Queen Defender of the faith: Flux

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Flux

Virtual Reality is all the rage these days. It promises to give us an arena of education, enlightenment, and entertainment boundless in its possibilities.

Indeed, one of the very first things pioneers will likely try out in a full fledged virtual environment will be Godhood. Omnipotence. Absolute Power.

Is it true "absolute power corrupts absolutely", as Lord Acton thought? Virtual Reality will let us prove or disprove the axiom.

But more importantly, virtual reality could allow all us frail mortals to taste the power we've always dreamt of, but thought we could never have.

Can mortal man (and woman) learn anything from a taste of Godhood?

If so, what? And so what?

One thing virtual reality could do is dispel some of our most cherished illusions. Such as our wish for omnipotence.

But we'll have to wait for years to experience a level of virtual reality suitable for exploring omnipotence-- right?

Wrong.

We all of us already possess powerful virtual reality generators, even as we anticipate with quivering credit cards much lower quality (and prohibitively expensive!) appliances promised us today by our brightest technophiles.

The fact of the matter is that commercial virtual reality machines will not match what we already have for probably another century or two.

Of what virtual reality devices am I speaking? The brain. It has two well known V.R. modes: conscious imagination and unconscious dreaming.

But it also offers a little-known third mode of operation, for those willing to train themselves to access it: conscious dreaming. Or, by its more commonly used appellation, lucid dreaming.


Lucid dreaming is a full immersion, fully controllable virtual reality environment for the dreamer, along the lines of a Star Trek holodeck.
What do I mean by full immersion? That the experience is as real as anything that has ever happened to you awake.
What do I mean by fully controllable? That you are literally God in lucid dreaming (if you want to be) in every way imaginable, as will be seen in the remainder of this article.

I've been charting a course towards personal enlightenment, self-realization, and mind expansion for many years now. My venture into lucid dreaming came only after years of other consciousness altering affairs, ranging from yoga to Silva Mind Control to marijuana to self-hypnosis and other options. I've also spent considerable time studying the I Ching and Tao of Power, among other philosophical works. I read Carlos Castenada at the very start of my personal journey (in junior high), and have been lucky enough to have not one but a whole line of mentors to help me along the way, including a quite amazing combination hippie and Scientologist (don't confuse the church with its adherents), an honest-to-God hero of industry whom Ayn Rand never met but described perfectly in her novels, a Japanese college professor whose specialty was the boundaries of human potential, and an outrageous cowboy blessed (or cursed) with the destiny to ride the very crest of human fun, adventure, and excitement until his own amazing endurance fails him (as of mid-2000 he still lives, despite many predictions to the contrary by others, including doctors, for almost twenty years now).

It's been quite some time since I first began my lucid dreaming. Years, in fact. As I did not document the experience early on, I have precious little record of the beginning but for memories, and indirect references in later writing. This means while everything I say here is true, it's inevitable that some inaccuracies and vagueness dot the account.

I'm not sure where I obtained the basic clues for initiating the process. Perhaps I stumbled upon the procedure by accident in trial and error, or found it in one of the many texts I've read over the years. In any case, the source is unknown to me at the time of this writing.


What's another explanation of lucid dreaming?
Lucid dreaming is a state of REM ( Rapid Eye Movement ) sleep wherein you're fully aware of the fact you're dreaming. Being so aware, you're also able to exert some control over your dreams. How much control? That's up to you.
In my own case, I was able to achieve 100% control. To be honest however, some yoga training and meditation in my past, as well as other factors, may have helped me reach this level.


How did I get started?
I believe I spent years actively jotting down notes of dreams before I ever attempted lucid dreaming. Maybe at first for metaphysical reasons, then later for creative ideas in general. I would keep a notebook handy to make notes upon awakening-- because dream memories typically fade very fast. I may sometimes have struggled to awaken just for this purpose-- to record good dreams. For a while I also kept a tape recorder-- but eventually decided the notebook was better.

SPECIAL TIPS FOR DREAM DOCUMENTATION: Upon awakening don't try to capture the entire dream in sequential or organized form-- instead just hurriedly jot down the basic ideas or characters you remember, before they fade-- THEN begin noting every other snippet and detail that you can recall at random, until everything else fades away on you. Next try to reconstruct the entire dream by building upon both the major elements and the snippets. Each snippet should help you remember something more that preceded, followed, or accompanied it in the dream, eventually letting you end up with several decent-sized portions of the experience documented in an orderly fashion.
This dream documentation MUST be done IMMEDIATELY upon awakening, for best results.


I'm not sure how good my dream recall was in my early lucid dreaming days. It may have been somewhat better than before or after that time-- I just can't remember. It may be likely that dream memories usually fade quickly no matter what. They are slippery as eels most of the time.

I began my efforts at lucid dreaming by concentrating on a particular theme as I was drifting off to sleep.

After a week or so the theme would reliably 'stick', and I'd find myself dreaming of the desired topic. After perhaps another week of this I became sufficiently familiar with what was going on to realize I was dreaming, even as I was technically unconscious. I guess you could say I'd woven a "thread of continuity" from my waking experience to my dreaming one, by way of concentrating on a particular theme. Eventually in my dreams the appearance of this theme helped me recall my purpose, and realize my state of mind. In the nights that followed, full awareness I was dreaming became easier and easier to attain, 'till finally being unaware of the fact seemed impossible to me.

I truthfully cannot recall what my initial lucid dream theme(s) were, but they may have been similar to the pleasant themes I'd used for years to drift off quickly into sleep. Something positive with no downsides whatsoever, like a great memory-- possibly from childhood even-- but not something which will stimulate me too much to abort the drift off process. It also should NOT be related to a problem or problem-solving-- intellectual stimulation can be just as disruptive as any other, in spoiling the sleep cycle. Once you find a good theme, you may be able to use it for years-- or at least until some major real life change ruins it for you in some way.

Keep in mind the theme doesn't necessarily have to be from real life-- it can be something from a past dream itself....hmmm. That may be part of the key. Perhaps in my initial lucid dreaming I focused on a theme of some past pleasant dream-- especially a recurring one. I have several in my repertoire I may use-- though they may be unique to me personally. For instance, I possess a dreaming history of sorts which seems to be an alternative life in the dreamworld, that can be surprisingly consistent and long-lasting. One example is that my dream self has lived in several different abodes over the years, inhabiting each in dreams for years at a time. One was a magnificent delapidated mansion I really loved, and lived in for many years (experiencing it in maybe dozens of separate dreams over several years). But in one dream a flood destroyed it, and my dream self had to move elsewhere. I never did have another dream about living there again, although I often have dreams about REMEMBERING living there (this is strange, isn't it?). I also spent a short time living in a Hobbit House, like those described in the J.R.R. Tolkien books...

Keep in mind that I have not purposely performed lucid dreaming for many years now-- although I fequently nowadays realize I'm dreaming, usually when something unpleasant might be happening or about to happen-- therefore allowing me to mitigate my circumstances. It's mostly an automatic protective mechanism for me now, rather than anything more. At other times I may realize I'm dreaming when a dream or dream element is recurring on me-- I recall the first one was a dream, and so realize the case about the second.

Is confidence important to initiating lucid dreaming?

Again, I suffer fuzzy memories here. I believe I was pretty confident in those early days, although it may have taken me a couple weeks of regular effort to finally achieve what I sought. I'd read some things about it, maybe done significant research (though I can't recall the sources now), so I was prepared. With preparation comes confidence, in almost any endeavor. Plus I had my past experience of other things sometimes not that far different from lucid dreaming.

I don't think I ever had serious doubts I'd achieve it, since I'd previously had occasional lucid dreams by accident from time to time-- which I believe happens to everyone more than they think-- it's just that they don't REMEMBER the lucid dreaming later, for the same reason everyone forgets 99% of all dreams after waking.

I guess doubt could make some difference. But even if you tried everything you could to PREVENT lucid dreaming via doubt or other methods, I believe you'd eventually fail and have a lucid dream anyway at some point. The main trick may be in REMEMBERING the experience, rather than inducing it.


My first time
The first night or so was fantastic. I was able to face and conquer any and all the demons that up to then had plagued my dreams since childhood.
Indeed, one of my initial purposes in pursuing lucid dreaming may have been to chase away my nightmares. In this, I succeeded magnificently.

But everything has a price, doesn't it?


Awakening to Godhood
In the beginning, I noticed only the benefits. If a monster came at me, all I had to do was materialize a powerful gun with which to shoot it. I soon dispensed with guns however, when I realized it was just as easy (but more ego-satisfying) to shoot energy blasts from my hands, as if I were a comic book hero.
As my confidence grew, I tired of the energy blasts, and began to grapple with fearsome beasts hand-to-hand, like Beowulf; I could be as strong and impervious to harm as I wished to be, and so always defeated my foes.

For the first time ever I was able to fly at great heights with no qualms. Before, I had often become frightened by the sight of the ground so far away, and begun tumbling out of control.

I reveled in my newfound power.


Manipulation of time and space
In one dream a friend and I had been engaged in some sort of mischief which spurred the local constabulary to chase after us. We managed to evade our pursuers, and my friend dropped me off near a factory in town. As he waited, parked, I walked some distance towards a building (I can't recall the reason; more mischief, I suppose). Just as I reached a point too far from my friend to return in time, a police car rounded the bend a few hundred yards away, saw me, and floored it.
My friend sped helplessly away, as we both realized there wasn't any hope of my making it back to him.

Just as the police reached me, I remembered my power. I'd used it primarily as a weapon and tool of levitation up to that point. But there was no good reason why I couldn't bend time and space as well, was there?

I sent my dream into "rewind", as if it were a tape in a VCR, and watched everything run backwards. The cops disappeared back around the bend, my friend returned to the curb, and I backtracked to his car. Then I hit the "play" button.

My friend was puzzled by my sudden hesitation to disembark this second time. So I told him the cops were coming, and there they were, right on schedule.

Only this time, my friend and I sped away together, and had a merry time as the police pursued us in vain.


Absolute power bores absolutely
The fun didn't last very long.
Though I've forgotten many details about it over the years, I do remember my final judgment on the matter (I'm very careful to remember any lessons learned about an experience, even if I decide to let the details themselves fade into obscurity.) In the main, I learned that absolute power bores absolutely. It may corrupt too, as the old saying goes, but any corruption I experienced didn't make nearly as big an impression on me as the boredom.

When you're master of all you survey, you're also bereft of any challenge or hope of novelty.

When you win a battle you had no chance of losing, the victory is meaningless.

When nothing new can occur without your permission, you cannot be surprised.

Without fear there is no courage. Without need or want there is no progress or movement.

Without limitations, there is no life.

From my own experience, it appears Godhood would quickly grow unbearable, at least for the likes of us mortals, accustommed to more spicey, exciting fare.
Before I began my lucid dreaming, I looked forward to sleep and dreaming. Though it was true I sometimes endured terrifying nightmares, I enjoyed wonderful, amazingly creative dreams at least as often.
Soon after I began lucid dreaming, neither extreme was available. Both the joys, and the terrors, of my past dreaming experience were gone.

Imagine a person whose taste buds have been irrevocably destroyed, to the extent that they may no longer taste anything they eat or drink. Every meal becomes a burden of mere exercise of the jaws and tongue, that must be performed several times a day to stave off weakness from hunger. Rather than looking forward to meals, the victim begins to loathe them. They become a punishment rather than a treat.

If you want to know the feeling, buy a pack of gum, chew all the sticks until every last bit of sweetness has been leached away, then pack the remnants into a plastic bag and refrigerate them. For the next week, pull out the wad of gum and chew it for about twenty minutes three times a day, to emulate eating, and you'll get some idea of what a taste denied person might perceive during meals.

You'll also get some idea of what's missing from the life of a God. Any motion is essentially wasted from an emotional standpoint, as you may ultimately derive no pleasure or gain from it. No gain, because you already have everything. No pleasure, because there's no other possibility to put it into context. In a reality that knows only "Yes", you quickly begin yearning desperately for a "No".

If you've never been ill, the vigor and well being of health has much less impact on your psyche than it might otherwise. If you've never experienced rejection, acceptance and love will rank low in your personal value system, as common, easily acquired qualities.

Pleasure may be devalued to the point of nothingness in the absolute absence of pain or deprivation, just as money may be devalued to the point of zero worth by inflation, which is by definition a state whereby money may be attained too easily.

Pleasure which comes consistently at no cost or risk of pain may quickly become inflated to the point where it becomes meaningless or worthless to the possessor.


My bargain for escape
One of the more fascinating aspects of this whole ordeal (for me at least) was how I got out of it.
Once I had attained Godhood in my dreams, I found it a somewhat difficult thing to rid myself of afterwards.

Godhood it seems, is neither given or lost easily, even in your dreams.

The paradox was this: I could suppress my absolute power by simply avoiding its use, or trying to forget I had it. But this wouldn't work because I could always fall back on it, and I couldn't help but know this. So no matter how hard I tried, I couldn't have normal dreams again, because everything was still dependent on my will, and I knew it.

Godhood can only be given up lock, stock, and barrel-- not piecemeal, and not temporarily.

To truly relinquish Godhood you must give it up unconditionally and forever. Otherwise the deal simply cannot work, for the first time you encountered a particularly scary nightmare you'd wish back your power to save yourself.

No, to obtain mortality you must reject Godhood altogether, giving up any future claim upon it, relinquishing any chance of regaining absolute deity status ever again.

Essentially, I had to choose the possibility of someday dying from sheer fright in my dreams over the option of defending myself via omnipotence.

I didn't have to think about my decision, once I realized my choices. I grabbed mortality with both hands and denounced Godhood forever. What's a terrifying death for mortals, compared to an eternity of stifling, suffocating, joyless boredom as a God?
To me, Godhood really did appear to be a fate worse than death.
I don't fully understand how I struck my deal for escape, or with whom I was dealing. Perhaps it was simply an argument between my conscious and sub-conscious selves. Maybe some unknown mentor somewhere was teaching me a lesson via my dreams. Maybe a psychiatrist would find something disturbing about the whole episode. After a few weeks of despair and growing desire to put my dreams back the way they'd been before, I met with two strangers in a dream, who explained to me much of what I'm relating here, and then asked me if I truly wanted to lose the absolute power I'd gained. I said yes, and immediately enjoyed the consequences.

I have lost my omnipotence forever. Though I no longer actively pursue lucid dreaming, I still sometimes find myself aware I'm asleep and dreaming. I can no longer manipulate my dreams like tapes in a VCR, and flying has once again become scary and accident-prone at times. I'm not helpless in dreamland now, but rather fairly confident, and only rarely experience true nightmares these days. However, since I'm now vulnerable once again to night terrors like anyone else, I do follow some precautions, such as avoiding sitting through needlessly gruesome films just before retiring for the night.

Have I ever again met the two strange entities with whom I dealt regarding the Godhood of my dreams? No. Never again. And no, I do not recall them having any particular names, either. I also do not remember their specific appearance. My vague memories suggest they were two quite ordinary looking people-- both male, I believe. They did not behave as if the incident was a very big deal for anyone but me.

In the years since I first published these experiences on the net, some readers have accused me of possibly giving up the secrets of the universe and life itself here....but there was never any indication to me that my all-powerful, all-knowing status in my dreamworld extended in any way to waking reality. Every day of my life during my lucid dreaming status as a God, I would awake and live no differently in reality than I did before, or after. My dreamed Godhood gave me no special knowledge or powers in waking reality, nor did it provide me with prophetic visions of the future. My Godhood existed only in my dreams, and had no relation or relevance whatsoever to real life. So no, I'm sorry to disappoint those who believe otherwise, but I gave up only the omnipotence and omniscience within a fantasy-- not the real things, by any means.

But I also have to admit that if by some magic or miracle my lucid dreaming had bestowed such powers upon me in reality, I'd have given them up just as gladly as I did the fantasy abilities. The experience is just too awful to maintain for a being who can recall genuine curiosity, emotions, passions, pain, and pleasure. Yes, I like to think that I would have struggled to cope with Godhood long enough to make the world a better place for everyone before I gave up the powers-- but I know I'm kidding myself. Because the longer you experience Godhood the less you care about anything but possibly escaping it. By the time I realized the trap Godhood represented I was already desperate for an exit, and my care for anything else in the world (at least during my dream-state) completely extinguished. By that point I was incapable of helping anyone or anything in my dreams-- because I simply didn't care. I explain this further below.

(My advice to anyone who wishes to improve the world and somehow did gain Real World omnipotence? Make your improvements A.S.A.P., because all your desire and will to help others will be consumed quickly by Godhood's hunger)


What did I learn from lucid dreaming?
I learned it would be frightfully boring to be God. To know the answer to every question means there's nothing new to learn, no surprises to look forward to. To be all-powerful means there's nothing to fear, no dangers to avoid or flirt with, and no pleasure to seek. Why no pleasure? Because pleasure which can be turned on and off like a light switch, pleasure that is available on demand, pleasure which entails no risk of loss or denial or rejection, simply loses its desirability, its enjoyment, its flavor.
I truly believe now the common male fantasy of the power to make all beautiful women fall madly in love with you would not be enjoyable for most who might somehow achieve it. For it would be too similar to my dreaming experience. The other people involved would be no more than puppets, incapable of initiating their own original actions, always dependent on your own commands and ideas, and with little or no regard for their own welfare or self interest, but for where it affected you, their absolute master. Such entities would rank lower than slaves, lower even than animals-- they would be lifeless, soulless automatons, of little more value than a pornographic magazine to the owner.

When pleasure is no longer difficult to acquire, it loses its value. Still don't get it? Look at a cup of simple, thirst-quenching water. In the desert, it can be priceless life-giving ecstacy. But when we're comfortably sitting at home, with all the plain, pure water we can drink, do we? Not me. I almost never drink plain water if I can help it. Give me a soft drink, coffee, tea, milk, orange juice-- almost anything but plain water.

No, under my prefered conditions water, the stuff which has kept all life on the planet alive for three billion years, almost ranks as a punishment.

The cup of water in the desert is analogous to the typical taste of pleasure the majority of us mortals experience in our daily existence. It's uncommon, difficult to find and keep, and therefore we look forward to it, anticipate it, search for it, hope for it.

Can you imagine an existence utterly devoid of pleasure, or even the hope of it? Apathy would run rampant-- maybe that's why it seems God doesn't give a damn about anyone or anything-- He can't! To Him, a baby's laughter and a hyena's chilling bark might be equivalent in the emotional reaction elicited: none whatsoever.


The motivation to escape
Some have put forth the idea that God created the Universe and everything in it in order to realize His own full potential. That the Universe indeed might be the physical manifestation of the Great Body and Mind of God, living out all its possibilities.
From my own experience with virtual Godhood, I can vouch for the plausibility of this theory. Because look what I myself did! Faced with omnipotence I quickly rejected it in favor of mortality, limitations, and vulnerability.

Maybe God Himself wanted the same thing, and so spun Himself out into a 100 billion galaxies ultimately developing maybe a few million interesting civilizations over several trillion trillion years, to see what might come of it. After all, such a plan would sound much more interesting than simply going insane out of boredom over an infinitely longer period of time (I suspect choosing to become a Universe would also bring with it a much shorter lifespan for the Deity in question-- Creation might be the equivalent of Suicide for a God, as He might not ever face an Ending otherwise.)


The caveat
But of course my own perspective on Godhood came from a mortal being attaining the status, rather than an entity being that way from the beginning. So if God does not have any mortal roots, He might not know what he's missing, or even care for it, if He did know. Maybe only a God-who-once-was-mortal would see and feel what I did.
Of course, it might also be true that in regards to some matters practically any sentient being might follow the same course, and make the same decisions, no matter how high or low on the totem pole they started from.


A preferable alternative to Godhood?
What does a sentient being need and want? Well, though absolute power seems abhorrent, absolute impotence might be even worse. Sentience seems to require some level of security and peace, and sufficient time, to realize its full potential. Living in a state of perpetual fear due to an utter lack of strength or power would surely diminish an intellect and its ultimate achievements greatly. So either extreme, of infinite power or infinite helplessness, might not be suitable for an intelligent being.
Would an asymptotic approach to Godhood be acceptable? That is, growing ever nearer to Godhood, but never quite achieving it? Perhaps. And this may in fact be the road our descendents in the far future will travel, should they enjoy a choice in the matter.

Perhaps the optimum balance would be one wherein we're never in possession of more than barely adequate resources to defeat our foes and overcome obstacles, and often possessing not even that much in the way of advantages. Such challenges would tend to strengthen us when we won, frighten us when we watched our compatriots fall, and stretch out the process of our achieving Godhood indefinitely, as our progress would be about as gradual as the Universe could allow.

If our enemies were usually of our own kind, our development would be self-regulating and positively reinforcing.

Our past history seems to indicate just such a process, as once we overcame the natural inorganic opposition to our survival (the elements of weather, fire, earthquake, and flood), we faced off against various DNA relatives, from snakes to tigers to fellow human beings.

Perhaps the heroic struggle, against often overwhelming odds, is precisely what we are designed for, and would willingly choose for our destiny if made fully aware of all the alternatives

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