Experience VS. Theory - or - Is the moon made of cheese?

banana's picture

Average: 4.5 (24 votes)

Someone can say "Jupiter is made of cheese and therefore it looks white". I cannot validate that Jupiter is made of cheese as currently I cannot travel to Jupiter therefore it is a theory for me and therefore useless. Nevertheless, I may be still willing to accept this statement as valid if the sayer is actually an astronaut and happened to travel to Jupiter once...

The only tool we may have to validate theories firsthand, unfortunately, is personal experience. This is by definition. Indeed, this tool can be also misleading sometimes but hey, we have no other one.

This personal experience differentiates between a spiritual theory and a valid spiritual teaching. I have nowhere (and no reason) to go with a spiritual theory. Even a faith or a trust can hardly be established in this case as I have no clues whatsoever if the theory is true. A valid teaching that I can personaly experience its validity (or that at least claimed to be personaly experienced by the provider of the theory) is something I can honestly adopt.

Phroggy's picture

Theoretical tools

If we theorize that the idea of the physical illusion is true, then experience has no validity at all. It would be like us looking for proof within our nightly dream that it is a dream. The difficulty is that mind is an illusion generator and so no proof is possible.

However, it's not necessary to proove that Truth is true, because Truth isn't a concept but a realization that transcends true/false. What IS possible, (and most likely necessary) is to reveal the false for what it is because mind is creating it. Mind/ego is also highly motivated to not see the false nature of its delusions, and so a bit of courage and willingness is required. In this process, there is indeed another 'tool' that we may call intuition, apperception, clarity, direct perception, realization. These involve a looking 'beyond' the mind, and what is seen is not subject to mind's doubts.


Phroggy | Tue, 07/29/2008 - 08:17
banana's picture

Anything is better than "the moon is made of cheese"

"If we theorize that the idea of the physical illusion is true"

You cannot escape experience and as you see above when you try to do so you end up with a theory.

No one says experience is a proof for truth. It can be a very deceiving tool but it is the only tool you have in hand. Experience is not only experience of sensory input, it is also this internal voice, this something that vibrates that some people call instinct.

No one tries to proof anything becuse when you try to prove you are back in the domain of the mind and the theories because a proof is based on axioms and deduction rules.

Yet at the end of the day, a foundation of an experience is better than a foundation of a theory, which is actually completely baseless, without any foundation like a claim that "the moon is made of cheese".

banana | Tue, 07/29/2008 - 11:59
mystic_saurabh's picture

What I found out!

Jai Shri Guru!

In my life I didn't trust any theories and even questioned God.

My Guru came into my life and miracles started to happen in my life that defied logic. My Guru is not in his body but still the miracles happened and I couldn't question them because it was clear those things happened only because of my Guru spiritual power.

Now I just accept his teachings (theories) as truth! When I experience them or realise them in some way then it becomes my personal truth...But I do not question his theories now, because this intense faith has developed. If he says moon is not of Cheese then it is not...Blind faith u reckon?? I don't think so because this is happening after the "Guru testing" period...

Just don't want to look everywhere....would rather be following the way of my Guru.

Simple as, sweet as!!!

May God bless all!

mystic_saurabh | Thu, 01/01/2009 - 18:21
angel76's picture

levels of validity

I don't think the above blog says that you should reject anything that is a theory. It states that naturally a personal experience is more valid than a second-hand tale, that at some point any theory you decided to adopt and believe in should prove itself in your personal experience and that when you believe in a certain theory, remember that it is a theory and note that it is a theory when you tell it to others because many times people unnoticeably (sometimes in order to convince others and mainly themselves) advocate vocally and forcefully a belief they have presenting it as if it is a fact.

Plus, if you have a solid trust in someone like your guru and he tells you something you haven't yet experienced, it is still more valid (from your subjective point of you, of course) than a theory told to you by someone you don't know and have no idea or belief in his personal quality.

angel76 | Thu, 01/01/2009 - 19:33
dan77's picture

Pseudo Advaita

This article is very important as it deals with a common misunderstanding especially of the western halfbaked Neo Advaitans who try to sale absolute-truth assumptions they have never could experience as facts instead of acknowledging their and others' current state and go through the relative truth which can be experienced until reaching that which is beyond words and descriptions.

It's a typical mistake of newcomers and luckily most of them understand at some point their mistake as nothing happens and resort to facts...

dan77 | Sat, 05/16/2009 - 11:22
Phroggy's picture


I don't share in your judgments and so I don't know who qualifies as a "western halfbaked Neo Advaitan". I don't know if you're talking about students exploring ideas or teachers trying to "sale" them, but in the case of the former, there are indeed those who can 'see' many things clearly that perhaps you cannot, and don't deserve to be spit in the face for it. In the case of the later, I find most western teachers of nonduality to be refreshingly blunt; not encouraging all sorts of practices and methods and simply pointing us directly to the Truth within. No more games, no more excuses, no more spiritual circus, just look.

Resorting to 'facts' when 'facts' are the illusion you need to see through in order to realize Truth, is a fools game.

Phroggy | Sat, 05/16/2009 - 20:12
Omkaradatta's picture


From here, the ones who focus mainly on "there is no this, there is no that" in order to dismiss any genuine inquiry are worthless, and there are some.

A few do have a refreshing quality in terms of "going straight to the truth", but there is always the possibility of going "too" straight to the truth. Too many of them seem to focus on declarations/affirmations ("seeing the true as true") rather than focusing on seeing the false as false -- which is what spirituality is about.

"There is no me" is the most worthless statement ever uttered. Gee, thanks, I'm awake now, fellas. Fwiw, I tend to agree with Dan77, although I wouldn't paint all of them with the same black and white brush. Bluntness in and of itself doesn't make a spiritual teacher (unless perhaps the teaching is "Turn within, turn to yourself -- now go away" ;-)).


Omkaradatta | Sun, 05/17/2009 - 06:25
Lee's picture

Everything is theory

Existence itself is theory- until proven otherwise. And what are the tools for that?

The senses? The intellect? Emotions? Experiences?

Face it- it's an illusion, a dream- nothing is.

The Buddha laughs.

Lee | Mon, 05/18/2009 - 21:14
Omkaradatta's picture


Existence is self-verifying. The fact that you're reading this now is proof of existence, of some sort anyway. Whether a "dream" existence or a "real" existence, "something" is reading this right now. Some sort of awareness is present, here and now.

To deny this would be utterly absurd... 'something' has to be there in the first place to deny it! Or accept it.


Omkaradatta | Tue, 05/19/2009 - 02:39
Lee's picture

That's what your mind says.

“Nothing is. All is a momentary appearance in the field of the universal consciousness; continuity as name and form is a mental formation only, easy to dispel.”


Lee | Tue, 05/19/2009 - 14:40
Phroggy's picture


Tim is exactly right. Existence is self evident. The fact that one is saying he doesn't exist only prooves there is confusion from misinterpreting too many guru quotes. You can know one thing only, that you exist. What that is, is a matter for investigation, but existence has already been prooven. Don't let your mind obscure the obvious.

Phroggy | Tue, 05/19/2009 - 19:26
Lee's picture

The obvious

is that that which does not exist is declaring its existence- as it always does.

"You can know one thing only, that you exist."

If this is true, who are you?

Form is emptiness, emptiness is form.

Who are you?

Lee | Tue, 05/19/2009 - 20:39
Phroggy's picture

"is that that which does not

"is that that which does not exist is declaring its existence- as it always does."

How could that be? Does Henry, your imaginary rabbit friend have the ability to declare it exists, or would this be You ('something' that does exist) imagining it? How can something that doesn't exist declare anything?

"If this is true, who are you?"

Who the hell knows? As I said, what I actually am is a matter for investigation. I'm just saying that I am. This is not a matter for conjecture or theorizing. The fact the you have misidentified yourself does not mean you do not exist. It is not possible that you do not exist. Nonexistent things are very, very quiet about these matters and all matters.

Phroggy | Wed, 05/20/2009 - 22:09
Omkaradatta's picture


"Nisargadatta: continuity as name and form is a mental formation only, easy to dispel.”"

Then continuity as name and form isn't necessary to exist, is it?

Phil is right, you're misinterpreting guru quotes.

P.S. In January of 2008 I found out something spectacularly amazing... it was a realization on the deepest level. It isn't I that doesn't exist. It's everyone else.

But because "you" don't exist, "I" don't exist either. And yet I do... just not as "me" to be constrasted to "you". I am nothing, therefore I am everything. The two are the same. Everyone is within me.

Everyone is within you, too, if you'd stop taking yourself and others to be bodies.


Omkaradatta | Thu, 05/21/2009 - 03:56
Lee's picture

Okay. You guys win.

This “issue” cannot be discussed. I knew that, but just felt like stirring the pot.

That said- the argument and defense of existence could be something to see- and what it is that argues for it and defends it.

In duality there is existence and non existence.

But in true reality- in Oneness- there is only Nothing- non-existence materializing as existence. Both existence and non existence are IN one- but the mind cannot see this.

Only Being, and looking through the eyes of Being, can this be seen, sensed, felt. That all is Space- and all form illusion- though sacred as this Space is the one consciousness- expressed.

Logic says there can be no two things occupying the same space.

But the whole world is One consciousness manifesting as form. God is the seen and unseen in one. It is the Rock- It is the consciousness that is the rock.

The forms- come and go- are all temporary, but that which is “non existence”- is now, is eternal. Being.

This can be seen, but not with the mind.

The question I have for you- why does it matter?

Why does it matter whether you exist or not?

Defending your existence is defending a dream, an illusion. There is only God.

Phroggy- “How can something that doesn't exist declare anything?”

Mind identification, false self, mass hallucination, the dreamer still asleep in the dream- but that which does not exist- the truth- is aware of this character.

Phroggy- “Nonexistent things are very, very quiet about these matters and all matters.” I like this. Nice way with words.

Tim- “Nisargadatta: continuity as name and form is a mental formation only, easy to dispel.”

The continuity as name and form isn’t necessary to exist, is it?

Phil is right, you’re misinterpretating guru quotes.”

What about the first part of the quote? You’re omitted the best part!

P.S. In January of 2008 I found out something spectacularly amazing... it was a realization on the deepest level. It isn't I that doesn't exist. It's everyone else.

Are you sure it was a realization on the deepest level?

Tim- “But because "you" don't exist, "I" don't exist either. And yet I do... just not as "me" to be constrasted to "you". I am nothing, therefore I am everything. The two are the same. Everyone is within me.

Yes- here is truth. But I sense an entanglement with the “self”.

“Everyone is within you too if you’d stop taking yourself and others to be bodies.”

Tim. Tim. I have read many posts of yours- blogs- and this sentence that you wrote is for You.

Your words on truth are often spot on. But Are you that truth? You cannot be “you” and BE the truth that you speak of.

“you” and the Truth are oil and water- that you try to blend.

There is no you- yes. There is only One Consciousness.

When did you die? Are you dying now? Or are you doing all you can to avoid that final “adios”?- by hiding underneath The Master’s robes? Nisargadatta is blowing smoke on you, dear.

Lee | Thu, 05/21/2009 - 17:14
Phroggy's picture


You work to make people wrong. We're all saying the same thing.

Phroggy | Thu, 05/21/2009 - 20:29
Lee's picture

Few words from the phrog pond

Phroggy- "You work to make people wrong."

I have read many of your posts, and also you have admitted to enjoying challenges and conflicts. Friend, you were looking in the mirror when you wrote that- and deep inside, you know it.

Phroggy- "We're all saying the same thing."

No. We are not.

Lee | Fri, 05/22/2009 - 15:50
Phroggy's picture


I have not admitted to enjoying conflicts. If you can't tell the truth, please keep quiet. You look for differences where there are none. I never said the human exists. It is a vehicle of Awareness, and you are that Awareness. If you wish to claim that you are a tree and that the tree does not exist, I leave you to your foolishness.

Phroggy | Fri, 05/22/2009 - 20:22
Lee's picture

Oh Phroggy!

I’m dropping this.

Sometimes I enjoy using my sword.

It gets rusty lying on the ground and all.

We’re cool, Bro

Lee | Sat, 05/23/2009 - 17:06
Phroggy's picture



Phroggy | Sat, 05/23/2009 - 18:09
Omkaradatta's picture


> Both existence and non existence are IN one-
> but the mind cannot see this.

One is aware when one addresses oneself as "one" that one is the One ;-).


Omkaradatta | Wed, 05/27/2009 - 08:56
lagrima's picture


No, one cannot be aware to that not through game of words nor through trial to artificially change attitude. Until self realized this is just a theoretical concept in which the best one can do is to decide to believe/bet on or reject - this is what this post is all about.

lagrima | Wed, 05/27/2009 - 17:29
Lee's picture


"Until self realized this is just a theoretical concept-"

True. Everything is. Self Realization is the only Reality. All else is conceptual. (Nothing is as it seems- though it seems real.)

Lee | Wed, 05/27/2009 - 19:56
davids's picture


hhh exactly the opposite. self realization cannot be a validated reality as long as you haven't realized yet so you do not know. This is what the term "conceptual" means.

Read again the original post - in all possible aspects, it is identical to and as valid as the claim that the moon is made of cheese.

davids | Wed, 05/27/2009 - 23:20
Lee's picture

The moon is within.

"hhh exactly the opposite. self realization cannot be a validated reality as long as you haven't realized yet"

Conceptual truth.

"so you do not know."


Lee | Thu, 05/28/2009 - 15:12
happy together's picture


What he wrote you is clearly not a conceptual truth but a simple fact. You confuse belief with truth.

happy together | Fri, 05/29/2009 - 02:42
divine intervention's picture

Taking the medicine will cure you, not analyzing it

I find it appropriate to copy to here my response in another blog relating to this important issue for the sake of people arriving here:

Even firsthand direct experience may be sometimes deceiving but you don't have a better tool or something that comes near in terms of validation. It's like saying taste can be deceiving so I start evaluating whether anything I eat is tasty or not by what someone tells me and not according to my taste sensors. It's like expecting to be cured by hearing the explanation of a doctor about a certain pill instead of taking it, it's like trying to judge how wonderful a cake is by inspecting the recipe instead of cooking and tasting it.

All other tools except of experience, by definition, are indirect, are hearsay, are models, are of course completely baseless from the perspective of the subject who didn't experience, a whim, a system of remote approximation like logic .

One who is responsible will exercise a special restraint not to advocate or preach about things he/she never validated personally in direct experience. It is one thing to believe in something and be willing to bear the consequences and another thing to try to convince others in a confident tone in order to convince yourself and in that way to cause possible damage to them.

divine intervention | Fri, 08/28/2009 - 08:12
RandomStu's picture

Theory vs Practice

In the US, there's a very popular science fiction TV show and movie called "Star Trek." They've got lots of different space aliens, like a "Vulcan" named "Mr Spock."

Lots of people really like this story. So they make up Vulcan language, write stories about Vulcan culture, and pretend that they're space aliens. It's fun, and there's no harm to it. But it's nothing but pretend, just making up a story.

All spiritual "theory" or belief is like that. But "practice" is different. "Practice" is looking into the living reality that you're actually experiencing, right in front of you, in this very moment. To do practice, no theory or story or belief is necessary.


RandomStu | Fri, 08/28/2009 - 19:05
Phroggy's picture

All methods, techniques and

All methods, techniques and practices are mind games designed around a belief, orchestrated by thought and driven by desire, all of which are illusory foundations.

Your experience has always been that you are a separate human in an objective world that must run your life through your power of choice. This experience is blatantly untrue. How, then, do you separate the true experiences from the untrue? THEY ARE ALL UNTRUE.

Phroggy | Fri, 08/28/2009 - 19:37
lilian's picture

The big mind game

Again you prove where it leads to when one does not test in experience but prefers to formulate convenient theories and stay in the tacit control of the very same analytical mind you funnily mention.

Peal off the desire of control. Be prepared to face your fear of the outcomes of experience. Be prepared to accept the possibility of cases where experience invalidates your precious theories you are so attached to. Otherwise you will remain stuck and closed in your old beliefs as you do now for such a long time.

You know very well that this baseless sweeping mantra you keep on repeating passionately for such a long time probably in order to justify your laziness is the biggest mind game. Have you ever attended a retreat? Have you ever exercises a technique? Have you ever done a practice for a descent time that you allow yourself to air such sweeping statements that may mislead other beginners? Yes, there are sometimes specific methods, techniques and practices which prove to be contra productive (not according to some halfbaked doctrine but in experience) but most of them and especially meditation are essential to counter this tricky mind and his games. This is basic stuff to anyone who is experienced, who encountered so many seekers and their life stories in real, not in forums or in book stories.

lilian | Sat, 08/29/2009 - 09:14
Phroggy's picture

The only thing less

The only thing less attractive than a fool is a condescending fool. I'm telling you that the nature of experience is illusory, and you're telling me to test the experience to see if it's true that it's illusory.

Phroggy | Sun, 08/30/2009 - 02:45
avi's picture

mind games

hhhh it is like saying I trust my sunglasses but not my eyes.

avi | Sat, 08/29/2009 - 11:35
RandomStu's picture

Re: All methods, techniques


To take a simple example: say I'm thirsty. I drink a glass of water, and then I feel fine again. Are you suggesting that having that drink is a mind game, and UNTRUE experience? Why would I want to carry around an idea like that?


RandomStu | Sat, 08/29/2009 - 20:12
Phroggy's picture

Experiences are just that.

Experiences are just that. Enjoy them but don't assign a level of absolute Truth to them. The experience of quenched thirst tells you nothing about Truth, but you don't expect it to so it's not a problem, and isn't what I'm talking about. When you have a meditation experience of bliss or oneness or Divine Love,or whatever and then it fades and remains only in your memory, this was not Truth, any more than an LSD trip was Truth or the delusion that God is talking to you through your dog is Truth.

Phroggy | Sun, 08/30/2009 - 02:36
sisi's picture


You are so right. I couldn't say it better.

sisi | Fri, 08/28/2009 - 23:43
Elijah_NatureBoy's picture

Experience is Proven; Theory to be Proven!

I concur, experience is he teacher but...
My finding has been our first step in leaning from experiences is to have transcended the mind of abstract opposites such as love/hate, pretty/ugly, good/evil and the like. Actual learning require objectivity which abstract opposites deny us.

If we accept good and evil, for example, holding on to those concepts deny us the right to objectively explore. The "Status Quo" has installed those abstracts as a means of controlling man in mass, so long as we consciously hang on to them we deny ourselves the objectivity of exploration.

As for theory, they're to be proven. In the 1970s I was a preacher in the Baptist church of Christianity in a discourse on follow Jesus I said if we don't do what we see our leader did we are out, so I chose to live the life he taught in words and living, a wandering messenger. After almost 4 years of this life I forsook the concept of god and devil and god and evil because I found myself doing what I saw the animals doing for my survival.

I began to reason, is the crow eating from a corn field stealing, the birds and animals eating from fruit trees and gardens? No, was my answer, they were living. I reasoned, if animals don't require papers and money to cross borders of nations is my wisdom surpassing them for me to allow myself to require them? No, was my answer again. Then I reasoned, if, as man say, I am the superior creation why am I living inferior to other lifes? Then later I discovered that the virgin birth prophecy (Isaiah 7:14-16) suggested Jesus was atheist [you figure that out for yourself].

The point I'm making is theory is to be proven, if you don't prove them you are schooled to accept another's beliefs.

Is the moon made of cheese? If it's important you will prove it, if it is trivia is has no purpose.

--Elijah "NatureBoy"-- Presenting SEEDS OF LIFE @

Elijah_NatureBoy | Thu, 04/28/2011 - 16:39
Mr jack's picture

who says you can't travel.

who says you can't travel. What have you been told. What do you believe.

Mr jack | Fri, 03/22/2013 - 01:36