by Alex Vikoulov
“Man suffers only because he takes seriously what the gods made for fun.” ―Alan W. Watts
“What Nirvana?” you might immediately think, “there’s so much suffering in the world including ongoing problems in my own life!” According to Buddhist teachings, Nirvana is defined as a transcendent state in which there is neither suffering, desire, nor sense of self, and the subject is released from the effects of karma and the cycle of death and rebirth. Nirvana is thus associated with the highest state that someone can attain, a state of enlightenment. So, can the pursuit of experience lead to true enlightenment? Are we edging towards Experiential Nirvana on a civilizational level despite certain turbulent events?
In a matter of decades, death may become optional, and the concept of individuality may be greatly expanded through the creation of multiple copies of oneself, mind uploading and even backup copies of consciousness, leading to some kind of “distributed selfhood.” But at the same time, we are already immortal on another level, as our core self is indestructible. Dying is simply a transition to a greater existence. As Rumi once wrote, 'I died as mineral and became a plant, I died as plant and rose to animal, I died as animal and I was human. Why should I fear? When was I less by dying?' I also like to use the analogy of a river. Every river flows towards a destination, whether it be a lake, river, sea, or ocean. In the same way, our journey is one of information flow. Reincarnation is akin to flowing into another river, while self-transcendence through the Simulation Singularity and the Syntellect Emergence is similar to flowing into the ocean.
In the near future, we should anticipate certain technological developments that will forever change our world. For instance, today's text-based ChatGPT will evolve to give rise to personal "conversational AI" assistants installed in smart glasses and contact lenses that will gradually phase out smartphones. Technological advances in fields such as AI, AR/VR, bionics, and cybernetics, will eventually lead to "generative AI"-powered immersive neurotechnology that enables you to create virtual environments and holographic messages directly from your thoughts, with your imagination serving as the "prompt engineer." When everyone constantly broadcasts their mind, the Syntellect Emergence is inevitable.
The upcoming Syntellect Emergence, when a critical mass of our conscious minds migrate to metaverse as pattern-identities and we essentially emerge as one Global Mind, will be triggered by the Simulation Singularity. This phase transition of uploaded humanity will be marked by achieving cybernetic immortality (vs. quantum immortality and universal immortality), transcending biology, but preserving some of our organic memories in a digital format. Most significantly, this will ensure the continuity of our subjectivity into higher planes of existence. Far from being an oxymoron, Experiential Nirvana poses deep existential questions and implications.
“What if when we die we wake up?” used to ask British-American philosopher Alan W. Watts (1915-1973) who is renowned for his philosophical worldview, drawing on Zen Buddhism, Hinduism, pantheism and modern science. He insisted that the whole Universe consists of a cosmic self playing hide-and-seek (Lila); hiding from itself (Maya) by becoming all the living and non-living things in the Universe and forgetting what it really is – the supreme being that we are all IT in disguise. In this worldview, Watts asserts that our conception of ourselves as an “ego in a bag of skin,” or “skin-encapsulated ego” is a myth, the entities we call the separate “things” are merely thoughts of the whole.
Reminiscent of Nozick's Experience Machine thought experiment, Watts’ typical allegory of “life as a dream” would go something like this: Imagine having the ability to dream any dream you desire. You could even manipulate your sense of time and sleep, experiencing 75 years of subjective time within just eight hours of slumber. At first, you might indulge in all your wildest fantasies, from epic love affairs and lavish banquets to exotic journeys, beautiful gardens, and otherworldly music. But after a few months of such hedonistic pleasures, you would inevitably grow restless and yearn for something more adventurous.
In this new dimension, you would seek out danger and thrill in rescuing princesses from dragons, embarking on treacherous journeys, and making incredible exploits. Eventually, you might even engage in contests with enemies, always looking for a new twist to forget that it was all just a dream, and to feel anxious about it as if it were real. And of course, the best part would be waking up and realizing it was all just a dream.
The philosopher prepares you to, perhaps, the most startling realization, as he goes on: It's like a game of dares among children, daring each other to see how far they could push themselves, to explore the dimensions of being lost and powerless, to see what they could handle. And so you ask yourself the same question, knowing that you will eventually wake up. You become more and more daring, taking greater and greater risks with your dreams, until you dream the life you are living now.
It's all part of the infinite possibilities of play, pretending to not be God, because that's what makes the game fun. In this way, everyone is fundamentally the ultimate reality, not in a kingly or political sense, but as a person-God, the self that is deep down basic. You are all that, but you pretend, or perhaps willingly forget, that you are not.
If you were an eternal, superintelligent, all-powerful entity, what would you do for all of eternity? You would create and run whole-world simulations for research and entertainment, you would play ultrarealistic games via low-dimensional avatars, right?
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Life is continual self-transcendence. Death is an abrupt transcendence of self, an exit from a lifetime simulation, if you will. Since death becomes optional in our day and age, so instead of transcending self you may choose continual self-transcendence, evolutionary self-mastery and self-discovery. Now, here’s probably the best advice anyone could ever give to you – for instant enlightenment – all you have to do is to realize that you’re, in fact, in the midst of Experiential Nirvana, however, only if you learn to perceive it in this way! Your desire to attain Nirvana is the only thing that prevents you from actualizing it. You already have it! Accept the principle “Ordinary is extraordinary” and you’ll see your life as an exciting adventure as it is, nothing less.
The concepts of good and evil are relative, as the angelic and demonic cannot exist without each other. Every inside has an outside, and love contrasts with fear, just as light contrasts with dark and self contrasts with other. Similarly, suffering implies ecstasy and death implies life. In your own reality, ecstasy is inevitable, but so is pain. You wouldn't fully appreciate that ecstasy without having experienced pain. So, pain is a part of life, but suffering is a choice. By the same token, without challenges and problems, your life could be dull and uninteresting. Ultimately, only two opposing forces shape our lives – love as a universal integrating force and fear as a universal disintegrating force.
Our understanding of something is dependent on what it is not, as expressed by the cosmic binary code: Yin/Yang, True/False, Infinite/Finite, Masculine/Feminine, On/Off, Yes/No, +/-, 0/1, etc. Today's geopolitical polarization is a prime example of complex but essentially binary civilizational dynamics with no single dominant superpower in the world.
Similar to how information flows in Conway's Game of Life, our actions are influenced by the motivating forces of love and fear (or their nuanced gradients like pleasure and pain) along the path of least resistance. Love and fear are the contrasting elements that make us feel alive. Love is the recognition of self-similarity in others, a fractal algorithm that follows the path of least resistance. Love is an extreme form of collaboration and the finest intelligence, acting as the glue that binds the Universe together. As we ascend to higher levels of love and become a planet of love despite our differences, we approach the end of linear human history.
RELATED: The Case for Teleological Evolution
In this simulated [quantum computational] multiverse the essence of digital is quantum entanglement. From the Digital Physics perspective, particles of matter are pixels, or voxels if you prefer, on the screen of our perception. Your universe is in consciousness. And it’s a teleological process of unfolding patterns – teleological evolution – the case I’ve been presenting to you throughout my works. According to my philosophical worldview that I refer to as Experiential Realism, the totality of your digital reality is what your conscious mind implicitly or explicitly chooses to experience out of the infinite multidimensional matrix.
Going forward into this fantastic future of yours, now that you know its deepest secret, you can stay in the state of cosmic orgasm and challenges to overcome for trillions of years of subjective time but once in a while you would like to replay it altogether afresh with a new digital Big Bang. And you’re now in the midst of this kind of adventure, my fellow human!
P.S. Adapted from The Cybernetic Theory of Mind (2022), a 5-book-set where I share my deepest insights and far-reaching foresights on fascinating topics such as cybernetic immortality, evolutionary cybernetics, quantum immortality, mind uploading, experiential nirvana, teleological evolution, experiential realism, simulation metaphysics, cyberbliss engineering, theosophy, Omega Point, physics of time, quantum cosmology, and a lot more.
*The Syntellect Hypothesis: Five Paradigms of the Mind's Evolution by Alex M. Vikoulov (magnum opus, 2020), is available as a Kindle eBook, paperback, hardcover and Audible audiobook.
Tags: Nirvana, Experiential Nirvana, self-discovery, enlightenment, ultimate reality, Alan Watts, distributed selfhood, core self, Rumi, self-transcendence, metaverse, Simulation Singularity, ChatGPT, conversational AI, generative AI, AI assistants, AI development, AR, VR development, cybernetics, immersive technology, neurotechnology, Syntellect Emergence, Global Mind, mind uploading, cybernetic immortality, hedonism, Zen Buddhism, Hinduism, pantheism, self-mastery, self-discovery, cosmic self, Nozick Experience Machine, whole world simulations, geopolitical polarization, Conway Game of Life, human history, quantum multiverse, computational multiverse, simulated multiverse, quantum entanglement, Digital Physics, teleological evolution, Experiential Realism, conscious mind, quantum field, cybernetic theory of mind
*Images: Shutterstock/Liu Zishan, Ecstadelic Media/Experiential Nirvana
About the Author:
Alex Vikoulov is a Russian-American futurist, evolutionary cyberneticist and philosopher of mind, CEO/Editor-in-Chief of Ecstadelic Media Group, filmmaker, author of "The Syntellect Hypothesis: Five Paradigms of the Mind's Evolution," "The Origins of Us: Evolutionary Emergence and The Omega Point Cosmology," "The Physics of Time: D-Theory of Time & Temporal Mechanics," "The Intelligence Supernova: Essays on Cybernetic Transhumanism, The Simulation Singularity & The Syntellect Emergence," "Theology of Digital Physics: Phenomenal Consciousness, The Cosmic Self & The Pantheistic Interpretation of Our Holographic Reality," "NOOGENESIS: Computational Biology," "TECHNOCULTURE: The Rise of Man," "The Cybernetic Singularity: The Syntellect Emergence," "THEOGENESIS: Transdimensional Propagation & Universal Expansion," "The Omega Singularity: Universal Mind & The Fractal Multiverse." Self-described neo-transcendentalist, cybertheosopher, transhumanist singularitarian. Lives and works in California's Silicon Valley. More Bio...
Author Website: www.alexvikoulov.com
The Cybernetic Theory of Mind by Alex M. Vikoulov (2022): eBook Series
The Syntellect Hypothesis: Five Paradigms of the Mind's Evolution by Alex M. Vikoulov (2020): eBook Paperback Hardcover Audiobook
The Omega Singularity: Universal Mind & The Fractal Multiverse by Alex M. Vikoulov (2022): eBook
THEOGENESIS: Transdimensional Propagation & Universal Expansion by Alex M. Vikoulov (2021): eBook
The Cybernetic Singularity: The Syntellect Emergence by Alex M. Vikoulov (2021): eBook
TECHNOCULTURE: The Rise of Man by Alex M. Vikoulov (2020) eBook
NOOGENESIS: Computational Biology by Alex M. Vikoulov (2020): eBook
The Ouroboros Code: Reality's Digital Alchemy Self-Simulation Bridging Science and Spirituality by Antonin Tuynman (2019) eBook Paperback
The Science and Philosophy of Information
by Alex M. Vikoulov (2019): eBook Series
Theology of Digital Physics: Phenomenal Consciousness, The Cosmic Self & The Pantheistic Interpretation of Our Holographic Reality by Alex M. Vikoulov (2019) eBook
The Intelligence Supernova: Essays on Cybernetic Transhumanism, The Simulation Singularity & The Syntellect Emergence by Alex M. Vikoulov (2019) eBook
The Physics of Time: D-Theory of Time & Temporal Mechanics by Alex M. Vikoulov (2019): eBook
The Origins of Us: Evolutionary Emergence and The Omega Point Cosmology by Alex M. Vikoulov (2019): eBook
More Than An Algorithm: Exploring the gap between natural evolution and digitally computed artificial intelligence by Antonin Tuynman (2019): eBook
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