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Multiverse, Metaverse, and consciousness—are we already living in a simulated reality?
What if the world around us is nothing but a collective illusion, a dream, or a computer simulation?
It sounds kind of out there, but these ideas aren’t new; they’ve been explored by everyone from scientists to mystics, philosophers to gamers, science fiction fans, and psychedelic enthusiasts to Hollywood writers.
One of Hollywood’s best examples is the 1999 blockbuster movie, “The Matrix,” centering around Neo and a dystopian future where humanity is unknowingly trapped inside a simulated reality.
Its premise? With our planet in total chaos and on the brink of collapse, humanity finds salvation in the Oasis, an expansive virtual reality universe.
Is this art imitating life?
Oxford philosopher Nick Bostrom said, “If we are living in a simulation, then the cosmos that we are observing is just a tiny piece of the totality of physical existence. While the world we see is in some sense real, it is not located at the fundamental level of reality.”
Quantum physicists, who study the nature of reality itself, find that the deeper they dive into our three-dimensional world of matter, the more they find that matter doesn’t actually exist. What a trip!
Speaking of trips. Our psychedelic forefathers—Terrence McKenna, Timothy Leary, Alan Watts, Aldous Huxley, and Ram Dass—to name a few, were experimenting with entheogens and traversing the furthest reaches of the mind, beyond time and space, to the unified field of pure consciousness where there truly is no separation.
It’s all a simulation when we start to understand consciousness at large.
What about the mystics and shamans, who for thousands of years have claimed that we dream the experience of the world around us—a waking, walking reverie of reality itself.
This deep, ancient wisdom was founded on direct communion with nature, natural law, and probably some plant medicine. Walking a mystical path, they understood and reflected the subtle and causal worlds for us and passed them on from generation to generation.
So, what’s up?
Are we living in a simulated reality? Yes, but in more ways than one.
With the 5G roll out providing better connectivity, growing unrest in our world at large, and the seemingly never-ending pandemic spawning new, online ways to live, work, play, and be, the virtual universe (much like the natural universe) is ever-expanding with no end in sight.
Many say that at some point, our technology will get so good that the real and virtual worlds will merge into one. This is known as the simulation point.
Are we there yet? Yes and no.
The simulation hypothesis has been gaining momentum since 2003 when Oxford philosopher Nick Bostrom published that now-infamous paper, “Are You Living in a Computer Simulation?”
In the publication, he said, “Members of an advanced civilization with vast computing power run simulations of their ancestors in the universe.” Was he crazy, smokin’ something, or brilliant?
It’s interesting to note that the simulation hypothesis was actually first argued by French philosopher, mathematician, and scientist, René Descartes in the 1600s, who claimed that all of existence is an artificial simulation.
Over the years, the simulation hypothesis has continued to gain traction with many tech fans, as well as academic minds taking notice and offering up their own theories.
Most recently, with computer scientist and video game designer, Rizwan Virk, in his new book, The Simulated Multiverse: An MIT Computer Scientist Explores Parallel Universes, the Simulation Hypothesis, Quantum Computing, and the Mandela Effect, a follow up to his first book, The Simulation Hypothesis, published in 2019.
In his book, Virk explores the possibility that the natural universe is a computer running a so-called core loop. A core loop is a piece of code that gets executed, again and again, spinning off possible timelines, each carving its own path through the multiverse.
So, what’s the multiverse?
The multiverse is a group of multiple universes made up of everything that exists: space, time, matter, energy, and information.
Virk explains that the multiverse idea is so common now in quantum physics that physicists have proposed that there’s not just one but many multiverses inside the multiverse. This is known as the Many Worlds Interpretation (MWI) or Parallel Universe Theory (PUT), or Quantum Multiverse. All of these theories envision our universe as just one of the numerous parallel worlds that branch off from each other.
This theory originated in the mid-1950s when American physicist Hugh Everett was partying with friends one night at Princeton University.
Everett was heavily drinking sherry that night when he came to the sudden realization and understanding that quantum effects, processes that can be observed, measured, controlled, stored, or communicated, cause the universe to constantly split off from itself, creating other timelines.
I’ll also have a sherry, please.
Simply put, MWI theorizes that there are many, perhaps thousands of worlds that exist simultaneously and at the exact same time and space as our own lives. Think about that for a minute—or longer.
What if you’d taken that dream job? Moved to another country, bought that winning lottery ticket, or said yes to the hottie who asked you out on a date 25 years ago?
What if you had vagabonded across Europe instead of going to college, joined a circus, became a monk, or taken up playing the bass at the age of 15?
Well, the MWI theory says that in some timeline, you actually did that. Wow!
Take it from theoretical physicist Sean Carroll at the California Institute of Technology, “It’s absolutely possible that there are multiple worlds where you made different decisions.”
As a computer scientist Virk theorizes, “The future is a computationally irreducible process which consists of many possible futures, each of which runs as a separate process. There can be multiple possible futures, and as the number keeps growing, so do the processing and memory requirements.”
He explains that these universes are spun off and stored as information on some type of Quantum cloud, only loaded and rendered when needed.
Think this sounds like something you’d see on Star Trek? Maybe.
But, this truly is the next generation of the computer; quantum computing and IBM already has one, the only company that currently provides a quantum computer in the cloud—I’m sure Meta and Google are not far behind.
So if the MWI is true and there really is more than one timeline in existence, why are we living this particular life in this particular timeline? And most importantly, how can we jump timelines if we want?
Have you heard the expression “You create your own reality”?
Whether you believe it or not doesn’t really matter because science has proven that we, as observers, in the realm of quantum physics, are also powerful creators—true manifesters in every way.
Don’t like the life you are currently living? Why not simulate a new one?
A 2019 study published by Science Advances, the journal for the American Association for the Advancement of Science’s (AAAS), confirmed that the micro-world of atoms and subatomic particles are governed by the perplexing rules of quantum mechanics, where observation influences the universe around us, creating our realities at the most fundamental level.
In quantum theory, particles make up everything. Me. You. Your dog. The chair you’re sitting on, a pebble, this planet, and basically, everything else.
But this is where things get super juicy; particles can be in several places or states simultaneously. This is called superposition.
Cool, huh? But wait, there’s more!
Superposition can only happen when particles are not observed. The second, I mean the nanosecond, a quantum event is observed, a specific location or state is produced, collapsing the particles and breaking superposition.
This collapse creates vibration and frequency, attracting like frequencies to make up the world around us. This could explain the elegant and sometimes not so elegant dance between our perceptions, beliefs, and reality—that’s so meta.
Dear technology, you’ve come a long way since “The Sims,” the life-simulation video game released in the year 2000 that allowed players to interact in a gaming environment as their digital selves.
As broadband began to replace dial-up in the early 2000s, another game, “Second Life,” emerged in 2003 and is often referred to as the first Metaverse.
Fast forward to Facebook’s recent announcement of its new company name: Meta. It seems like everyone and their mother will be joining in!
But wait, what exactly is the Metaverse? Haven’t you heard of it? You will soon.
Basically, it’s the next version of the internet. A souped-up set of digital universes created in virtual and augmented realities where users take the shape of digital avatars to live, play, socialize, and work inside a digital universe.
And whether you like it or not, it’s happening. As Facebook, sorry, I mean Meta’s, website claims, “It’s the next evolution of social connection.”
So, is it a bunch of hype, a cultural prophecy, or the next big thing?
The term metaverse was first coined by science fiction author Neal Stephenson in his eerily prophetic 1992 Cyberpunk novel, Snow Crash. His book is about escaping a dystopian reality by replacing it with a virtual one and using a digital avatar to explore the online world. Does this sound vaguely familiar?
Now, companies like Roblox, Microsoft, Epic Games, and Nike, to name a few, are launching their own metaverses, including spiritual author and speaker Deepak Chopra! And more are coming.
Wall Street is super excited about the potentials of the Metaverse, where you can buy virtual land, create virtual businesses, exchange digital assets, and make digital money.
The virtual world truly is the next frontier.
Is a multiverse of Metaverses emerging? Definitely.
With headsets getting better and better, Virtual Reality (VR)) is finding its way in the world and becoming more and more immersive, as well as mainstream.
“The Information Age is coming to an end. We’re now entering the ‘Experience Age,'” says Mike Wadhera, founder of a company that enables VR video sharing through smartphones.
Facebook (or Meta), who owns Oculus, the creators of the Quest 2 headset, launched its own metaverse called Horizon Worlds, where even though your Avatar has no legs, it can fly across a virtual town on a broom, hunt Zombies at an abandoned mall, participate in a group dance-off, or hang out with a friend that’s 3,293 miles away.
Netflix and chill? That, too. Everything is possible in the virtual world.
Don’t like the worlds Horizon offers? Build your own!
They encourage it and hand you the tools. Or better yet, explore some of the other Metaverses that are cropping up, because like it or not, here comes Web 3.0.
Let’s get a (virtually) virtual life!
Studies have shown that our brains respond to perceived stimuli in a virtual environment in the same way they do to real stimuli in a physical environment.
For example, if you are afraid of flying in an airplane, doing so in VR will produce similar physiological responses that can be processed and worked through.
Companies are already using VR to create effective, therapeutic tools to help people overcome phobias and their fear of spiders, heights, flying, and other things.
VR is also being used for employee training by many companies, and with its incredible cost-effectiveness and more people continuing to work remotely, it could potentially alter the future of the way we work.
Don’t even get me started on the future possibilities of VR entertainment.
I know. I know. Will the physical world go completely virtual? There are lots of haters out there!
People are afraid of what will happen to society as VR continues to take over our online experiences. Can you blame them?
Look at how algorithms track our every move, like, and share only to deliver us relevant content based on those choices, including anything you just googled or looked at on Amazon. Invasive or helpful?
Either way, it’s kind of creepy, and I swear, Siri is eavesdropping on my every word. Sigh.
But don’t hate. Technology is advancing. It’s part of the natural emergent principle and our evolution as a whole. Life finds a way, and it usually involves technology. Until someday when it might not, but that’s a whole other article.
Used correctly, imagine what VR and Artificial Intelligence (AI) could do for the world?
These are the questions companies need to ask themselves as they develop products and platforms in the Metaverse. From young children who need help with their homework or care while parents work to lonely seniors who need companionship, VR could, and will, fill the much-needed gap in our busy, modern lives.
Some predict the metaverse will be the biggest disrupter we’ve ever seen, so companies must be held accountable and encouraged to create and deliver content that advances the human race instead of destroying it.
We need conscious technology, and we, the avatars, are key in making sure that this is the virtual world that comes to be. Or else we’re destined to be virtual nomads exploring the only pixelated world we have left.
It’s time to wake up and get woke.
In many spiritual traditions, it’s said we must awaken from this dream we call reality. The dream we call life. Getting woke is a modern colloquialism for waking up. Getting conscious. Becoming aware of yourself and your ways.
Awakening can happen in several ways but usually involves getting still and taking a step back to observe ourselves on a deeper level without judgment. This is best done through meditation (stillness), mindfulness (awareness), or quiet contemplation (presence).
Stillness allows us to examine our thoughts, habits, patterns, and choices to see how they affect our lives and those around us. Peeling back the layers of our own simulation, we begin to see and understand ourselves from different perspectives.
The word simulation is defined by Merriam-Webster as the re-creation of a real-world process in a controlled environment.
A controlled environment is a space with precisely regulated factors. You see, we don’t really need anything other than our own minds to simulate new, better versions of ourselves or explore and experience higher states of consciousness. Higher states of consciousness are merely a byproduct of meditation—and meditation is the vehicle to explore those realms.
The Vedas, ancient spiritual texts that are over 5,000 years old, outline seven states of being.
Most of us vacillate between the first three: waking, dreaming, and deep sleep. Some of us also experience the fourth state: transcendental consciousness, the field of infinite possibilities.
Meditation allows access to the doorway between these different states of being, and each time we meditate, that doorway opens a little more—and a little more. There’s a reason they call it a practice.
Do you want to make this shift happen? The human brain is the ultimate frontier, our own quantum computer, allowing us the freedom and free will to simulate new lives with the choices we make, the thoughts we think, thus the particles we collapse.
Whether it’s your three-dimensional or digital self, you get to choose how you show up.
When each person really understands this from an experiential viewpoint, and more of humanity reaches this level of consciousness, we will have reached the true simulation point: the understanding that all is one.
One unified field, where there is no separation. So yes, if only conscious awareness exists, this all truly is a simulation. Awakening isn’t always easy or pretty, but it’s how we get conscious, upgrade our operating systems, and evolve as a human race.
And while the Metaverse might sound cool, do you really want to live your entire life with a headset on?
Sometimes the best connection doesn’t need the internet.
Let’s find balance. Find stillness. Find our true selves in the realm of infinite possibilities.