Thursday, December 21, 2023

Sunday, July 23, 2023

Unplugging from the Matrix

Simulation: a representation or imitation of a real-world process, system, or situation. It involves creating a model or virtual environment that behaves similarly to the actual system it is simulating. Simulations are often used to… predict outcomes.

Are we living in a simulation?

We now know that we invest an awful lot of mental resources into creating and maintaining mental models of the world in order to make predictions on the future. These predictions seem to have the effect of satisfying the anxieties of a human nervous system in the face of information overload and an enormous amount of uncertainty. These mental models, or belief systems, seem to develop on top of earlier layers of epigenetic imprints taken from critical pre-verbal developmental experiences involving early childhood relationships to our caregivers. These epigenetic imprints can be thought of as our operating system. Our belief systems run on top of this pre-verbal OS and taken together, they may be thought of as our own personal reality tunnel, or simulation, unique to us and us alone.

Morpheus: What is real? How do you define real? If you’re talking about what you can feel, what you can smell, what you can taste and see, then real is simply electrical signals interpreted by your brain.

We each live in our own Matrix, interpreting the world and our relationship to it based on our early childhood experiences. Our path as mutants of developing and evolving species on a developing and evolving planet seems to involve waking up to our unconscious unawareness of our Matrix, unplugging from our Matrix, and becoming more and more fully, authentically ourselves. 

Free your mind.

In understanding our Matrix, we can break these layers of programming down into four dimensions of ‘mind’ based on four stages of development. (With the usage of ‘mind’ here, one might substitute ‘consciousness’ or ‘psyche,’ and the quotes indicate that we are dealing with something ephemeral and difficult to define precisely. The four subcategories below represent dimensions of a larger gestalt of ‘mind.’)

As an infant, we cry out in the middle of the night to be fed, with an underlying need to feel safe and loved. The response we receive and the interactions involved shape how we learn to move through the world in search of a sense of safety and security, and shape how we cope with the psychological terror of feeling hungry, alone, and unloved.

As toddlers, we assert ourselves in the world, most famously through the world, “No!” in a quest for a sense of self, with boundaries of “me” and “not-me”, in a dance of relational attachments and dynamics along with all the wonderful emotions that come along with that relational dance. At the extreme ends of this we discover shame, a greatly diminished sense of self, and ego, an over-inflated sense of self. Seen and recognized.

As we develop further and begin our acquisition of language, we concurrently develop complex conceptual models, or belief systems, of ourselves in relation to our environment. Our pre-verbal experiences as infants and toddlers deeply influence the limitations and adaptability of these models. Later on, with constrained, inflexible models to work with, we shape novel, non-ordinary perceptions to fit the basic assumptions and preconceptions built into our models. We manipulate or throw out data that does not conform to our view of the world and our self in it. We do this in order to keep things safe and predictable and maintain our baseline self-concept or identity.. Repressed “shadow” aspects of ourselves which we exclude from our self-concept are disowned and projected onto others.

We create the simulation we want, ignoring the real experience right in front of us. 

Neo: I thought it wasn't real.

Morpheus: Your mind makes it real.

With adolescence and a transition from childhood into adulthood, our social needs to belong, to relate. to a group, a tribe, a society and culture, constrain our desires for full autonomy, freedom and independence of expression. Even the “out-group” forms a subculture with rules and norms for belonging. Through this need to belong, a domestication process further shapes how we perceive and express ourselves through our relationship with our tribes and communities. We tend to form judgements about those that don’t fit in with our rules for belonging and social connection. Ultimately, we seek our own distinct role in the village.

Morpheus: Have you ever had a dream, Neo, that you were so sure was real. What if you were unable to wake from that dream. How would you know the difference between the dream world and the real world?

Epigenetic Imprints taken on during these four stages of development shape four dimensions of mind that make up our own personal Matrix or reality tunnel that shapes how we relate to the world around us. 

Agent Smith: But I believe that as a species, human beings define their reality through misery and suffering.

Sooner or later, we run into our own personal limitations. We took on the programs of our simulation starting at a time when we were helpless. They kept us protected when we were completely dependent on others. However, the unconscious, habitual nature of these programs severely restricts our relationship to the world and can only take us so far. 

Temet Nosce

The Oracle: You know what that means? It's Latin. Means `Know thyself'.

We must wake up and unplug. To unplug from this automatic, habitual programming, we must develop and continually deepen our awareness of this programming and the simulation we’ve created for ourselves.

Morpheus: You have to let it all go, Neo, fear, doubt, and disbelief. Free your mind.

Given that our simulation develops through relationships, one might reasonably speculate that we can use relationships as a vehicle for waking up and unplugging. We can free our mind through engaging with present moment relationships in a more direct manner. Through this courageous engagement, we can come face to face with our fears, doubts, and disbeliefs, learn to let go of them, move through the feelings associated with them, and integrate repressed, denied, and disowned parts of ourselves into a more complete, more whole psyche capable of more fully relating to the world..

We can free our mind through the immediacy of relationship with another, discover and unpack our judgements, our beliefs and projections, our shames, and our fears, and come to a more direct and engaged experience of relationship with every-moment existence. We created the Matrix through our early relationships, and we can unplug from the Matrix and override the simulation through direct engagement in relationships right here, right now.

Spoon boy: Do not try and bend the spoon. That's impossible. Instead only try to realize the truth.

Neo: What truth?

Spoon boy: There is no spoon.

Neo: There is no spoon?

Spoon boy: Then you'll see that it is not the spoon that bends, it is only yourself.

Spiritual practices give us another path in which to wake up to and unplug from the Matrix. Various esoteric mystical practices, including the intentional use of psychedelic catalysts, can lead to, among other things, experiences of non-ordinary dimensions of mind. These non-ordinary states of consciousness can open us up to new possibilities *and* expose our limitations, challenging the programming wrapped around our fears, doubts, and disbeliefs. 

We might find that the four dimensions of ‘mind’ discussed above, the ‘soulful’ dimensions shaped by developmental stages, each have a corresponding ‘spiritual’ dimension associated with them, and that the relationship between ‘soul’ and ‘spirit’ dimensions has a particular dynamic to it.

Imagine feeling so loved and held; so safe, secure and at peace in the physical existence of one’s body that suddenly a profound sense of joy spontaneously erupts upward from deep in one’s core. Such an ecstatic experience awakens one to a reality outside the everyday suffering of physical existence, and exposes one to their limitations around feeling held, loved, and perfectly safe, if one is willing to listen.

In other non-ordinary states of mind, one can attune to finer energies within and without, establishing a direct sense of one’s energetic body and the energy of one’s environment. This state of enhanced sensitivity and intuition signals a more direct experience of the world underneath the simulation and can open one to a sense of freedom from the conceptual models and belief systems that form the programming of the Matrix. This sense of (((uncertainty) freedom from belief can expose limitations in the development of our sense-of-self. Without clear boundaries of self, and not-self, we struggle to distinguish the finer energy of self (me) from environment (not-me) and confuse the two. 

We must become more fully ourselves in order to more fully lose ourselves.

From a deeper relationship to our body and our nervous system, one can start to experience a deeper relationship of connectedness to one’s environment. This connection can deepen as one stays separate-but-connected, but eventually one’s separateness begins to dissolve into the experience of unity as one drops one’s identity and self concept. These experiences of connection and unity tend to expose the rigidity of our self-concept and highlight our repressed, disowned aspects of self concept that we project onto others..

As we move through these non-ordinary states, the lines that separate and distinguish them from each other become more and more difficult to define. From embodied bliss to attuned felt-sense to connectedness with all… our separateness completely dissolves further and further until one loses all identity and becomes part of everything, and then everything and nothing at the same time. Mind moves beyond the linearity of time-space into something far, far stranger that we can imagine. This shocking experience of the impermanence of space-time itself can expose us to limitations of our sense of community and our relationship with it. A strong identity of our role-in-the-village can provide the anchor within ordinary experience of space time that allows for the non-ordinary experience beyond space-time, and vice versa. 

We find that experiences of these various spiritual dimensions of ‘mind’ offer windows outside of our Matrix into a more direct experience of being. Through spiritual highs, they offer a glimpse of what’s possible, and they can expose the depths of our soul and its limitations. With both our potentials and limitations exposed, we can use that awareness to unplug a little further and live a little fuller. The choice is up to us. We cannot change our environment, but we can change our relationship to it.

Morpheus: Do you believe in fate, Neo?

Neo: No.

Morpheus: Why not?

Neo: Because I don't like the idea that I'm not in control of my life.

Morpheus: I know exactly what you mean. Let me tell you why you're here. You're here because you know something. What you know you can't explain. But you feel it. You've felt it your entire life. That there's something wrong with the world. You don't know what it is but it's there, like a splinter in your mind driving you mad. It is this feeling that has brought you to me. Do you know what I'm talking about?

The call to adventure lives in all of us, whether we are ready to hear it or not. Are you ready to unplug? If you are reading this, you have begun the process of waking up. How far are you willing to go? How much are you willing to risk? Are you ready to feel the depth of it all in order to experience the liberation that may come? 

Trinity: …I wasn't really looking for him. I was looking for an answer. It's the question that drives us mad. It's the question that brought you here. You know the question just as I did.

Neo: What is the Matrix?

Trinity: The answer is out there, Neo. It's looking for you. And it will find you, if you want it to.


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