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.

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.

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.

Dawn of Enlightenment

Jagged edges distort my view.
Thus I polish roughness with repetition.
As I shine, my source beams through.

A creator playing amongst his parts.
Trinity of author, actor, and audience.
Power surges from regular remembrance.

While in character, forgetfulness reigns.
Self-imposed fog blinds and binds.
Roots buried beneath a mirage.

Only when pausing, do I perceive.
I am no pawn to be played.
I am the programmer.

Path Finding

I sometimes hear, “Follow your fear”. But words are messy. I think it should be: Embark on your adventure. In other words, follow a path that fills you with trepidation at first, yet has the potential for greatness. For instance, I’m afraid of heights, but this doesn’t mean my destiny deals with hot-air balloons — that’s not a win-win payoff for me. So instead think, what’s the best-case scenario down this somewhat scary path — does it sound awesome? No? — then that’s not your path. Would the ideal outcome fill me with delight? Yes? — then that’s your path.

The only way we know we care about something is if it stirs something inside us. When following our path, we should use nervousness as evidence that we’re heading in the right direction. It means we care about the topic. We mustn’t use it as an excuse to retreat, but as confirmation to continue. And again, we’ll know it’s the right path because the optimal result is something we really want. If we can’t imagine an optimal result, then we won’t appreciate that path and should pursue another instead.

How do we know the outcome will work out in the end? To put it plainly, life is a fulfillment generator. It’s a video-game/movie/simulation. We know this because people’s dreams readily do come true — we can simply look around. The world contains global super-stars, the rich and famous, YouTube celebrities, renowned TV chefs, professional-gaming champions, great inventors, heroes of all sorts, titans of industry, and lovers with their love-stories. And just think about how little we’ve done to ensure our own survival or success — there’s obviously something outside ourselves that maintains the narrative.

Is it mere luck we’re still alive? How have we personally avoided countless diseases, random accidents, murderous crimes, global catastrophes, violent weather, deadly drowning, etc, etc? By our training, preparation, and diligence? Ha. We’ve never been solely responsible for our own survival. But what about all those people that die everyday!? That’s their path, not ours. We must concentrate on our own path — if it happens to include the welfare of all humanity, that’s great — but if it doesn’t, that’s great too.

Logical Magic

Even though I now believe in magic, I’m still bound by logic. And to remain logically consistent, I must see the world in a way that allows for magical manifestation. Being technologically-minded, simulation-theory was the easiest entry point. If the world is only a simulation, a virtual experience, then magic is perfectly possible. Sprites can blip in and out of scenes while coordinates can be instantly updated.

Focus and intent are the interface to this app. Whatever we wish, good or bad, comes into our life. The program may offer suggestions in the form of stimuli, yet it’s our reaction that determines an ultimate form. For example: is it a passing pain, or a deadly disease. Is the sound something scary or merely the melodic wind.

Yet the best games aren’t easy to figure out — they take time and practice. It’s not as simple as saying “I wish…”. Life reads our dominating thoughts and sends us whatever evokes the most excitement within. Life doesn’t care if the thought is positive or negative, just whether it alleviates our boredom, immersing us deeper into the game.

With any video-game, it often takes effort to align with the timing of the action and master the controller. But the consensus on attainment seems to be this: focus and believe. For example, if I focus on health-issues and believe wholeheartedly in their manifestation, then I’ll be as sick as I imagined. Or if I focus on getting a nice house and sincerely believe in its certainty, then I’ll soon be there.

The game aspect we must master, is maintaining only what we want within our minds. For one, we must recognize and ignore cheap-thrills as they pass through our thoughts as stimuli. For example, being startled by sights or sounds is excitement inducing and staves off boredom — but it leaves us in a state of immersive anxiety. We can do better than that, we can instead turn our gaze to whatever inspires delight.

And like any sport, we must practice repetitiously, drilling until it becomes automatic — a habit. We must bathe in the daydreams of joy and satisfaction. We must regularly monitor our garden of thoughts, discarding weeds that attempt to crowd-out the fruits we’ve planted. And from this work, by maintaining this discipline, we’ll have an entertaining experience — which after-all, is the point of every game.

Spectrum of Engagement

I think people are at different levels of engagement with life.

For instance, there’s those that are completely lost to life, fully immersed while believing this is all there is. What they see is what they get. They’re taking the game super seriously and typically have behaviors reflecting it. For instance, they might have high-anxiety or frustration or sadness and they’re likely to have a selfish/self-centered attitude, too tuned for self-preservation.

Then on the other end of the spectrum, there’s those that don’t take life seriously at all. They’re probably always talking about some spiritual mumbo-jumbo that doesn’t make sense to anyone but themselves. They’re super-easy going, so much so that they’re unreliable since they’re barely there.

Then there’s people in the middle who have some balance in their perspective. To effectively play a game, any game, players need a certain perspective — not too close and not too far. To be too serious, is to suck out the fun and replace it with a fear of losing. And to be too aloof, is to have no structure and thus no game — games require structure and active participation.

People in the middle aren’t lost, they use their moderate perspective to maintain a healthy and wholesome view of life and the game they’re playing. They have a sense of humor that allows them to laugh at life and at themselves.

For reference, I started out in the super-serious camp and am trying to get into the middle camp by introducing myself to topics popular among the aloof bunch. There’s a balance to achieve and maintain. I have a friend that pretty much defaulted to the middle path, and I’ve used her as a model to aid in altering my perspective.

She leans towards taking life too seriously at times whereas nowadays I often lean towards not taking it seriously at all — but I think it fluctuates. For instance, I was on the toilet last night, and something I had eaten earlier didn’t agree with me. Let’s just say I was uncomfortable. But then I said “AHA! I caught you life! You’re trying to engage my senses, making me think I’m a biological being on the bowl!”

Well that put an end to my discomfort and I went along my merry way. Life is always trying to engage my senses and I really appreciate the entertainment value. But, I have to watch out so that I don’t allow the cheap-thrills to serve as a means of excitement lest more come wandering in. Only high-quality entertainment for me thanks! Like laughing with companions, celebrating life’s bounty — just the lighthearted stuff.