Fringe Benefits

What are some benefits of living in a simulation? Sickness, accidents, catastrophes — these things aren’t real, they’re simply scenarios we elect to engage in. But it’s not necessarily a conscious decision, more of a belief and mindset we foster. If we don’t want particular scenarios in our lives, we shouldn’t fantasize about them in our thoughts. For example, worry may very well manifest the exact situation we’re worrying about.

In a simulation, chance doesn’t exist, we summon things into our lives by our focus. For instance, if we focus on a particular goal, that’s the one we accomplish, not some random result. In other words, if I train to win a 400 meter race, I won’t accidentally win a weight-lifting competition. If I focus on developing a long-term relationship with a significant-other, I’m not going to one day randomly abandon him/her.

In a simulation, we need only follow the paths we prefer. This is why meditation is such an important tool to utilize, as it’s the practice of maintaining focus. The simulation is considerate enough to keep offering suggestions in order to keep us constantly engaged, avoiding boredom. With meditation, we can shut out the suggested paths we don’t prefer and focus on the ones that delight — otherwise we’ll tend to focus on whatever the next suggestion is, no matter its effects (positive or negative).

For example, if I constantly scan my body for pain, I’ll find what I’m looking for. I’ll then begin wondering what malady I’m suffering from — for months I’ll imagine the worst and likely find that too. The simulation is very accommodating and will fulfill whatever we focus on. But if I dislike medical dramas and want no part in those scenarios, then I shouldn’t apply my focus to such things. We do ourselves a disservice obviously, if we keep our thoughts filled with things we don’t prefer.

It’s our job as participants to seek out the scenarios we find fulfilling and focus on them. In order to make the most immersive experience possible, the simulation requires our active participation. We are most certainly free to choose the worst options, and in our confusion we just might do so. This place is intense, and we can get so overwhelmed and frightened that we focus on pessimistic outcomes that lead us to believe the world is a horrible place full of pain and suffering.

But it most assuredly is not. It’s a fulfillment generator, a realm in which dreams do come true. But it’s up to us to determine the nature and quality of our dream. And we do that by honing our focus, adjusting our attitude, and maintaining our appreciation. We must seek out what we like, sincerely immerse ourself in the process and find the fun, and be thankful for this grand experience. It’s like any daunting activity, oftentimes we have to push past the initial hard part to get to the good stuff.

If we maintain a good attitude and stick with it, things work out in the end — that’s how it goes in the simulation. And because it’s a virtual experience, satisfaction is guaranteed*.

*Good luck gettin’ your money back! :-)

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Simulated Start

It was about a decade ago, shortly after my father died. I was reading a cartoonist’s blog that I happened to stumble upon — in a post he mentioned the world being a simulation. Of course I had seen The Matrix a decade earlier, and so did he — but what struck me this time, was the idea that probability-wise, it just had to be true. If it’s ever going to happen, it already did. In other words, if humanity will ever reach the point of living simulated lives, then they’re already doing it, perhaps for millions of years already.

Although I had been intrigued by The Matrix when I first saw it, it painted a pretty dark picture and seemed only kind of plausible — so I only casually entertained the idea of living in a simulation. Then after I started thinking about the inevitability of living in a simulation, I accepted the idea even more. It probably helped that I was a computer programmer at the time. Then in the last few years, I pretty much adopted the concept of simulation theory completely.

I suppose we all need a belief system. More traditional religious belief systems just didn’t make sense to me. So for all the decades before this, I believed myself to be a fragile creature struggling for survival within a chance-based physical reality. Long-story short: life sucked, it was scary as heck and I tried to hide from everything — I was racked with anxiety, obviously. But I couldn’t just become a Buddhist or whatever, I needed something I could easily grasp.

Technology, gadgets, TV, movies, computers, video-games, and now the Internet — I love that stuff. So why wouldn’t my foundational beliefs be tailored to what I can relate to? I don’t really care about astronomy, biology, or chemistry — you can take your big-bangs, your evolution, and your primordial stew and shove it! Those theories had their chance, now it’s technology’s turn!! (to be read in the voice of Dr. Zoidberg from Futurama)

No, but seriously, everyone is welcome to the belief-system that suits them best. Personally, I think simulation theory should be popularized and spread and accepted as a valid belief system among the many others. What’s strange to me though, is the way simulation theory has allowed me to grasp the God/spirituality stuff. For most of my life I thought all religions and their related beliefs were kinda dumb, honestly. But when I began looking at life in a non-physical way, the God/spirituality stuff started making sense.

Simulation theory opened up a whole different way of looking at life — I could see a layer I simply couldn’t perceive before. And frankly, it took away my worry, curing my anxiety. Now I see life as an experience designed for my amusement. I finally feel safe and cared for. It’s a funhouse after-all! Of course it’s possible that this world isn’t virtual, but in a sense, that doesn’t matter — it’s my faith in the belief that provides me with comfort and the power to act.

I really do believe it’s true though, that this life is a virtual experience of some sort. Whether it’s an actual computer or whether it’s merely a dream — who knows. As with any belief system, the more I look through its lens, the more I see evidence in support of it. I realize too, that I’m often in a minority position when it comes to philosophical positions and tend to be a natural contrarian, I also realize that I quite easily fit into mockable categories of thought.

I have no point here but to summarize and cement for myself the belief system in which I’m currently invested. Because of the confounding nature of this world, we have to regularly remind ourselves of the things we want to believe in. And I want to maintain the belief in virtuality because of the good it’s done me. It’s too easy to fall back into my old pessimistic patterns of thought, so the more I convince myself of life’s virtual nature, the more cheerful and appreciative I become.

If anyone else is wanting for a new lease on life, I highly recommend giving a new belief system a try. It doesn’t have to be simulation theory, just something that paints life in a pleasing way, one that’s suited to your particular preferences. It’s a fool’s errand to believe we can ever discern an ultimate reality — I tried and failed. It’s beliefs all the way down — so you might as well pick a pleasant one that turns life into a picnic. It took me decades to realize this, but luckily in my world, time is malleable — it’s never too late.

Easy Street

To me, anxiety is a symptom of a scary set of beliefs. If different people react differently to the same stimulus, it means the stimulus isn’t the problem, the perspective is. In other words, the ongoings-of-life are not the problem, our individual interpretation and subsequent reaction is the problem.

After holding these particular beliefs for several decades, I would say without a doubt that the concepts of atheism, evolution, survival-of-the-fittest, humans-are-simply-animals, germ-theory, imminent global-catastrophe, big-bang and chance-based existence — are all too scary for me to believe in. I admit it, I’m a wimp.

If you have the guts, sure go ahead an knock yourself out, live life on the edge — but I just sat there paranoid the entire time, waiting for “something” to get me. Nowadays I sit back and relax with my new easy-mode beliefs. Of course old habits die hard but I’m gettin’ there. The funny thing is, life keeps on chuggin’ along no matter which belief system you adopt — might as well select the one that leads to the most pleasant experience.

For me, the easy belief is “simulation theory” — that this is all a game I’m playing, so there’s nothing scary about it. What happens here is for my amusement, I’m taken care of as I proceed through the fabricated world, resources are virtual and therefore abundant, I have my own personal and protected path through this place, and I leave when I choose — there’s nothing to worry about.

And honestly, life seems to be working out much better since I adopted this point-of-view. It really does seem true that my thoughts are influencing the reality I experience. With a positive outlook, positive things happen. And even if it’s pure perception on my part, and the external world hasn’t changed a bit — so what? I’m having a better time and that’s what counts.

Jujitsu of the Mind

Jujitsu is a means of countering and controlling one’s opponent. The opponent in this case is the unruliness of the mind.

For instance, how can you counter and control a scary thought? The first step is distance management — try not to engage the thought, don’t grab, just ignore its presence. If it’s too persistent and closes the distance, use a counter belief. For these beliefs, go big or go home, make them powerful to dominate the opponent from the start.

Example of an unruly thought: I just heard a loud noise in the house, some intruder must be here to murder me.

Example counter thought: I believe in the benevolence of life, and the power that sustains my existence put me here to experience joy and fulfillment — I completely trust this power to continue carrying me for as long as I choose. Showing fear is an act of rudeness on my part, it’s a form of distrust — I apologize and admit my mistake. Dearest Host, thank you for this wonderful party, I’m happy for the invitation and the opportunity to experience this mortal form.

Fear comes from a pessimistic certainty. “The world is dangerous and I know it!” This is a toxic belief that allows an unruly mind to obtain and maintain a dominant position, administering choke holds galore. Admit this mistake every time you make it, then muster up some appreciation for the fact that life has thanklessly upheld its end of the bargain despite your baseless timidity and repeated disrespect. Life isn’t out to get you, if it was you’d be “d”, “e”, “a”, “d” right now and there’s not a damn thing you could do about it.

Example of an unruly thought: This person is annoying me, I’m getting very mad right now.

Example counter thought: I’m upset and projecting my agitation onto an innocent person. My bad attitude is manifesting and I must change it, it’s not fair to imagine the person in-front of me is the source when it’s really my own mood causing the problem. Besides, what am I saving my patience for, it gains no value when stored, it’s available only now, and only grows when given. Dearest person before me, forgive my immaturity, my anger is a direct reflection of my lack of practice in taming my mind — I’ll try harder.

Anger comes from a certainty that you’re in the right and the other person is an idiot hell-bent on ruining your life. If you have an angry attitude, everything you see will be distorted by that viewpoint. You have to strive to interpret life in a cheerful and friendly way. When you’re angry, it’s your fault — admit your mistake and move on.

In jujitsu of the mind, we regularly practice our craft through the art of meditation. In meditation, we sit quietly and observe the mind. When thoughts come in, instead of grabbing we let them pass unmolested. Through this repetition we get used to ignoring thoughts. When disruptive thoughts enter we can now practice distance management and refrain from entanglements. Meditation also develops a mindfulness that allows us to quickly identify these unruly thoughts.

Should a thought become too obtrusive, we readily recognize this condition and engage. During engagement we apply belief after belief until the unruly thought is subdued. Just as jujitsu has a catalog of moves and techniques, we must maintain a catalog of beliefs that provide a sense of comfort. In those times when our defenses fail and we’re overcome by unruly thoughts, it typically means our belief system is lacking, we need something stronger, a set of beliefs so positive and reassuring that we could face the devil himself and not flinch.

We find these powerful beliefs by looking around, researching, and testing what works for us. We don’t get better by doing nothing, obviously. We get better through exploration and practice. We have to constantly apply this jujitsu in our everyday life, a routine that gets easier and more automatic over time.

Confundus Charm

We are purposefully confounded by life. Isn’t that how every new game or story starts? You’re thrust into the middle of the action and have to decode what’s happening and find out who’s who. That’s part of the fun, to get dropped into a maze and figure your way out. The trick though, is not to panic. Yes you’re lost, but so what?

You panic when you believe yourself to be a fragile little creature fighting for survival within a big harsh world that doesn’t care about your existence. Step one is to appreciate all the things you haven’t done to ensure your own survival — in other words, your cunning hasn’t been what’s keeping you alive. The game itself maintains your existence.

Number two, is to realize it’s actually not that big. If you pay attention, you keep seeing the same people over and over. Oftentimes it’s the same actual people, other times it’s the same faces, expressions, and mannerisms — personality types tend to repeat pretty regularly. People behave similarly no matter where you go.

Number three: don’t stress about it. If life placed you in a quandary, it will also help you through it. It’s more of a guided game. You couldn’t really figure it out on your own — you have to let life happen. The feeling of free-will and control allows for the most immersive experience — but life will keep you on the correct path if you allow it to — just don’t fight it.

And like every game or story, you not only have to figure out the plot, but the main character’s role within it takes some digging and mystery solving. Who are you? What can you do here? Explore, try things out, it will be revealed as you go. Be true to your character by allowing him to act in accordance with his nature.

You have the ability to apply the brakes, but why would you? It stalls your journey and you get all angsty. When the fear comes, ignore it, it’s not there to protect you, it’s simply the thrill of total-immersion coming through. This is an exciting game with hyper-realistic graphics and unpredictable storylines — ya you’re gonna feel it. But don’t be scared, ride the ride and appreciate the fun.

Matthew Commentary 02

If we take the book of Matthew as it is, then the world as described by Jesus does not support the idea that humans are fragile creatures struggling for survival within a chance-based physical reality. Instead, the world as described by Jesus is dreamlike. Whatever we wish, we can have. Resources are readily provided for us. Money is available wherever we look. Sickness can be cured instantly. People can get along. All the goodness of life is at hand — we need only grasp it.

Jesus said that whatever we seek, we find — but if all we perceive is negativity, we’ll find it in abundance. Time and time again Jesus was confronted and confounded by those that refused to see the goodness of life, instead they reverted to a pessimistic outlook, believing existence to be a miserable experience filled with suffering. Eventually Jesus gave the people what they wanted, what they asked for — his departure. Apparently they couldn’t take his sunny disposition, they’d rather disparage and hate than appreciate and love.

I’m as guilty as the rest of them — I’m a hard-core naysaying pessimist — a hater extraordinaire. But I’m starting to appreciate how wrong I was. Any gift I’ve been given, I’d scrutinize, criticize, and let my suspicions run wild — never just a simple “thanks”. If I’m given something, it stirs feelings of anger and frustration and disappointment. Perhaps that’s why I never give things to other people, I’d just expect the same unappreciative attitude that I have.

And the same goes for the gift of life of course, I’ve done sooooooo much complaining about it. How could I be provided anything good in life, I’d simply rip it apart and remain paranoid about why I received it. Just as the crowd did, I choose Barabbas every damn day. “Torture the caring guy trying to help everyone!! Yeah! Get him outta my sight! Haha that pansy-ass! Free the bad-dude! Hell Yeah!” Every time I choose a bad attitude, adopt a pessimistic perspective, use an unkind word, focus on the worst aspects of a situation, ignore the great things around me, I choose Barabbas.

I guess I’m starting to feel ashamed about what a crappy guest I’ve been — I was graciously invited to the party, but I stood in the corner sulking while the host provided the best food and entertainment possible. At any attempt to coax me out, I hissed and cursed and held my ground. But I was never thrown out for my bad attitude. I was never denied the nourishment I needed, the clothes and shelter, nor even the slight companionship I’d accept into my tiny corner — I’ve always been looked after.

I recognize that I must drop my defensiveness. Life isn’t out to get me. And I realize that this isn’t the first time I’ve realized this — but I must make it a priority and make it stick this time. I thank Jesus for illustrating the importance of maintaining an appreciative and loving attitude. I also thank Jesus for explaining that the fundamental nature of the universe isn’t a crapshoot — I’m cared for, and I should care. And of course I thank the Creator for putting up with my nonsense and maintaining patience with me.

Jesus said that love-of-God and love-of-each-other are the greatest commandments — so in that vein, I love you, one and all. And I in return must receive love graciously. After Ebenezer Scrooge realized his lesson when the spirits visited him, he found out that Christmas wasn’t over yet, it wasn’t too late, he could right his wrongs and live out the rest of his life spreading Christmas cheer. I should be as ol’ Ebenezer, ready to spread the cheer, as well as receive it. As Tiny Tim said, “God Bless Us, Every One!”

Spirituality To-Do, Item 9

Putting the Bhagavad Gita into practice.

Know that I am carried through life by a benevolent force playing amongst his parts.

If I look out my window I see white fluffy clouds drifting through a sea of blue sky. It’s a bit cold today, but nothing I couldn’t adequately dress for. Most of my days are pretty pleasant in that regard. But on some days I ignore all the decent stuff and focus on one particular part that I find annoying. If only I ignored the annoyance and went on with my day, accepting and appreciating whatever came next.

I think a lot of complaints I have about life stem from my inadequacy as an audience member. There really aren’t many challenges I have to deal with, the difficulty I have with life is in accepting and appreciating the gift I’ve been given. That’s true in my everyday life as well — if I’m given something for free, oftentimes I’m suspicious of the giver’s intention, paranoid that there’s something wrong with it, and so I downright reject it.

And that’s true of life, I’m suspicious and paranoid and avoid participating as much as I can. Here life is, giving me the gift of existence within a wondrous high-definition realm filled with all sorts of captivating adventures, and the whole time I’m thinking life is trying to trick me, tempting me with delights up until l let down my guard — then the trap is set, life takes it all away and I fall into despair, tortured by my loss for the rest of my miserable existence. And so I think, “NO! I’ll never let my guard down, I’ll never accept anything you give me! I know you’re out to get me! Suspicious till the end!”

What a dumb attitude though. If life wanted to hurt me, it could do so at any time using the most brutal means possible. And unfortunately, any pleasant attempt to get me to engage only increases my paranoia. My greatest challenge apparently, is to be a better audience member. Repeat after me: “Life is not out to get me”; “Existence is enjoyable”; “Gifts are good things I should appreciate, not scrutinize”; “Shut up, stop complaining, just enjoy the show”.

Life probably does include some unpleasantness, but I think that has more to do with effective storytelling. All good stories have moments of tension, some lows to highlight the highs, early lack to increase anticipation for later gains — that sorta stuff. But overall, life regularly displays its benevolence as circumstances synchronize and good stuff happens. And so that I can graciously receive these fruits, I must know that I am carried through life by a benevolent force playing amongst his parts.