It is indeed an Opinion strangely prevailing amongst Men, that Houses, Mountains, Rivers, and in a word all sensible Objects have an Existence Natural or Real, distinct from their being perceived by the Understanding. But with how great an Assurance and Acquiescence soever this Principle may be entertained in the World; yet whoever shall find in his Heart to call it in Question, may, if I mistake not, perceive it to involve a manifest Contradiction. For what are the forementioned Objects but the things we perceive by Sense, and what do we perceive besides our own Ideas or Sensations; and is it not plainly repugnant that any one of these or any Combination of them should exist unperceived?
Some Truths there are so near and obvious to the Mind, that a Man need only open his Eyes to see them. Such I take this Important one to be, to wit, that all the Choir of Heaven and Furniture of the Earth, in a word all those Bodies which compose the mighty Frame of the World, have not any Subsistence without a Mind.
George Berkeley – A Treatise Concerning the Principles of Human Knowledge
“What do you still want to know now?” asks the gatekeeper. “You are insatiable.”
“Everyone strives after the law,” says the man, “so how is it that in these many years no one except me has requested entry?”
The gatekeeper sees that the man is already dying and, in order to reach his diminishing sense of hearing, he shouts at him:
“Here no one else can gain entry, since this entrance was assigned only to you. I’m going now to close it.”
Franz Kafka – Before the Law
Solipsism, then, solegoism or monegoism or selfego – so is called the supreme wisdom of man, this is the ultimate yield of thinking and research that humanity, hungry for truth, received from rationalism and independent, modern philosophy, equipped and supported by so many achievements of science!
Those who know what mood prevails in the world of philosophers and scholars, and who know the conceit and pride of the guild, will easily guess that not all skeptics proclaim their bankruptcy to the world in such form and battue. After and most of all, they are academy members, university professors, magazine editors, authors of works and treaties. They beat around the bush, as they can, when it comes to the nothingness of their knowledge and powerlessness of reasoning, they pull the wool over our eyes with the stream of platitudes, hypotheses, metaphors and sophistry.
There is no lack, however, of those sincere, who show the wound in their mind, in full width, and by preaching the theory that the world is nothing more than just our imagination, admit to the ultimate philosophical misery, to an absolute illusionism, which is nothing but – solipsism.
Wladyslaw M. Debicki – Great intelectual bankruptcy
You have heard no concepts of morality but the mystical or the social. You have been taught that morality is a code of behavior imposed on you by whim, the whim of a supernatural power or the whim of society, to serve God’s purpose or your neighbor’s welfare, to please an authority beyond the grave or else next door—but not to serve your life or pleasure.
For centuries, the battle of morality was fought between those who claimed that your life belongs to God and those who claimed that it belongs to your neighbors—between those who preached that the good is self-sacrifice for the sake of ghosts in heaven and those who preached that the good is self-sacrifice for the sake of incompetents on earth. And no one came to say that your life belongs to you and that the good is to live it.
A being who does not hold his own life as the motive and goal of his actions, is acting on the motive and standard of death. Such a being is a metaphysical monstrosity, struggling to oppose, negate and contradict the fact of his own existence, running blindly amuck on a trail of destruction, capable of nothing but pain.
Ayn Rand – Atlas Shrugged
He was a very serious, very earnest and very conscientious dope. It was impossible to go to a movie with him without getting involved afterwards in a discussion on empathy, Aristotle, universals, messages and the obligations of the cinema as an art form in a materialistic society. He was a militant idealist who crusaded against racial bigotry by growing faint in its presence. He knew everything about literature except how to enjoy it.
Joseph Heller – Catch 22
In the face of accident and death people recognize their cosmic helplessness. There is nothing new in this situation. It has an infantile prototype. For once before a person has been in such a state of helplessness: as a little child in one’s relationship to one’s parents. Infantile helplessness arouses the need for protection that the father supplies. The discovery of the adult that this helplessness will continue through the whole of one’s life makes it necessary to cling to the existence of a father—but this time a more powerful one, the father in heaven. It is a tremendous relief for the individual psyche if it is released from the conflicts of childhood arising out of the father complex. One fears the father, though at the same time one seeks his protection against dangers. We give god the characteristics of the father.
Sigmund Freud – Civilization and Its Discontents
The world is my idea. This is a truth which holds good for everything that lives and knows, though man alone can bring it into reflective and abstract consciousness. If he really does this, he has attained to philosophical wisdom. It then becomes clear and certain to him that what he knows is not a sun and an earth, but only an eye that sees a sun, a hand that feels an earth; that the world which surrounds him is there only as idea, i.e., only in relation to something else, the consciousness, which is himself.
Arthur Schopenhauer – The World As Will And Idea
Buddha had once said: “The things, Oh Sariputra, they do not exist as they seem to the ordinary unenlightened people, who are attached to them.” Sariputra said, “So how do things exist, my Master?” Buddha replied: “They exist only in such a way that they actually do not exist. As they do not exist, they should be called Avidyā, which means non-existent. It is them that the ordinary unenlightened people are attached to, who imagine that objects in fact exist, while none of them are existent.”
Then Buddha asked the Venerable Subhuti: “Do you think Subhuti that illusion is one thing and body another? Is illusion one thing and feeling another? Idea another? Shape another? Knowledge another?” Subhuti replied: “No, my Master.” Then Buddha said: “The nature of illusion makes things what they are. This is done in such a way, Oh Subhuti, as if a skillful wizzard or wizard’s apprentice pointed at crowds of people at the crossroads and, upon showing them, made them disappear again.”
Prajñāpāramitā (Perfect knowledge)
The true nature of Reality is to be known by a first-hand personal experience through the eye of clear understanding, and not through the report of learned men. The beauty of the moon is enjoyed through one‘s own eyes. Can one appreciate it through the description by others? Neither by Yoga, nor by Sankhya [rational philosophy], nor by action, nor by learning, is liberation possible. Only by the realization of the oneness of the Brahman (Absolute) and the Atman (Self) is liberation possible, and in no other way.
A disease is not cured by merely repeating the name of the medicine, without taking it. Similarly, without direct realization, none can be liberated by a mere utterance of the word “Brahman.”
“I am the body,” thus thinks an ignorant person. A person of mere book-knowledge considers oneself to be a combination of the body and the soul. But the realized sage possessed of discrimination, knows that “I am Brahman” and looks upon the Eternal Atman as his Self.
Due to ignorance, a person identifies the Self with not-Self. This is the bondage and brings in its wake the miseries of birth and death. Through this, one considers the unreal body as real, identifies with it and nourishes, bathes and preserves it with the help of sense-objects. Thereby, one becomes bound like the silkworm in its cocoon woven by its own threads.
Sri Sankara – Vivekachudamani
All worldly pursuits have but one unavoidable and inevitable end, which is sorrow; acquisitions end in dispersion; buildings in destruction; meetings in separation; births in death. Knowing this, one should, from the very first, renounce acquisitions and storing-up, and building, and meeting; and, faithful to the commands of an eminent Guru, set about realizing the Truth. That alone is the best of religious observances.