Let My People Know

"Solid matter is an illusion of the senses"


The fact that we perceive things as tangible solids is a reflection of our own incapacity to see their spiritual essence, which has quite another appearance. 

There are two levels of perception. 

One is the grasp of the actuality of matter as solids in which certain forces are at work. 

The other is the recognition that solid matter is an illusion of the senses, and that reality consists of a relation between certain forces or energies. 

What is more, the force that animates the thing is the thing.
Without it, the thing would not be. 

It is not only a matter of a relation between matter and spirit, but rather that matter, or the world, is itself Divine speech.

From this point of view, there is nothing else but God.
Only He exists, and the world we know is an aspect of His speech as perceived by our senses. 

Which does not mean that the world does not exist as world or that it is an illusion. 

On the contrary, the world is very real indeed; it is objective and true, even if not necessarily material and self-sustaining. 

The paradox, as seen by the mind, can be reduced to the questions put by both the philosophers and the Kabbalists concerning the relation between the world and God. 

If we presume one, how can the other exist? 

It is an insoluble problem for both. 

If the world is God speaking to Himself, then God remains alone even after Creation, and matter is only another form of eternal spirit and there is no contradiction between them. 

Indeed, both matter and spirit are external manifestations–to say that God is spiritual is just as erroneous as to say that God is material, for no quality may pertain to Him as the ultimate reality. 

Both matter and spirit are modes of Divine projection, emanations of certain aspects of His being. He Himself, as said, cannot be described or defined in any way.

–Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz
From “Life and Providence,” in The Sustaining Utterance by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz