Over the weekend I finished Bernardo Kastrup‘s book Why Materialism Is Baloney : How True Skeptics Know There Is No Death and Fathom Answers to life, the Universe, and Everything, and I have to say that I really, really enjoyed it. Much like Daniel Ingram’s MTCTB this book feels like a massive game changer in how I view the Universe. Or more correctly, this fits a lot of the sporadic ideas and intuitions I had about how this all works into a nice and well packaged paradigm.
Kastrup says that Materialism has it all wrong, which will probably not come as shocking news to most of the people who read this blog, but what might catch you off guard is why he thinks it’s wrong. Materialism says that every single thing we experience is only experienced in our brains and that the out-there-out-there is nearly truly experienced. The digital device you are reading this on is actually an illusion occurring totally in your skull and only somewhat (or maybe not even slightly, how could we know?) correspondences to a thing in actual reality. The picture presented by Materialism is that behind the furthest star we can seen, lis our own skull. While we can never actually experience the real world directly, materialism would say that there definitely is a real world.
Kastrup’s Idealism, however, would suggest that there isn’t.
Instead he explains that the entirety of existence is existing in Mind alone. So rather than the mind being generated by the brain, he would purport that the brain is generated by the Mind. Of course, he’s talking about Big Mind, or mind with the capital M. This echos the old statements that “there is only one person in the room” or “All is one” or even “All is god”. In fairness to Kastrup, he stays away from the God word for the majority of the book and it’s better for it. This book isn’t a proof of god adventure, it just could highly suggest it, it you wanted to frame Big Mind that way.
So, if all is Mind, what exactly are we, or for that matter any conscious beings? While Materialism really does seem to suggest Panpsychism, Kastrup goes on a different route by suggesting that we are just a filtered or tightly focused part of the Mind, that generate ripples or vibrations (I applaud him for using the word unashamedly in the book) that interact with other pinpoints of Consciousness. The brain is the filtering mechanism.
He gives an example of a whirlpool in a stream – it’s still part of the stream but is very much also it’s own thing. If this sounds weird to you, it is probably more in my rehashing of the idea than Kastrups Idealism itself. He goes to very great lengths in the book to explain it and it’s ramifications and uses a couple of metaphors to get the idea across. It is a non-dual approach even if the early chapters warn that it might sound dualistic in it’s early presentation.
Here’s a video of the man himself explaining the difference between Materialism and Idealism.
I really like this idea and very much enjoyed the book, and for the moment at least, I think I am going to accept it as my truth and see where it goes. It certainly lends itself to a magickal outlook. The book got a bit tedious for me in the middle, only because he was trying to preempt all the arguments that would be made against the idea, which while admirable, left me a bit bored. Overall I feel it is very much worth your time and I will certainly be reading more by the author.
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If you want to read the book it’s on Scribd. Use this LINK to get 2 free Months (I get 1 free too) and then find the book here. Otherwise you always have the usual Amazon – Book Depository – or local bookshop outlets.