Unmasking the nature of reality

[A Christian friend recently asked me, “What is it that you believe now?” Tough question to give a short answer to. I could say, “I believe I am everything that exists, experiencing a state of separation from the full magnitude of what I am.” Or I could say, “The universe is holographic in nature, like the Star Trek holodeck or The Matrix.” I’ve tried those kinds of answers and I’ve seen eyebrows raise in an expression of bewilderment that seems to communicate, “How on earth did Darryl go from believing in Christ to this bizarre nonsense?” For what it’s worth, I’m going to try and guide you step by step into my headspace.]

What is the true underlying nature of reality? What is my place in it? Does my life have meaning, or am I a cosmic accident? Are the answers to these questions found in religion, or is science where the real enlightenment lies? Is it even possible to know? What chance do I have of finding out? And where the hell do I even begin?

The first step is a willingness to unlearn what you’ve been taught, or more appropriately, what you’ve been conditioned to believe all your life. With hundreds of belief systems on Earth, the chances of you inheriting the right one, by virtue of geographical placement, are miniscule. If you were born in America, is Christianity true by virtue of the number of people around you who believe in it, or the number of times its ideas are repeated to you? If you were born in Iraq, is Islam true for the same reasons? Look around the world and you will find countless differing religions, each one confident of its superiority over all others, one generation indoctrinating the next. The thing that so few people dare to do is to step outside of the zeitgeist – the spirit of the age. But it’s what you have to do if you want to discover the real truth. No belief should ever be so sacred that we are not permitted to look critically at it and assess its worth.

The zeitgeist is not only religious in nature, but also infiltrates the arena of science. Science is concerned with what is definable and measurable. It’s all about weighing evidence and making rational deductions. When there is no evidence for something, it will not become a scientific fact. That is why science has little or nothing to say about ideas like God, or the soul, or the afterlife. And that’s fair. Those things seem to be outside the scope of measurement. I would guess this is why many scientists are atheists. They have decided that if there is no evidence for something, then they have no business believing in it. But therein lies the trap. Absence of proof is not necessarily proof of absence. And although science prides itself on making no assumptions, the entire discipline hangs on one colossal assumption – that the physical universe is the cornerstone from which we do our thinking. Matter is what matters. But if we’re willing to look closely at the presuppositions that shape our thinking, we might discover that we’ve been making deductions using the wrong set of presuppositions – that we have been unwary victims of the zeitgeist. One of the most important things I figured out was that the proper starting point for rational thought is not observation of the physical universe; first and foremost, it is observation of our own self-awareness, as I will attempt to show.

Having unlearned (or at least temporarily shelved) everything taught or imposed upon me by science and religion, I begin with the knowledge that I am a conscious being. I am self-aware. Let’s not even assume that I am a body. First and foremost, I am self-awareness. It appears that I have eyes with which to see and ears with which to hear. Five senses in total, allowing me to receive information from outside of myself. But already I’m making too many assumptions. Do I really see with my eyes? No. On closer inspection, my eyes receive information, convert it into electrical signals, and pass these to the visual cortex at the back of my brain. I see with my visual cortex, experiencing a bright world of colour and motion inside the absolute darkness of my skull, which no actual light can penetrate. If I pick up a pencil, I feel the pressure of it in my fingers. But I don’t, really. The nerves in my fingers transmit signals back to my brain, and my brain tells me that my fingers are touching something. Meanwhile, my eyes relay signals to my brain, showing me visual information about the object I’m touching. The principle to remember here is that you cannot get beyond your brain in order to prove the existence of the physical world. All the information is second hand.

Perhaps you think it should be taken as a given that the physical universe exists, by virtue of the rich and repetitive nature of our perceptions. But let’s remember that every night in bed we experience a five-sense environment in our dreams. Dreams are so lifelike that we usually believe them to be real for the duration of their experience, yet they have no physical substance. When we are awake and when we are dreaming, it is our consciousness that does the perceiving, not our physical senses. In truth, when we awake, we simply have no way of knowing whether we are connecting to a real physical universe, or merely a longer dream – one whose rules are more concrete, perhaps because it is a dream-world held together by the collective unconscious of the all those who share it. Either paradigm is possible, and neither provable.

We are perceivers and we can never get past our perceptions to discover the actuality of the universe. You can look out of the window and say, “The grass is green.” Are you sure? Did you ever consider that a cat or a lizard might see the grass in a different manner, since the structure of their eyes are quite different from a human’s. What right have I to say, “The universe really is the way I see it,” when I am perceiving the universe through the machinery of my body. Consider the bat, which is almost blind and much more reliant on a form of radar. Or the dog, who experiences an exotic realm of smells that we humans can barely imagine. Bodies are biological machines that perceive the universe in differing ways. The grass is only green when the body-machine interprets the data it receives in a certain manner.

We cannot be certain what the actuality of the universe is; we can only see it through our own particular lens. We can’t even know that the universe is genuinely physical in nature. Consider the analogy of the modern videogame. We can take part in adventures across city-sized maps, with amazingly detailed roads, buildings, and countless nooks and crannies for exploration. We can make our game character turn his head in any direction and watch the real-world laws of geometry playing out in two-dimensional space on the flatness of our television screens, beaming out texture, light and shadow. Once, I had a moment of clarity when I stood on a hillside, gazing down through the trees at a lake and a castle on the opposite side (in a game, that is). It was a picturesque scene, and in the real world it might have made me reach for my camera. And I thought, “No one else has stood on this precise spot and looked down the hill at this exact angle. Not even the game’s creators. The game is just too vast.” It struck me as profound that something so artistic – something that was just for me in this moment – could spring to life from nothing more than a rapid series of mathematical equations being processed inside my computer. In videogames we experience an interactive world of sight, sound and touch – a limited but spectacularly detailed facsimile of the physical world. The big question, then, is this: if we mere mortals are able to create this 3D experience inside a computer, have we any business assuming that our universe is truly 3D in its deepest essence, in its actuality? The three-dimensionality of a videogame is nothing more than binary ones and zeros flowing through electrical circuits, and yet the laws of physics in a game are as solid and dependable as the laws of physics in the real world. A game’s vistas, although not nearly as detailed as the real world, use the same mathematics of geometry, the same understanding of light and shadow. Put simply: the universe is made of mathematics.

Some people simply will not enter into this manner of thinking, because it seems repugnant that the universe should be telling us fibs about itself. But this is exactly what has already happened and continues to happen. Without any knowledge of astronomy and geometry, we started off believing the Earth was flat. Why? Because our experience told us it was flat. The human form is so tiny in relation to the magnitude of the Earth that we have no conscious awareness of moving over a curved surface as we go from place to place. Only when we started getting our heads around geometry, and noticing things like how the stars travel up the sky as we move towards them, could we begin to deduce that we were sitting on a big ball. When a cat sees its reflection in a mirror for the first time, it thinks it is looking at another cat, one that mimics its every move – until it learns to see through the lie. We’ve invented the hologram – images that stand out from their photographic paper screaming, “I have substance!” Yet wave your hand through one and there’s nothing there. The key question is whether you want to trust your experience or try to see the bigger picture.

The universe lies until you figure out the lies. Its purpose is not to tell you its innermost secrets. Its purpose is to provide consciousness with an experience. It is up to us to probe its nature, except most of us have been doing so from the wrong standpoint. We’ve assumed that it’s all real, when that realness – that three-dimensionality – may be nothing more than a stream of data, a matrix, a frequency to which our consciousness is tuned. Is Betelgeuse six hundred light-years away from Earth, or is it sitting right next to us, just another point on the data stream?

You may ask, “What difference does it make which view I take? Life is the same either way.” On the contrary, life is vastly different. If we use the physical universe as the cornerstone of our rational thinking, we can easily lose sight of the importance of our own self-awareness. When you look in at yourself from the outside, through the eyes of science, and you begin to understand the brain, the tendency is to explain away your own consciousness in purely physical terms – as if your consciousness is little more than a computer program performing a task. And yes, there is something very computer-like about our minds. All creatures, humans included, possess behaviour patterns: appetite, sexuality, testosterone, predatory instincts, maternal and paternal inclinations, etc. These things, and more, make us predictable to a certain extent. Similarly, a computer programmer can create an autonomous game character, imbue him with behaviour patterns, and place him into the game environment, where he will interact with it and behave as if he is self-aware. However, you would never say that such a character is genuinely self-aware. And yet you know that you are, in a manner that transcends any form of artificial intelligence. Science has never distinguished mind from self-awareness. The two are not the same. Mind is a brain-based faculty used by self-awareness. Science has fundamentally lost touch with the wonder of consciousness that we all experience. It has no place for such a thing because it cannot seem to grasp it and measure it. “No,” says science, “you cannot be immaterial consciousness interfacing with a brain. You’re just a brain.” And yet, where is this thing called self-awareness on any map of the brain? Nowhere to be found.

If you start from the deeper standpoint of using self-awareness as the cornerstone of your thinking, you end up with a vastly different perspective on the universe. For a start, the one thing you can be sure of is that you exist. As Rene Descarte said, “I think, therefore I am.” Everything else is under suspicion, because everything else is a perception. What this means is, if you want to believe in a physical universe, you have to take it on trust. If you want to believe it’s all a matrix, you have to take it on trust. In this predicament, what do you do with the scientific approach, when you suddenly realise you can’t use it to get anywhere? My answer to that is you use an almost forgotten little thing called intuition.

What do you sense the truth to be? The two most fundamental questions you should ask yourself are “What am I?” and “Where I am?” In my experience, asking those questions starts you on a wonderful journey of self-discovery that brings an end all to the bewilderment of living in the zeitgeist. For the scientifically minded person, the understanding that consciousness transcends matter opens up the genuine possibility of life after death and the mystery of whether our physical birth was really the beginning of our life. For the religious among us, it presents spirituality free from imposed dogmas that must never be questioned. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

(I recommend watching the following documentary for an easy-to-understand visual look at the nature of reality.)

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56 thoughts on “Unmasking the nature of reality

  1. Grace says:

    What! No comments yet! Then I’ll be first. Great article, by the way. I had a listen recently to that interview we did last year, and it was quite cool looking back. Written any fiction lately?

    Anyway, ever since I was little I used to wonder about perception. As in, is the colour blue the same to me as it is to you? I mean, what you call blue might look more like what looks like silver to me, though we both call it blue – but each person’s perception of that colour might be quite different. Sure it sounds crazy to consider that to you, the sky is silver – well, it’s not, because you call it blue, but your idea of blue might be the same as my idea of silver. Am I making any sense here?

    Similarly with language. Supposedly we are speaking English, but what if it was also a matter of perception? The phonemes, the words, the sentences we use might *sound* entirely different although we have become familiar with their meanings as linked to what our ears hear and what our eyes read.

    What I’m saying is that perhaps, just perhaps, every person is living in their own completely individual sort of virtual bubble, where they relate to language and colour – and any number of other things – in a way that nobody else on the planet does. It would work because every person’s sensory perception acts as a filter to translate what we receive and make it comprehensible in our own personal language.

    Well, I enjoy speculating anyway, and I see no reason why it shouldn’t be true – if it was, we’d have no way of knowing. What if the world were really upside-down? I’ve always thought it quite likely, since the eye inverts the images it receives. It only *appears* to be this way up. I think it’s hilarious – and all the more miraculous that we, the beings stuck inside these worlds, are still able to interact as we do.

    Makes a rather good explanation for disagreements and misunderstandings, doesn’t it though?

  2. Darryl Sloan says:

    Hi, Grace.

    I love the way you think! 😀 And yes, the speculations you’re raising make perfect sense to me. They can even be backed up to a degree empirically. I have a couple of great examples for you, regarding sight.

    First, what is the experience of a person who has been blind all his life and then has an operation which restores his sight for the first time? Remember that whatever picture of reality that he’s been making all his life in his heads using the remaining four senses hasn’t involved colour, depth perception, angles, light, shadow, and many other things relating to sight. Any understanding he has of the geometrical nature of physical reality comes only through touch. And having never seen, when he feels a box, does he construct a visual geometrical box in his mind’s eye? Not a chance. My guess is that when blind people suddenly get to see, what they first see looks like a unintelligible mess to them. Only when they use their sight in tandem with their other senses can they start to make sense of it. They trace their finger along the table, and they notice the manner in which the visual mess changes in relation to touch, and so begins the process of interpreting vision into something sensible.

    Secondly (and this backs up the first example), I remember reading about an experiment where a guy put on special glasses that flipped the world upside down. He wore these for weeks or months, never taking them off, and an interesting effect happened. After a while, with the glasses on, he started to see the world normally again. His brain learned to reinterpret his sight and flip it the right way up for him. Or in other words, he got so used to seeing it upside down that upside down began to seem like the way it should be. Even more interesting is what happened when he finally took the glasses off. He started seeing the world upside down! And it stayed that way until, once again, his brain changed the interpretion to the way he had been seeing all his life – which is the way we all see it. Or is it? Hah! Since we’re all doing our individual interpreting, we might all have totally different perceptions across all five senses of everything!

    Interpretation is the key word here.

  3. Grace says:

    Yes, I have friends born blind who, to my great surprise, tell me they would not want to see if it were possible, as it would be too hard to re-learn everything as an adult. While I am not convinced of that, I confess it would be necessary to stand in their shoes to understand it fully.

    I have also heard of the upside-down glasses experiment, and it’s always fascinated me. It’s a dizzying concept to consider that up and down are only relative, and certainly meaningless in the context of space. I have an old telescope that only shows a mirror-image view – frustrating, because it’s hard to align it with the world beyond the telescope when left is right and right is left. Yet who can say which image is real, if either? And would I suffer terrible vertigo if I realised that gravity is not holding us “down” but rather “up” so that there is only a great nothingness “below” us?

    That’s seriously freaky for someone with a fear of heights, but I can see it’s only the beginning. No one can prove that what we see is real, or that it is alike to what others see. Yet for now we must treat it as real and live within physical limitations. And those of us who like to think further than others know beyond a doubt that we are a part of something greater, yet separate from it, unable to be completely fulfilled until we return to it.

    What are your thoughts on finding fulfillment in this separated life?

  4. Darryl Sloan says:

    Hi, Grace.

    “What are your thoughts on finding fulfillment in this separated life?”

    First, you and I probably have differing views on what we are, as conscious perceivers. So let me get to that first …

    I’m of the view that we’re much greater than we think we are, but we’re living in an amnesic state from the full awareness of ourselves. This can be illustrated in a small way by studying the unconscious mind. The unconscious mind regulates much about our bodies, breathing, blinking, etc. It’s possible to know absolutely nothing about the brain and nerves, and yet still we can move our limbs. It’s as if the conscious you instructs the unconscious you, and the vastly more knowledgeable and powerful unconscious you takes care of the physical processes. Consider, say, recovering from paralysis after a hemispherectomy (I go into this example in detail in my 10-minute telekinesis guide). Suffice it to say, the brain somehow finds a way to re-shape its own physical connections to reconnect with your disconnected limbs. Amazing!

    So, my question is, what exactly is the unconscious mind and just how powerful is it? I don’t see it as a layer underneath the conscious mind but as a massively powerful being which is the real you beyond the ego. We exist in a five-sensory amnesic state from understanding our magnitude. The key things to remember are that there is more to you than the conscious you, and you are living in amnesia from full awareness. Now, let me take a leap, because I could spend a whole essay explaining why I think the way I do.

    There is only one consciousness. That’s what I sense intuitively, and I’ve come across many rational clues that point to this is it.

    Think of it this way. Imagine there is a single consciousness existing in an eternal no-time state (God, right? But that would be your term. I personally don’t want to put a religious archetype on it.)

    The time-state that we are in is an aspect of this eternal state, lesser than it. To us, no-time sounds like a single moment, but it’s actually something beyond our comprehension. All we can understand is one thing following another; effect following cause.

    Anyway, this time-state appears to be an experiment into something called “experience.” If you are “God” and you want to have an experience, you have to make yourself forget the totality of what you are. How can you have free will if you know exactly what you’re going to say before you say it, eh? How can someone who knows everything experience anything new? So, we are living in amnesia. Behind the scenes, we are all essentially a single consciousness talking to itself.

    Now … to your question of where fulfillment lies. For me the fulfillment lies in living in the awareness of the totality of what I am, not the awareness of the “little me” version.

    Now, the first thought a Christian might have to this is, “Good grief, Sloan thinks he’s God! He’s really gone off the deep end.”

    Here’s some food for thought. Aligning oneself with “little me”, with a sense of separateness, makes it dead easy to dismiss, belittle or hate people. Because they’re not me; they’re someone else. We’re called to love others, but ultimately we can always think, “Whew! I’m glad that happened to someone else, not to me.” Aligning oneself with “I am everything” means that when someone else hurts, you hurt. The ego called “Darryl Sloan” doesn’t feel it, but the real me, the one consciousness that I recognise as me, knows it’s happening to me. Now, this vastly changes how you treat other people! Far from giving you a “God complex,” it reduces the ego to a peanut.

    Think of it like two people dying simultaneously, one of whom spent his whole life abusing the other. Suddenly the abuser realises that he is a single person with two sets of memories and two personalities: abuser and abused.

    One of the most important things you can probe is the difference between the conscious and subconscious, the mind/ego and the soul – whatever terms you prefer. So many people have this sense of awareness that it is their personality that goes to heaven. But personality is a purely physical construct, dictated by biochemical factors. Give a kid a can of Red Bull and watch his personality change.

    We need to align our sense of awareness with something beyond personality if we want to understand ourselves.

    Phew, that got a little big. 🙂

  5. Doesn’t this realisation ruin the “experience” though? If you’re “god,” or we’re all “god,” then surely the point of this experience is to live within free will, as the beings we perceive, and not spoil everything by realising that we are in fact god.

    Does that make you a cheater, Darryl? Have you typed in the cheat code and spoiled the game for yourself? 😛

    I partially agree with you about the personality thing. I’ve been thinking about this a lot recently, from a different angle and with no real agenda. And i have to say i’ve come to the realisation that people have such similar experiences, reactions, feelings, etc. With external experience being the only real difference. It’s a bit more than that, but i won’t type it up here. I haven’t really thought it through yet anyway, so i’ll get thinking on and it try and get some structure to it.

  6. Grace says:

    Well then, from one peanut to another… 🙂

    Contrary to popular opinion, a Christian does not have to have a problem with anything you’ve said here. Translated into church-speak, as it were, what you have said is no different than God creating people in his own image because he wants the experience of relationship.

    Back in my “holy roller” days I used to go after supernatural experiences like mad. Some interesting things happened, yes, but afterwards I was never sure, because they were just as easy to explain away. I suppose that is the nature of humanity, to seek after that part of ourselves which is missing, which is separate.

    To a certain extent this cannot be accomplished during this phase of our existence, because existence means separation from the whole. I am starting to see that this is not a curse of perpetual non-fulfillment, but a blessing of experiential learning. If we were fully connected with the whole, there would be no fulfillment at all – at least not of the sort we get here every day when we learn something or accomplish something new.

    God – or the Whole, if you prefer – knows everything there is to know and experience. Therefore, the exhilaration of discovery can only be ours in a separated state. The purpose of this must be to enrich the whole when we return to it.

    Sounds a bit like the Borg Collective, actually. No one wants to be assimilated, because that life is without personality and emotion. For the same reason, we do not want to die.

    I don’t agree that personality is only physical and chemical. Surely the Whole, in its unending knowledge, was deliberate in fashioning each individual’s reality for a piece of itself to be separate inside. Personality and experience are the true value of this existence and central to the purpose of separation in the first place, so I would not dismiss it as merely biochemical. Yes, it is constructed with biochemical building blocks, but there’s more to it than that. Perhaps it’s just wishful thinking, but I would like to hope that some vestige of individuality will remain, to prevent the Whole from a Borg-like flatness. Indeed, I am confident that this whole exercise in separation exists for that purpose.

    So our satisfaction in this separate state is not found in supernatural experience, though we’ll always have the hankering to go beyond this world. I think fulfillment is to be found in making the most of every experience on this side of the gap – a truth which many, many people of varying worldviews have discovered, irrespective of their reasoning behind it. Sort of like that Voice in my novel, when it says, “Do not wish for anything I do not give you.”

    All of this is a great motivation to live in the present, live life to the full, and make the most of every experience, and to treat others as ourselves.

    This leaves the problem of suffering. Again, no conflict with Christianity: suffering is caused by human mistakes, errors made while in this state of separation, while most people have no idea they are in this state. We suffer from our own mistakes, we learn from them. This, too, is a gift. Sometimes we suffer for the mistakes of others, and this is tragic, but I believe it will all make sense in the end when we rejoin the whole and pool the combined experience. So we cannot blame God or the Whole for suffering, because it has only come about through the separation that makes all experience possible.

    So I’ll enjoy this autumn sunshine, go for a walk in my forest (see my blog for details!) and pursue the accomplishment of my goals, because that’s what I’m here to do. Satisfaction and fulfillment can exist merely in knowing that I’m part of the whole, I see that now.

  7. Grace says:

    Here’s the link to my post about the forest. This is what fulfillment is all about.
    Go Bush

  8. Darryl Sloan says:

    Paul,

    “Does that make you a cheater, Darryl? Have you typed in the cheat code and spoiled the game for yourself?”

    Cheat code. I like that. 🙂

    I’ve thought about the question, are we supposed to know this information, or is it supposed to be hidden so that we experience the disconnection.

    I think, either way, we experience the disconnection. You can either experience it in the (I would say) false knowledge that you’re just a body in brain and death is the end, or you can experience it in a more accurate awareness of what lies behind this life, and this experience a more fulfilling “game.”

    It’s also possible that the state of awareness we’re experiencing at the moment is anything but normal, that we’re presently living in a highly manipulated climate. There are certainly a couple of major “thinking traps” in my life that I’ve become aware of:

    1. Rigid belief/dogma. Dictated, programmed “truth” that you’re encouraged to think is true by virtue of herd mentality, and you’re supposed to be scared to think outside the box for fear of demnation (in the case of religion).

    2. Reductionist materialism. The mentality of never allowing yourself to join the dots without absolute unshakeable evidence. And because the whole picture rarely, if ever, gets revealed in evidential terms, we end up choosing the belief in nothing – even though we’re confident that something is true, and even have a sense of what seems to be true.

    It was the removal of these that led directly to me embracing this “one consciousness” understanding.

    The more I think about personality, the more I feel it is just a physical construct that will die when we die. It is something that changes by chemical means, be that puberty, alcohol, energy drinks, whatever. People with brain damage have damaged personalities. This personality is the only way we have of relating to them, and yet they can’t be brain damaged in the afterlife surely. People with Dissociative Identity Disorder have more than one personality, so which one gets to go to heaven?

    My ego is a construct that I (self-awareness) use to experience the physical world. When I die, I expect it dies. This is only fearful if you associate your self identity with your ego/personality. I don’t. I’m Infinite Consciousness, everything that has, is, and ever will be. Death is just a massive expansion of consciousness.

    Best quote I ever heard on this: You’re not a human being having a spiritual experience. You’re a spiritual being having a human experience.

  9. Couldn’t it also be possible though, that what you’re now believing is just another layer of misinformation?

    If we’re in this game, or experience, and supposed to be buying it as the real deal to get the true meaning or experience out of it, then surely the programmer (even if that programmer is ourselves), will have pre-empted our intelligence and ability to think and solve puzzles. So wouldn’t it be likely that they’d leave false clues to put us off the real scent?

    So the real truth could be we’re a bunch of little grey aliens, sat in a gamer room, playing this game for fun, but that one of the tricks in the game is that you find a few misleading clues and they make you think we’re all one consciousness.

    If this is a game, then everything we see, everything we hear, everything we are, is all made up and based on nothing more than mathematical equations.

    That’s why i’m interested to know why you rule out certain things but not others. In a game, anything can be so. It’s like being in a dream. In a dream, if you start flying through walls and the like, you realise you’re dreaming, but it doesn’t tell you anything about your waking self. When you wake up you’re just a normal human being, with no super powers. So isn’t it likely that although this reality might not be as real as we think, we still aren’t anything special, outside of the experience? We don’t need to be one big single consciousness, or super beings, or super egos. We could still just be normal human beings, living in a virtual machine, because our real world was destroyed, or was no longer inhabitable.

  10. Darryl Sloan says:

    Hi, Grace.

    You’re not the first to suggest a strong compatibility between what I believe and Christian ideas. I can see what you say, too. Odd how there are some Christians who won’t speak to me any more.

    Well, maybe not so odd. There is a huge aspect to Christianity (and all religion) that I can’t accept: the imposition of dogma, the encouragement to “just believe” instead of to think. Especially the imposition of ideas like “You’re a sinner” and “You need to be saved from hell.”

    Okay, I’m in danger of going off on a tangent. What I have is essentially spirituality without religion, where the whole picture it worked out by intuition and rationality.

    “If we were fully connected with the whole, there would be no fulfillment at all – at least not of the sort we get here every day when we learn something or accomplish something new.”

    I imagine the Whole (great word) is perfectly fulfilled. The testimony of near-death experiencers strikes me as a good area of study. They talk about a massive expansion of consciousness and feelings of complete bliss (not Borgness). Then, when back in the body, they can only remember a fragment of what it felt like. It’s like a peek in the nature of the Whole.

    “Sounds a bit like the Borg Collective, actually. No one wants to be assimilated, because that life is without personality and emotion. For the same reason, we do not want to die.”

    It’s hard to penetrate what that eternal connected state of wholeness is like, but I don’t see it in those terms. I’ve started to identify myself with that oneness, rather than with my ego/personality.

    When someone does something against me, my ego wants to retaliate. But when I pause to consider the real nature of things, I think, “He is you. Remember that in how you choose to react.”

    “Personality and experience are the true value of this existence and central to the purpose of separation in the first place, so I would not dismiss it as merely biochemical.”

    If you die and I die simulateously and we suddenly discover we are one person underneath, which personality gets to dominate that single self-awareness? You’re identifying personality with self. Self is far more than just a single personality. Personality and emotion are just mechanisms for interaction with other aspects of ourself (other people).

    In practice, it’s difficult to disassociate your sense of self-awareness from your brain/ego/personality. Identifying who you are with your personality just another of life’s misdirections, like the flat-earth misdirection, the sold universe misdirection, etc.

    Even spiritual teachers who talk at length about reincarnation are locked into the wrong awareness, prolonging the ego from life to life, never quite grasping that all is ONE. It doesn’t matter if I’m the reincarnation of some Cherokee indian from across the ocean. I’m the reincarnation of everybody. I am everyone who has ever lived, is living, and ever will live, across the entire universe – because there is only one Infinite Consciousness. And that is what you are, too.

    I realise it’s a big leap. But when you get right down to it, that’s what I think consciousness is. That’s the extent of how much amnesia we’re living with down here in these bodies. Now, if the picture I’m painting is true, doesn’t that cast a slightly different light on our attachment to our individual personalities?

    “Perhaps it’s just wishful thinking, but I would like to hope that some vestige of individuality will remain, to prevent the Whole from a Borg-like flatness.”

    Well, I would say there is nothing to fear in the dissolution of your personality. In a sense, the fact that you are a different person now than you were when you were, say 8, means that you are a different personality. Our personalities are constantly evolving as we experience life. Little exists now of the 8-year-old you except the memory of it. And that memory will always be. So, it’s impractical to be too attached to the personality that you are presently, because it will be different when you are 50. And it will be very different when you are Whole. But I doubt it will be borg-like. It will, after all, contain the memory of all of creation’s experience over all time.

    One of the big problems that my friend Chris had when I started to change last summer was that he wanted the old Darryl back. He watched some of the videos I was making and said he didn’t recognise me. That’s attachment to personality. He also has changed massively in the past few years from the guy I’ve known most of my life (since he became a Catholic) – I would say in a much more radical way than I have changed, but in a totally different direction.

    “Satisfaction and fulfillment can exist merely in knowing that I’m part of the whole, I see that now.”

    Well put. That’s it, exactly.

  11. Darryl Sloan says:

    Paul,

    “Couldn’t it also be possible though, that what you’re now believing is just another layer of misinformation? … So the real truth could be we’re a bunch of little grey aliens, sat in a gamer room, playing this game for fun, but that one of the tricks in the game is that you find a few misleading clues and they make you think we’re all one consciousness.”

    The most interesting stuff for me in The Matrix movie is everything up until Neo takes the red pill … and his consciousness wakes up as – oh, another human being, how disappointing. 🙂

    Rationally, I can’t fault your reasoning here. But you’ve always debated with me from a standpoint of 100% rationality, zero intuition. And that’s where you and I differ in a big way in how we think.

    You’ll say I can’t prove it’s not this, that, or the other. And that’s true. But you’re bound to know by now that it’s not evidence alone that guides me.

    At the very least, it’s provable that we have an intuitive connection to something, whether that something is merely the subconscious mind or an all-encompassing consciousness. I blogged about the personal intuition of waking up before my alarm and having a powerful sense of knowing that it was precisely 7.15am (or whatever time it was). I can’t explain why I feel so strongly about the one consciousness view except by intuition.

    I do, by the way, very much appreciate being challenged by you on these things, because it makes me challenge myself and my views.

  12. Grace says:

    It strikes me as being similar to the dilemma of heaven that always bugged me. Supposedly when we get there we will know everything. As with joining the Whole. For both theories the question is the same: where’s the challenge in that? Where’s the life, the discovery?

    Whether we call it “going to heaven” or “joining the whole”, it makes no difference. Knowing everything is not something I can imagine being interesting in the least. I have often thought to myself how cool it would be to know the answers to all life’s mysteries; invariably followed by the sad realisation that when I finally do, it will not matter any more because there will be no challenges in the afterlife where such knowledge would be helpful.

    There would be no more “doing” because we’d know every outcome already, and doing nothing sounds incredibly boring – whether it’s imagined as sitting around on clouds (eating carrot cake of course! Well, that was my first hope as a child!) or as existing to contemplate the entirety of knowledge. How dull; hehe, but that’s probably just the limitation of my physical brain at present.

    Guess I’m hoping like mad that it will be fulfilling in some way I can’t currently perceive. That there is some type of challenge awaiting us on the other side. To me, life IS challenge, and fulfillment is success. I fail to comprehend how there can be any happiness without challenge.

    But what you say is true: I will always have my history, whatever I become, and this will indeed retain the traits of personality, for the whole to share. Good thought.

  13. Darryl Sloan says:

    Grace,

    I read your whole comment with a cheeky smile, because it hasn’t struck you what you’re actually saying: 🙂 “It must be boring to be God.”

    We’ve been talking about this in the context of our collective consciousness being the Whole. But as a Christian you believe in a being who is all the things you’ve been mentioning. God is absolutely incapable of being challenged or surprised by anything, or of learning anything new, by virtue of his eternal nature and omniscience. Surely you don’t think God is unfulfilled. 🙂

    So, by implication, there is nothing to fear by being absorbed back into the Whole. I’m sure it’s a very different experience from being stuck in this hologram with this amnesia, but I think it’s likely to be utterly amazing. Think of the testimony of near-death experiencers, and how the experience commonly changes their lives. I’m dying to read a good book on that topic. That’s as close as we can get to feeling our true nature without actually dying.

  14. Darryl Sloan says:

    Just an afterthought. It strikes me that maybe your reaction is what it is becuase you associate fulfillment with confronting challenges.

    I too find fulfillment in challenges. We’ve both had the experience of writing and publishing our own novels. There’s great satisfaction in that. But it’s just one aspect of fulfillment.

    There is something quite marvellous in taking time out to just let go of time – whether that be just sitting by a lake and relaxing, or entering a meditative state. Learning just to just BE. The peace of such moments is, I think, a foretaste of that timeless state of being that the Whole experiences. I need do that more often. Instead, I usually spend most of my time craving constant stimulation of one kind or another.

  15. Grace says:

    Very well put indeed. You’re right – peace is fulfilling, and more so when there’s no to-do list hanging over your head. And I’m sure the Whole has no to-do lists!

    I suppose it would be boring to be God, if not for the challenges posed by creating the world and its inhabitants. God’s challenge is to coax us to recognise himself, i.e. the Whole, and live accordingly. Certainly not an easy task. I reckon he must like challenges too, since the setup is a deliberate, ongoing act.

  16. I’m not quite sure how God could ever be challenged. If he does exist, and his aim is to get us to recognise him, then even when he does something to try and change that, or improve our chances, such as sending in Jesus, the second he decides to do that, he already knows the exact outcome. He knows the the name of every single person who shall enter heaven.

    In fact, he would always have known he was going to send Jesus in the first place. If indeed he is all knowing, and the alpha and omega.

    It’s like when there used to be less TV channels, and the football would be played in the afternoon, then shown later that night. And everyone would avoid the news, so they didn’t find out the score and ruin it. If you accidentally saw the result, it ruined the match. You might still watch the match, but it just wasn’t the same. God knows all the results, he knows every single permeation (is that the right word/spelling?), of every single way he could change things.

  17. Dean says:

    Just a couple thoughts…

    You might want to reword your statement “the universe is made of mathematics”. Mathematics itself is just a system the human mind created in order to understand how the universe works. To say mathematics is real is the same as saying “what I see is real”. In other words “the universe is made of the system people created in order to understand the universe”. The system(s) that mathematics is based on is what really matters. The reason video games resemble “reality” so well is because they are controlled by mathematics, which in turn is based on our understandings of reality. What I really believe you’re trying to say is that “the universe is made of…” that system we modeled mathematics after. I don’t know what word would accurately describe that idea, but I have no doubt you know what I’m getting at. But then it sounds rather pointless to say “the universe is made of the force(s) that control it.” Logically, there has to be some kind of system to give the universe order or nothing would be able to exist in it, but when you use the term mathematics it sounds like you’re talking about a literal computer matrix.

    As far as the whole theory goes that we are in a video game being controlled by a higher power (and similar theories)… What I don’t like about these theories is that they’re basically cop-outs. If you were to believe this, then you now have an entirely new puzzle of what that higher universe is like. Most people who like to blurt out such a theory just end it there, when all it does is create more questions than you had to begin with. It’s like how scientists try to understand how life is created, and then someone comes along and says “it came from another planet”. Well that could explain how life got on OUR planet, but it really does nothing whatsoever to answer the question.

    I had something else but I lost it while I was typing :p

  18. Darryl Sloan says:

    “What I really believe you’re trying to say is that “the universe is made of…” that system we modeled mathematics after.”

    Yes, that’s it. But saying it as “The universe is math” is a bit catchier. 🙂

    “What I don’t like about these theories is that they’re basically cop-outs.

    On the contrary … All of us receive our experience of the universe as information, nothing more, nothing less. This information passes through physical senses before it reaches our consciousness, therefore all the data is second-hand, including the body doing the sensing.

    To claim that the universe is three-dimensionally solid is to claim that physics represents a sort of baseline reality to which everything else is lesser. That claim simply cannot be substantiated objectively, and relies entirely on the subjective trusting of perceptions.

    What I’m saying when I refer to the universe as math, or as a hologram, is: don’t make the assumption. Treat the universe for what you know it to be: information.

  19. Dean says:

    What I meant by cop-out was more specific towards the matrix theories. If we were a literal computer matrix rather than the broader term you are using. If we actually ARE a game somebody is playing, it would make sense to assume they modeled our universe after theirs just as we model our games after our universe. And so, to try to understand their universe is the same as trying to understand our own. And that makes the whole line of thought pointless. We should just try to understand OUR universe and not try to pawn it off elsewhere.

    To say our universe is like a matrix of data is different than saying our universe is a construct of a higher universe. I wasn’t criticizing anything you were saying.

  20. Dean says:

    Ah, now I remember what it was I was going to say :p

    Since math is based on our perceptions of the universe, mathematics itself is no more reliable than our perceptions. We see one apple and add another apple… we have two apples. 1 + 1 = 2. Math itself is perception – so to say the universe is math almost sounds like you’re contradicting yourself (depending on what sense you’re using the term “mathematics”). That is why I thought you might want to be more clear on that point.

  21. I have to agree with you Dean. Everything we have any comprehension of is based on perception. This is why I don’t buy the old Descarte line: “I think therefore I am.”

    If you take everything back to the very base, then nothing is reliable at all. If you’re going to rule out the trees, or the sky, or touch, or sounds, then you can’t just accept that we are conscious beings either; because consciousness is a perception too.

    We might just be programmed to think the way we do, by whoever controls the game, etc. If {
    (a>b && c==5) (do $fear)
    };

    The only reason we put more meaning on that, is because it’s what we’re taught. The precious value of life, of thinking, of understanding, etc.

    It would be possible one day for us to create a robot that thinks it is alive, because we programme it that way. We could be that very robot, created by some other being(s).

    Personally though, I think what we live in is reasonably real. It’s just too complicated to think otherwise. There’s too many stretches needed to make it work. And less stretches to believe that things are just the way they are.

    Occam’s Razor for the win. 😀

  22. Darryl Sloan says:

    “If you’re going to rule out the trees, or the sky, or touch, or sounds, then you can’t just accept that we are conscious beings either; because consciousness is a perception too.”

    I think this statement perhaps reveals the cornerstone of why we’re not on the same page. We’re applying different meaning to our terms.

    When I say perception, I’m referring to something that enters conscious awareness via the five senses. Consciousness is the perceiver, not the perception. Okay, I could say, “I perceive that I am conscious,” but understand that that awareness does not come from outside, via senses that carry data. You are acknowledging awareness of the centre of yourself.

    Your contention is that there is no perceiver. We’re just like a computer. Computers do think, and I agree it’s a valid parallel with the human mind, but computers do not have a sense of self-awareness. Awareness and thinking are not the same thing. This is key.

    Reducing myself to the level of a computer just does not do justice to my sense of myself.

  23. But computers could well be programmed to think they are aware. If a computer is programmed to detect motion, it is aware of that motion, so to speak. In 100 years time, computers could well be a lot more advanced, with chips that are capable of things closer resembling our own brains, and when that’s possible, they could be programmed to think they are conscious.

    Remember your idea of being aware, is only the way you see things.

    You yourself say people are programmed. By religion, upbringing, etc. It’s only one more step to then think that everything we do is programmed, even the little things, and our very thought processes themselves.

    If we programmed a computer, to be aware of everything around it, and react accordingly, would it actually know if it’s really aware, or just doing what it’s told?

    We could even be programmed to think things like “why am I here?” It’s no different to seeing something move and knowing to sound an alarm. It’s just a designed response.

    So rather than: “I think, therefore I am”, it could be “I think I am, because that’s what I’ve been programmed to think.”

    I don’t personally believe that, but I can’t rule it out. If I was going to mistrust everything I perceive, and treat it as data, rather than reality, then I’d have to treat my very thoughts and imaginations the same way, they’re not beyond reproach either.

  24. Darryl Sloan says:

    I don’t buy the idea that a human-created facsimile of self-awareness is the same as what we know as self-awareness.

    I suspect what leads you to your view is maybe your own continual need for physical evidence for literally everything. I think it’s this kind of attitude that disconnects you from placing validity on any kind of intuitive sense of things.

  25. Dean says:

    I think either one could be true, but I choose to believe I have a consciousness. One line of thought you could consider is this:

    If you remove your brain and put it in another person’s body, it is assumed you would wake as you, but in their body. So the consciousness is either created by the brain, or is only bound to the brain. But what if you could perfectly replicate yourself (like for example with a replicator from star trek). If there were two of you that were identical down to the exact molecule, which one would you be? WHY? And what if they made two copies of you and destroyed the original? Would you be dead? What is the science behind determining which one YOU would wake up as? The common sense response is that if your consciousness stays with your brain, you are either the lifeless matter that makes up your brain, or you are the constant electrochemical signals being transmitted between the neurons of your brain… but if your entire consciousness is nothing more than a well orchestrated flow of electrons, why do you even wake up as “yourself” from one day to the next, and not just another conscious version of you? I know this is all just wild conjecture – its just something to think about. But its things like this that lead me to believe I have my own existence apart from my body. (at least I HOPE so) .

    But as far as the discussion on reality, there is only one looming point you haven’t yet discussed. If our only sign of the world around us was our perceptions, it could easily be argued that we only PERCEIVE it is there. But matter reacts to itself as well. There are always objects colliding and chemical reactions happening whether we perceive them or not. We can not move through it and our bodies themselves are made up of it. That is the biggest reason we know it is there in some way, shape, or form. What I agree with you about is we really have no idea in what MANNER it exists or how it is organized at all. Are they really solid objects or is all this space around us just the illusion that makes the most sense to us? It exists, but we have no idea what is its true nature.

  26. I would go one further than that Dean, how about the fact that maybe we don’t wake up morning after morning as US. We’d only have to wake up ONE morning — this morning — with the memory of all the other mornings, to believe it is real.

    If you think about it, our only understanding of anything around us, and indeed our own self, is our memories. NOW only lasts for a split second, and then becomes the past. So at any point in time, we could be placed within this “reality” and a pre-programmed memory could kick into gear and give us our understanding of everything around us.

    As to consciousness: I’m really not sure what would happen if you were perfectly cloned. It’s a great question though, and one I’ve asked myself many times. The idea of living forever, through constant cloning, but I keep coming back to the problem that it might not actually be me, just another me. And I wouldn’t get to experience it.

    Darryl: I do have beliefs that aren’t based on facts. Everyone does, because some things can’t be proven and they’re just what we believe. I think the difference I have is, my experiences have led me to believe different things to you. And I can’t just accept someone else’s truth, with no evidence at all, to convince myself to change my beliefs.

    You say things like: “Reducing myself to the level of a computer just does not do justice to my sense of myself.” And that’s fine.

    But when I say that I don’t agree with some of the things you claim, because I don’t see how they can be true, or that there’s no evidence for such things, you say it’s because I’m closed off, and not willing to open my mind to things that aren’t backed up by empirical evidence.

    Call it what you want, faith, intuition, experience, but whatever it is, that’s what I’m using to formulate my own beliefs and theories on the world around me. Just as you’re using yours to do the same thing. Mine have led me to different answers to yours.

    The difference is, I’ll regularly say we’re probably both wrong. You on the other hand are pretty sure you’re right. Just like the Christians who are 100% sure they are right about God, Jesus and the like, and Atheists are 100% sure God does not exist, and Muslims believe 100% that Mohammad was the true prohpet, etc.

    We can’t all be right. I can’t rule out the truth of Christianity, I have no way of disproving it, beyond how I feel about it, based on my experiences and understanding. I can’t rule out any belief really, just as I can’t trust in it, without something to convince me, either.

    There’s absolutely no way I could sit here and tell you that you’re wrong about what you believe in. Because I just don’t know. But for me, based on my intuition, I just don’t see a case for single consciousness, or even a case for the world around us not being real.

    As I’ve said many times on here: It’s much more real to me, that the world we live in is what it appears, but as part of that there’s some things that are a bit odd and weird. We don’t need to change the grand picture to make everything fit — because even when we do that, it still won’t fit — we just need to realise that there are little things that are odd and weird and understand them as just that.

  27. Dean says:

    I actually managed to leave out what was probably the most important point in my whole brain thing. You can remove and replace just about any body part and still be yourself, but what if you threw out your brain and replaced it with an exact copy? At first it would seem that you would just continue on as if nothing had happened, but how is that any different than making an entire copy of yourself and destroying the original? Would you actually be dead, and there would be a copy of you inhabiting your body?

    If you are the result of your memories and thought processes, then it would make sense that your consciousness could be moved into a computer if it was advanced enough. From there, you could easily make exact copies of yourself. At that point you’d have to stop an ask yourself, WHAT the F*** AM I?

    I’ve thought about it from all different angles, and in the end, the conclusion that makes the most sense to me is that I have some kind of identity apart from physical matter and information.

  28. Dean says:

    Actually, I have a better way of explaining. This is based on assumptions that would seem like common sense to anyone. You simply follow the path of logic to a conclusion:

    1. If you were to put your brain in someone else’s body, you are now in control of their body. Your consciousness follows your brain.

    2. If you destroy your brain, you are dead. If you make an exact copy of yourself and then destroy yourself, you are dead and your copy lives on.

    3. According to the conclusions of the first two statements, if you make an exact copy of your brain, destroy YOUR brain, and insert the copy, you are still dead. The “swapping of identical parts” idea analogous to replacing parts in a car would not insure the continuation of your consciousness. A copy of you now inhabits your body.

    4. This means you are either your brain matter, the actual brain activity (electric signals), or both.

    5. If you were to copy your exact brain activity into a computer matrix that could mimic your brain and memories EXACTLY, your consciousness still does not pass to the computer. It remains in your brain.

    6. Your consciousness always is with your brain. You are your brain matter and the activity that is produced by it.

    7. Your brain matter is a collection of living single-celled organisms passing signals to each other.

    8. Conclusion: “You” are not alive. You are a colony of smaller organisms and the information that passes between them. Your existence is an illusion.

    So, either you accept that conclusion or you choose to believe there is more to the puzzle. I choose to believe that there is some unknown factor that gives me my own identity and consciousness. I have no idea what it could be, but in general I don’t think we know enough about the universe to be able to rule it out.

  29. Dean says:

    I’m not trying to take over your page here, but I have something else to add.

    I studied math and computer science through high school and college. I enjoy programming computer games at home – for free. So I am quite familiar with the concepts of the 3d worlds you talk about here and how you compare it to our reality. That is not to brag. I just tell you this to so you can better understand my personal perspective on things.

    Your ideas and comparisons of a computer matrix to reality are not off base, but you present it from the average person’s understanding. Whether this is the extent of YOUR understanding or if you are doing this for the benefit of the average person, I don’t know. To someone with my view on the subject it is quite rudimentary. This is not a criticism – basically what I’m saying is that your explanations are much less profound than what you COULD have used if you had provided more insight on the subject. I’ll give you an example of what I’m talking about.

    We consider the images on the screen to be nothing more than images. We think the cars and buildings and people in the game are not real. However, they ARE quite real. It is just the format that is different. What I mean is that the data that their universe derives from has actual physical form on the hard drive. The media on the hard drives is tangible and material. It is the computer’s hardware that reads this information much in the same way our senses read the information around us. The computer processes what it sees in its “head”, and we do the same. So the computer perceives the data from its universe (the hard drive), and then communicates what it sees to us via the monitor and speakers. What we see on the screen and hear on the speakers is a representation of the universe the computer is experiencing in it’s “head”. You could even compare the user’s input to subconscious thought.

    So it is basically the same concept that you presented, but if you explain it in more detail it becomes even more profound than before.

    The computer reads (perceives) the physical information on the hard drive and the input from its peripherals just as we perceive physical information with our senses. The computer then communicates to us what is going on in its universe. By this analogy, everything around us is just a product of our perception, but it still has a very “real” source that our senses must perceive. The question is what is the true nature of this reality?

  30. I pretty much agree with you Dean. There was a show on TV a while back, about a woman who had no brain, yet she was of above-average intelligence, and was capable of all the usual thought processes.

    The neural pathways just formed themselves elsewhere. In her skull, etc. There was no discernible brain, but she still had the pathways.

    Like you, I fail to see how putting our brain in another body would result in us waking up as ourselves in another body. And likewise if our memories and information was saved into a computer.

    In the world of the paranormal though, it should be noted, there are many documented cases of people who have taken organ transplants, and have taken on some of the tastes and likes of the person the organ used to belong to. Without actually knowing who the person was, and only finding out at a later date.

    I’m not sure how much weight to add to that, but it’s certainly something worth considering.

    It’s also worth noting that when someone suffers a stroke, or has a brain tumour, or suffers brain damage, their consciousness does change. Their ability to think is affected by such a physical change. If we were merely a consciousness living within a physical suit, getting hit in the head by a boulder and suffering brain damage, wouldn’t affect our conscious thoughts, only our ability to transfer them into physical movement, or perceive the world around us, etc.

    So there does certainly seem to be a strong link between the conscious and physical. They can affect each other, in a very real sense.

    The same is true upon taking certain drugs. It isn’t just the colours and shapes that become odd, on LSD, it’s the thinking processes themselves that are affected. So those drugs are having an effect on our actual consciousness, not just our vision, hearing, touch, etc.

    In my opinion it always comes back to the question of: “What is consciousness?” And in my opinion, although many people have different ideas on the answer, none of them stand up under scrutiny. Not a single one. So I’m left still asking the question and looking for an answer that stands up. And enjoying the ride. It’s a very interesting topic with many possibilities.

  31. Darryl Sloan says:

    Thanks for your insights, Dean. I think we’re pretty much on the same page, but expressing the truth in different terms.

    When I might say something like, “The physical universe is an illusion,” what I do not mean is that it does not exist in some form, what I’m saying is that hard, concrete physical reality is not the fundamental reality. This is why I’ve grown to like the term “the universe is information”.

    The common belief is that physics is the fundamental reality, and the smallest building block of reality is the atom. But when you understand that physical perception is a only a layer on top of a deeper truth about the nature of reality, you’re whole outlook changes.

    Betelgeuse is not 600 light years from earth. It is only 600 light years from earth, in terms of physics. So many people are enrtenched in the understanding that physics is it and there is nothing deeper.

    As for your reflections on the brain and consciousness, my understanding is that consciousness and mind are not the same thing. It is true that if you could transfer my brain into someone elses head, they would possess my personality. But consciousness is not personality.

    I intuitively believe that there is only one consciousness. The self-awareness that is inside me is the same self-awareness inside you. Beyond our brains is an eternal all knowing single consciousness, which is me (and you). The body/brain machine acts as a limiter on that consciousness, allowing me/us to experience a state of disconnection from our full infinite awareness.

    In that understanding, it wouldn’t matter if we traded brains. I am you and you are me. There is only one. The same consciousness peers out of both of us; it merely has a different set of memories and experiences. Ultimately, individuality is just a smokescreen created by being in a body.

    I stress that all of this is intuitive. There is not, and cannot, be physical evidence for this, because we’re theorising way beyond the reach of physics. Intuition is an extremely important topic. It’s very clear to me that there is an inner and an outer reality, which work on very different principles, and that’s why I put credence in intuition.

  32. Darryl Sloan says:

    “It’s also worth noting that when someone suffers a stroke, or has a brain tumour, or suffers brain damage, their consciousness does change. Their ability to think is affected by such a physical change.”

    I think what you’ve brought up is extremely important to note. If you define consciousness and mind as the same thing, then clearly consciousness is purely physical. It’s game over for my stance.

    But I don’t think consciousness is mind. Consciousness (as in self-awareness) uses mind to interface with the physical universe. I go into this stuff in a big way in an old post entitled “What is consciousness?”

  33. But consciousness is thought. It’s your ability to think “I am”, in your opinion, that makes you conscious. So if you can no longer think, you no longer are consciousness. So if you take drugs, or get brain damage, and lose that ability, how does that work?

    I realise what you’ve said about it, and I agree with most of your opinions as to what consciousness is, for example I don’t think it’s linked to the physical brain, but I don’t see how you can separate thought and consciousness.

    If a computer is set up with webcams to note motion at a security gate, and when it spots motion its goal is to sound an alarm, it can be argued it’s aware of its environment.

    If there’s a glitch at some point though, and the computer no longer recognises movement, so doesn’t sound the alarms, there’s a breakdown in its awareness.

  34. Darryl Sloan says:

    Your definition of consciousness seems to be a computerlike reflection of one’s existence.

    Let’s think of computers and how they think. You could program a robot to perceive its environment, and even to perceive its physical presence as an element of that environment. But there is no centre, no self, no awareness of actual being. It’s a facsimile, a sham, a pretense of awareness.

    I just can’t reduce my self-awareness to that. It doesn’t ring true that I am a pretense of consciousness.

    The perceiving computer is just a feedback loop with nothing truly conscious in the middle. This non-conscious thing is programmed to receive data from outside itself. The program notices itself as part of that environment, and continues perceiving, but it’s still a non-conscious “thing” perceiving itself. Is that really what you think are?

    Artificial intelligence is always going to be artificial intelligence. You seem to be trying to reduce the human being to that. But I just don’t think it fits.

    The reason for the denial of the consciousness/soul is the “big universe, little me” paradigm that comes from believing that physics is the fundamental baseline reality. When I was an agnostic/atheist, I certainly didn’t believe I had a soul.

  35. Dean says:

    I see how it is possible that I could be nothing more than my brain. If you think back through the whole history of evolution….

    First, two single celled organisms get together and work as a team for survival, creating a new organism. These two cells communicate to each other what their different roles are for survival. More cells join in and they become more specialized. Eventually you have many different groups of cells working together as one organism, and they at some point evolve one central “thinking” group of cells because it is more efficient to have a command group giving orders than all different groups communicating to each other in a chaotic sort of way. As this command group becomes more complex, it begins to be able to think and reason and have what we call feelings. Obviously this is what we call the brain. Even in your one lifetime, your brain rewires itself to become more efficient to your personal way of life. When you spend a lot of time in deep thought, your neural pathways organize themselves in a way that is more efficient for complex thought. You can now contemplate things clearly that you couldn’t even understand a few years ago. I see how this is completely possible, but there is one hangup that casts some doubt on it for me.

    If your consciousness is nothing but these complex electric signals, then it is entirely possible for a computer to one day do the same thing. They aren’t complex enough right now to do it. The biggest difference is that we learn on our own, while computers are only programs that do what we design them to do. Eventually we will design the programs to be able to access their own programming – to program themselves. Once that happens, they are on the way to “consciousness” and all the thoughts and feelings that we have. Here is the problem: If YOU were a computer consciousness, you would wake up (boot up?) one day to the next having memories and feelings from you past, believing that you exist as a consciousness. Exactly the same as you are now. But what if somebody were to copy your program (ctrl-c), delete it, and repaste two of them in its place. Which one would YOU wake up as? Would you wake up at all? This dilemma (among others) leads me to believe that there is some kind of identity attached to us that makes us more than what our brain is.

    I think of our “mind” to be our brain. All our thoughts and feelings and personality everything our brain does is our mind. Our consciousness is our undeniable identity that makes us exist as an true being. What it is made of, what it can do, and what its actual influence is on our current selves – I have no idea. But that’s what I would like to find out.

  36. Darryl Sloan says:

    I think your approach is actually a really powerful argument for the view that consciousness (as in self-awareness, not thought) transcends the brain.

    As you say, on the physical level, everything is made up of an organisation of smaller things. Cells work together to form an organism. So, we should we able to break everything down into something smaller. And we can. Right down to the atom and maybe further.

    We’ve even reproduced that organising principle technologically, by creating tools, machines and computers.

    I can see that a computer isn’t conscious, even though it thinks, because there is no centre to it. You can always break it down to something smaller. It’s just an unconscious organism with parts that work together, right down to programmed microchips, made of silicon, made of molecules, made of atoms.

    And yet inside me is a centre, something much more significant than a single cell, some kind of singularity that I recognise as self-awareness.

  37. Dean says:

    “I think your approach is actually a really powerful argument for the view that consciousness (as in self-awareness, not thought) transcends the brain.”

    Yes, that was the point of my post. Although the terms we use should be better defined. Traditionally, “Consciousness” is considered the same thing as mind or thought (I think, therefore I am). The description of consciousness that I used is more like what most people consider to be a soul, spirit, subconscious, ghost, and so forth.

    Self awareness is in the mind. Even a computer could eventually be self aware and conscious (in a traditional sense). But your definition of self awareness is a person’s intuitive feeling and knowing that they exist. This is also a valid point, but I think that you should make the distinction more clearly in your writing. Rather than use the term “consciousness” in certain places, say something like “inner consciousness” or whatever you want to call it, because the term “consciousness” has already been defined :p. Trying to redefine it will just confuse people. You’re a writer so you know how important it is to not confuse the reader.

  38. This is the thing Darryl, I don’t personally believe we’re soulless, or that we’re nothing more than a computer carrying out instructions. But… It’s just as likely as the idea that we’re all one single consciousness.

    I don’t like the fact that Descarte took it upon himself to trust nothing, and no-one, and find a base truth that he could work from. But in that, he chose a base truth that isn’t a base truth, unless you believe it is, by perception. So it nullifies the argument.

    And I think you’re making the same mistake. You’re saying everything around us isn’t what we think it is, but because you BELIEVE you’re conscious, and that your thinking is real and your ability to be aware, you work off that as your starting ground. That’s not a logic argument. If you’re going to deny everything that we perceive, then you have to start from nothing.

    You’ve said a few times it doesn’t ring true to you that we’re just a computer, or that nothing matters, if we’re all just one conscious being, because then we could just be evil and not have to worry about it. But these are all just things you’ve been programmed with.

    And as I’ve argued many times, there’s no such thing as a truly open mind. We get our beliefs, theories and understanding through what we see, hear and find out. Your very blog is proof of that.

    The older posts are very Christian, written in Christian language and terminology, from a Christian perspective. Then you have some Agnostic/Atheist stuff, again using the language and terminology of that. Then now you have the new-age stuff, using the language and terminology which is almost identical to the language and terminology used by people like David Icke.

    So everything you see now, is based on what you’ve read within this field. And because of that, you’re willing to start from the starting point of “I am”. When in fact that isn’t a good logical argument.

    I realise that most of your belief, and anyone else’s belief for that matter, is based on faith. That’s fine. But you keep claiming your beliefs are based on logic too, when they aren’t.

    All faiths make this mistake. It helps them justify their faith. The big bang is a nonsense idea, because we were nothing, then it exploded and created everything? God is a ridiculous idea, some old man with a white beard in the sky created us all, for shits and giggles? They all make claims against each other, pointing out the lack of logic in alternate faiths. While thinking theirs makes the most sense. But in reality, NO faith makes sense. And it never should.

    The truth is, if there is some bigger truth in the world, it’s probably outside of our understanding. A god for example: how the hell could we possibly understand a god? A god that isn’t affected by anything we are, because after all, he’s god! If he’s outside of our reality, he doesn’t have to adhere to any rules, he made the rules and he can change them if he so wishes.

    Likewise for big bang theories and evolution. We only understand those things from what little information we have. There could be so much more information out there that we haven’t seen yet. In the furthest outreaches of space. In lost species of animals, etc.

    I don’t mind faith at all. Even as an Agnostic I have faith, I have faith that God isn’t real, I take a risk in believing the God of the bible isn’t real, and that I won’t go to hell, for not accepting Jesus as my personal saviour. But I won’t pretend it’s based on any great logic. It’s nothing more than what seems most likely to me. That’s all. And it’ll change, I know it will, because the more I find out in the world, the more I read, the more I learn, my opinions on all sorts of things will change. In fact they change daily.

    But when people say things like Descarte, claiming to have thrown off the shackles of the world, to find the one true truth, then accept pre-conceived rules, based on no evidence at all, and use them to justify their argument that their faith is based on logic, is just delusional.

    I think to be honest, my lack of faith in beliefs (I even doubt agnosticism!), is probably more to do with my inability to consider any existing faith as right, when they all claim to be 100% and all believe it 100%. They can’t all be right (or can they?). Yet they all believe it like they are.

    I have to say though, I’ve recently been thinking about this concept of “can we all be right?”. I’m really torn between two things, and one of them might be more in line with your own philosophy, or at least be a stepping stone toward yours, if I should end up going in that direction.

    I won’t go into detail here, but basically I’m torn between the idea that mankind just needs reason, faith, something else to look forward to, and the fact that maybe god (for want of a better word) is all faiths. Maybe it doesn’t matter which one we follow, as they all lead to the same god. Which is why everyone believes so strongly, it IS real to them, it’s still the real God, just understood in a different way, by a different mind.

    For example, my argument (that I love to use. lol) about a light in the sky, and one person seeing a UFO, one seeing a ghost, one seeing a meteor, one seeing an angel. Regardless of what everyone sees, the light in the sky is real. So maybe God is real, but we all just see him differently, and none of us are wrong/right, we just understand it differently.

  39. Darryl Sloan says:

    The thing that I think makes the journey I’ve been on a little different from “just another belief system” is that the whole journey has been about tearing down and re-examining all the assumptions that we’ve made by being exposed to beliefs systems, education, and even simply life experience.

    The journey has been about refusing archetypal belief systems, both religious and scientific, constantly asking “why” about everything. The view I arrive at when I break down all of the conditioning and start again is what I have now.

    In a sense, my whole life was a journey towards this understanding, involving great struggles to see clearly, as I navigated through Christianity and atheism.

    I just can’t take the agnostic route and say to myself, “I don’t know what the hell is going on and I probably never will.” It’s like a refusal to move forward – a giving in to the idea that I’ll always be bewildered. I feel a great deal more conviction about what’s in my head than that.

    If these ideas don’t ring true for you, that’s okay. Because nobody but you should decide what you believe.

    But I just cannot enter into your agnostic outlook. Reality looks a lot different from inside my head than it does from inside yours. You can call my ideas illogical, but to me, when you say, “It’s just as likely that we’re only a computer carrying out instructions,” that statement is completely illogical to me.

    We will never agree because we have chosen different paradigms as the truth. There’s no point in debating the details if we’re in opposition about the foundations.

    I choose “consciousness/awareness” as the foundation; you choose “matter”. I have reasons why I think my choice is right. You have reasons for yours. And here we are.

  40. Darryl Sloan says:

    Dean,

    Yes, definitions are very important, and it’s difficult to choose wisely. Maybe “awareness” is a better word than “consciousness”.

    I have to say that all this bouncing back and forth of insights between you, Paul and I is proving invaluable for the book.

  41. But your journey now is surely no different to any journey we go on when we change our belief system. I can’t speak from your point of view, but I know that when I became a Christian I had to question everything around me, because all of the things I had believed before that, science, morals, everything, didn’t make sense anymore.

    Likewise, when I stopped being Christian, I had to do the whole thing all over again. You can’t change faith without questioning everything that you believed beforehand.

    I think that’s the journey for any belief, regardless of the content of the belief.

    I must admit, looking back on my Christian times, some of the leaps I made into faith, were based on rather frail logic indeed. But at the time they seemed like the most natural and wonderful moments of clarity I’ve ever experienced.

    You’ve said a few times Darryl, that you don’t want to admit to the lack of order, or answers in the universe, because that’s not moving forward, but isn’t that a way of fixing the results? Couldn’t that stop you seeing truths, because they aren’t truths that you want to face?

    I’ll admit, I have certain negative aspects in my outlook, which no doubt fix my results. But again, I believe we all fix the results anyway, because often our beliefs are based on needs and wants within us, and we turn to whatever offers us the best answers to those needs/wants.

  42. Dean says:

    If you want to consider your beliefs to be logical, you have to be able to step outside yourself and ask if this is just want you WANT to believe. I like to consider possibilities, and when I consider something I presume it could be possible as I go through it in my head whether it is my idea or someone else’s. When I say I choose to believe we have our own “consciousness” (soul, spirit, whatever), this is what I want to believe and what has the fewest dead-ends (by my logic). I choose to believe it, but I still accept it could be wrong, so I have no faith.

    There are so many possibilities with so little solid evidence, I would say that our traditional view of the universe makes the most sense and is the most proven. I think its important that we shouldn’t throw away everything that has seemed real and tangible so far just because there are some things we don’t understand. There’s nothing wrong with opening your mind and letting it roam free. Just be willing to be skeptical of your own theories, otherwise you might just be creating your own faith.

    That’s how I keep myself grounded, anyway. If you want to have faith in something, there’s nothing wrong with that either.

  43. Darryl Sloan says:

    Paul,

    “But your journey now is surely no different to any journey we go on when we change our belief system.”

    Not true. I covered a lot of this ground way back last June, when I started seeing clearly how I had been contitioned in life. At the time, I think I recall you expressing an attitude of “We’ve all been conditioned by our experience. Nothing we can do about it.” Actually, there’s everything we can do about it. It’s just a matter of asking “why” and leaving no stone unturned.

    My conversion to Christianity was a giving in to fear from a manufactured threat. My adherence to atheism was a stumbling blindly into the herd mentality “physics is the only truth.” I think that’s extremely different from what I’m doing now.

    Here’s how it works for me: When I get an insight, something that makes perfect sense against an alternative that makes no sense (for instance, our discussion about conciousness/soul), I go with the insight. I jump in, 100% committed. That insight becomes especially powerful if it connects to other insights that make perfect sense. And it becomes how I look at life.

    What I see in you (forgive me if this is completely off-base): When you get an insight, you look for a way to nullify that insight. This then allows you to take your non-committal stance of “it might be true, it might not”. It seems that you really want to be agnostic, and have lost all hope or desire of ever finding any sort of life-changing truth about the nature of reality.

    It’s like coming across a murder scene where the guy has a hole in his chest, and saying, “Now, it’s just possible that this guy had a heart attack before he was shot. In fact, since none of us witnessed the alleged murder, unless we investigate every other possible cause of natural death, we cannot say that this man died from a gunshot wound.”

    I’m not saying you have to believe what I believe. I’m just saying you seem to demand an inordinate amount of evidence for things that are fairly clear. When I present an insight, what I seem to get from you is a flimsy alternative, presented as an excuse to never commit to anything.

    It’s like when you say, “We’ve all been conditioned. Nothing we can do.” That’s just crazy. It’s so plain to me that all conditioning can be broken by daring to ask the big questions. “WHY do people say physics is the only reality? WHY do Christians believe the Bible is the word of God? WHY do we believe physics is the baseline reality when we’ve never experienced it except as a perception?” That’s how conditioning is broken regardless of what environment you grow up in, and it’s what takes you out of the herd and towards the underlying truth.

    But you’ll say, “We’re all conditioned, and there’s nothing we can do about it. I don’t have a hope in hell of finding the truth” (which is what you appear to want).

    My mind ticks in a completely different way than yours. In my head is a jigsaw of powerful insights that fit together neatly and blow my mind – to the extent that my whole personality and behaviour is affected for the better, which is a darn sight better than religion or atheism ever did.

    I may never be able to enoucrage you aboard with any of it, but I’m 100% committed to steering this course for myself, because I think it’s true.

  44. Darryl Sloan says:

    “I believe we all fix the results anyway, because often our beliefs are based on needs and wants within us, and we turn to whatever offers us the best answers to those needs/wants.”

    You say that like it’s a principle that must be true for everyone, when it’s only true for people who allow their emotions to rule their judgement.

    I recall being an agnostic and wishing badly that I could be a Christian again, so that life wouldn’t be so bleak. I didn’t become a Christian again. It took more than wishful thinking to get me back.

  45. If anything Darryl, you’re the person coming across the murdered man and saying that the bullet wound isn’t real, because you can’t trust what you see and touch. I’m saying there’s a bullet wound, and I’m more likely to think it’s a shooting, because I do trust the evidence.

    I think myself and Dean agree in a lot of areas, we both really want to believe there’s more to life, and we’re willing to let various ideas roam around in our minds, but we can’t just make a huge leap of faith, based on pretty much no evidence at all, just because we want it to be true. Instead, we’re looking, hell we’re desperate to find (or at least I am) evidence that there is indeed something more.

    I believe you, Darryl, are taking a need and want inside you, coming up with ideas and reading other people’s ideas, that you like, and which make you feel better, then trying to make the rest of the world fit inside those constraints.

    When someone comes up with an idea that also goes part of the way to explain the world around us, but that doesn’t meet your needs and wants, you then say it doesn’t “feel right” to you.

    You keep saying the big difference with your new faith is you’re now open minded and no longer restrained by the shackles of religion, etc. But to anyone else looking in (who don’t believe what you do), you’re just in new shackles, restrained by different things now.

    I really wouldn’t argue with this having been a good thing in your life. It’s visible for all to see, you’ve become a lot more confident in your beliefs and philosophies, for a start, rather than the unsure, bullied person you were in Christianity. You also seem truly happy. That can only be a good thing.

    But on a pure discussion level, I really don’t see any difference in the faith itself. It’s you that’s changed.

    Dean:

    I totally agree. I’ve said it a few times on here. Just because there’s a few anomalies or weird things going on, doesn’t mean we have to change our whole idea of everything. It just means there’s a few weird things going on, within the other things that are probably real.

    Even if I was able to sit down here, right now, and move heavy objects with the power of my mind, for me that wouldn’t mean a link to single-consciousness. It could just as easily be something we humans have been able to do, or at least the potential to do, but never actually known how.

    I think the problem with re-thinking everything around us, based on a few little things that don’t fit, and at the same time not using any filters at all, or needing any evidence whatsoever, is people do end up just following what they want to be true, rather than what is actually true.

    Addicts use this ideology. They justify chasing a lost bet, or chasing just one more fix from the needle or bottle, knowing that after that they can give up. Everyone tells them this isn’t going to work, and deep down, they even know this, but they can’t listen to it. They only want to fulfil what they need. So they look around them at all the other addicts, with stories of “oh i used to do that, it nearly killed me”, or “i used to think that way, used to tell myself exactly the same thing” and they reason their argument with “but that won’t happen to me”, or “no, i’m stronger than that”.

    They refuse everyone else’s idea of truth, and the evidence that supports it, because they’re so busy trying to make the world fit within their own concept of reality.

    To me, this is no different to the Christian refusing the evidence and saying that the world is only 6,000 years old, or that God loves us all, in spite of the many children dying in such horrific, torturous ways every day around the world.

    It’s also no different to the new-ager, who wants to be a part of something bigger and better, god themselves (which is what it comes down to, with single-consciousness), in spite of the evidence against it.

    And, hands up, even Agnosticism and Atheism, where people are willing to overlook things because there’s not “enough” evidence, or because “that could be fake”, etc.

    This is the problem though, every single faith suffers from this, every single person suffers from it. And that’s why we can’t truly be open minded.

    Every single faith thinks they are right. Every single person thinks their ideas on the world are the best answer, even if it’s just like Dean and myself, saying “i’m probably wrong, but it seems like the best answer for today”, it’s still faith, and it’s still open to corruption, because we see, hear and understand what we choose to, like everyone else.

  46. Darryl:
    –I recall being an agnostic and wishing badly that I could be a Christian again, so that life wouldn’t be so bleak. I didn’t become a Christian again. It took more than wishful thinking to get me back.–

    No, but you found what you needed elsewhere. Your wishful thinking led you to something you could control better than Christianity. You found a way to make yourself God. By your own admittance, you never really enjoyed being Christian anyway, or at least never for long. So your new beliefs fit your needs more than Christianity ever did.

  47. Dean says:

    Heh, well I know I probably look like I shift back and forth a lot in what I believe, but I also see Darryl’s point. Even though he might not have described it in these words, I think this is part of his view…

    There are many things about our traditional way of thinking and perceiving that fall apart down when you get to the basics of it – and also when you look to the big picture. Everything makes sense to us from the way we’re conditioned to look at it, but all the unexplained evidence together adds up and begins to cast doubt on things. It’s not just taking a few inconsistencies and throwing the whole thing out the window. If you take everything into consideration, it begins to paint a different picture – and then everything you already know fits into that new picture in ways you didn’t previously understand. Its not a matter of forcing pieces of a puzzle that don’t fit. Its like you found that lost piece of the puzzle that fits perfectly with all the pieces you already had. When you come across something like this, you can’t just say “well even though it makes perfect sense, I can’t put any stock in it”. This is his analogy to the man with the bullet hole. The problem is that we all possess different pieces of the puzzle and see something different. As you learn more about the universe and gather more evidence, your view will continue to change.

    My difficulty is that I’ve come up with SO MANY possibilities that fit, all I can do is find the one that has the fewest “errors” in it and consider that my “best bet”. ANY possibility that comes by is an option I consider until I’ve weighed all the facts and evidence. All I see are possibilities and likelihoods. In the end, we simply don’t have enough information to truely and completely rule anything out.

  48. Darryl Sloan says:

    Paul,

    “If anything Darryl, you’re the person coming across the murdered man and saying that the bullet wound isn’t real, because you can’t trust what you see and touch. I’m saying there’s a bullet wound, and I’m more likely to think it’s a shooting, because I do trust the evidence.”

    You can re-spin the analogy to make it say anything. I could equally say you’re the guy who sees the black dot on the chest and says “It’s nothing more than a black dot,” refusing to look underneath to see that’s it’s a deep wound.

    But never mind that. Something really bugs me about something else you said:

    “I believe you, Darryl, are taking a need and want inside you, coming up with ideas and reading other people’s ideas, that you like, and which make you feel better, then trying to make the rest of the world fit inside those constraints.”

    This is old, old ground that I covered long ago in the post “Truth seeking verses emotional attachment”:

    https://darrylsloan.wordpress.com/2008/07/10/truth-seeking-versus-emotional-attachment/

    You’re basically saying I follow my emotions, and that does such a disservice to what I’ve been through. In my life, I’ve bounced between Christianity and agnosticism so often that I can see so clearly how our emotions play us. I’m telling you I’m on top of that. Whether you believe that is up to you.

    You even go as far as accusing the whole world that they are trapped by their emotions: “We all fix the results anyway, because often our beliefs are based on needs and wants within us.” The simple truth is you’re not a victim of your emotions if you rise above that tendency and base your beliefs on what’s rational. But it seems convenient to you to lump everyone in one basket, because then you can keep your agnosticism, safe in the knowledge that it’s impossible to find any genuine truth. Again and again, I see this tendency in you expressed – this desire to not know.

    You insist on seeing my belief system as just another belief system, out of thousands. I don’t claim that I’ve got it all 100% right, but the thing that makes what I’ve been doing for the past year different is that it’s based on the stripping away of conditioning. But again, you refuse to acknowledge that it’s possible to strip away conditioning. You want to see us all as victims of circumstance.

    Consider religion. It relies on implanting beliefs through the conditioning of experience. Church, hymns and prayers in school, seeing it on TV, being surrounding my other Christians – all creating a belief based on following a herd. Strip it away by saying, “Am I sure this is true? Let’s investigate.” Conditioning gone – poof!

    Consider athiesm. It relies on implanting the belief that the physical universe is all there is, and the pursuit of evidence is the only means of determining any truth. So, ask the question, “Am I sure the physical universe is all there is? Am I sure evidence-seeking is the only means of obtaining truth?” Conditioning gone – poof!

    So many belief systems rely on foundations that are not being questioned. My approach is to question every foundation, right back as far as I can perceive, to the division of awareness and perception.

    The game of how we’re manipulated by emotions of wishful thinking and fear, and by the herd mentality through the conditioning of life, is so plain to me. I’m finished with being a victim of all that. You’re free to believe that everyone is stuck in it and can never escape it, but I don’t buy your line. When you see the game, it no longer has any power to play you.

    That’s the essence of why the past year on my blog has been filled with confident expression of out-of-the-box thinking. I questioned everything and woke up from the trance of what was being sold to me all my life.

  49. Darryl Sloan says:

    I think it’s also important, before I get too hot under the collar, 🙂 to take a deep breath and say: There’s nothing to fear by the differences in our beliefs. I think there’s much to be gained by getting it right, but unless we buy the “think different and go to hell” regime of religion, the diversity of our opinions doesn’t really matter. We all get a life to live, and living it is what it’s all about.

  50. Darryl Sloan says:

    Dean,

    “… Its like you found that lost piece of the puzzle that fits perfectly with all the pieces you already had. When you come across something like this, you can’t just say “well even though it makes perfect sense, I can’t put any stock in it”. “

    I think you clarified this brilliantly.

  51. Again Darryl, I’ve argued this many times, I’m really not comfortable within Agnosticism. I don’t think anyone can be really. I think that’s another defence mechanism, within faiths (And I agree, it can be used by non-believers too — myself included), creating the idea that someone refuses to believe, or accept the conditions which lead to that belief, refuses to do so because they fear your truth.

    I’m not 100% sure about my ideas on being locked within constraints, and circumstances etc. I think it’s something deeper than that.

    Obviously there are people who flit between contrasting beliefs, Atheism to Christianity, Christianity to new-ageism, etc.

    It’s my belief that we all have something within us — it’s not a new idea by any means — that we just need something more than what is apparent.

    I’m probably a pretty good example of this. I’m Agnostic. The world could be my oyster, in all truth. I don’t have to worry about hell, sin, morals, etc. Why should I? It’s not like i’ll be punished by a non-existent God. I could take every moment as it comes, make the most of it and fuck everyone and everything else. But I can’t.

    I want there to be more. The idea that everything is nothing more than random, a bunch of circumstances, events and matter, exploded, expanded, forming everything that we know, although most likely in my own reasoning, isn’t good enough. I don’t want that to be the truth.

    I know that sometimes you must think I’m just arguing for the sake of it, or that I’m just totally against what you believe and unable to grasp things your way, or afraid to accept them. But the truth is, if I could sit down and think “you know what, I think he’s got something there”, I’d be bloody excited!

    But I’d be just as excited if I found out Santa was real, or that buying a lottery ticket actually meant I could win £10M.

    And that’s where it’s difficult for me. I really want there to be something, and I’m hoping that one day I’ll find something. But for now, each thing I look at, although containing some little bits that make sense to me, or at least interest me and make me think, doesn’t ring true. Santa isn’t real, because I found out when I was around eleven (I was a late bloomer!) that it had been my parents putting presents under the tree. And I know that the odds for winning the lottery are ridiculously stacked against me, even if I buy multiple tickets (I also know that I don’t even buy one ticket).

    I think I’ve mentioned this before, in some of the more religious-based posts you’ve made: the reason I argue so vehemently, and really like to get to the nitty gritty of everything, is because for me this is a quest.

    If someone comes up with a belief, that stands up against my own logic, reasoning, arguments, etc, then I’ll have something to believe in. If i only argued half-heartedly, then I’d be flitting from one belief to the next, every five minutes. So I want to make sure that when I do find something that stands up: it really does stand up.

  52. Dean:
    “… Its like you found that lost piece of the puzzle that fits perfectly with all the pieces you already had. When you come across something like this, you can’t just say “well even though it makes perfect sense, I can’t put any stock in it”. “

    I accept that fully. But, my argument is: everyone with a faith, be it Christianity, Buddhism, Catholicism, New-ageism, even atheism, gets this exact same thing, when they reach that eureka moment.

    So, when I look around the world, I see all of these people, from totally different beliefs and all feeling they are 100% right. Are they all right? Are any of them right?

  53. Darryl Sloan says:

    Paul,

    It’s always good to hear your views. It will be interesting what you think of the book, when I get it done, as it will be a much clearer, organised presentation of how I navigated the quest and ended up where I am, compared to the randomness of my blogging. I hope you’ll agree to be one of the pre-publication “test” readers. 🙂

    Dean,

    I hope you’ll be interested in reading the book before publication, too. I don’t expect you to agree with what I write. The idea is to get as much critical feedback as possible, so that I can repair any weaknesses before commiting to print.

  54. Dean says:

    Darryl,

    So far what I’ve seen from your writings have come across as interesting theories and conjecture – but if I thought you were just making wild theories based on feelings and false hope, I would say that you were making a mistake. However, I truely have no idea what experiences you’ve had and what information you are basing your beliefs on. For me or the other guy to arrive at your conclusion based on our own personal perspectives would be illogical, but if we had the same set of experiences and information as you, it might be a different story. There are many people who are deluding themselves in this world, and then there are some who simply arrive at unusual conclusions based on perfectly logical thought. Nobody can really say which group you fit into until they know everything you know, and how you arrived at your conclusions.

    So when you’re writing your book, just make sure you don’t forget to provide as much logical support and information as you can. Analogies and theories only help explain your point of view, but don’t really help to support it. That’s my two cents.

  55. Darryl Sloan says:

    “just make sure you don’t forget to provide as much logical support and information as you can.”

    Absolutely. If anything, I’ve almost gone into overkill on that side of things.

  56. I’ll give it a read for sure. Although I don’t expect it will be a quick read, with quick feedback. That’s one thing I really like about this site and the discussions we all get into, they’re really provoking and complicated. We may all disagree and sometimes we get moving in circles, but it definitely gets the old grey matter exercising. It’s quite a welcomed challenge!

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