinite/random/evolving creator-God exists". I think that's mere conceit (attaching undue importance to one's ideas).

Incidentally I think that Buddhism sees ideas as being a kind of sixth sense, similar to the other five: e.g. in the same way that an "an eye perceives sights" you can say that "a mind perceives ideas".

Hence Infinite Monkey who typed EVERYTHING EXISTS

These basis of this argument seems to me to be:

  • The probability of randomly typing "banana" on a 50-key keyboard is ((1/50)6
  • Doing so would require infinite monkeys
  • I am a monkey, who has just typed the word "banana"
  • Therefore "infinite monkeys" exist

Some logical fallacies with this argument are:

  • "banana" is not a random word
  • although "I am a monkey" I don't type randomly

In summary you seem to be arguing that:

  • I observed something
  • It happened at random
  • Therefore every other possibility exists simultaneously

Theorem on Halting Problem

I think you're saying that an infinite problem could be solved with infinite computing resources; but you're using (fallacious) conclusions from previous proofs to assume that infinite computing resources exist.

  • Edit to add: see also this answer which says that the illusion/dream analogy comes from the Diamond Sutra, and that it's to be understood as emphasizing that phenomena (and/or perceptions of phenomena) are impermanent.
    – ChrisW
    Sep 22, 2016 at 12:18
  • ChrisW, I wanted to receive real comments but got the logically incorrect answer, just endless speculations that are false. I think I made a mistake putting this in this forum.
    – user10080
    Feb 19, 2017 at 8:59
  • Example, banana is not random word, yes, but my theorem investigates what is the probability to type or not to type word banana. you missed the point. the same is with the previous theorem. you can not deny the existence of number Pi, and it exists, was derived, in Human mind. if Higher mind never existed you would never get the knowledge about number Pi because you do not see perfect wheel. This is like ontological argument. You can not disprove it. See also the prove of God existence by Kurt Godel.
    – user10080
    Feb 19, 2017 at 9:08
  • and I put to Buddhist forum because from my proof that Higher mind exists it follows that our world is an illusion, a dream of Higher mind. I thought sleeping Buddha in Bangkok is a symbol of this. I hope I can remove this whole stuff from here one day.
    – user10080
    Feb 19, 2017 at 9:13
  • and just to make it more clear, I repeat a definition - Higher mind is a mind that knows more than all people at any given moment. so, denying such Higher mind you get a contradiction that number Pi is already known to people. because it is only higher mind could teach about its existence.
    – user10080
    Feb 19, 2017 at 11:03