If whatever we see and feel in the 3-D world is just an illusion created by our minds and every matter, even an atom, is related to each other (interrelated); what is the origin of it? Since consciousness or self or "I" is also just a thought, how is matter created by the consciousness? How does the mind create it? Whenever I think of these things, I remember the mythological god, Zeus, who can create anything he wishes just by thinking about it? It feels like this is actually possible. So what could be the possible logic behind this complex knowledge?

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    Buddha was against this kind of intellectual discussion about consciousness, rebirth, God etc. He asked people to witness it directly through his teachings. Consciousness cannot be discerned through words. Whether consciousness has created matter or these are two different things is a matter of experience of a Buddha. I suggest you take experiential route than intellectual one. Your existence in metaphysical or physical domain will be revealed to you through his teachings. Commented Mar 3, 2017 at 17:55
  • ok, seems like their is no other choice than to do meditate again, to understand this. but i think it would be good if some one would have wrote some book about this kind of things, because it would remove peoples ignorance and material desire/craving as a result world would be more peaceful. cas people dont like to do meditation generally. but if they would have understood its meaning though their intellectual level, how selfishness and cravings results in destruction, atleast by reading some books, than it would be good.
    – user10568
    Commented Mar 4, 2017 at 1:32

7 Answers 7


The world itself was not an illusion to the Buddha. Rather, given the true nature of experience - Anatta and Anicca, the actions of 'I' making or 'Mine' making facilitate the illusion of a Self, hence the arising of Dukkha. The issue of origin for any thing that lacks a Self, like this existence, is that the beginning doesn't make sense. At best the beginning can't be determined.

"From an inconstruable beginning comes transmigration. A beginning point is not evident, though beings hindered by ignorance and fettered by craving are transmigrating & wandering on. When you see someone who has fallen on hard times, overwhelmed with hard times, you should conclude: 'We, too, have experienced just this sort of thing in the course of that long, long time.'

"Why is that? From an inconstruable beginning comes transmigration. A beginning point is not evident, though beings hindered by ignorance and fettered by craving are transmigrating & wandering on. Long have you thus experienced stress, experienced pain, experienced loss, swelling the cemeteries — enough to become disenchanted with all fabricated things, enough to become dispassionate, enough to be released."

-- Duggatta Sutta

Name and Form arise in dependence of Consciousness and Consciousness arises in dependence of Name and Form. https://suttacentral.net/en/dn15. No 'thing' such as matter is created to be independent. It's like the conservation laws within Physics - 'energy can neither be created nor destroyed, it can only change forms'.

All is possible within conditionality because there is no underlying, essential demarcation line that delineates 'the impossible' from 'the possible'.


If matter is just illusion

I don't think that is Buddhist doctrine. I think that Buddhist doctrine is that we tend to view matter inappropriately or with ignorance.

what is the origin of it

I'm not sure it has an origin. That might be considered an unanswered question. Several suttas (e.g. this one) mention "inconstruable beginning", saying "A beginning point is not evident".

how is the matter being created by the conciousness

I'm not sure that matter is created by consciousness.

But "perception" (of matter) is created when consciousness, matter, and sense-organ come into contact (see e.g. here).

  • well than why did buddha said "thought/mind is everything, thought/mind creates everything".
    – user10568
    Commented Mar 3, 2017 at 4:34
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    You may be thinking of the first and second verses of the Dhammapada, which start with: "All mental phenomena have mind as their forerunner; they have mind as their chief; they are mind-made. If one speaks or acts with an evil mind, 'dukkha' follows him just as the wheel follows the hoofprint of the ox that draws the cart." -- when it's used in that context, people translate dhamma as (specifically) "mental states" or "mental phenomena" rather than as (generally) "everything" or "matter".
    – ChrisW
    Commented Mar 3, 2017 at 5:03
  • There's also a (later) "mind-only" or "consciousness-only" school of Buddhism (see Yogachara on Wikipedia); but Wikipedia says that "explains how our human experience is constructed by the mind" (which I think isn't the same as saying that "matter" or "everything" is constructed by the mind) ... or see also this answer which advocates, "treating all Buddhist doctrines as though they are addressing the topic of what we experience rather than what exists".
    – ChrisW
    Commented Mar 3, 2017 at 16:04
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    Saying "everything is just an illusion created by mind" might be a form of "wrong view", e.g. on this page the following is quoted as an example of 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".
    – ChrisW
    Commented Mar 3, 2017 at 17:12

To explain it will take long long paragraph, but still not really explaining anything. To give some orientations relating to your question, first, you said "matter", what is matter? A duck, we say there is a duck (matter), it's shaped a duck-shape, yellow or green in colour, it quacks, it smells, it has soft downs, roasted duck tastes different from chicken. These are all related to our sensory organs: eyes to see (shape & colour), ears to hear (quacks), nose to smell (duck-smell), body to feel (soft downs), tongue to taste (roasted duck); and our mind to recognize all these, without these attributes, does this duck exist? Not sure, we can't say. 'Ok, but there must be something exists for I response to this to form this idea "duck"'. Then, must be the duck if it does exist existing in an absolute form you perceived? Again, we can't be sure. For instance, a colour-blind will see differently from you, at least the duck is not a green duck; further, an animal such as bat who uses sound to see, he will see a different duck, not to mention that Mr. Bat probably doesn't like the taste of roasted duck :)... so on and so forth. Now who has ever seen the "real" duck? We can't determine.

Now you say "for matter what I mean is atom", when saying atom we are still using all these attributes to describe: electrons circulating the nucleus (implied it has a form, no matter however tiny); Ok you say "I mean light", forget the scientist said light sometimes behaved like particle, it's wave, it has/hasn't substance. Well still there is space for this light to "wave", right? In your mind you still have to assume space. Now, are you sure there is space out there? The space assumed existed because you perceived objects - the empty part is space, if you cannot be definite if object exists and existed in exact you perceived them, then the space you perceived is just the negative of the object you perceived, not an absolute. For instance, we can't see air, the space we perceived are in fact not empty, it's filled with air particles, so on and so forth. Einstein said the space is "ether" (Einstein was not definite about this claim), both space and ether, if we have to look at if it existed, we have to use the attributes of our sensory categories and intellect (mind)... thus in however dissecting the "matter", we can't escape to perceive it within our the six categories or their extensions: eyes, ears, nose, tongue, body and mind.

Now not based on our six categories and extensions we can't describe any "matter", further, if the colour-blind, bat and me could be seeing the same duck differently, the only possibility is that all of us are seeing and responding to the illusion of our own construct... that's how illusions can "form" a world. When we say "the world" we are only able to refer to the world in our mind, with thousands minds there are literally thousands "worlds", all are illusions but real to the individual mind.

It will be very complex impossible to at one step to explain all, but you asked a good question. As a student of the Dharma of Buddha with some Sutras I read, I come to realize a bit more. Currently reading Nagarjuna's 《中論》 - absolutely a sheer mind addict, I was laughing with myself like idiot, Nagarjuna has a very cool (cute :) character reflected in his employing of words and manner. I can only say, if you are interested to find the answer, you better study the Sutras. As far as I reckon, those Sutras that answer this kind of questions are mainly in Classic Chinese, not translated. If they do have translations, most of them are not satisfactory. For a translator to be able to produce accurate translation, one must first need to understand the content, not to mention if one is an adept of both languages to correctly communicate the content.

Once you understand, and in realizing the truth how all these are actually working - scientists are going at the opposite direction, then you can also be like Zeus, create anything you wish. When one is truly enlightened, he can also master the illusion; for realizing Buddha-hood, he is able to create - the Pureland of Utmost Happiness is created purely by Amitabha's thinking. Unlike Zeus or Brahma, he began just like us, a normal human being. Further, he spent kalpas of eons to know about the most beautiful and "acquire" the beauty of beauty to create his pureland. Thus it's praised much by Buddha Shakyamuni, encouraging us to try getting a "visa" ;). Nagarjuna left planet Earth (Samsara) for there, it's not sure whether he is a citizen of Utmost Happiness just traveled here for assignment, or whether he has new assignment not staying at Utmost currently. : /


To not be confused is that when I say '"Amitabha's thinking" created the pureland', it's not the same as those understanding Brahma or Zeus creates by thinking. In here Amitabha is more like a great artist who does a splendid painting, and the raw material (matter) is - if you insist there must be "matter" there, conventionally called Emptiness - for it's not a "matter" as our human mind can discern, but it has attributes that we can see in phenomenal world, such as the 4 Greats: earth, water, fire, wind. To make you even getting more at this "creation and matter" contemplation, that this world is created by us too - a collective thinking result, in brief. 'If so why can't I now create an ice-cream by thinking?' Because you don't know how these are in working we can't master the result; further, because of ignorance this ability can't be fully realized, thus we create it blindly, like an unskilled artist doing a very unsatisfactory painting. Now you may see a bit more into how illusion can exist as real, how we are treating like it really does matter there is "matter", on Emptiness. Last, Emptiness is emptiness, so it doesn't need any/anyone-to-do-the creation. :D ~~


Buddhism does not state the external world of forms, such as the earth, is an illusion created by mind. For example:

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.

SN 12.61

Instead, what is an illusion is the mind & particularly the perceptions & thought constructions of the mind.

Now suppose that in the last month of the hot season a mirage were shimmering, 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 mirage? In the same way, a monk sees, observes, & appropriately examines any perception 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 perception?

SN 22.95

Matter is not created by consciousness. Instead, consciousness is created from matter.

Mind-and-matter (nama-and-rupa) is the cause and condition for the manifestation of the consciousness aggregate.

SN 22.82

It's good, monks, that you understand the Dhamma taught by me in this way, for in many ways I have said of dependently co-arisen consciousness, 'Apart from a requisite condition, there is no coming-into-play of consciousness.'

Consciousness, monks, is classified simply by the requisite condition in dependence on which it arises. Consciousness that arises in dependence on the eye & forms is classified simply as eye-consciousness. Consciousness that arises in dependence on the ear & sounds is classified simply as ear-consciousness. Consciousness that arises in dependence on the nose & aromas is classified simply as nose-consciousness. Consciousness that arises in dependence on the tongue & flavors is classified simply as tongue-consciousness. Consciousness that arises in dependence on the body & tactile sensations is classified simply as body-consciousness. Consciousness that arises in dependence on the intellect & ideas is classified simply as intellect-consciousness.

MN 38


If matter is just an illusion what is the source of it

The source cannot be found. One has to become a fully enlightened Buddha to be able to gain knowledge about its origin.

Physical matter is not an illusion but rather like an illusion as it is empty of solidity, permanence.

It exists in context of our experience.

In reality what is percieved as matter is really just the sensitive quality of the eye connecting with its corresponding object, i.e. light, visible forms, which allows eye-consciousness to arise. It's just an impersonal process.

This in turn gives rise to a mind-door process, a reflective process of what has been just been seen. The process can be stopped before the mind-door process begins, by guarding the sense doors, i.e. by noting the seeing, thereby keeping the mind in the present moment, free from judgements, extrapolations, liking, disliking of the object.

The very idea that we live in a 3-dimensional world is just an extrapolation, an interpretation, a mental formation belonging to the 4th aggregate of mental formations - these too are subject to the three characteristics of impermanence, unsatisfactoriness and uncontrollability that defines all conditioned phenomena.

What exists is experience. Right now I can see the computer I'm using to write this post. There is definitely a seeing going on. But there is no seer. The idea of a "seer or an I" is just a mental formation.

How do mind creates it?

Its a complex process but it is visible and verifiable through the practice of insight meditation. By observing the mind with objectivity one can see how it works. When non-interference is present the mind will reveal its mechanics to the observer.

The problem arises when one is not mindful of a sense object impinching on the sense doors, e.g. the "idea of a 3-dimensional world".

When one is not mindful of a sense object the mind will only for a brief moment apprehend the true nature of the object whereafter it begins a cognitive process of mental fabrication in order to try to grasp the object. The mind will take the "raw material" of the object and thereafter bring forth subjective concepts and ideas about the object.

The mind then weaves together all these different concepts into more complex structures. These are embellishments fabricated by the mind and does not belong to the object. They are added to it.

It's the mind superimposing qualities onto the object. This process of fabrication is fueled by the underlying latent defilements. The end result is an object which is now covered with a thick layer of mind-generated ideas and qualities. The original object is now hidden in a dense layer of subjective extrapolations that hides its true nature.

As mentioned earlier this subjective process can be avoided by guarding the sense-doors. The key is practice instead of intellectualization.

The Buddha was often asked questions such as whether or not the world was finite or infinite. When asked such questions he always brought the questioner back to practice.


Certain subjects are declared to be imponderable by the Buddha:

1) range of powers of a Buddha

2) range of powers obtained while absorbed in jhana

3) precise working out of the results of karma

4) speculation about the origin (the first moment, purpose, etc.) of the cosmos

The -origin of matter- question seems like it probably is the fourth imponderable.*


Beginning meditators start with simple concepts but too often we want to leap ahead and open the Christmas presents before Christmas, so to speak.

Wrong view in the path is like when the meditator believes they already understand "Sila" and "Dana" and what seems most useful , to this certain student, is to learn the juicy bits... the exotic stuff, like anatta and Dependant Origination. This is a wrong view festival.

The reason why teachers don't explain certain advanced concepts is because most likely an intellectual understanding leaves too much room for interpretation so that there is too much danger that the student will develop wrong view.

Your mindful experience is what will teach you. If you are a practicioner, it's best to get a good teacher that can really give you the right information at the right time that you need it.




In the Buddha Dhamma, the human being is an impersonal combination of ever-changing mind and matter. In the flux is found no unchanging soul or eternal principle. The self or soul is then a piece of fiction invented by the human mind. To believe in such an absurdity is to create another source of unhappiness. One should therefore see oneself as one truly is — a conflux of mind and matter energized by tanha or craving, containing immense possibilities for both good and evil, neither overestimating nor underestimating one's capacities and capabilities.

Aggregate of Matter or Form (Rupa) corresponds with material or physical factors. It includes not only our own bodies, but also the material objects that surround us – the earth, the oceans, the trees, the buildings, and so forth. Specifically, the aggregate of form includes the five physical sense organs and the corresponding physical objects of the sense organs. These are the eyes and visible objects, the ears and sound, the nose and smell, the tongue and taste, and the skin and tangible objects. Mindfulness, which puts full attention on the movements and the characteristics of the body, can eventually see with clarity that the body is nothing but a conglomeration of parts. Mindfulness of this will help one to lose some of one’s attachment and ego illusion about the body.

To get to know “Nama-Rupa”, and the ‘fiver skandhas” the following dialogues between King Milinda and Arahant Nagasena is helpful.

Venerable Sir, what is ‘rupa’ and what is ‘nama’? Why do they generate together?

Dear king, ‘Namarupa’ means mentality & materiality. Mentality (mind & thoughts) is ‘nama’. Materiality (the four great elements ‘Patavi’, ‘Apo’, ‘Thejo’, ‘Vayo’ which are transitory and the material form derived from them) is ‘Rupa’. ‘Nama’ and ‘rupa’ are linked together like flowers and their scent. They are born together. This phenomenon has been there for a long time.

Venerable Sir, what does conceive as the birth?

Dear King, ‘Namarupa’ (psychological elements of the human person & physical body / Mentality & materiality) conceive as the birth. The body & mind we have at present would never be reborn. Because of the results of good and bad deeds (Karma Vipaka) which we have done using our mind and body, another ‘Namarupa’ (psychological elements of the human person & physical body) is conceived.

Venerable Sir, is it the materiality or form (Rupa) which is Nagasena? Is it the feeling or sense (Vedana) (pleasure, pain or the absence of the either) which is Nagasena? Is it cognitive perception (Sanna) ( awareness of colour, shape, sound, smell, taste & touch) which is Nagasena? Is it volition or mental formation (Sankhara) (habitual actions like greed, hatred, generosity, kindness…etc) which is Nagasena? Is it consciousness (Vinnana) (all the mental faculties pertaining to perception & experience) which is Nagasena?

None dear king.

Venerable Sir, Then is it the five aggregates (Rupa, vedana, sanna, sankhara, vinnana) which is Nagasena?

No dear king.

Then, who is Nagasena?

Dear King, you came here by a chariot. Do you call the compartment the chariot? Or, do you call the roof the chariot? Is the cart wheel or the beam the chariot ? Is the axle the chariot ? Is the bridle the chariot ?

No Venerable Sir.

Dear king, when the compartment, the roof, cart wheels, the beam, the axle and the bridle is combined, it is called the chariot. If it is dismantled and heaped, nobody would call it a chariot.

Similarly, when my hair, teeth, nail, skin, flesh & bones are together, it is called Nagasena. When the five aggregates are together, it is called Nagasena. But, in reality, there is no such person.

Our Great Buddha said thus to Bhikkuni Vajira : “In the manner, that a chariot is called a chariot when the cart wheels, compartment, axle, beam, etc. are combined; a being is called thus when the five aggregates (the Five Skandhas)are merged. ”

King Milinda was very happy about the explanation and thanked Venerable Nagasena.

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