The sharp split in our experience between subject and object— between observer and observed— leaves us with the enduring mystery of what is inside and what is outside. A 1997 book stated the dilemma this way: is reality a figment of the mind, or the mind a figment of reality? (Stewart & Cohen, 1997).
But this is a trick question, really, because the very form of the question presupposes a dualism which is false to begin with. Mind and reality cannot be separated; mind should not be conceived as being in opposition to a universe of which is it an inextricable part.
And yet, it is hard for us to directly discern even under the best of circumstances that the world we experience is a state of mind. This has been termed the “root delusion” of mind. It is similar to the idea of ignorance (“avidya”) in Buddhism, and stands in contrast to the wisdom of a non-dual view.
“Man’s mind mirrors a universe that mirror’s man’s mind” (Joseph Chilton Pearce).