I recently saw the documentary, “Glitch in the Matrix,” where filmmaker Rodney Ascher asks the question “are we living in a simulation?” He includes film footage of Nick Bostrom, and Philip K. Dick, as well as others intrigued by this idea. Here are some highlights from the documentary, from my perspective.
Philip K. Dick and the Mandela Effect
I’d been looking forward to see “Glitch in the Matrix,” since I’d heard that it references the Mandela Effect. One of the highlights for me in watching “Glitch in the Matrix” was the inclusion of Philip K. Dick’s 1977 talk in Metz, France, entitled, “If you find this world bad, you should see some of the others,” around the time the first Star Wars movie came out in theaters. Philip K. Dick (PKD) gave this talk three years after having an extraordinary experience in his life on February 3, 1974. After that experience and other epiphanies, PKD’s interest in the idea of other parallel possible realities became much more pronounced. In his 1977 talk in Metz, France, PKD expressed his expectation that some people will recall other possible histories. In 1977 when Dick gave this talk, I was experiencing reality shifts and what would come to be known as the Mandela Effect, and I am favorably impressed by his comments about the significance and importance of people noticing alternate histories. By the year 2010, the term “Mandela Effect” would come to be acknowledged as a worldwide phenomenon. In his 1977 talk in Metz, PKD said, “We are living a computer programmed reality, and the only clue we have to it is when some variable has changed, and some alteration in our reality occurs. We would have the overwhelming impression that we were reliving the present deja vu, perhaps in precisely the same way, hearing the same words, saying the same words. I submit that these impressions are valid and significant and I will even say this such an impression is a clue that it’s in past time point a variable was changed–reprogrammed as it were–and that because of this, an alternative world branched off.”
While I certainly appreciate the view that abrupt changes such as reality shifts and Mandela Effects to what has supposedly ‘always been true’ might seem similar to what we’d expect to see if we were living in a computer-programmed simulated reality, the Simulation Theory itself seems more like a description of the way we sense and experience the world, rather than a comprehensive and complete true theory of the nature of reality.
NPCs and Nothingness
The “Glitch in the Matrix” documentary shows how some people have experienced a sense of vast nothingness, when going beyond awareness of others around them. It makes the point that such an experience of nothingness can feel quite bleak.
I had a profound experience of feeling a sense of nothingness during the time I underwent a Kundalini awakening in 1994, which was part of my spiritual awakening. At that time, I felt a deep loneliness far beyond anything I’d ever felt before or since. I recognized in that experience that any kind of existence disconnected from all relationships with others is a truly intolerable sensation. I found my way through that experience by knowing at a deep level that I refused to be alone, and by knowing that other realities and other worlds exist, so therefore I would make contact with other consciousness(es). It seems to me that the meaning of noticing such vast nothingness is to remind us that we need relationships with others in a very deep, profound, and fundamental way.
Some people believe NPC (non player characters) exist, such that some people are not truly inspired nor motivated, and “Glitch in the Matrix” presents this concept–along with the potential dark side of possibly making a mistake in treating others as NPCs in a given moment, which we can come to regret when we were not acting with kindness nor compassion. When I was a little girl, I had an experience where I was shocked to witness that people–including my own family members–sometimes move through daily like on autopilot, as if they are not fully and completely present and sentient and actively making choices in each moment. I write about this idea that so many of us are running on autopilot in my book, Reality Shifts. I discuss the importance of getting past our masks and facades, and our tendency to think, speak, and act on autopilot. We can all be ‘called in’ to be more fully present in our lives, and this can be part of our spiritual evolution, both individually and collectively as a species.
GANS and Human Purpose
“Glitch in the Matrix” presents the idea of GANS – Generative Adversarial NetworkS–where two (or more) Artificial Intelligence (AI) systems are in competition with one another as they create simulations. One is the FORGER whose task is to create human beings who look enough like humans to fool someone. Another AI system is called the INSPECTOR, whose job is to tell the difference between fake and actual people. Some feel it’s possible that the human role in Simulation Theory is to fine-tune and improve the Simulation according to this GANS process.
While I agree with those in the “Glitch in the Matrix” documentary that humans are certainly capable of channeling and editing inspirational ideas, it seems clear that without any underlying sense of meaning and story and relationships, these simplistic roles would seem to hold little long-term interest for most humans.
The Dreamtime and Plato’s Cave
“Glitch in the Matrix” points out that in the movie, “The Matrix,” Neo keeps his money and special things in a book, “Simulacra and Simulation,” which is a tip-off at the start of that movie that all is not what it seems. There is a long tradition within indigenous societies of acknowledging dreams within dreams, and ‘the Dreamtime.’ This idea of dreaming the world into existence, with layers and layers of dreams and awakenings is a much more ancient concept even than Plato’s cave, to the point that there exist words to express how seemingly real physical reality is just ‘maya’–just illusion
When Neo first awakens, and wonders why his eyes don’t work, Morpheus explains, “Because you’ve never used them before.” This matches what we know scientifically, as I’ve shared in a podcast I did with Dr. Donald Hoffman: Perception, Truth, and Reality with Donald Hoffman. Dr. Hoffman describes how our sense of the world through our perceptions is not truly real—our experience of true reality is filtered. Donald Hoffman talked with me about his interface theory of perception, in which what we typically assume to be “out there” is not necessarily reality–but rather something akin to the desktop user interface on a computer. And just as we don’t need to execute machine language commands in order to send an email or delete a file, biological evolution has been proven to favor perceptual fitness over truthful completeness and accuracy of perception. As Hoffman writes, “… to experience is to construct, in each modality and without exception,” and new findings in quantum physics and quantum biology increasingly provide scientific evidence to show this is true.
Similarly, in the allegory of Plato’s Cave, the true light of the world is much more brilliant than the shadow world as seen within the cave. When Plato comes back into the cave, he sees his friends are still watching the shadow play, giving one another acknowledgement for being first to spot what’s going on. This allegory of the cave reminds me of how anyone who has enlightenment experiences feels transformed when returning to everyday life. Quite often, it’s impossible to interact with friends, family, and colleagues the same as before the epiphany and transcendant experience. It’s also challenging, if not impossible, to explain or properly convey the experience fully to others.
Will We Recognize Our Reflection?
In “Glitch in the Matrix,” Jesse Orion expresses feelings of frustration when noticing he’s been stuck in digital worlds that aren’t going so well. And then when he gets out of those games and simulations, he’s noticed he was still stuck in a reality that’s not going so well, either. And he can’t help but draw parallels, since “the grass is dead on both sides. It’s like they’re ‘quick-patching’ reality,” because (just like in glitchy games), real life is not going that well. “People are broken. Cosmologies are broken.” This sounds to me like “glass half full” kind of thinking, where whatever we focus our attention on, we will see more of whatever we happen to be focusing on.
I notice that humans are becoming more capable of instantaneous manifestation, at which point our ability to maintain good emotional and energetic hygiene (keeping to good and nurturing thoughts) is becoming ever more essential to our personal and social well-being. We can start to observe how we can experience more of whatever we focus our attention and energies upon. Many of us have habits of dwelling on complaints, worries, fears, and observations of lack—rather than nurturing gratitude, appreciation, and reverence.
PKD writes about worlds which may be inhabited by just one protagonist, or who may have others who join them in their peculiar world, or those others remained in their own worlds throughout. PKD wrote on these themes of ‘pleuriform pseudo-worlds’ because he, “was sensing the manifold of partially actualized realities, remaining tangent to the actualized one—the one that the majority of us, by consensus gentiem, agree on.” I love how PKD was so tuned in to the way that it seems people can—and often do—experience simultaneous parallel realities. I love how this matches some recent experimental findings in quantum physics, in which observational devices even at the same place and time can witness different events. This seems to clearly indicate that there may be no such thing as one ‘objective reality.’
Another character in “Glitch in the Matrix” asks the question: “When we know we may be in a simulation, how do we ethically deal with others—when we also know others are there like me, who aren’t simulations? How do I deal with someone who’s behind a false avatar, but who I really want to communicate with?” He also points out: “Simulation theory seems to kind of solve problems, but it really makes the problems more poignant, and in your face.”
Again, this is such a perfect juncture to invite ourselves to find a story line we actually wish to inhabit—it’s such a great opportunity to care more about our relationships with other people, animals, plants, things, and the Earth and moon and sun and stars and sky. When we make the most of our epiphanies through lucid dreaming and recognizing how our physical senses merely show us a kind of illusory facade that is not complete reality—we can become the change we wish to see in the world. We can become more caring, more compassionate, more kind. We can care more about our relationships with others.
“Glitch in the Matrix” mentions that PKD’s friend, Tom Disch, first suggested to him that his experience on Feb 3, 1974 sounded like “Enthousiasmos” by Elijah, and PKD liked the idea, and found it pleasant. The experience of feeling inspired by God seems uplifting, and like it would have given PKD a feeling of spiritual epiphany, which seems to have been the case.
One character in “Glitch in the Matrix” points out that: There are fundamental metaphors we have about reality, such as “life is like a journey,” and “Waking up from a dream”—and shifting between ontological realities (sometimes quite abruptly, or with intense emotions) is a fundamental, cognitive experience—is “stitched into us.”
Yes; humans do seem to be wired to experience many levels of awakening, in order to discover many levels of identity within ourselves. Perhaps the greatest unasked question, and the question that potentially can do the most for us in terms of answering all our questions and solving all our problems is simply, “Who am I?”
This question of identity can enable us to begin to realize our true identity is involved with co-creating our experienced dream-within-a-dream; and also that we have many levels and layers to our conscious identity.
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I invite you to keep focusing on “How good can it get?” and watch the companion video to this blog at: