Here is how anyone can understand the true nature of reality

My latest book, The Idea of the World, is undoubtedly my most rigorous and academically solid volume to date. This is its strength, but also its Achilles' heel: although still accessible to any educated person, its elaborate argumentation demands more effort from the reader. However, my previous six books are easier to digest, and together cover considerably more ground than The Idea. I have recently revised them all, in the form of the so-called Uniform Reprints, which I discussed here.

To gently introduce you to those earlier—but quite up-to-date—volumes I've given six interviews to Jeff Mishlove, as part of the renowned Thinking Allowed series that began back in the 1980's, originally airing on PBS. Each interview generally covers one of the books (although Jeff and I discuss a variety of other topics as well). Below, I provide links to the respective videos and brief commentary on each book. Don't let the books' original publication dates put you off: they are all freshly revised and rendered consistent with one another, so they form a coherent whole.

Why Materialism Is Baloney

This is my best-selling book so far, although The Idea will probably soon catch up with and overtake it. It provides an accessible argument for the claim that there is no objective material universe; that the entire universe is in mind, although not in your personal mind alone. I seek to show that we, as individual subjects of experience, are like whirlpools in an ocean of mentation that both contains and surrounds us, and which presents itself to us as what we call the 'physical' universe. The book's argument is based on visual metaphors that are easy to grasp and follow. Its tone is informal but combative, as suggested by the cheeky title, for one of its key claims is that materialism is a preposterous metaphysical view.

More Than Allegory

Every author probably has a favorite book amongst his own output. More Than Allegory is my favorite. This is my most far reaching work yet, even with some revealing—though highly stylized—autobiographical segments. In it I discuss the ways in which religious myths across the ages have probably hinted at very true aspects of reality. I take you along a thought line whose inevitable conclusion is that spacetime is an illusion, and help you gain direct insight into how you create this illusion 'from moment to moment.' As a bonus, I expose the 'Big Bang' for what it actually represents; and no, it isn't what you've been told. Finally, part III of the book doesn't hold anything back; no, really, nothing. It goes as deep as possible into the rabbit hole we call the nature of reality. The story told there, despite its rather fantastical overtones, is, in fact, true in the ways that really count. You may doubt it after you've read it, but hey, I wouldn't want to fool you, would I?

Meaning in Absurdity

Everything we consider true about reality is ultimately based on layers and layers of belief systems, some more reliable or justifiable than others. At the bottom of this edifice of belief is Aristotelian logic: a set of statements that are, supposedly, so self-evident that they dispense with substantiation. We all know they are true; or do we? What if we were to critically examine the edifice of our beliefs and discover that reality, in fact, has many more degrees of freedom than we dare grant it? What if our very logic isn't, after all, as self-evident as we suppose? Could this explain the so-called 'high strangeness' phenomena that have been reported throughout the ages, such as UFOs, 'alien abductions,' psychedelic hallucinations, spontaneous religious visions and so forth? Could our own deeply hidden and unexamined belief systems limit what we are actually able to perceive or otherwise cognize of the world around ourselves? Could the world around us right now entail much, much more than we dare imagine? These and many other related questions are explored in this short but daring and intense book.

Dreamed up Reality

Together with Part III of More Than Allegory, this is one of my most personal books, for in it I relate—with abundant details and extensive a posteriori commentary—my own private experiences with (highly) altered states of consciousness. That's it; enough said. If you want to know more, read the book! Its subject matter is sensitive; it's the kind of thing that one doesn't want to discuss in brief, for one risks being drastically misinterpreted. And I don't want you to think I am a nutcase!

Rationalist Spirituality

This was the first book I wrote, the one that received the most extensive revision recently, and probably the most accessible route for anyone interested in dipping their toes into my philosophy. Although I make clear upfront that my position is monistic idealism—i.e. I hold the view that consciousness is all there ultimately is—the book uses dualism (body/soul, subject/object, mind/matter, etc.) as its running metaphor. Since most people are used to dualist concepts, following the argument line in this book should be fairly straightforward. It's a short and direct volume. I do make explicit, however, how to port the dualist metaphor onto my actual idealist philosophy, so readers won't be ultimately restricted to a dualist mode of thinking. Those interested in looking deeper will be able to see how dualism sort of 'sits on top' of idealism, like an application running on an operating system.

Brief Peeks Beyond

This is my most varied book. In consists of a number of essays—organized in chapters according to their subject matter—tackling topics such as the mind-body problem, how research on memory is distorted and misportrayed by the media, the rampant misrepresentation of psychedelic research that sometimes is unashamedly encouraged by the researchers themselves (!), the psycho-social dynamics underlying how the metaphysics of materialism is promoted on the basis of scandalous double-standards, how materialism underpins consumerism and the suicidal pillaging of the planet we have been bearing witness to, the politics of it all, and even how to live a decent and meaningful life informed by straight philosophical thinking. I also discuss at length—and this book is the only place where I allow myself to do it—the implications and applications of the metaphysics of idealism, which I espouse. Despite the variety of themes tackled, the book does offer a coherent overall message built out of seemingly incommensurable pieces of one overarching jigsaw puzzle.

I hope you enjoy the books and find value in them!


  1. Its great to have a post like this to point newbies to!

  2. Well I, for one, highly appreciate this! I just now watched the "More Than Allegory" video and I'm highly interested in reading that book although I'm probably more interested in reading your latest. Your book, "Why Materialism is Baloney," is quite popular here at the Los Angeles City Library; I've had a hold on it ever since my earliest comment here and am still waiting! After watching the video, I have a few comments, although, given the 2016 date of publication (More Than Allegory), they may be dated comments - but I guess you can always ignore them!

    To begin, I follow a very good linguist on Quora, Oscar Tay from Canada, and he has a very interesting answer related to Chomsky's Universal Grammar: What are the structural similarities that exist common to all languages?. In that answer he introduces one to Pirahã, a counter-example to Chomsky's Universal Grammar! But this language emerged from the Amazon jungle in 2005, so perhaps you were already aware?

    Second, you talk about Schopenhauer in the context of Continental metaphysic; what are your thoughts on Gilbert Simondon and, more metaphysical and much more metaphorical, Gilles Deleuze? Are you familiar with the 2015 work by Daniel Weinbaum and Viktoras Veitas,Open-ended Intelligence: The Individuation of Intelligent Agents, which depends on and refines both Simondon and Deleuze? This paper was published in the Journal of Experimental and Theoretical Artificial Intelligence, so perhaps you were already aware.

    Finally, if you haven't already read these two books, then I would highly recommend both: Sleeping, Dreaming, and Dying: An Exploration of Consciousness with the Dalai Lama, an important transcript from the Francisco Varela inspired Mind and Life series, it has a nice discussion on Dream Yoga;Contemplative Science: Where Buddhism and Neuroscience Converge, a really nice book by B. Allan Wallace, who has degrees in physics and philosophy of science and his PhD in religious studies (he also spent 14 years as a Buddhist monastic ordained by H. H. the Dalai Lama). The Mind and Life Institute recently made their 2017 Mind and Life Dialogue, Ubuntu: I Am Because You Are, available online; you and your readers may find it interesting if you haven't already went through it.

  3. Nice blog btw. I’ll probably post here often.

  4. Hey Bernardo, you got my attention after seeing you on New Thinking Allowed. Diggin through Why Materialism is Baloney and Meaning in Absurdity ready on the shelf!
    I am absolutely impressed by your work and clear thinking. Also watched your defense of your PhD thesis. Long time I had this much food for thought!
    On a sidenote: I was reading the chapter about the membrane metaphor of mind at large and suddenly I felt really uncanny because a little while ago I read Stanislaw Lems Solaris and it occurred to me that the strange ocean in this novel is like mind at large, ever thinking and produces strange geometric forms out of itself to seemingly understand itself. It felt like a revelation :D

  5. Hi Bernardo,
    I had previously read one of your papers and been very impressed, but now, via your Amazon page and the blog referenced there, I have read Baloney, and am blown away.
    I have a scientific personal mind and a spiritual soul, and the two have always struggled, to the detriment of my soul. You have given me ammunition to swing the struggle in favor of my soul (which I am rooting for).
    Congratulations! This is what we do desperately need—a rational, carefully argued justification of idealism, precisely addressing many of the objections you have no doubt encountered. I look forward to resting your most recent, but I will read your others first I think. But the philosophical rigorous and scientific accuracy is essential, for a mind like mine.
    I am starting in on Absurdity. I think your work is starting to shift my ego structure a bit. Thank you! I teach a modified Qigong, and your work has shifted my teaching.
    Btw, I am friends with Marcello Gleiser at Dartmouth. I hope to meet you one day. If you want to see my publications, look on Google Scholar for “Mardi Crane-Godreau” (my collaborator, who has a more unusual name than me).
    Peter Payne

  6. Your writings are fascinating, and stimulate me to presume that you have read the Urantia Book.

    Thanks for your careful perspectives!

  7. I’ve been an intellectually, spiritually and philosophically inclined seeker my whole life and was fortunate to receive my first enlightenment experience when only 23. I’m now 43 and I haven’t stopped seeking or learning. Bernardo’s book, More than Allegory, has already been a very important piece in my journey, and the best part is I’m only up to part 1. Thank you Bernardo for letting your intellect explore where too few dare, and for having the courage to publish as well.

  8. Hi Bernardo,
    It's not my field at all, but there are cases of people who live normal life, and fulfill their social obligations fairly well, but on the Nwtonian physics ground literally have no brain. The first of them were famous for a while and as usual forgotten afterwards.
    As found later, there are more persons with similar caracteristics who were discovered incidentally by means of CT or NMR. It would be interesting what apart from their suprisingly normal intelectual functions is their percetion of the world generally.
    It's not your territory either, but maybe you know some adequate professional (or not) who could study this phenomenon more profoundly?
    All the best