I’m intrigued by the idea from the Matrix movies that we live in a simulation but we have the possibility to live in the real world.
This is a work idea worth exploring. It can be taken on different levels. The first step is to find evidence of living in a simulation.
In the movie version, the simulation looks exactly like what we think of as the real world but the laws of physics do not actually apply if the characters are able to convince themselves that they are living in a simulation. When the movie characters enter the real world where the laws of physics do apply, they are able to re-enter the simulation and manipulate it provided they do not identify with their simulated self. The star character is the one who is able to remain dis-identified and remember that he is in a simulation.
Is this an analogy that we can work with?
Yes and no. Can you find evidence of the simulation you are living in? This is not a theoretical or speculative question. I suggest to you that your simulation is of your own making and it does not closely resemble the real world. The simulation is not a perfect facsimile of the real world, as we see in the movie, but rather an extreme editing of it.
What is my simulation? It’s my habitual way of seeing and thinking. It’s a framework that selectively leaves out most of what is happening around me. It’s my expectations and fears that unconsciously shape the placement of my attention. Do you see that most of what you worry about does not actually happen?
As I speak to you, I hear the sound of traffic, the soft murmur of tires on wet pavement, the reflection of street lights off moving cars onto the ceiling of the room where we sit. As I listen to you, and respond to your questions and comments, I continue to hear the sounds, see the patterns of light, which shape my sensing and feeling of being here and alter my disposition towards you in ways that I know as they occur.
Living in the present is engaging consciously with the world outside my simulation, not with effort but with ease.
What prevents the integration of my experience? Rejection of my environment is one thing. Obsessive identification with the thinker or the self of my personal narrative is another. A dis-identified state lets more in, edits less. It is very valuable to catch the editor at work, commenting, critiquing and thereby missing what is happening even as it unconsciously shapes my moods and reactions.
When I play a computer game I identify with my character.
Yes. This is a possible value of playing these games…to learn not to identify with your character. Of course, once you have learned this, you may have no further interest in the game. And that raises disturbing questions about how you can survive without the momentum you get from your simulation.