Recently I mused on the nature of reality. People from all branches of knowledge have a claim on the topic. There are scientists who measure and weigh things, and there are mystics who look inward in search of sudden illumination. Lucretius expounded on the topic in “On the Nature of Things” and Newton revolutionized the whole thing with his “Principia”.
But it’s quite possible that the true nature of the universe is more bizarre than we can suppose and that human mind cannot fully grasp it. After all, we are an advanced species of primates who cannot get their act together. So why would we ever pierce the core of it all?
But there are inklings, intuitions, data and allegories that point to this “thing” that Sapiens tried to uncover since times immemorial. But it’s still beyond our reach.
In fact, the term “reality” signifies just another illusion. Each individual has their own reality which is non-accessible to others. Sight, our most precious of senses provides us with a convenient illusion of external appearances. Our retina can absorb just a tiny bit of the electromagnetic spectrum so in that sense we’re impaired even compared to animals like the Mantis Shrimp.
And according to Einstein, time is an illusion as well. At the speed of light the time stops and it definitely doesn’t go in an orderly linear way as we imagine it. The universe is more than 13 billion years old and contains billions of galaxies, and it’s expanding. But as humans we struggle for survival and create myths about reality – trying to make sense of it all. Let’s take a look at just a couple of these speculations.
Ideas about the nature of reality:
1. There is a purpose to nature
I’m a big fan of the Darwinian struggle for survival. All these organisms crawling around with a grandiose intention of passing on their genes, outwitting their competitors and dominating their niches.
But what if there’s a purpose behind it all? We still haven’t fully decoded the DNA code and 75% of it is considered to be serving no purpose. But nature is very frugal so why would it be there? And how far will the evolution go?
Maybe it’s going somewhere beyond what we call our ordinary reality. Maybe the goal is to transform ourselves into creatures that no longer need bodies made of water, but who are beings made of something else (like light) and occupy a different plane.
2. The shedding of the material body
Humans always dreamed of releasing themselves from the shackles of the physical form. According to the Gnostic teachings, we have been cast down from heavens – and now we have to slowly climb back. All major religions and spiritual traditions have the idea of a soul, which usually temporarily occupies the body, just to travel further after death.
Egyptians who studied this matter for over three thousand years had a concept of Duat, or a final judgement at the end of one’s life. If you’ve been a good person you flowed upwards the river of souls, but if bad, you’ve been relegated to the nether realms.
Dalai Lama claims to leave his material body during his meditations. He “dies” only to come back to the physical form. The whole Tibetan tradition is about Samsara, the everlasting travel of the soul – death, Bardo, and reincarnation.
Bardo is the intermediate state between life and death. To free yourself from Samsara, it’s necessary to see the true nature of things. No one really knows what happens to the soul after it crosses the “lesser lights” and flows into the “clear light”.
In The Museum of World Cultures in Barcelona I’ve found two examples of statues of Buddha with a hidden motif of hallucinogenic mushroom (one of them as old as IV century BCE.) The Amenita Muscaria mushroom was probably an ingredient of the sacred Hindu drink Soma which almost like the fruits of The Garden of Eden gave people permission to enter the realm of the gods.
In the Shamanic traditions all around, leaving your body to meet ancestors seems to be a common practice. And with the advent of Artificial Intelligence, going full digital and creating 3D worlds, we would want to leave the human body on a massive scale. Right now the best technology we have for this purpose are drugs like DMT, Lucia – the hypnagogic light machine, astral projection, or dreams.
We’ll probably not encapsulate our consciousness in a machine and it will be extremely hard to generate consciousness out of a machine. For consciousness seems to be more like a wave, and brain is probably not a generator, but a receiver.
It always amazes me how blind we are to these things as a culture.
3. The Ultimate Complexity
In Shantaram, Khanderbhai, a powerful mafia don presents the idea of the Ultimate Complexity:
„The universe is always doing this. It is always moving from the simple to the complex. The universe, this universe that we know, began in almost absolute simplicity, and it has been getting more complex for about fifteen billion years. But we are all moving towards it– everything in the universe is moving towards it. And that final complexity, that thing we are all moving to, is what I choose to call God. If you don’t like that word, God, call it the Ultimate Complexity. Whatever you call it, the whole universe is moving toward it, our level of complexity, this level of complexity, with a consciousness capable of understanding the process, would be duplicated. Anything that enhances, promotes, or accelerates this movement toward the Ultimate Complexity is good. Anything that inhibits, impedes, or prevents this movement toward the Ultimate Complexity is evil.”
That might have been inspired by Terrence McKenna who worked on the idea of the Transcendental Object at the End of Time since 1970’s.
Novelty means emergence of new phenomena in the physical universe at a more and more rapid rate. The cosmos is now much busier than at the beginning of time. It’s almost like one big organism that becomes more and more complex – and humans are a part of this process. And with obtainment of the general AI this will lead to even higher complexity and time speed.
4. Parallel Realities
The virtualization of the word will give us access to parallel realities so that we will treat the present reality as something interchangeable. Right now we already have devices like Oculus, which will improve dramatically over the next couple of years.
Can you imagine people walking around with their virtual reality devices, just like now we’re using smartphones? Think about what it will do to human communication. Organizations and schools may move to the virtual world and we will be able to meet our loved ones at the other side of the world.
But that’s a parallel reality we’ll create for ourselves from scratch. I’m sure there are others which already exist.
Aldous Huxley presented this idea in Doors of Perception and now his ideas are developed by researchers like Anthony Peake, who recently wrote Opening the Doors of Perception. It all comes from William Blake who said:
“If the doors of perception were cleansed every thing would appear to man as it is, Infinite. For man has closed himself up, till he sees all things thro’ narrow chinks of his cavern.”
The idea is that something in our brain (probably the Pineal Gland) acts as a regulating valve on the spectrum of reality we can actually witness. It’s like a palette of different realms of reality that are somehow dictated by the level of the development of the consciousness.
5. The ecology of souls and the alien intelligence
Over millennia, shamans, mystics, prophets, epileptics, meditators, schizophrenics and ordinary people claimed to have contacted ancestors, “the beings made of light”, gods, demi-gods, daemons and extraterrestrials.
These are folk legends, myths and paintings in dark caves. The Irish legends are full of “little people” and you can find references to alien intelligences in almost all traditional cultures.
None of this, of course, have been proven by science but we have numerous reports. On my mushroom trip, I saw the eyes observing me. I couldn’t believe it before I saw it, but it looked too real – too external to anything I would just imagine or “hallucinate”. Then I realized that this motif appears regularly in psychedelic arts.
These strange psychedelic spaces seem to go beyond our regular space-time continuum, but are somehow connected to it. After my experience, I’ve learned that time is something plastic. You can fall in and out of time.
6. Remembering the future
Synchronicity is a common experience that’s deeply related to the nature of reality. Yet it’s not explained by science (just like telepathy). Synchronicity means experiencing “meaningful coincidences” throughout your life.
It could be described as a part of the “cosmic giggle” through which the universe communicates with you. And Jung was right – if you know that such thing as synchronicity exists, you will start seeing it more often. Scientists try to explain the phenomenon in terms of probabilities, but sometimes the events are just to uncanny.
Then there are dreams in which you see future events and phenomena like the extrasensory perception (ESP). And Déjà vu might be actually a moment of “remembering your future”. This could be an indication that you knew about the events before through precognition, or that you actually experienced these events before.
The second idea hints at the stimulation theory where we’re supposed to live (or play out the computer program) countless times. Many people experience a “Daemon” or “divine imagination” which could be described as a “player” who went through the game before and through intuition gives you hints about what to do next.
7. The nature of reality and the information field
Our limitation is that we are integrated into the universe but we act as we’re separate. In Hinduism, they say that everything that happens is a part of one grand cosmic dance taking place in the grand belly of Brahma – the god of creation. If we take the possibility of the simulation theory seriously, there actually might be something to this analogy.
If reality is made of computer language, the consciousness might be its integral part that pervades everything. You actually bring the reality into existence by the fact of observation.
According to many traditions the senses, desires, pain and pleasure obscure our view of the true reality – it’s important to shed these layers to get closer to the truth. How you do it is up to you.
How did you like my ideas about the nature of reality? Please share and leave a comment below.