Is Matter the Essence or Basis of Existence?


Matter serves life, not the other way

As may be established empirically, matter is not essential so that existence may be made subject to it and be dependent upon it. Rather, matter subsists by means of a meaning, and that meaning is life, it is spirit.

Also, as may be established through observation, existence is not in the service of matter so that everything should be ascribed to it. Rather, matter exists so that it may serve for the perfection of a reality, which is life, and spirit is the foundation of life.

Also, it is evident that matter does not rule over existence so that perfections may be sought from it. Rather, it is dominated; it is subject to the decree of a fundamental and fashioned according to the dictates of that decree. That fundamental is life, spirit, consciousness.


Life does not depend on matter

Furthermore, matter is not the unchanged essence of existence and the source of perfections, rather, it is a form and outer covering subject to disintegration. It can be observed that a microorganism possesses acute senses; it can hear the voice of its mate, and see its food. This demonstrates that the more refined matter becomes, the more manifest are the effects of life and the brighter the light of the spirit grows.

It is as though the more closely matter resembles the realm of spirit and consciousness, the more ethereal it becomes, and the light of life is manifested more brightly. Therefore, could the inner world of existence fail to be occupied with conscious living beings, whilst the reflections of life and consciousness continue to be manifested upon the veil of matter? Besides, is it possible that the countless manifestations and reflections of meaning, spirit, life, and consciousness in the corporeal world could be ascribed solely to matter and its motion? On the contrary, these countless manifestations and reflections indicate that the corporeal world is nothing more than a lace veil over the world of the spirit, and the inner worlds.


Human existence depends on the spirit

This spirit-body relation can be likened to that between electrical power and a factory operating by electricity. If there is no electricity, the factory is reduced to heap of junk. Likewise, when the spirit leaves the body because of some rupture or disconnection (e.g., illness or death), despite our matchless value when alive, we are reduced to mass of tissue and bone that decomposes in the soil. This means that our real existence and uniqueness depend on this spirit.


This article has been adapted from Risale- i Nur Collection.