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.

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 01

I just spent some time putting together a factual summation of Matthew. I think the biggest take-away is that the writer is not the best storyteller — pretty bad actually. My favorite part is the Sermon on the Mount near the beginning, but the end of the book is weak and paints Jesus in a negative light.

To characterize Jesus as he’s depicted in the first third of the book, he’s a guy that’s excited to get out there and help people and change the world. He truly cares about the common man and he wants the system to care too. He’s all about changing everyone’s perception of the world, helping them to experience existence without sickness and suffering. He wants everyone to get along and appreciate the world that’s been provided for them. He’s like a proud son that wants people to understand the great thing his dad made, and he’s doing what he can to fix any problems he sees along the way.

To characterize Jesus as he’s depicted in the last two-thirds, he’s a guy that’s disillusioned by the people he’s trying to save. He’s surrounded by incompetent followers that can’t understand him. He’s bordering on petulant at some points. Plus he constantly argues with, and outright insults, the religious leaders of his day — they may be wrong, but his methodology runs counter to his earlier message. Instead of a proud son, he seems like he’s given up and just wants to head home. It sounds like he had the highest of hopes when he arrived but the people’s rejection of all that’s good in life just sent him reeling.

Overall, way too little time is spent on his actual message and frankly it gets overshadowed by the dour ending. The final scenes are undramatic and anticlimactic, they’re over too quickly and lack significance. If I had to recommend the best section to read, I’d say chapters 4 through 9.

Addendum:

Although, the more I think about it, perhaps that’s the author’s point: the dejection Jesus feels because of the people’s unrelenting negativity. We the people blatantly choose negativity despite the available alternative. Jesus tried and tried to make people see the light before them, but they kept turning again and again toward darkness. People aren’t necessarily choosing evil, but they’re choosing pessimism and hopelessness.

Jesus kept saying that the kingdom of heaven is at hand — which can only mean that it’s literally within our grasp right here and now — it’s not a fantasy realm that awaits us in death — THIS is the fantasy realm, the one we’re experiencing right now. And when we realize that, the world can fulfill every wish we have if we simply allow it, all we need is faith the size of a mustard-seed.

But no, what do we choose? Barabbas, the notorious prisoner — again and again. Yet by choosing so, we imprison ourselves within bars of our own negativity. A gift given yet we reject it, criticize it, look for the worst in every crevice. Yet this gift-giver doesn’t give up, no, but provides us another chance — His son, His messenger comes to make us aware of our error. This world IS the garden He created, we’ve been in paradise the entire time, yet our perspective has poisoned the perfection that surrounds.

And all that is required of us, is to receive — graciously and with appreciation of course. When we read Matthew we should be shaken-awake by the sight of a light so bright extinguished unceremoniously by mankind’s pessimism. The message Matthew brings is that it’s not too late… Christmas isn’t over yet! We’ve received the greatest gift imaginable and we still have time to enjoy it.

Origins of Reality

From where does reality originate? From outside-in or inside-out? Are we but ignorant creatures exploring a mysterious world that gradually reveals its truths as we laboriously decipher them? Or are we literally creating our reality as we live it, a dreamlike experience that manifests for our ever-observing consciousness?

If an external reality existed, we’d expect our observations to align with those of every other observer — yet they don’t — interpretations of life often vary. Are our senses so flawed that they allow for analyses that are so different? Therefore, even if an external reality exists, we clearly lack the mechanism to accurately analyze it.

We can reason then, that even if an external reality exists, we’re incapable of obtaining a factual picture of it. Instead, everything we experience is an interpretation based on limited and likely-flawed data. So even from a physical-world standpoint, the reality we know essentially originates from the inside-out.

But is it more than that? Could it be that reality actually begins within the consciousness and projects outward onto a canvas we call the world? The concept isn’t so far fetched of course, as we regularly experience something similar in the form of sleep-based dreams. Yet who’s to say that what we perceive while awake isn’t also a dreamlike experience?

The point being, how much does our attitude and what we project affect the world we see? Does a turbulent mind cause us to experience turbulent circumstances? Do we always find exactly what we seek? And if we tame the turbulence, do the stormy seas subside, allowing us to smoothly walk upon the still water?

Virtual Free Will

If life is an RPG (role-playing game), what about free-will? Because it’s a game, there’s a bunch of preset missions customized for each character. And like a game, characters are of a particular type traveling an appropriate path. RPGs tend to lead characters to the correct checkpoints at the right times. Once at the checkpoint, the player can decide whether to cross or not — but if he doesn’t cross, he’s not allowed to do anything significant, he stalls and becomes depressed.

So as to maintain the illusion of control, life does allow mistakes to be made. In other words, if you try to break something, it’ll break. So yes, recklessness is possible and will likely cause your character to experience some unpleasantness. Manual-control provides the most immersive sensation possible and greatly amplifies the gaming experience — but the drawback is, you can derail your narrative.

But to remain on the rails, it’s not skill that’s necessary, it’s trust in your story — faith. Our character knows what he’s doing, it’s our consciousness that’s completely clueless. Characters are best on autopilot, it’s manual-control and mental-intervention that gets in the way, causing our character to trip over himself. It’s impossible to mentally control the complex process of existence.

Then were does free-will fit in? We enter with a preset personality and an appropriate set of goals that must be accomplished. But we do have consent in the sense that we can refuse to cross each finish-line. Our refusals come from fear or an immature devotion to an ideal. The game doesn’t force us into the next step if we’re not ready to handle it. But again, it’s not a skillset issue, it’s a trust issue — our character can handle it, it’s our consciousness that hinders.

Ultimately the game wants us to win — win in the sense that we engage enjoyably with the world we’re in. If at anytime we derail our narrative, the game is always patient and graciously waits to welcome us back. Our acceptance comes in the form of active-pursuit of the goal. We must head in its direction, doing whatever we’re inspired to do, not filled with doubt and trepidation.