This essay is about a shocking contradiction in our common sense about the nature of reality; a contradiction that you are probably totally unaware of. Becoming aware of this contradiction has the potential to change your life.

Our common sense says that the colors we see, the sounds we hear, the smells we feel, the textures we sense, are all the actual reality. We take it for granted that they are all really out there, concretely. Our common sense also seems to suggest that death is the end of our consciousness. Even if we don't acknowledge this intellectually or spiritually, most of us fear the end of consciousness with enough sincerity to betray our belief in its possibility.

Now, the point of this essay is extraordinarily simple: these two common-sense beliefs are mutually exclusive.

In Chapter 2 of Why Materialism Is Baloney, I illustrate a broad pattern associating procedures that reduce brain activity with expanded consciousness. These include hyperventilation, meditation, ordeals, gravity-induced loss of consciousness, strangulation, cardiac arrest, brain damage, and even psychedelics. Indeed, a 2012 paper by Carhart-Harris et al. has showed that psychedelics only reduce neural activity, with no increases anywhere in the brain.

(Disclaimer: this essay adopts the format of a fictional medical description of a fictional psychiatric condition – called "intellectual fundamentalism" – for the purposes of social and cultural criticism. The essay should be interpreted metaphorically, not literally.

This is a somewhat unusual post, but I suspect it can be very helpful in clarifying my formulation of Idealism and general metaphysical position. Maybe many of the questions discussed below are precisely the questions you have.

First, a brief intro. As you've probably noticed, I very recently joined twitter (@BernardoKastrup). A lot of the discussions I've faced there thus far have been with militant pseudo-skeptics and focused on posturing rather than understanding.

By Robert H. Clark (guest essay)

I think one can get a visceral, intuitive sense of how, what is often referred to as "the hard problem of consciousness," actually is "the impossible problem of consciousness," through a simple, thought experiment. Note that in this piece I am going to be using the following words interchangeably: mind, consciousness and you.

Yesterday I gave a long and extremely engaging interview to Rick Archer, of Buddha at the Gas Pump. Rick pressed me very intelligently on the distinction I make between idealism and panpsychism; that is, between the notions that everything is in consciousness and that everything is conscious. As my readers know, I reject panpsychism: I reject the idea that everything, like a rock or your home thermostat, is conscious.

A couple of weeks ago, a Twitter war broke out between Deepak Chopra, a well-known proponent of integrative medicine, and Brian Cox, a physicist and TV-star who is famous for science documentaries on UK television. The war was covered in a highly tendentious way in an article in the New Statesman. Here, however, I want to focus on what the Twitter exchange seems to reveal about the appalling state of our culture. To give you a flavor of the exchange, I want to start with specifics.

Integrative medicine encompasses a variety of approaches to healthcare focusing on mind-body interaction. Unlike mainstream materialist medicine, which treats a patient’s body as a biological mechanism, integrative medicine seeks to heal the whole being, including – and often starting from – one’s psychic, emotional functions.

Right, this one is going to be controversial. Even as I write these opening words, I still harbor some doubt about whether I should be doing this at all. I'll postpone thinking further about it until the point when there's nothing left to do but to click on the 'publish' button. If you are reading this now, you know that, eventually, I did click on it.

You see, the problem is that I am about to commit sacrilege. I am about to attack my alma mater in the original latin sense of the words.

To 'beg the question' is a logical fallacy in which one takes the conclusion of an argument as a premise of the argument. For instance, if one says: 'God exists because the bible says so, and the bible is true because it was written by God,' one is begging the question of God's existence. As such, to beg the question is a kind of circular reasoning.