Thoughtful Existence

If life is a simulation, thoughts are the controls — and those controls are difficult to master. Therefore, you have two options: practice mastering the controls OR get comfortable with crashing.

One of the toughest aspects of “thought” is the constant stream — you’re not given time to get a handle on things. New thoughts wipe-out old ones in an instant, and you forget everything you realized moments earlier.

The challenge we face here on Earth is NOT physical survival. If you could give that concept even a moment’s analysis, you’d see how obvious it is. Our challenge therefore, is becoming proficient with the controls.

Imagine you’re walking through an empty field. And whatever you think magically manifests right before your eyes. You begin to get paranoid and start thinking about wolves. Suddenly a wolf-pack appears and chases after you. You think of safety, and a building appears. You run in and lock the door. You imagine hunger and your stomach immediately rumbles. If only you had food. You turn and see food sitting on a table.

In the previous scenario, you can notice how severely responsive (and thus unwieldy) such controls can be. Yikes. Now imagine there are competing thoughts as well as delays mixed in — how the heck are those conditions going to factor into the output? So perhaps you can appreciate how hard it is to operate the thought-based control mechanism.

Why have such a difficult-to-control mechanism in the first place? Well, if you’re a bodiless being, what else is there but pure thought? You’re formlessness given form, there’s no other option but to think your way through, there’s no hand-held controllers when you lack hands.

And the constant stream of thought is most likely the mechanism that provides continuity. You’re being hit with a barrage of story elements to process — otherwise you’d be sitting in blank-space trying to manually come up with the next scene. Instead, scenes and scenarios and all sorts of ideas are just thrown in your face — creating a somewhat consistent narrative to captivate your attention.

So here’s where we’re at: you’re a bodiless being with an awareness. That awareness is subjected to a constant stream of thought that takes you on a wild ride through the fun-house. You do have an ability to focus your attention and alter your perception of what you’re experiencing — but that takes awareness and practice. What makes it even harder, is that you have little ability to retain things once you figure them out — new thoughts just keep coming, wiping out whatever you attempt to retain.

You have two ways by which you can improve your experience. Buckle-down and practice refining your focus. In short, you’d maintain focus on the things you do like, while removing your attention from things you don’t like. Or, you could adopt an attitude of pure acceptance, appreciating everything that comes your way — in short, fighting against your sense of revulsion and attempting to love everything. Or perhaps a bit of both? The approach you take might come down to personal preference. Good luck!

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Everyday Ideal

If the world is a simulation, why isn’t everyday ideal?

Some common arguments:

Appreciation argument. “If everyday was awesome, you wouldn’t appreciate it! Duh!” This is a flawed argument because we enjoy meals EVERYDAY. Some people even eat the exact same thing for breakfast every morning and STILL appreciate it. Not to mention that we often keep the same people in our lives for DECADES and still love and appreciate them even though we see them EVERYDAY. Plus, people have an inherent forgetfulness anyway — once we forget, it’s new again!

Boring argument. “It’d get boring to do the the same awesome stuff over and over again!” Uh, not really. We often love routines and hobbies as well as revisiting stuff we’ve forgotten about. And again, not only do we eat food everyday, but often multiple times throughout the day — and we’re not bored of eating yet.

Higher-highs argument. “By having lows, it makes our highs even higher!” Oftentimes when people are sick they say “I’ll appreciate my health as soon as I’m better!!” — yet when we get better, we go right back to the daily grind, forgetting our vow of appreciation. In other words, we forget too quickly to even remember the lows.

Outside influence argument. “If it wasn’t for other people, my life would be perfect! Other people ruin life!” If you already believe that the world is a simulation or a dream, then this argument isn’t true because we create our own reality. The interactions we have with others are directly based on our thoughts and intentions.

Teaching lessons argument. “I’m put through difficult experiences in order to learn lessons.” What lesson is learned from Pac-Man? Game playing is typically about having fun — and the things we learn in video-games aren’t usually applicable to human-life because the universes are completely different. So if there’s a place beyond this universe, who’s to say the lessons are transferable? Plus, if players have been playing round after round for thousands of games, then what’s there to learn? And again, if it wasn’t for our forgetfulness, we would learn lessons VERY quickly — yet as it is, we repeat the same mistakes throughout the SAME life.

Some less common arguments:

Lack of mental discipline. “My wandering mind is so turbulent and unfocused that I create a chaotic life for myself.” This is an interesting argument — and there are those that’ve had life-altering epiphanies that subsequently experience a very blissful existence afterwards. So when the mind is calmed and aligned with life, things really do improve.

Lack-mindedness. “I can’t have that!! That’s impossible! This is a world in which I have limited abilities and limited access to resources!” Another interesting argument. I’ve seen a few interviews with formerly successful people that couldn’t handle it, they essentially gave up and toppled from their top-spot. And of course I’ve heard many unsuccessful people putting hard limits on themselves. There does seem to be a correlation here.

Guilt/shame. “I’m imperfect. I’ve done too many wrong things. I’ve hurt someone. I’m an embarrassment. I don’t deserve happiness or success.” Again, I’ve seen enough interviews with regular-folks on talk-shows where this seems to ring-true. Some people truly seem to be punishing themselves for certain sins they feel they committed — and they refuse to allow themselves any bit of happiness or success.

Masochism. “I want to experience pain. I want to suffer. I want to struggle. I want real challenge and a whole lotta discomfort!” I’ve seen plenty of interviews with people reflecting on their struggle through life — whatever they do, they’re struggling. But of course, I’ve seen plenty of other people that aren’t struggling — they’re casually sauntering through life. This means that struggle is NOT an inherent factor of existence — it seems more like a preference. Some people want a raw and gritty challenge whereas some don’t.

The world is inherently cruel. “Bad things happen because this world is mean.” This can’t be true because there are too many counter-examples of people having great lives. The underlying factor of success more likely lies with the individual player rather than the world itself. Plus, a game isn’t “cruel” if it’s performing its purpose: fulfilling the wants and wishes of the player. If the player asks for pain and receives pain, is it the game that’s cruel or is the player simply a masochist?

The world is inherently hard. “Difficult things happen because the world is designed to be hard.” This might be true. Let’s face it, some games are hard to play. It’s possible that the gameplay of Earth is so difficult that it’s easy to perform poorly and get overwhelmed and ultimately frustrated.

Conclusions:

So to answer the question: If the world is a simulation, why isn’t everyday ideal? The answer seems to be: your thoughts are the controls, and you suck at controlling the mind. If you want an ideal day, your mind has to be focused on the ideal — not wandering this way and that.

Imagine a remote-controlled airplane: if you keep jerking the controls all over the place or you’re not paying attention — if you’re not keeping it steady, you’re gonna crash — whereas if you make appropriate adjustments and keep the plane stable, it’s going to be a smooth flight.

“BUT, why do some people receive epiphanies that essentially make their minds easy to control?” The few people I’ve seen interviewed that’ve had this happen, had complete breakdowns prior to their “enlightenment”. In other words, they gave up, and this was the drastic step necessary for them to continue.

Whereas with near-enlightened people, people that got good at mental discipline through years of practice — it seems like they still work at controlling their thoughts. In other words, it never ends: the train can still fly off the rails if you don’t keep a steady hand on the controls. It gets easier to control with practice, but vigilance is forever necessary.

Focus is on manual-control — that’s the free-will we’re provided. If you fail to focus, you’ll crash. If you find that type of chaos fun, then great, there’s nothing left to do but enjoy the wild ride. But if you don’t like it, you’ll need to work on your focus. Apparently, the manual-focus is a primary component of existence — at the very least it allows you to feel fully immersed. But if you completely give up, auto-pilot WILL kick in and you’ll be able to continue life — but with a less than organic feel to it.

I think we can say with some certainty that life IS hard — it’s truly difficult to maintain a steady course. All games have a particular level of difficulty and Earth is no different. The thoughts constitute a bucking bronco, a beast that’s near-impossible to contain. Can you do it? Are you up to the challenge? If you’re able to rein-in the turbulent mind or even just go with its flow, a great and satisfying life does seem possible.

Next Update

How would you make the simulation more to your liking? What would you spend your time doing?

Consistently predictable weather. “Oh, it’s going to rain solid for 4 days at the beginning of next month? And then a consistent 75F and sunny? Great!”

Consistent political environment i.e. politics is not a sport, simply a means to ensure social/economic fairness and distribute resources. Basically, everything’s run by professionals and everyday-folks don’t notice.

Schools reflect actual life instead of a hodgepodge of archaic academic lessons. For example: interpersonal communication is practiced instead of labeling adverbs and gerunds.

Food and its sources are well-respected. Farmed-animals and planted-crops are treated lovingly and humanely. Manufactured foods consist only of authentic ingredients.

All travel is safe and reliable — crashes aren’t a thing.

People do what they wanna do: gig-economy, popup shops, little eateries, micro-farming, e-sports, hobbies, makers/creators — any transactions are easy and fluid. And some people work for large corporations, doing and making impressive things.

There’s an “Ikea of engineering” that sells engineering kits. They’re not very difficult to assemble, but perhaps take a couple of weeks to put together. For example, they might sell a high-quality programmable robotic dog.

As far as what I’d spend my time doing? I would like to consume media (movies, shows, videos, games), assemble stuff from engineering kits, do some light woodworking, observe innovation and use its output (e.g. new computing devices, new transportation, new media experiences i.e. Virtual Reality), shop for stuff, chat with family, stroll around town, write a bit, and I’d like to sample and devour delicious foods.

Natural Earther

I was a Natural Earther for the first two decades of existence. Then I saw The Matrix when it was originally released and started to question things. Ten years past while I slowly began to accept the notion of a simulated world. Ten more years past since I accepted virtuality and became a Simulationist. For those not doing the math, that’s a total of forty years.

I was a zealot when it came to being a Natural Earther. Science, evolution, survival-of-the-fittest, germ-theory, genetics, politics, economics, psychology, history, randomness — these concepts perfectly explained how the world worked, and that was it. God, religion, spirituality, magic, destiny — those were dumb concepts adopted by shallow-thinkers i.e. dummies.

It does seem stupid on my part to fully commit to a set of concepts, only to reject them later on. But to be fair, I was a Natural Earther because I was following the trend. “Smart people” believed in a natural earth whereas “dumb people” believed in a mystical realm — at least where I grew up.

But if you’ve been paying attention, the trend shifted already. You’ll hear “smart people” tending towards Simulation Theory nowadays. So I seem to be “on trend” again. The funny part is, that Simulation Theory overlaps very-well with “spirituality”. It’s basically two ways to describe the same thing. So the “smart perspective” is actually a spiritual one.

That means the new “dumb people” will be the ones believing in a natural earth. This is the Natural Earther perspective: sick and diseased bodies stuck roaming around a dying earth struggling for survival amidst a harsh and brutal landscape. Sounds fun doesn’t it? No, it’s a gross misinterpretation of existence.

Whereas a simulated world is more dreamlike: the world we experience is shaped by our thoughts and expectations — the external is a manifestation of the internal. It’s not an absolute reality, it’s an environment that’s transformable. With a negative attitude, it can seem like a punishing hell-scape — but with a positive attitude, it can form into a heavenly place filled with joy.

Work for a spiritual person entails honing the mind to manifest the best world you can muster. Whereas work for a Natural Earther deals with trying to thrive despite all odds against it. The world will accommodate you if you’re a Natural Earther, but the question becomes: why would you make things so hard on yourself. From my experience as a Natural Earther, it wasn’t worth it.

I can say without doubt that I’ve been much happier as a Simulationist. I was an anxious wreck as a Natural Earther — how can you not be? It’s basically a high-intensity belief system. Perhaps that’s why it was developed, for those daring thrill-seekers among us. Maybe I thought I could handle it — I couldn’t. So from here on out you can catch me drifting down the lazy-river.

Peek-a-boo

Dear Rich, why would you base your worldview on a late-90s action movie? That sounds kinda dumb.

Perhaps that’s backwards thinking. Perhaps The Matrix was designed as a subtle introduction to the underlying nature of reality for those that could only imagine in the images of action-movies. Even Neo had a hard time accepting the true nature of reality when he left the matrix. How can you explain to someone that grew up in the 80s and 90s that they’re living within a simulated world? Morpheus said regular people would typically fight against the truth while desperately clinging to the only reality they knew.

Therefore, you create a movie based in the modern-day using modern-day iconography and explanations. Those who see it, see it. And those that don’t want to see it, simply perceive a sci-fi movie. No harm, no foul. It’s a not-so-subtle clue for those seeking answers. And the movie’s theme is dank and dark because that’s the only way to draw in pessimists who will say: “I knew it!!! The world really IS a post-apocalyptic hell-scape filled with sheeple!!”.

But eventually, if you really take some time to think about it: what doesn’t work in The Matrix, what fails to be adequately explained, is the nefarious nature of the matrix. The enslavement of humanity doesn’t make sense and causes all sorts of debates. The so-called sequels don’t make sense either by the way. And that’s because life is NOT a nefarious affair. The Matrix itself demonstrates this, by failing to create a convincing villain.

And again, The Matrix was simply an introduction, it wasn’t meant to explain everything. It drew-in certain people that couldn’t be drawn-in by other means. God and spirituality and all that stuff makes no sense to pessimistic realists — so the only option to reach them was through sci-fi action flicks. Ultimately, the world wants its players to have a good time — but in order to have a good time, a player needs the right balance between fact and fiction.

A player must be invested enough to care about in-game outcomes, but not overly invested to the point of perpetual worry. If you only believe in a harsh and brutal world ruled by random-chance, then you’re going to have a bad time. You need some perspective, some distance, you need to see yourself as a player engaged in an enjoyable adventure. But when you’re too lost within the game, you can’t comprehend this. And so clues are provided, alarm clocks — The Matrix simply serves as one of the ways to help you wake up.

Simulated Lifestyle

So imagine this world is just a computer simulation. What do you do now? How do you live life?

Hm. I suppose I’d wonder what my limitations are. Although, I’d have to be careful about identifying limitations because they might not be well-defined or might change over time depending on conditions. I’d also wonder what resources are available to me. Will they replenish? I’d also wonder about my character’s skills and abilities. And I’d wonder whether I should wait for developer updates to fix some of the “bugs”, inconsistencies, and poor game-mechanics I’ve found (although most likely, a lot of that stuff is just user-error on my part).

I’ve been playing a couple of pretty-involved video-games recently: Minecraft and War Robots, and I can characterize my general game-play in those games, and use that as a guide.

For Minecraft, my efforts typically tend towards building a shelter, adding stuff to it, expanding, decorating. Whether I’m in survival-mode or creative-mode, my shelter scales accordingly — but either way, most of my time is spent enhancing my home. So in this world, I’d likely do something similar, which is: get a nice home and keep enhancing it. And sometimes after a bit of exploring, I’ll move to a nicer place in a nicer area. I’d collect rarities and trinkets I stumble upon and I’d upgrade my tools whenever I find something better.

Whereas in War Robots, which isn’t as immersive because it’s just a battle-simulator, I spend a lot of time upgrading my bots and their weapons. Some people tend to deride the consumer-lifestyle, but I find that’s precisely what I’m drawn to in video-games. Yeah it’s a constant upgrade-cycle — but what’s wrong with that? Perhaps it’s a problem if you start to look at people as products. I don’t think we should look toward upgrading the people in our lives. Improving relationships is fine, but trying to find “better” people tends to push the problem down the line (the problems we have with people usually begin within).

In both games, I enjoy innovation — when the developers come out with new stuff that expands the known universe. As a player, that kinda stuff seems beyond my control though. The Internet was certainly a major update when it came out, for example. I’m excited about innovations in transportation too — I like the idea of getting places with less fuss. And, I like ever-expanding options for entertainment. Shopping has gotten a lot easier too.

So just to sum up and answer the question directly: what would I do in a simulated world such as this? I’d find a great home, enhance it, explore a bit, collect stuff, upgrade tools, and improve relationships with my companions. I’d also keep an eye out for innovations in the game and try them out when they’re released.

New Book

It’s been a couple weeks since I paused this blog to write a new book. It ended up being super-short, but perhaps it’s a work-in-progress at this point (I do appreciate brevity though). And since it’s so short, I’ll just keep it as a dedicated page on this blog for now: Virtual Enlightenment.

It’s a non-fiction simulation-based self-help book. It explains how the adoption of “simulation theory” can actually lead to a more enjoyable existence. It’s a concept that helped me tremendously, so I figured I’d write it in a book. Of course this blog says the same things but the book is a more succinct format.