Child at Play

A child at play perfectly encapsulates the experience of existence. No supernatural understanding is necessary to see the compartmentalized minds of characters engaged in a world of pretend. Panda acts autonomously, not knowing what’s wrong with crying Kitty, yet deep down Panda does know what’s wrong since they share a puppeteer.

While in-character we suspend belief. Yet answers to problems come readily because we already know them. Creativity flows from a singular source. We even witness miraculous circumstances manifesting before our eyes as the puppeteer strives to fulfill a particular narrative. No Panda, you belong over here. Kitty, let’s forget about the problem you had, you’re now a doctor.

But mind you, we are not at the mercy of some childish brute banging toys together, we are the child — a trinity of author, actor, and audience. Just as a child effortlessly maintains different planes of awareness for each character, we too perceive different levels. Yet we are most often lost in life, playing our character with full devotion.

If at any time we frighten ourselves from the intensity of our dedication, we can remember it’s only a benevolent game. It’s possible to perceive the puppeteer pulling the strings. With a still mind, quietly observing, we can realize our roots. We can know the purpose of our play is to have fun — focusing on whatever evokes delight while living life lightheartedly.

Sweet Release

There’s a role we’re assigned to play and we know this because we each have preset preferences guiding our path. Our job is to be this character, following his inclinations at each fork. Where we get tripped up, is when we don’t trust the script and we’re too afraid to follow the prescribed path.

When we lack trust, we get anxious, we get irritable, we freeze, and sometimes we lash out from feeling cornered. We also become terribly selfish, grabbing and hoarding whatever we can for fear of losing it. Yet this nervous beast is not our authentic self, it’s merely the result of resisting our preferences.

Imagine needing to use the toilet really badly, but you hold it in. You’re obviously going to have an uncomfortable time at whatever event you’re attending. You’ll be preoccupied with pee or poop, fecally fixated, everything underlined with urine. But the moment you obtain sweet release upon that golden throne, you’re okay, it’s back to the buffet.

So in life, we must release the pent-up fear we’re harboring. We must respect and align with the path before us. To do this, we must develop a belief system that supports fearlessness. We must believe that life has our best interests at heart. We must reject any idea of randomness, replacing it with a pattern of positivity. We must see life as a party in which we’re all honored guests.

Modern Metaphor

A metaphor only works when we can relate to what’s being compared. This is why many of us in the modern world can’t relate to ancient spiritual teachings. The messages may be true, but the metaphors are meaningless. This was my problem until I stumbled onto an updated metaphor, simulation-theory, that says existence is comprised of a computer program in which everything is mere flickering pixels. For me at least, this modern metaphor makes sense.

People that propose simulation-theory don’t always tout it as a spiritual idea, but at its core, it most certainly is. Like any religion, it can provide a comforting backstory for our earthly existence, it can explain different phenomena in our surroundings, and it can be used to construct meaning for ourselves, allowing us to find fulfilling roles within an otherwise meaningless world.

The funny thing is, once I began to embrace the concept of virtuality, all the ancient spiritual stuff started making sense. I now have a working metaphor by which I can relate to what they were saying. Aha! As someone that could not previously grasp spirituality in any form, I can tell you that the before and after is remarkable. The answers were there, I just didn’t get it.

What all these teachings are trying to say, from ancient to new-age, is to be your authentic self, play the role of you but without the fear. The “you” shrouded in anxiety is a selfish beast that feels besieged by danger, thus ready to lash out. But the actual you is a character in a game that’s here to fulfill his role with dignity and grace. The role of you has already been written, just play along.

A game without obstacles isn’t worth playing. So in life, we really do want problems to solve. The trick is in embracing those problems, not lamenting their existence. Furthermore, we get to pick from a menu of options. Whatever issue we focus on becomes ours. We don’t necessarily have to accept every problem that crosses our path — we can pick some while ignoring others, or at least focus on the aspects we prefer.

Now, do unenlightened anxious people distort religion due to their fear and feelings of lack? Yes. There’s no limit to what a confused mind might manifest. So religion can certainly suffer from corruption, which is why it might be good to start anew every once in awhile. Religions are simply collections of ideas that remind us we have nothing to fear. With an appropriate religion tailored to our tastes, our minds are able to rest upon answers that satisfy our existential angst.

Humbling Realization

Existence is not what I thought it was. I was under the impression that I was my body, an animal crawling on a big rock hurtling around a fireball, a hapless victim of random chance. Oops. I’m not entirely sure why I developed that assumption nor why I believed in its truth for several decades. Having thought of myself as smart and knowledgeable, I suppose it’s a humbling experience to understand how wrong I was.

Though in my defense, I think it’s a very easy assumption to make. Even now, when the flickering pixels are patently obvious, I still get lost to the scenes playing out before me. It’s literally effortless to fall back into the assumption that I’m a physical body, slave to its ways. Although, one could say this constant pull, this head-turning spectacle, is a clear indication of life’s fictional nature — and that’s true, but it took me a lot of practice to maintain the external awareness necessary to realize that.

Every second of the day it seems, we’re pulled down some path. Flashing lights serve to captivate. Whether it’s the aches and pains we imagine, the relationship-drama we find ourselves mixed-up in, the political farce in the news, the lemonade-stand-like game of commerce, the gossip we gab about, the management of fluctuating budgets, the fashion and beauty we obsess on, or the frights we incessantly fantasize about — we’re basically forced to focus on something.

But I don’t believe this is a nefarious conspiracy to steal our attention. No, I think it shows that the body is merely a vehicle for entertainment, and that this world is an amusement park of sorts. And the best part, is that we get to choose what we focus on. Unfortunately, many of us start off on the wrong foot — we get too wrapped up in the “reality” of the situation, believing beyond a shadow of a doubt that it’s all actually happening. So of course we’re scared to death of life’s turbulence.

We believe we’re nothing but a leaf floating in a violently rushing river ready to sink at any minute. But as it turns out, we’re not. I was under the impression that it was my skill and cunning keeping me alive all these years. But as it turns out, it wasn’t. I’m actually quite incapable of taking care of myself, my body is basically self-sustaining. I was simply imagining it was weak and fragile. Whoops. As it turns out, we’re leisurely drifting down the shallows, and at any time we need only stand to see this for ourselves.

Because of my early confusion, I frequently stand, still afraid to carelessly float. It’s like sleeping with the lights on. But that’s fine, eventually the lights go off after we cease to maintain the bogeyman in our minds. I don’t feel dumb or immature because of these training-wheels, I think the mystery of figuring out life is just part of the fun. Some people spend hours dribbling a ball all day, I spend hours reminding myself not to be an anxiety-ridden pessimist. Same-same — we’re all just fumbling around in the game of life.

Piece of Cake

I’ve been playing Minecraft off-and-on for over a year-and-a-half now. Yet only very recently was I able to complete a solo survival challenge, a cake-making challenge I set for myself. I entered a new world at the normal difficulty level on survival mode — and my goal was to make a cake without dying. A cake requires wheat, sugar, eggs, milk, and iron to make the milk buckets.

The toughest part was the fear. I had to stay alive while collecting all the ingredients. Yet funny enough, by the end of the challenge I didn’t even have a single run-in with a dangerous mob. I never saw a creeper, skeleton, Enderman, or witch. I heard a few zombies banging on my door at night but they were burnt by sunup. I was so cautious in fact, that I mined enough iron to create a full set of armor to ensure I’d survive any attacks. But I never needed the protection nor my iron sword.

I noticed too, the minuscule amount of space this world consumed compared to my creative worlds — it was tiny because I barely ventured beyond my hollowed-out cave in the side of a mountain. If I was a lazy programmer-of-life, the most efficient thing I could do, would be to scare my player into remaining inside all the time. Just bang on his door a few times and watch him scurry into a corner to sit with his anxiousness all day, mind racing, thinking about imagined dangers lurking everywhere.

Why bother designing a giant interactive world when I can simply keep the player excited and stationary through fright. But relying solely on scare-tactics is a cheap ploy for inducing excitement. But Minecraft isn’t that cheap thankfully, it actually does provide a giant interactive world for players to explore — as long as they don’t let fear get the best of them. I bet the real world is similar in that regard, although I wouldn’t know, I spend most of my time in a little cave.

Random Belief

I’m surrounded by people wracked with anxiety. For instance, panic-attack is a common term I hear. And in my own dealings with life, I was always worried about everything. I could tell you dozens of ways in which every circumstance was dangerous or why every plan wouldn’t work. But I stopped worrying and stopped my incessant pessimism. How? I stopped believing in randomness.

I was taught early on by pop-culture that existence was a random occurrence. Not only were my origins random, but my time spent on Earth was just as random. What I do here and when I leave boil down to luck. Well that sucks. Diseases, accidents, murderous rampages, catastrophic weather patterns, astroids, exploding suns, bacteria — even my income, who I marry, whether my kids are jerks — everything was essentially random. I was a powerless pawn in a natural world that didn’t care one whit about me or my path.

I would get sad just thinking about it — my mind filling with existential angst. And I couldn’t not think about it, it was the very foundation of reality. Yet I noticed there were people that weren’t constantly frightened — and they were having a great time. But I couldn’t be like those blissfully ignorant fools, I knew too well the endless dangers of this world — oh woe is me, and my superior knowledge and intellect.

I was completely confident in how the world worked, fully aware that calamity could strike at any moment. But then something happened. I kept getting older. I was so sure that I wouldn’t survive past my early twenties. I was so sure that I’d never meet a significant-other. I was so sure that bad things would constantly happen — except they didn’t. I’m still here. Huh!? And let me tell ya folks, I’ve done jack-shit in terms of keeping myself afloat, I’ve just drifted through life pretty effortlessly.

The hardships I’ve endured existed solely within my own imagination. It turned out that the mysterious entity that was seemingly out to get me, was me. I was casting the shadows hiding in every closet, under every bed. So after I noticed how old I was and how easy life had been over the years, I finally stopped scaring myself. There was just nothing left to base my anxiety on. Randomness wasn’t real — but my negative attitude was all too real.

Randomness is a damaging belief. It’s crippling to believe that lightning could strike us at any moment. Therefore, traveling through life in an enjoyable manner requires we abandon the idea of randomness and seek to see an underlying programming that’s directing and balancing the action. We should think of life as a fulfillment generator — whatever we wish, we’ll soon see. And for our part, we must keep our thoughts filled with the things that delight and excite, eschewing negativity whenever it surfaces.

Fashionable Origins

Have you ever gone into the kitchen and mixed random ingredients together? Some ground-beef, bananas, cinnamon, grape-jelly, flour, orange-juice — combined, then cooked for a random amount of time? No? Probably because it’d be gross. Good food follows guidelines. Random accidents can result in interesting alterations to entrees, but there’s always an underlying structure.

Yet randomness was how I assumed life begat many millions of years ago (cosmic stew, primordial stew, etc.) In my understanding, random ingredients magically mixed together into the right amounts while systematically evolving into viable entities. But after decades of philosophical consideration, I no longer hold this view.

Nowadays I think of the world as a planned and programmed simulation of sorts. And just as big-man-in-the-sky theory was dumped by pop-culture in favor of randomness, I think randomness will be abandoned in favor of a programmed virtuality. After all, fashions tend to perpetually swing between opposites.

Although big-man-in-the-sky and virtuality overlap in some aspects, there’s some differences. In the first theory, there’s a creator manufacturing hapless victims of existence — man lives by whim of the gods. But in the virtuality theory, the player is the programmer — he simply hides this fact from himself on purpose.

From observing life over several decades, I’m quite convinced that there’s an underlying narrative. There’s too much manufactured drama for the ongoings in this world to be a coincidence. Man is clearly the star of this show — and he’s coddled the entire time. Just look at all the people whose wishes and dreams came to fruition — an improbability within a purely physical world.

The very structure of success had to be manufactured for this fulfillment to happen. There is no randomness here folks. Randomness means chaos and incoherence and incompatibility. Yet we’re all pretty much on the same page, following similar themes, and avoiding major catastrophes. There’s certainly a lot of dramatic acting going on though.

Now, why bother philosophizing about all this anyway? Because, we all need an underlying belief that allows us to enjoy our lives. I found that I wasn’t comforted by big-man-in-the-sky theory or the randomness theory. In fact I found them unsatisfying, full of plot holes, and anxiety-inducing. Whereas virtuality puts me in control, boosting me up while minimizing the unpleasantries of life.

I’ve been on the virtuality bandwagon for a while now and can notice the marked improvement in my attitude and well-being. For instance, I’m not worried anymore — the world will work itself out just as it always has — there’s an obvious balance, an equilibrium that’s being maintained by some kind of programming.

And as long as we don’t wish for the worst, our individual lives will also work out just fine. The stress, discomfort, and difficulty we experience comes from our fearful imaginings, not the actual circumstances of life. Comforting theories, such as virtuality, give us license to ignore our scary thoughts. Ultimately there is no truth to uncover, it’s beliefs all the way down — so it’s our task to develop a satisfying system of belief — this is where happiness comes from.