Accordingly, when he denies the reality of Being, and declares Becoming, or eternal flux and change, to be the sole actuality, Heraclitus must be understood to enunciate not only the unreality of the abstract notion of being, except as the correlative of that of not-being, but also the physical doctrine that all phenomena are in a state of continuous transition from non-existence to existence, and vice versa, without either distinguishing these propositions or qualifying them by any reference to the relation of thought to experience.
Neoplatonic philosophy had been in the main content either to formulate the contradiction or to deny the reality of one of the opposing terms. And traces of Neoplatonic influence, more especially as regards their doctrine of the unreality of the material and sensible world, are to be found everywhere in the Christian philosophers of Alexandria, preventing or impeding their formulation of the problem of freedom in its full scope and urgency.
By these means, employed with consummate skill, he attained an unprecedented degree of accuracy, and as an incidental though valuable result, demonstrated the unreality of the supposed trepidation of the equinoxes.
According to the Memoirs of Sir James Melville, both Lord Herries and himself resolved to appeal to the queen in terms of bold and earnest remonstrance against so desperate and scandalous a design; Herries, having been met with assurances of its unreality and professions of astonishment at the suggestion, instantly fled from court; Melville, evading the danger of a merely personal protest without backers to support him, laid before Mary a letter from a loyal Scot long resident in England, which urged upon her consideration and her conscience the danger and disgrace of such a project yet more freely than Herries had ventured to do by word of mouth; but the sole result was that it needed all the queen's courage and resolution to rescue him from the violence of the man for whom, she was reported to have said, she cared not if she lost France, England and her own country, and would go with him to the world's end in a white petticoat before she would leave him.
But to the man of ordinary understanding, unused to the rarefied atmosphere of abstract thought, this conception of a transcendental, impersonal Spirit and the unreality of the phenomenal world can have no meaning: what he requires is a deity that stands in intimate relation to things material and to all that affects man's life.
Brahmanic pantheism and Buddhistic nihilism alike teach the unreality of the seeming world, and preach mystical absorption as the highest goal; in both, the sense of the worth of human personality is lost.