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.

Illuminated Reflections

To follow Jesus is to fight the darkness, the grim, and shine a beacon of light and cheer into the world.

He sacrificed himself to the darkness so we can convict ourselves and repent – for we too have wielded the awful power of pessimism.

A power that spilled his innocent blood upon a wooden cross – a sullen sight to see. An image meant not to sadden or enrage, but the very opposite.

For once we repent, the kingdom of heaven is at hand. We see the light ourselves, and we as mirrors reflect its resplendent glory.

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 03

The funny thing about reading spiritual works such as the Bible, is that you interpret different meanings and see different significances at different times.

One of the most remarkable things that Jesus said was that people should not only not-seek-vengeance for wrongs committed against them, but they should help the transgressor transgress even more! In other words, if you’re slapped on one cheek, provide your other cheek for ease-of-slapping as well. If someone demands your shirt, well give him your coat too. The first time I read that, I thought wow, this guy really must be of a godly nature, that’s some next-level forgiveness right there. He then goes on to say I should not only help these people, but I should LOVE them!? What!?

I thought his standards were impossibly high at this point. I thought I could never reach that level of zen. I figured Christianity wasn’t for me since I just couldn’t maintain that level of committed selflessness. It didn’t help that I believed the world to be a dark place filled with cutthroats wanting nothing more than to lie, cheat, and steal. I’d be left with nothing, I’d be taken advantage of to no end! When reading Matthew, I’d often just stick to the Sermon on the Mount part and ignore the miracle-related magic-stuff — “that’s just old-timey nonsense that’s not relevant today”, I’d think, “just give me the humanistic stuff and leave out the spiritual mumbo-jumbo”.

Well, can you really separate the two? From a physical-world perspective, it kind of makes sense to put up barriers and defend what you have. Yet from a spiritual-world perspective, there’s literally nothing to defend — what we’re experiencing is more dreamlike than actuality. If you want the shirt I’m wearing, sure, it’s not mine to begin with, I didn’t make it, God did and He can simply provide another — here, might as well take my coat as I didn’t make that either. And it turns out, people aren’t waiting in line to slap me — but if they did, sure go-ahead bro, I’ve got two cheeks ya know! It’s not my body, I’m just borrowing it for the time being.

So from a spiritual perspective, I can see how much easier it is to follow the teachings of Jesus. Trying to fit infinite love, selflessness, and unyielding forgiveness within a physical framework is an uphill battle. “I have to survive and earn my way through this world, everything I obtain belongs to me, and I work hard for it.” But to see the world as God’s creation, and myself as an invited guest provided everything I require upon entering, then I’m not entitled to anything, I’m just a guest same as the next guy — I don’t own this seat I’m sitting on nor anything else for that matter, it’s all God’s stuff.

From a spiritual perspective, I’m off the hook, God provides for me — end of story. Anything I wish, I need faith but the size of a mustard seed for it to manifest. How can you not love such a giving host? And being that everything is a creation of this host, how can you not love thy fellow guests? When I interact with others, I’m interacting with God’s creations — therefore, the way in which I treat others is the way in which I treat God himself, so how could I be anything but patient and respectful? And as Jesus said, love for God and neighbor are the great commandments upon which all others depend.

Sure you can try to live a life sans-spirituality — but why, when it’s so much easier the other way? That’s why Jesus seemed to be so frustrated by the end, when he was rebuking that entire generation for their faithlessness. If they’d only believe in the goodness of life, everything would work out, people would experience fulfillment, they’d be without illness, and everyone would get along. But no, the people refused to cooperate, obstinate in their pessimism and dislike for each other. So devoted they were to the physical life, that they murdered the guy for simply offering a better way.

It’s like his dad threw this great party called Earth and there were all these special activities planned for everyone’s amusement — but people started wandering off doing their own thing, smokin’ in the bathroom, pourin’ whiskey in the punch, kickin’ over potted plants, vandalizin’ the house, startin’ fights — and Jesus is trying to tell everyone to chill out, that his dad went to a lot of trouble for them, and they’ll have a much better time if they behave respectfully and get along. Well the crowd wasn’t havin’ it, they dumped a bowl of dip all over his head and threw that Poindexter in the pool.