Tag Archives: Meaning of Life

Who Are You Really?

Originally posted August 11, 2011

The Theory of the Conscious Universe was the working title of my book, “You Are the Universe: Imagine That, released in 2014.

Why does it matter what your true identity is? Because if, for example, you are an accident in an accidental universe, better to act 100% in your own self-interest at all times than if, say, you are actually the universe itself, in which case 100% of your actions should be for the good of the universe, because you and everybody else will wind up winning biggest that way.

As in all these posts, although it may seem as if we are talking about matters of interest only to philosophers, scientists and intellectuals, in fact we are talking about action decisions each of us must make from second to second throughout our lives — and how to make the most effective decisions for your own later satisfaction.

One of the biggest mistakes individuals make in our culture, as a result of Acceleritis™ — the information overload condition created by the written language/media revolution of the past 6000 years (an eyeblink since homo sapiens first appeared) — is the implicit assumption that the larger philosophical questions as to who we are and why we are here, the meaning of life, are irrelevant on a personal level. Instead we grind away as unthinking slaves to the assumed requirements imposed by the culture. This is true even if we style ourselves as being highly individualistic. We remain slaves to conditioning until we realize that it’s always been about the basic questions, and by putting them aside we have dwarfed our very being.

Many of you have sent me comments outside of the public commentary channel below, and/or phoned to talk about these posts, and a few of you have collared me in person to respond to one thought or another. One of my genius friends who happens to be an atheist gave me an idea. It seems that atheists (I used to be one myself) like the rest of us understandably associate certain words with certain images and so on, so that when I use initial caps, or use the word “God”, or in other ways tie the Theory of the Conscious Universe (TTOTCU) to the teachings of religions, I make it impossible for TTOTCU to get a fair hearing from my atheist friends.

Therefore in the interest of allowing all readers to evaluate TTOTCU on its own merits without distracting connotations, we will begin to skip the religious references except where essential to some actionable point. Instead let’s consider TTOTCU as if the idea of there being one universal consciousness has nothing to do with religion or with the concept of God. I consider it fascinating that while TTOTCU is a scientific theory that makes no assumptions about mystical processes but reduces everything to the way information behaves — somehow winds up also squaring with what the founders of the world’s leading religions said, which constitutes self-evident perennial wisdom. However, I will set aside my fascination for this remarkable dual explanatory power, so that TTOTCU can be presented as pure science without raising emotional side issues.

And now, to the question of Who Are You Really?

In the prior post we wound up concluding that the two things we can absolutely say for certain, really do exist, are consciousness — that which experiences, the Self — and information, the stuff of experience — that which is experienced.

These are the only phenomena we observe directly. All else is mediated by our senses which tell us that time and space, hardness and solidity exist, and yet our Quantum Mechanics (QM) instruments tell us these things do not exist apart from the Observer (Self, Consciousness). So we cannot trust that our senses are conveying to us an accurate picture of reality. There could be an unmanifest part of reality, which by leaving out heads us in totally the wrong direction toward understanding our situation.

As I’ve begun to explain in recent posts, the Theory of the Conscious Universe postulates that a single Self is the only thing that truly exists.

Let’s look at this idea objectively. Let’s divorce the idea from the idea of God. We are talking about the same kind of self or selfness that we ourselves experience.

Imagine that you started life as a disembodied self. You would perhaps become aware of yourself gradually. Once you became aware, you could imagine things and visualize things — and this process might start in your dreams at times when you went from a clear consciousness to a foggy one.

Using the dreams and the waking imagination and your powers of visualization you could — if you had endless time — imagine all sorts of things. You could classify your own mental experiences. You could perhaps see that everything you experienced could be considered as information.

Perhaps if your intelligence level was far greater than that of human beings, you could even learn how to program yourself like a computer, since the contents of your experience would all consist of information.

Perhaps then you could program yourself to create cellular selves within yourself that could only for a time experience through the perspective of those subselves, whereas you yourself could experience what they were experiencing while also experiencing your own self.

What do I mean “you could program yourself”? What would this experience be like? Perhaps it would involve concentration. In his book The Meditative Mind: The Varieties of Meditative Experience, my friend Daniel Goleman (better known for his best-selling book series on emotional intelligence) describes the “concentration games” played by certain people in India since ancient times. Apparently a number of individuals in human history have been able to concentrate so strongly as to be able to turn off their sensory organs and ultimately even their sense of consciousness (“nirodh”, the next step on the path of insight after “nirvana”). If even a few human beings can train their ability to concentrate to this lofty degree, then surely we can imagine that a being of far greater processing power than a human — something with the processing power to create and sustain the complexity of the universe we behold — could also do similar stunts through concentration on a desired “program” of its own consciousness.

Perhaps you the original consciousness, the original self that has created us all as a part of yourself, could first program yourself to create light/energy, and then from light/energy to create matter and spacetime.

This would make you (a) a life form and (b) the only thing that really exists and (c) the underlying substrate of everything created by you to exist within you.

Certainly it would make you a very special life form compared to the life forms we know. Yet we know many lifeforms on macro and micro scales of size that have bizarre characteristics alongside which you would just be another very interesting specimen.

Given your scale it is no wonder that many individuals find it natural to worship this One Self. However that is not the only way it is possible to relate to you. One can also think of you as our Older Brother Self. It would be unusual not to naturally like you since we are you. So the natural reaction to the One Self would be somewhere between friendly and worshipful, take your pick.

That Self has creatively established a Cosmic Game It (We) play(s). Existence provides a never-ending pastime that is engrossing and rich in feeling. Obviously, on our planet part of the game is the secret of our true identity. We cannot normally during life remember anything that we experienced prior to this life, and so we tacitly always assume our identity is the body that the sense of Self currently inhabits.

In computer terms the information beyond the memories of the one instance of self, the local body that the Earth person takes to be the self, simply has been withheld from that node by not providing authorization.

The Perennial Philosophy (which however is not a scientific theory, and falls back instead on mystical conceptualization) tells us that the one self (called “God” or “the deity” in the Perennial Philosophy) gave the later pseudo-selves free will in order to make the game more interesting. This would not have worked without withholding authorization to the memory of the one self at least for the time period of the game. Remembering that one is the One, there is wisdom precluding all courses of action except the optimal for all concerned, and so effectively there is no free will. This could be an overstatement since aesthetically there are always multiple allowable choices but this would trivialize free will to some extent. Holding back the memory of the true identity unquestionably adds poignancy to the game — including such aspects as fear of death.

Again, what the Theory of the Conscious Universe posits is that this very sense of Self is the only thing that exists. That Self has made dubs of itself that for a subjective time period are, as in our case, not told the secret. We live in a permanent case of mistaken identity. We think it is us that is having these experiences when actually it is the One having these experiences through us. But our sense of Self is not different from the One. Our current sense of self is the experience the One is having in our instance of the Singular Self.

In your mind, project a mental movie: see the world and its history as if from nearby in space.

You did all that.

You are still doing it.

It is scientifically possible that this is not just speculation but rather what is really happening. In fact as science progresses it is converging on this depiction of reality. John Archibald Wheeler is but one of many highly respected scientists who have made statements consistent with the Theory of the Conscious Universe already. Science by definition must not proceed too rapidly, carried away by mere enthusiasm over an interesting new idea. So it could be after our lifetime that science finally comes out with a refined and perfectly acceptable version of TTOTCU.

Just knowing it is a real possibility gives permission to begin to relax into the more enjoyable version of life that settles in once we accept that TTOTCU may well be the true depiction of reality. In the psychotechnology (a set of practices which allow an individual in today’s super busy world to spend less and less time in Emergency Oversimplification Procedure – EOP – and more time in the Observer State and Flow State.) of the Human Effectiveness Institute (THEI), TTOTCU is not assumed. Nothing is assumed. THEI advises that the best approach to reality is to admit that we do not know the true nature of reality, and that therefore our actions must always be decided with full consciousness of that lack of certainty. This has the effect of unlocking what are culturally locked-in biases.

The fact that we then become more successful in some ways seems to provide a built-in validation of TTOTCU. For when one believes one is on the side of the whole universe, one’s behavior changes accordingly. All conscious motivations are positive rather than vengeful or petty, and this is a more successful strategy for accomplishing anything involving the cooperation of other people.

Mistaken identity and one other factor have driven most of us to “lives of quiet desperation”, as Henry David Thoreau put it. The other factor is the explosion in accelerating inventiveness triggered by written language — what I have dubbed “Acceleritis”. If this were not a mystery planet — other planets in other galaxies perhaps being experiments in remembering One’s true Identity at all times — Acceleritis might not have had such damaging effects. But the combination of the two handicaps has produced, at least for what be a brief reaction period as glimpsed from Above, a world of suffering, morbid fascination for violence, war, petty bickering, mental disorder, emotional chaos and the self-dwarfing of the One into decidedly unheroic roles.

Acceleritis we will recall is the inability of the brain to keep up with the incoming traffic as the number of question-producing impressions hitting the brain per second ceaselessly soars upward. The advent of written language some 6000 years ago is posited to be the triggering factor in causing Acceleritis.

Acceleritis manifests through tools, weapons, and media. Manic inventiveness in all three fields is carried out in a culture dominated by a minority that was historically first to use these tools, weapons and media, and through this they acquired power and heavy metals/money/credit, they were sustained first (and always) by (threat of) violence, and all of this thuggery was papered over later by a façade of legitimacy. Still, today’s nations were each founded based on the self-interest of those taking over, with the only possible exception being the United States of America.

Even America today has been pulled back into sameness of mentality with the earlier nations. This would not have happened on a planet without (a) mistaken identity and (b) Acceleritis. Those are the two factors pulling us down as a race. They threaten the very substance of the planet.

What a drama! The One has set up a most amazing adventure epic, larger than life, larger even than Cecil B. DeMille’s Hollywood. Now the torch has been passed to us, and we are privileged to be here at this momentous time. What happens, what we do, the roles we rise to, in the next few years will be a turning point in one direction or the other.

We ended the prior post with a promise to explain in this post why I sometimes capitalize “Self”. Here is the explanation. It comes down to the singularity of the One Self. What if TTOTCU is true, and the ancients intuited TTOTCU themselves but lacked modern scientific language and method and so thought about the One Self through the only lenses they had, including the impulse to attribute nature to a cosmic personality, what religion calls “God”. Why capitalize it, why consider it to be above us? Why not do so, since the whole of oneself is clearly above any part of oneself. Why worship the One Self? This is more a matter of aesthetics. The One Self logically being our own larger self in TTOTCU, one would naturally like and love it and wish to be harmonious with it. If worship also comes naturally then why block the feeling? If worship does not come naturally why not be open to some other form of relationship with the posited One Self? How about gratitude? How about loyal friendship?

Game Theory enters in at this point. Let’s admit that TTOTCU is just an unproven theory. Okay, so what does Game Theory tell us we should do? It says that since TTOTCU is a possibility, action based on admitting the possibility is real is better for the individual than acting as if the possibility is ridiculous. Because if TTOTCU turns out to be true (each of us will either find out after death that it is true, or we will no longer be aware of anything), then it would be better to have that base covered just in case.

Based on the way I am betting, my actions are always (except when I slip into robot behavior) in light of TTOTCU, and hence my use of initial capitals sometimes to relate to the One Self. I will tone down that convention now in order to make it easier for agnostic/atheist readers to consider the possibility of TTOTCU being accurate.

What is the meaning of life? Life is a game and an art form. It is the supreme game and the supreme art form. It is cosmic and celestial. We are in fact the children of the stars. We ourselves are stars, greater than stars, we are each of the star of the show. Only the challenge slope presented by Acceleritis makes it so hard for us to realize our true identity, or even to credit that identity as a possibility. No movie character ever faced a more dramatic challenge slope. There will be no victory as great as our own when we finally overcome.

Where did the Singular Self come from in the first place? Why does a Singular Self — or anything else for that matter — exist? Isn’t it far more logical that nothing exists?

Please see and react to our further exploration in the next post.

Best to all,

Bill

Originally posted 2011-08-11 07:04:49. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

What is Consciousness made out of?

Originally posted August 4, 2011

This may seem like an academic question yet it leads directly to the meaning of life. Who among us has not pondered the meaning of life at one time or another?

We know consciousness is real, we know it exists. As René Descartes said, “Je pense, donc je suis” — I think, therefore I exist — meaning that you dear reader know something exists because you are experiencing something right now. Rene might have said “something is being experienced, that is what can be stated with certainty”.

In fact nothing can actually be stated with such great certainty except that consciousness — that which experiences — exists.

So what is this stuff that exists? You and I both experience It.

It is the weirdest stuff around. Everything else is easier for our minds (consciousness itself) to grasp. That too is weird — consciousness finds itself weirder than everything else that it experiences, at least among the scientists who have dodged this question while ironically basing everything else in their cosmology upon the observer — which is the same “Self”/”Consciousness” that science has avoided investigating more deeply.

Matter, energy, time and space seem perfectly normal and reasonable to us. Those are names that we put on aspects of what we experience. Names seem normal and reasonable too. Just not consciousness — it is so ineffable, so hard to grasp, to even think about.

Scientists either avoid the subject entirely or else try to reduce consciousness to events in the brain. The late great physicist Evan Harris Walker in his book The Physics of Consciousness brilliantly posited that consciousness emerges from quantum effects at the synapses of the brain. This however has nothing to do with the experience of consciousness. It is the experience itself that we are interested in, not in how we might explain away these experiences by relating them to physical events. The latter explanations beg the question of which came first — i.e. consciousness could have created the brain rather than vice versa — and although we are culturally biased to consider that sequence absurd, there is no scientific evidence either way. It would be the definition of unscientific to take any position under those circumstances.

Those locked into cultural first assumptions are by definition unable to see past those assumptions or to even see that those assumptions exist.

Try this if you will: focus your mind on the experience of consciousness for a moment. What is it?

To ask what consciousness is made of is itself evidence of our predisposition to assume that substance — matter or energy — is the substrate of the universe, so that everything in the universe must be made out of either matter or energy. This is just a bias.

But let’s play along with that bias for awhile. Is consciousness an energy? Okay, if so, then what is energy? Simply saying that energy is a force or a force field is just replacing one name with another — it does not tell us anything, it adds no new information — we are just playing with words.

Today scientists relate to energy in terms of waves radiating from a source. That itself is an ancient metaphor to waves on the ocean. Scientists assumed for a long time (some still do today) that waves must be waves in something. In Newton’s time the term aether (“ether”) was the stuff the waves were waving. By Einstein’s time and our own the concept of an aether has become passé. Today we are more comfortable thinking that things reduce ultimately to wavicles — things that have both a wave and a particle aspect depending on the choice of instruments and experimental conditions the observer chooses to set up.

Do you begin to see The Great Circular Argument going on here? Really the modeling of “what is” falls back on the way we as humans perceive the world and the ultimate categories we place as contexts around everything else — the way we perceive time and space — the apparent hardness of matter — which we now know is actually the mutual repulsion going on in electromagnetic and nuclear energies at subatomic levels. There is no hardness, it is a subjective readout our brains feed to our consciousness. We are trapped in Plato’s cave, making up possible stories about what is really out there. But what is in here?

The Theory of the Conscious Universe* postulates that everything in the universe reduces to neither matter nor energy, but to INFORMATION. But then what is information?

The clue comes from deconstructing the word into its parts: IN…FORMATION — information is a pattern — a formation. Any pattern is information — even randomness. Since information exists in the form rather than requiring a substance — form and substance being an ancient division of aspects of things going back at least as far as the Vedas — information can exist even in something that is substance-less.

In fact we see this every day in our computers — which contain and send and receive and process information — but that information does not have a concrete substance — it exists when stored as energy/nothingness, as both charge and non-charge, representing zeroes and ones. The nothingness (the zeroes) are as much information as the 1’s (electric charges).

What then is consciousness? It is the Self — the capacity to experience — that which experiences — and the experiences are information received by the consciousness or Self. The information appears to us to be coming from something that has independent existence outside the Self. It appears that hard and/or wet and/or gaseous objects out there are encoded as electromagnetic signals that strike our visual sense organs which then encode them as electrical pulses in our brain — or that strike our apparent body where they are converted to electrical pulses we call touch — or as compactions and expansions of air that cause pressure against our auditory sense organs where again they are converted to electrical pulses in our brain — or as interactions with our taste and smell organs, also winding up as electrical pulses in our brain.

But all of this could actually be taking place in our Self. There might be nothing out there because there might not be an “out there”. Our experience would be the same.

One way or the other, we can definitively state now two things: the Self exists — the Experiencer — and information exists, for this is what gives variation to what we experience. Both the Self and information exist in consciousness — this much can be stated as fact. The rest is supposition.

But why am I capitalizing Self? The answer in our next posting — our response to the question, “What is the meaning of life?”

*The Theory of the Conscious Universe was the working title of my book, “You Are the Universe: Imagine That”, released in 2014.

All the best,

Bill

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Originally posted 2011-08-04 06:42:21. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

What Is the Meaning of Life? ~ Revisited

Originally posted September 1, 2015

When I was younger, I would ask this question whenever anyone, even a tour guide in a museum, asked me if I had any more questions.

The greatest thing you'll ever learn

Internally, it’s the question I asked myself multiple times a day all my life until I felt sure of the answer, which occurred sometime in my 30s.

The underlying question is “What is the meaning of ‘meaning’ in this context?”

The intent of the question is to understand what life is, what its purpose is (if any), what the universe is, what its purpose is (if any), why we are here, who we are, how we are to behave, what our relation is to one another, is there a God, and why are we compelled to consider any of this as relevant or meaningful to the second-to-second management of our personal business of existence.

In other words, it’s a packed — if not loaded — question. Continue reading

Originally posted 2015-09-01 11:34:48. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

What Is the Meaning of Life?

Volume 3, Issue 36

When I was younger, I would ask this question whenever anyone, even a tour guide in a museum, asked me if I had any more questions.

Internally, it’s the question I asked myself multiple times a day all my life until I felt sure of the answer, which occurred sometime in my 30s.

The underlying question is “What is the meaning of ‘meaning’ in this context?” The intent of the question is to understand what life is, what its purpose is (if any), what the universe is, what its purpose is (if any), why we are here, who we are, how we are to behave, what our relation is to one another, is there a God, and why are we compelled to consider any of this relevant/meaningful to our second-to-second management of our personal business of existence. In other words, it’s a packed — if not loaded — question.

The alternative to asking and answering this question to one’s own satisfaction is either to go about life happily without caring about the question (which could be a Zen-like answer in itself, essentially filing the question away into the “Overthinking” file), or to consider life meaningless, which many existentialists did in the last century.

Other than an intuition I had at age 12 that I am God and so is everyone else, which I tucked away as an interesting but unexplained aberration, the meaninglessness of life was my own position for the first 30-odd years of life. Around age 20, as I studied philosophy, I put reasoning around this intuition, deciding that one took positions such as this based solely on aesthetic preference, since knowability of the answer to What Is the Meaning of Life? was apparently out of scope.

 In my 30s I had some unusual experiences that also reminded me of similar experiences in my childhood, at which point I felt as I do now — a very strong conviction that I actually know the answer.

As I see it, all that exists is a single consciousness of such great computing power as to know everything that goes on within itself instantaneously at all times (metaphorically speaking since God or the One Self is above time). Depriving its temporary offshoots of this omniscience it plays our roles with more drama and excitement. The meaning of life therefore is to realize and enjoy this game as our true Original Self does, and thereby re-merge into the Original Consciousness.

However, the question is complex and so is the answer. If we obsess about this question as our purpose we automatically miss the point, since obsessing about anything blocks us from higher states of consciousness. This goes back to our earlier point about Overthinking. In the context of this planet at this time, the prefrontal cortex is a new toy that obsesses us, causing overthinking and underuse of the other three Jungian functions of consciousness, namely intuition, feelings, and perception.

In my new book You Are The Universe: Imagine That, I conjecture that the One Self enjoys seven aspects of existence: simply being, pleasure, power, love, creativity, making oneself better, and selfless service. Playing our role down here amidst the vast distraction caused by the Overthinking Culture’s pandemic shock reaction, which I call Acceleritis, each of these over-loved good things becomes an obsessive attachment and blocks the subsequent level of consciousness. Maslow partly perceived this in his Hierarchy of Needs model.

From a practical standpoint, life becomes most meaningful for us to the extent that we realize our own unique gifts, we love doing the things propelled by those talents, we develop a life plan around sharing these things with the rest of us, and then we go forward with that plan without being attached to the outcome.

Thus we have a Purpose, a Mission, which satisfies the thinking mind as to our own meaningfulness. Again this can get in the way of higher states of consciousness (merging back by stages with the Original Self) if it becomes an attachment to certain “success” outcomes. In a recent bookstore talk, I reported that although I go into meetings with awareness of my preferred outcomes, I discard those at the last minute and go with the meeting flow from the standpoint of simply trying to help out everyone else in the meeting as best I can. Pragmatically and empirically, this appears to work best in balancing out the complexities of life.

So “What is the meaning of Life?” Enjoying it, loving it, loving all, and helping others to do the same.

“The greatest thing
You’ll ever learn
Is just to love
And be loved
In return.”

— “Nature Boy”, by Nat King Cole

 

Best to all,

Bill

Follow my regular blog contribution at Jack Myers Media Network: In Terms of ROI. It is in the free section of the website at  Bill Harvey at MediaBizBloggers.com.