A Deception called Form

shira's picture

Average: 4.8 (21 votes)


Does the hole in the ground filled again with sand still exist?

What does it means "to exist"?

Before you read this, please give a serious and honest thought to what the verb "to exist" really means. For some, it will surprisingly be the first time they really give any serious attention to this well-used word. Some guiding clues: is something that exists can suddenly disappear into thin air? (I smashed your precious camera into tiny pieces and it is obviously no more as a camera, where did the camera go?), Can something suddenly start to exist? (Where was the vase a minute before it was completed by the craftsman?), Does the hole in the ground filled again with sand still exists? If the answer to any of these questions is yes then these are miracles, these are wonderful sidhis.

To "exist" in the real and only sense means independently, inherently, self-contained, by itself, monolithically, everlasting, etc. Not because we are demanding these criteria but because there is no other option (see again the examples of the camera, the vase, the hole).

This true and only meaning of "to exist" may be a bit hard to realize in the beginning but is extremely important. The more you think and play with it, the more you see its truth.

Theories VS. Verification by Experience

Nothing in the following is a theory, a dogma. This is not yet another "formless spirituality" theory you are asked to believe in. All the claims are factual and easy to realize in self experience.

4 Layers of Reality and Perception

Forms are illusions in the sense that we regard patterns of a something to be a something.

In general there are 4 layers. By definition, only the Ground-floor layer is real, truly exists (in the real and only sense as detailed above), all other layers are defined and map patterns and qualities on top of the Ground Floor like transparencies with marker signs placed on a picture:

Ground Floor - The Real - it is awareness, it is reality, it is "god", it is "energy" (call it whatever name you like) - it is chaotic, it is not static, it cannot be perceived by the senses and cannot be conceived by the mind (and thus tended to be overruled) and obviously cannot be controlled, thus may be frightening to some.

1st Floor - Matter - it is the "solidification" of "energy" and "spirit", a view of the Ground Floor as if it is solid, rigid and inherently static. It can be perceived by the senses but cannot be conceived by the mind (when we refer to the concept "matter", we have already turned it into an object with a form and a name). It is a disguised view of that which can not be viewed. It is a static and solid overview representation of movement of spirit within a movement of electrons within a movement of atoms within void.

2nd Floor - Form - layout of "objects", of "things" marked on top of matter - they can be perceived by the senses and they can be conceived by the mind. Being the first layer that can be perceived and conceived, it is taken to be Ground Floor but actually it does not exist (in the real and only sense of "to exist" as detailed above) - it is just patterns spotted in matter, just the foldings on the piece of paper called "matter", they are illusions in the sense that we regard patterns of a something to be a something. This is, by the way, the Nothingness of the Buddhists (nothingness = no "thing" exists).

3rd Floor - Language - concepts, words in an artificial symbolic system to name the patterns of the previous layer, to point to forms. It can be perceived by the senses, it can be conceived by the mind and it can be communicated and analyzed. This time the illusion is 2-folded and more serious: we regard names of patterns to be the patterns and we regard the names to be a something.

SriSriYogiBaba's picture

Basement Level

I didn't fully understand.

SriSriYogiBaba | Mon, 09/08/2008 - 07:54
angel76's picture

you are missing an opportunity and the point

Read it again, this time without laziness and prejudice. You are sitting on a box full of gold, begging for money...

It is a very crucial subject for serious seekers. There is nothing intellectual or theoretical in that, on the contrary.

angel76 | Mon, 09/08/2008 - 09:03
SriSriYogiBaba's picture

opportunities, boxes, gold and prejudice

Perhaps you could elaborate on what a "serious seeker" is?
Are you one? What are you seeking? What distinguishes you as serious?
Or have you found what you were looking for?
If so, what is it? What is the gold? And why is the above formula crucial?

SriSriYogiBaba | Mon, 09/08/2008 - 09:56
angel76's picture

Your responsability

This is intellectualism, by the way :-)

Beloved, do not get angry, do whatever you like, it's your responsibility.

angel76 | Mon, 09/08/2008 - 12:06
SriSriYogiBaba's picture


As I suspected, nothing behind your empty borrowed imagery.
What makes you think I was angry? Read again, this time without prejudice.
Why is asking simple direct questions intellectualism?
Forget it, you can't even spell responsibility.

SriSriYogiBaba | Mon, 09/08/2008 - 14:01
Annie's picture

grasping the true essence of form

"It is a very crucial subject for serious seekers. There is nothing intellectual or theoretical in that, on the contrary."

I tend to agree.

Annie | Tue, 09/09/2008 - 06:50
Bercano's picture

you are missing an opportunity and the point

Huge SMILESSS ....Echo


Bercano | Tue, 03/10/2009 - 16:02
shira's picture

Indeed, you need to put some effort

Indeed, you need to put some effort to realize this but I would not call it an intellectual effort.

Sorry, currently I only serve and chew the food, you need to do the swallowing and digesting by yourself, if you like. Only those in comma get the treat of intravenous transfusion and i suspect you are not in that state.

shira | Mon, 09/08/2008 - 10:43
Omkaradatta's picture

Instead of the word effort...

... I like to say that folks need to have some sincerity, earnestness, devotion, giving it full attention. If really interested, this does not take effort. If uninterested, no amount of effort will suffice.


Omkaradatta | Tue, 09/09/2008 - 07:03
davids's picture

a true work of art

I feel completely the contrary! It is one of the best pieces I have ever read about form. For the first time I deeply realize the nonexistence of form, not just understand it intellectually.

Consider publishing it, spreading it or something, you have the gift.

davids | Fri, 11/21/2008 - 09:31
shond's picture

Nothingness, shunyata, emptiness

bravo. at last a good explanation of what this Buddhist concept of nothingness means.

I bet 90% of seekers do not truly grasp deeply the essence of the non-existence of objects. They just say it (formless and other theories) but at the end of the day they regard form as real.

It took me years to understand what the Buddhists mean when they say nothingness, I read all sorts of Buddhist texts (e.g. the heart sutra), talked with Buddhist monks, they all mumbled the usual slogans. This post can shorten the way to this realization for many.

shond | Mon, 09/08/2008 - 10:20
Omkaradatta's picture

90% of seekers...

"I bet 90% of seekers do not truly grasp deeply the essence of the non-existence of objects. They just say it (formless and other theories) but at the end of the day they regard form as real."

Do you regard "seekers" as real? They are objects, are they not? (exist, can be counted, etc). If you truly 'grasp' deeply the essence of the nonexistence of objects, don't make a bet like that ;-).


Omkaradatta | Mon, 09/08/2008 - 11:32
shond's picture

you are right :)

you are right :)

For me personally, by the way, there is still a sad part to all of that: that people I love do not really exist, that they are just qualities of the underlying unmanifested matter/energy, just waves of the ocean, just contours of folding on a paper. Yes, I know all the theories of the "soul" and that all are one but it does not console me a bit. The nonexistence (in the true sense of the word as explained above) of form is not a theory for me anymore but a living experienced truth which is so obvious now (the same as the fact that I cannot be the body even if I want it so much... like the "3 reasons..." post beautifully demonstrates it). I have decided to just accept it, let it go and keep on floating happily with my loved ones. I think now that strangely my love to them even increased since.

shond | Mon, 09/08/2008 - 11:51
Omkaradatta's picture

It doesn't seem sad here...

... because I can still interact with my loved ones, if/when I do anyway. Their only existence otherwise is 'in my head', in memory. And of course the final point: "I" don't exist as an entity either ;-).


Omkaradatta | Mon, 09/08/2008 - 17:45
Phroggy's picture

Yeah, the one who is sad

Yeah, the one who is sad that nobody exists is always assumed to exist. Hehe.

It's interesting that the notion that people don't exist somehow changes things. The experience is still happening. They didn't go anywhere because of a concept. In a way, it should make relationships more real and intimate. These nonexistence peeps are you!

Phroggy | Mon, 09/08/2008 - 17:56
Omkaradatta's picture

Nonexistence of objects...

... isn't a concept, but freedom from the concept of 'thingness'. I'm not surprised that it can increase love, as viewing people as objects is clearly one of our main issues as human beings. Normally we only think about it in terms of 's*x objects' and such, but really it applies across the board: Objects are there to meet our needs. When we stop seeing people as objects, it can only improve our relationships :-).


Omkaradatta | Mon, 09/08/2008 - 18:19
leo's picture

Remind yourself every morning when you wake up

One has to remind himself anew every morning when he wakes up the true meaning of "to exist".

This alone can one day burn to ashes the mind's conditionings which are all based on the unconscious intuitive automatic conviction that form-objects exist and only them.

leo | Mon, 09/08/2008 - 12:59
Phroggy's picture

Dreaming from the inside out

"The Real - it is awareness, it is reality, it is "god", it is "energy" (call it whatever name you like) - it is chaotic, it is not static"

Awareness is chaotic and dynamic? You mean Awareness is changing all the time? How can this be if this is the source of time; the source of change? If it is changing, how can it be said to exist?

"and obviously cannot be controlled, thus may be frightening to some."

If it cannot be perceived or conceived, how can it frighten?

"Matter - it is the "solidification" of "energy" and "spirit", a view of Ground Zero as if it is solid, rigid and inherently static. It can be perceived by the senses but cannot be conceived by the mind (when we refer to the concept "matter", we have already turned it into an object with a form and a name)."

Eggzakly, and so the entire concept of this 'level' is already a movement of mind, imagining 'solidification' and 'energy' and 'spirit' and imagining a view that it imagines cannot be viewed. None of those terms mean anything until you invent meanings. None of that is objectively present. What is energy? Is it more than a concept that has been dreamed into the dreamscape?

"It is a static and solid overview representation of movement of spirit within a movement of electrons within a movement of atoms within void."

What are electrons and atoms and void? Are they somehow more real than the computer monitor in front of you? All of them are movements in Consciousness only. You're defining levels of reality within a dream, and so it's just more dream stuff.

"Form - layout of "objects", of "things" marked on top of matter - they can be perceived by the senses and they can be conceived by the mind. Being the first layer that can be perceived and conceived, it is taken to be Ground Zero"

But it is not the first level that can be conceived. You have conceived all these levels for us but the concepts are not meaningful; they don't point to anything actual except the ground level of Awareness, and that was misconceived.

"This is, by the way, the Nothingness of the Buddhists (nothingness = no "thing" exists)."

No it's not. Awareness is the no-thingness within which things form as a movement of Consciousness, and everything you say here is part of that movement. You can't point to something you conceive and say, 'Look, inconceivable no-thingness!'

There is Existence, and there is the illusion of stuff happening that forms within Existence. All these levels are part of that illusion, as well as these words and concepts. If somebody else made up a completely different set of levels, it would be no closer and no further away from the Truth. Move one millimeter or nanosecond away from Awareness, and you're in total fantasy, mind spinning yet another story about what it imagines reality to be.

Phroggy | Mon, 09/08/2008 - 17:34
nancy pro's picture

When there are metaphors you

When there are metaphors you should regard them as pointers and not literally.

Of course all these words and concepts are part of the illusion. But in order to communicate we need these "language level" tools as we operate in illusion.

When we categorize of course we approximate but this is the most we can do in order to understand. This categorization into 4 levels is a classic one, similar depictions appear also in western philosophy. I like it since it is based on direct experience and not on some speculations. I haven't encountered such others.

nancy pro | Mon, 09/08/2008 - 18:48
shira's picture

Added some photos to provoke

Added some photos to provoke contemplations on the issues discussed.

Also changed the title to make it more friendly...

shira | Mon, 09/08/2008 - 19:28
Elijah_NatureBoy's picture

Existence is not the form!

Yes, forms do exist and can be made to disappear yet, the substence the form is made from (matter) and what maintains the form (life-force-mind-combination) have always been an 'is'. The things we name because of sense recognition are a combination of a mind, physical manifestration and life-force or energy.

The life-force or energy, the mind and the matter unites to maintain a specifit form but they can be "broken" eliminating the form but not the 2 aspects is consisted of. Break a camera and the parts of it still exist but its form has changed into just matter, the form's the life-force-mind-combination takes "flight" while the broken particles' life-force-mind-combination begans to disappear at a much slower pace.

Elijah "NatureBoy"--If I have caused you to question your beliefs I have accomplished my mission. Now, reason the differences in our concepts and reason that until you have reasoned all pros and co

Elijah_NatureBoy | Wed, 09/10/2008 - 02:57
Phroggy's picture

Life force, energy and mind, oh, my!

It's just a dream, man. Mind, energy, life force are just stories about the dream, happening within the dream. Would you break your nightly dreams down into such complex processes or would you just say it is what it is, no more pepperoni pizza late at night?

Phroggy | Wed, 09/10/2008 - 03:14
Omkaradatta's picture

The dream...

This computer screen is real enough, the smells and sounds and physical sensations, my Beingness is real, the whole gestalt of 'this' (all at once) is what's real.

The "computer chair" ostensibly below me is false, what's behind it (out of view) is false, the other room isn't there, and neither is this message "going somewhere" if I hit the send button ;-). I see myself pressing Send, and pretending you're 'out there' to read it.

Is there anybody out there? Nopers.


Omkaradatta | Wed, 09/10/2008 - 06:08
Tania's picture

misusing or rather overusing the dream theory

I think you are somewhat a bit misusing or rather overusing the dream stuff - it is not our personal experience, it is just a theory like the religious theories though the dream theory vibrates more real. And I am sure none of us wants to repeat the errors of the religions. Being just a theory, therefore, we must exercise more caution.

Just repeating "doesn't exist", "not real", "doesn't exist" as a standard answer does not convey any help to others (otherwise we were all enlightened by now).

Even if it a dream, our starting point now is inside the dream, within the mind and therefore we must start from it by referring to its objects. You can't go from NYC to LA by starting your walk from SF. If you insist on ignoring NYC, you will stay in NYC forever.

Moreover, you can negate something but you shouldn't ignore it just because it is not real, on the contrary, you should discuss it, observe it, hug it, dance with it.

The way is not to negate any open discussion when dream objects are used. These dream objects are currently more real for us then anything else and one should at least start from them and not ignore them. Instead of ignoring objects, we need to observe them and then maybe in an internal mental process (that yes, still involved with the mind) the realization will come.

I haven't heard of anyone that upon being told just that something is something or nothing, got enlightened, otherwise all humanity was already realized. All gurus continue to speak about and refer to and not ignore objects, even ramana with the self enquiry that instructs to observe the "I" thought although false stating that are error is precisely us ignoring the "I" thought in our observation.

Tania | Wed, 09/10/2008 - 07:47
Phroggy's picture

Why not look?

I've never suggested ignoring or dismissing the dream or even that that it is not real, however you want to define real. Not suggesting anyone not start form here. Where else can you start from? These are all more stories being written about my story, and that's my point. Illusion doesn't mean it's not real, forget about it, hang yourself, it's no use, it just means it's not what it appears to be, and in this case it means it's not caused by electrons and patterns in matter and some sort of energy, blah, blah.

Mind loves these stories and the more complex the better. It makes us feel like we're finally understanding something, finally putting all the pieces together. My experience is that the closer I get to something real, the simpler it becomes. It finally got so simple all I can really say about it is what it isn't, and that irritates people.

Tim posted a wonderful quote from Krishnamurty yesterday, and if you take a look at what is pointed to there, you'll see that there is no subject and no object. There is thinking with no thinker and no thought, observation with no observer and nothing observed, experiencing with no experiencer and nothing experienced. I'm sure you've heard that there is only seeing, no seer and nothing seen, or if you like, the seer, the seeing and the seen are the same. Nobody at all rsponded to that post. I've said here more than once that creation and perception are the same.

You can look at this right now and verify it if you're willing, if you're not so entranced by levels of reality and such. What does it do to all these stories when there is only the seeing and no object to the seeing? It makes them all sound silly.

Phroggy | Wed, 09/10/2008 - 08:36
leo's picture

If forms do exist then how

If forms do exist then how come they can disappear? Something that exists, by definition, exists since ever and forever, otherwise where did it disappear to?

If form is made from matter then how come the matter does not disapear nut the form made from it does? I think the accurate phrasing should be: form is defined on matter.

If I have caused MYSELF to question MY beliefs I have accomplished my mission.

leo | Wed, 09/10/2008 - 08:11
abra's picture

A work of art!

One of the best meticulously worded, organized and accurate posts I have ever seen and especially on the issue of formlessness which is so difficult to convey. A work of art! The pics are inspiring.

Thanks shira, it looks like it came from a pure service-oriented place.

abra | Thu, 09/11/2008 - 14:57
doo's picture

penetrative text

This summarizes it all in a penetrative way. Thank you Shira.

doo | Tue, 12/02/2008 - 12:56
Annie's picture

I must agree.

I must agree.

I found out that I need to read it again from time to time - my mind always returns to its old good unconscious habit of taking form to be that which exists and the only that exists. This is probably the reason why religions instruct to say a prayer over and over again.

Annie | Sat, 01/10/2009 - 23:09
Phroggy's picture


Prayers are designed to keep one asleep and focusing on the delicate matters of goodness and virtue. The reason that concepts require repetition is that they're not ultimately true and so have to be programmed in the same way we programmed ourselves to believe the concepts we're trying to dismantle.

The problem is that replacing one concept with another does little good in the absence of any clarity, and it doesn't 'stick'. If there is clarity, then no reminders are needed.

Phroggy | Sun, 01/11/2009 - 09:12
barbara's picture

It's all the way around

It's not a matter of true or false, goodness or virtue (which are also concepts). All you can conceive is concepts. It is only when you leave the analytical mind aside and start experiencing you start to awake and to sense god.

Prayers look like some concepts only to the one who has not tried them and thus could not be aware to the metaphysical aspects of them - for him they are just texts with certain semantical meaning. It's like saying that a recipe for a cake is just the ingredients and to try to speak about the taste of the cake by the recipe without tasting it. The prayers assist in the awakening by taking you from the mind to the merging and other metaphysical dimensions of experience.

Anyway, we cannot not understand the metaphysical nature of certain prayers using the analytical mind. Reality is not what you can analyze.

barbara | Fri, 01/30/2009 - 09:16
santana's picture


One of the most serious pieces I ever read about this elusive subject.

santana | Thu, 02/12/2009 - 10:50
Bercano's picture

Soooo Delighted

AWESOMEEEE Shira, what Wonderfilled/wonderful Muse and tasty morel ....YUMMYYyyy

Bercano | Tue, 03/10/2009 - 16:07
Azeemi's picture

Form = Time+Space

Hello Shira
Peace be on you...

A pleasing food-for-soul.

From a faith based perspective:

When there was nothing, there was only GOD.

Everything in the Universe created by God was from 'Nothing' and its a formula in itself for creation. Nothing-ness is what God uses to display His Power of Creation. Who can create something out of nothing? Only that Entity which has created it.

For example, we can give a small child a plain sheet of paper and crayons ask the child to draw anything from his mind. Thats creation for sure on the minutest scale but in God's personal creation, HE creates the graph, the paper, the colors, the paint brush, and all other tools and raw-materials. When an ant walks on the sand, the trace left behind is also by God's design. When the wind blows on our face, that touch is also by God's design. Nothing is coincidence or by accident, but by Divine Design. That's what makes form so special, because it is serving God's purpose and facilitating our existence.

This thought of our nothingness springs from the origin of our nothingness, yet we were somewhere. Because it is a spiritual law of creation that nothing can come to existence if it is not already present. The Question is, WHERE?

We all know this, we and everything in the Universe and the Universe itself were present in the mind of God. HE created the Universe and everything inside it in HIS own mind first and then said, "BE" and so everything came out of nothingness.

There's a short story to this effect that one day a scientist challenged God and claimed that now I can create man from dust and bring it to life. God said okay go ahead and accepted the challenge. The scientist traveled around the world searching for the best quality of sand. Finally he found a place with his desired quality of sand. He prepared himself and set up his laboratory. As he gathered the sand, he heard God's Voice saying, "Hey, that's my sand. Create your own sand first!"... :p

God is Omnipresent and Omniscient...!

Now from a metaphysical aspect:

Everything that we see in the Universe is based on time and space which create dimensions, and dimensions display forms. Forms depend on time and space wherein the space depend on time and on the belt of time the space displays itself. When the space is recognized, the dimensions start emerging, and when dimensions are laid down, the forms fall in place.

Therefore, it is a combination of all the elements of creation Time, Space, Dimensions, Energy, Frequency, Colors, Light, etc, that give birth to Forms.

If we look at it in descending order, the sequence will be as follows:
(Creative Formulas);
> REALM OF ENERGY & COLOR; (Non-Physical Beings)

Of course, this is not as simple as listed here but there's much more in & between each zone. Just a summary of what the spiritual people and specially what my Spiritual Master sees and speaks about.

On a more spiritual aspect:

Annihilate your Self into GOD. Consider yourself to be a drop of water which is spilled or poured into the Ocean. Everything past and present, shape and size, color and weight, age and beauty, will become meaningless...Do meditate on this.


Azeemi | Mon, 08/31/2009 - 14:29
happy's picture

The key: if something exists than it must exist for ever

The key is to understand (not just to believe) the fact that if something exists, it must exist for ever. This claim sounds too strange at first but when you dive into it (and this post enables this diving) you realize this truth.

The deception we live in is based on the unconscious denial of this fact and in turn it fuels this denial. This way, we are able to believe that all forms and objects are real.

Realizing the fact that something that exists, exists for ever is a major gateway to realization of truth.

happy | Sat, 05/01/2010 - 21:53
PranaBeats's picture


Dear Shira,

To exist is to come into being according to the etymology of the word. I appreciate the effort you put into compiling a frame from which some Form of Real work can Matter in Language (!) but I will ask you this:

Do you believe this system to be static and permanent? Do these layers not have infinite ramifications and interconnections?

I admit having trouble in agreeing with the idea you present of Buddhist "nothingness". If I am right in assuming that you refer to Shunyata, I believe that it encompasses everything except pure being. This would include all other floors than the ground floor. Why? Because all phenomena is empty, at least according to Buddhists, but my empty self does tend to agree in the sense that there is no disconnectedness.

Matter level is sunya, form level is sunya, language (I would have called it symbol) level is sunya. They cannot exist without reality.

"I" may be confused... :)


"Trust allows you to navigate imagination beyond where shadows lie". Tony Samara

PranaBeats | Sun, 05/02/2010 - 01:52