Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Spirituality & the Transhumanists

If, in fact, thoughts and intentions can profoundly affect the reality we experience, why isn't this obvious to everyone, especially scientists? The simple explanation is that not only is the link between cause and effect obscure compared to common physical experiences, but the principle is heretical to materialist science. But there may be another explanation, at another level, for the attitudes and understandings of humans throughout history.

Perhaps the transhumanists, and the scientists and others wondering whether the Universe might actually be a sort of 'computer simulation', would consider the similarities between their ideas and the ideas of those attempting to construct a scientific understanding of spirituality and human existence. On the one hand, consider life as one of a series of learning experiences for a spiritual being; and on the other, consider a 'transhumanist' future in which humans can choose to experience extraordinary time-compressed multiplayer 'virtual reality' 'computer' simulations--to experience, and remember (with their super-enhanced transhumanist intelligence) an entire simulated 'lifetime' on any given Saturday evening.

For some lives, the spiritual being, for whatever reason(s), experiences a life in which the physical being has no knowledge of the fundamental facts of their existence. And thus while their consciousness, combined with whatever other factors, is creating their daily experience, they have little or no awareness of this fact. And in other lives, the spiritual being, similarly for whatever reason(s), experiences a physical existence in which they, to some extent at least, remember who they are, and understand that their consciousness can profoundly influence the reality they experience. Who or what determines the extent to which the physical being will be aware of their true nature? And why?

And for the transhumanists: "Life on Earth--The Game So Real, You'll Forget Who You Are." In some optimistic transhumanist future, would you play this game? (Are 'you', a spiritual being, already playing this game, and have you, the human, forgotten who 'you' are?) In one modern concept of spirituality, there is no after-death judgment from a vengeful, arbitrary, and irrational deity, but rather unconditional love, and a complete review of the life experience. When a 'player's' life ends in the LOE game, you're back sitting on your living room couch with your beer (?) and bag of potato chips. With your cybernetically enhanced intelligence, you can review the entire experience in minutes, and perhaps spend days or even years reflecting on what you learned; and because your transhumanist mind is linked to the larger collective intelligence of not only the game 'creator', but the other players, your experience is now a part of the collective.

Could the experience of such a game be so compelling that you would actually choose to experience not just the joy and pleasure, but pain and sorrow and perhaps horrors as well, rather than sit around bored on your transhumanist couch? Or more to the point, can you imagine choosing to have an experience in which you don't even remember who you are, and have forgotten that you, the player, have the power to change the experience simply by remembering who you really are, and learning to control your consciousness? Or would the 'creator' have established certain requirements for the minimum level of experience, or mastery at the 'beginners' level, before progressing to the 'advanced' level?

In one spiritual perspective on life, the imperative seems to be to experience all the possibilities of existence, akin to Q's suggestion to Picard in the final Star Trek Next Generation: '...the unknown possibilities of existence...'. Similarly, some folks play computer games for the 'experience'--even 'bad' experiences.

And some folks play computer games not just for the experience, but to try to 'master' or 'win' the game; and in some sense, learning how to 'control' the game might be seen as simply another step in experiencing all the possibilities. Is the spiritual analogy a sequence of lives which lead to a conscious understanding of spiritual truths and the nature of our existence, and eventually the understanding that we are controlling the game, consciously or unconsciously, and can and do create the reality we experience?

Or in another analogy, as some have wondered for millennia, is life a dream of sorts, mostly simply experienced and beyond our control, but for some folks in some dreams (lives), a 'lucid' dream in which the dreamer not only becomes aware that they are dreaming, but that they can consciously control the experience?

For the scientists and transhumanists, did you, the spiritual being, choose a life in which you, the human, would completely forget who you are, simply because the experience is so compelling for a spiritual being and you don't care about 'mastering' the game, or perhaps so you would have another lifetime of experience, before choosing a life in which you remember who you are, dimly or perhaps quite clearly, and remember that, at least to some extent, you are actually creating the reality you experience? Or did you intend--or does it even matter what you intended, since it's all about the learning experience--that you would have the freedom in this life to choose: either live your life, simply for the experience, choosing to believe some religious or scientific theology, ignorant of who and what you are; or take the next step in consciousness and spiritual evolution, remember who you are, and begin to explore a new realm of 'unknown possibilities'? Or, to put it another way (to paraphrase a thoughtful commenter in a discussion of the simulation idea), would you want to know the 'cheat codes' to the LOE game?

So what did you, the spiritual being, intend for you in this life? In the concept of the 'Law of Attraction', etc., the answer is simple: if you find these concepts absurd or offensive or 'evil', because of your religious or scientific theology or whatever reasons, then they are 'evil' or wrong for you. But if you're simply skeptical, even extremely so, but nonetheless interested or even fascinated, then the implication is that perhaps you should explore the possibility. And a few would have a joyous sense that at some level they always knew these truths, and always intended to remember them, and have finally found what they were looking for, etc.

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