Earlier this year, I had a sort of existential curiosity and started researching and thinking a lot about the nature of reality, what all this stuff is made of, and so on.
Thinking too much about it started leading me to a mild case of depersonalization/derealization syndrome ("living in the Matrix", or, as some people on the subreddit put it: it's like seeing a spot on the window and suddenly becoming aware of the window, instead of just looking through it). You know, when real life starts to feel a bit "fake" like a dream and it's hard to un-see that once you've seen it.
So I've reeled in my curiosity for a while and gotten back to normal, but before I forget about all the crazy things I learned, I decided to write it all down in my blog. I'll try and fill this post with links to resources I found interesting along the way.
This post discusses topics of spirituality, philosophy, and maybe some metaphysics. For background, I was born and raised Baptist, turned atheist in my teenage years when the religion conflicted with my sexuality, and have come half a circle again and would call myself "spiritual." All man-made ideas of God are probably utterly wrong, but there's gotta be something to it all. This blog post therefore also sums up my personal beliefs, from the core idea that I'm most confident about and getting less and less sure as it goes.
A lot of this stuff may draw parallels from Buddhism or such. I don't know about any of that, but I have noticed a lot of parallels to all the religions. We're all talking about some of the same basic stuff here, in our own ways.
To summarize, short and sweet:
Consciousness Is Everything. All that exists in the universe is consciousness. Matter comes from consciousness, and we are all experiencing reality as though it were a dream. The brain does not create consciousness; consciousness creates the brain.
In the following sections I'll describe the first few resources that got my curiosity going.
I highly recommend reading the book or watching the movie What Dreams May Come. It's a pretty well-researched story and will basically get you on the same page as, well, this page.
The author states that the only fiction in the book are the characters themselves and their relationships, but everything else was researched from many sources -- and it includes a bibliography of those sources for further reading.
For a quick summary of the story:
In the beginning, the main character (Chris) dies. He then gets to experience the process of moving on to the afterlife (called Summerland).
In Summerland, mind is everything. It's literally a dreamscape -- a place so big that everyone can have their own private universe if they wanted. In the movie, Chris's world is based on his wife's paintings. Summerland is a dream state where you can create anything, fly, walk on water, and have full "god mode" power over your surroundings. When multiple people are sharing a space, they have equal control over it.
The only things I feel pretty darn sure about:
These core beliefs are based on personal experiences. I had the curiosity first and then the research followed.
Towards the end of my research I was going down a solipsism rabbit hole. How many conscious beings exist? Am I the only one? Are we all partitions split up from a singular being? I decided it was enough to just know that everything is going to be okay. If it's all just consciousness, then what's the worst that it would do to itself anyway?
Everything else on this page is just further research and I'm not as confident about any of it as much as I am about my core belief.
You are a wave in the ocean. One day your wave will break, but you are, and always have been, the water.
Some thought experiments to catch you up.
The simulation hypothesis proposes that all of reality could just be a simulation, as in a computer simulation, like a videogame. Elon Musk thinks so and Neil deGrasse Tyson has chimed in on it. There's a rabbit hole on YouTube about this topic alone.
A lot of people hear about this and think of The Matrix and imagine a literal computer of some kind that exists in "some other universe" that is simulating ours. But that just raises a lot of questions: how did their universe come to be?
If you suppose that the simulation is a conscious simulation -- like a dream -- it could start to make more sense. We still don't really know what consciousness is, and the thought that it could be something that is neither created nor destroyed -- something eternal -- it could be plausible.
Interestingly enough, sacred geometry didn't come up in my research about this directly, but I was randomly curious about it and -- after watching an introductory video about it (part 2) -- I realized it fits right in here.
Imagine a blank consciousness, like a human consciousness, but it has no brain and no senses. It can't see anything or hear anything; it exists in a void. There is just the consciousness itself, alone, in emptiness. Nothing exists, not time, not matter, not language.
From this base state, there isn't a lot the consciousness can do. It can't really even dream yet, because, what would it dream about? It's never seen or imagined anything yet. So as it goes, sacred geometry follows the process that such a consciousness would inevitably have to follow to come up with the concepts of geometry, 3D space, and eventually, reality.
To dream, you must first invent the universe.
If you follow the idea of a singular consciousness in a void, then naturally, you would have to call that consciousness God. Or whatever name you like best.
Personally, I would call it "the universe" or "karma." Whatever force is out there, it probably doesn't care a lot about us humans, and is more just another system of the universe.
And because I think it would freak people out, I'm going to start talking to you in the second person.
Here it comes: you are God. I'm not being hyperbolic. You are God. You have always been God. You've been spending all this time acting like you aren't God, but you are. You're the only thing that exists. All this stuff around you? The trees, the sun, the grass. All dreams. Your dream.
It's never been hidden away from you. It's always been right in front of you. When you see nature, you are seeing God. You are seeing your own projection of reality; your dream. It comes from you; it is you. You and it are not separate. It's just an illusion that you are separate; that your "self" is somehow separate from everything else that's not you.
Oh, and everybody else? Also you. You've tricked yourself into thinking you don't control them, but you do. They're projections of your imagination. Or maybe they're not, maybe you found a way to "split" yourself, but they're still you and it doesn't really matter anyway. This is also making the big assumption that a consciousness even can partition itself, so the simpler answer is that you are probably more alone than you realize.
You are more alone than you realize.
Now, this really puts a damper on things. Where's the fun in having the ultimate powers of creation at your disposal if you have nobody to share it with? It must get pretty lonely.
So, God may decide to give up his power, at least for a little while, and feel like he isn't in control of it all. Maybe he'll wipe his memory that he is God, so that he can experience his creation and not feel like he's in control of it. Then when he interacts with other people, he doesn't know that he's alone, and could even convince himself into thinking there are others to talk to.
Here is a good animation about this topic: Happiness is NOT the Meaning of Life. If you had the super power to fully control your dreams every night, and you could do anything and be anything -- indulge in every pleasure, be a superhero, whatever... you would eventually dream up a reality that is exactly like the one you have created for yourself right now.
A lot of these ideas may sound familiar if you've read much about Buddhism and such.
I have not.
I think one of the fundamental properties of the universe is that we're not meant to understand it. Therefore any crazy idea that humans have come up with are probably wrong.
My core beliefs are based primarily on personal experiences, and all of this research was on top of that. At the core, all of this is probably a dream, and that's all I can feel sure about. Everything else -- trying to attach meaning to things, trying to reason about how reincarnation might work -- is pure speculation, by anybody.
The Buddhists have the similar basic idea about consciousness being primary and the separation between us and reality is an illusion, but they also say a lot about how it all works and I don't believe any human really knows.
It has been interesting to start indirectly seeing the common threads between all the world's religions while researching. I wasn't specifically researching religions, but the similarities naturally popped up a lot. Everyone is more or less talking about the same stuff, they just disagree about the made-up specifics.
Also completely unrelated to my research, I stumbled upon the Law of Attraction. It's referred to a lot in motivational speeches, and indeed, the way I discovered it was through my Raspberry Pi-powered Motivational Speech Alarm Clock.
It's the idea that if you want something to happen for you in the world, you just have to set an intention and put out positive energy and the universe will get out of your way and bring you what you want, sometimes in ways that seem completely improbable. Jim Carrey talks about it in his documentary, Jim & Andy.
It's something I would've just shrugged off before, but with everything else I've been discovering, I label this one plausible. If reality were a dream -- but where logical consistency is king -- then you can't use lucid dreaming super powers. How else then do you subconsciously shape your reality? The Law of Attraction would be a decent mechanism for that.
For further research, I've put some links I had found interesting here. I wasn't keeping a bibliography as I went (and, when I got deep into solipsism territory, I thought who is there to tell about this stuff, anyway?) so the links were collected retroactively.
I'll update this post later with more links, probably.
Search YouTube for speeches by Alan Watts. He has a lot of good ones. Many of them are long and I don't know which ones I've fully listened to, so I won't link to them right now.
Here are some short and sweet animations (few minutes each and really thought-provoking):
Some audio-only speeches:
There are 2 comments on this page. Add yours.
Hi Noah, I came across your blog via research on Rive script - thanks for that - you are a clever guy. You're not a contributing writer for WestWorld by any chance !! Keep that Perl flag flying.
Thanks! Not a writer for Westworld, but that show is really good. When you imagine really putting yourself into the shoes of the hosts, slowly finding out that what they believed their whole lives about the nature of reality was all wrong... it can bring about some existential panic when you then wonder the same about your own reality.
That and Black Mirror, treating consciousness as a toy commodity in so many episodes.