Who and Where are We?
`Well, it no use YOUR talking about waking him,' said Tweedledum, `when you're only one of the things in his dream. You know very well you're not real.'
To help illustrate who and where are we, the Virtual Reality creation analogy is perhaps a good place to start. In this analogy, our true selves are gods, existing outside of a virtual reality simulated universe. The gods are individualized extensions of the one Supreme Being who has created these unique extensions of Itself in order to play in the VR simulated universe as multiple entities. Each of the gods is essentially Spirit. When the souls or gods have finished playing in the VR simulated universe, they can choose to become Spirit Itself, not merely part of Spirit, but each one can become the full and complete consciousness of Spirit Itself.
“The universe is at root a magical illusion and a fabulous game.” ~ Alan Watts
“He Himself spread out the expanse of His Maya, and He Himself beholds it. He assumes so many forms, and plays so many games, and yet he remains distinct and detached from it all.” ~ Guru Nanak
So we start out as Spirit. Then we become a god. As a god, we get to play in the VR simulated universe in a body-form. The body-form is the VR character that we choose to play as, while in the VR game of the universe. It is not our real self; it is merely the form we assume to enter the VR simulated environment. After the game is over, we can drop the body-form and leave the VR game and exist as we normally do, as blissful, infinite god-consciousness.
The simulated environment of the universe is holographic “frozen light” forms that are projected onto the backdrop of 3-D space. When we enter the VR game, we enter a localized portion of this simulated universe and interact with the other body-forms that are located in our portion of the simulated universe. These other body-forms are the VR characters of other gods that are playing the VR game, just as you are. To the senses built into the body-forms, everything in the simulated universe appears to be solid and continuous. But it is only an illusion. This simulated universe is actually just light. The “Big Bang” moment of creation occurs when the VR game gets turned on and the artificial VR universe is suddenly projected outward as light into virtual space. The artificial VR universe consists of the frozen light structures that are created as the light projects outward into virtual space over time. But like any virtual reality game environment, it is not real. It just looks real.
“Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one” ~ Albert Einstein
“In truth we are not here. This is our shadow.” ~ Rumi
“The universe consists of frozen light” ~ David Bohm
“Concerning matter, we have been all wrong. What we have called matter is energy, whose vibration has been so lowered as to be perceptible to the senses. There is no matter.” ~ Albert Einstein
“Physicists have announced it, astronomers have proclaimed it, and technicians have proven it without a doubt in their laboratories; and yet hardly anyone in the world seems to be aware of the fact that everything is made of light” ~ Swami Abhayananda
“All matter is just a mass of stable light.” ~ Sri Aurobindo
“As the early twentieth-century British physicist Sir Arthur Eddington put it, matter is mostly ghostly empty space, 99.9999999999999% empty space to be a little more exact … Solid matter has, literally, disappeared into empty space.” ~ Peter Russell
In the Helpful Creation Analogies sub-section of The Enchanted Universe section, we looked at a number of different creation analogies, i.e. The Dream Universe, All the World’s a Stage, The Cosmic Motion Picture Show, The Holographic Universe and Virtual Reality Game.
The Virtual Reality Game captures the essence of each of the other creation analogies. For example, in The Dream Universe, we are seen as dream characters in a dream universe. That is, everything is an illusion; not real. A VR game is just that; artificial characters chosen to play in an artificial game environment. In the All the World’s a Stage, we are seen as actors assuming a role in a stage production. In a VR game, the characters in the simulated world are very similar to actors in a play. In The Cosmic Motion Picture Show, we are seen as actors in a 3-D-movie in which the light from the movie projector passes through a film and is spherically projected into the backdrop of virtual space instead of onto a cinema screen. Again, in a VR game, the characters are like the movie actors and the simulated game environment is spherically projected light in virtual space, just like in the Cosmic Motion Picture Show analogy. As well, the audience watching this 3D cosmic movie from seats in the theatre are just like the players of the VR game, who exist outside of the simulated game environment. The movie watchers and the VR game players are the gods who “witness” the action in the movie or the game. And finally, The Holographic Universe creation analogy is, by definition, spherically projected light energy that is focused into 3-D frozen light objects in virtual space. Just like the VR simulated world.
The Virtual Reality Game creation analogy is a wonderful match to both the words of the mystics as well as the discoveries of modern science. Perhaps, we can go as far as saying that the Virtual Reality Game is more than just a creation analogy; maybe it is reality itself.
It is interesting that in June 2016, inventor Elon Musk, founder of SpaceX and co-founder of Tesla Motors, expressed his view that there is a very, very high probability that we are living in a Virtual World. “If you assume any rate of improvement at all, then the games will become indistinguishable from reality ... So given that we’re clearly on a trajectory to have games that are indistinguishable from reality ... it would seem to follow that the odds that we’re in base reality is one in billions.”
One more consideration before we take a look at an example of a VR game; where does a VR game actually take place? In today’s world, when one puts on a VR headset and turns on the VR game, all the action takes place within the space of your head. The VR game background and the VR character that you are going to assume are simulated within the headset and recognized by your consciousness. In your VR game headset, you may see a jet fighter plane flying off into distant space at high speeds. But there is no distance, no space - it is all happening in your head. In your VR game headset, you may see vast vistas of cities and oceans from a plane. But there is no vast vista - it is all happening in your mind. In your VR game headset, you may see your VR character taking part in multiple battles in a war zone over a space of many months. But there is no time passing - it is all happening in your consciousness in the present, i.e. right now.
The VR creation game in which you play the role of a particular body-form in a particular localized portion of the universe is just the same. It is exactly like that. It is all happening in your consciousness. In reality, there is no time and space. The localized portion of the universe and your body-form are simulated and displayed on your consciousness. Your body-form is unique. Your VR game is unique. You may share a common localized view of the universe with other players, but each player is playing its own game, all contained within each one’s own consciousness. The consciousness that sees the VR world and the VR body-form from within the game is the ego-consciousness. Your god-consciousness remains outside of the VR game and is, of course, your real self.
“You are imprisoned in physical and mental formations … The true self is beyond form and to know that is liberation.” ~ Eckhart Tolle
Questioner - Did not Mr. Brunton find you in London? Was it only a dream?
Ramana Maharshi - Yes. He had the vision. He saw me in his mind.
Questioner - Did he not see this concrete form?
Ramana Maharshi - Yes, still in his mind.
“It would probably astound each of us beyond measure to be let into his neighbour's mind and to find how different the scenery was there from that of his own.” ~ William James
This is not an easy topic. More on this in the Personalized Creation Model portion of the website, within The Enchanted Universe section.
“This world is painted by you on the screen of consciousness and is entirely your own private world.” ~ Nisargadatta Maharaj
“Every man’s world picture is and always remains a construct of his mind.” ~ Erwin Schrödinger
“Understand that what you think to be the world is your own mind.”
~ Nisargadatta Maharaj
“Even when we intellectually accept the fact that our entire world of experience is a construction within the mind, as eventually we must, we still see this world ‘out there,’ around us.” ~ Peter Russell
“The illusion of solid objects in three-dimensional space … is fabricated within our brain and nervous system in such a way that a physical world appears to be really there outside of us, when in fact its real basis is a neurologically generated holographic pattern that is witnessed by consciousness in such a way as to trick us into seeing it as a solid external material world of physical objects.” ~ Paul Levy
“All these universes, humans, objects, thoughts and events are merely pictures moving on the screen of Pure Consciousness, which alone is real.” ~ Ramana Maharshi
“This universe is a vibratory dream motion picture of God’s thoughts on the screen of time and space and human consciousness.”
~ P. Yogananda
And another thought regarding the Virtual Reality game of the universe. The way the VR game plays itself out for each of us in our unique games very much depends on how we play the game, on how we think and how we act as the game progresses. The VR game is set up such that it is not a “fixed” game, but changes as we do. Ultimately, how the VR game evolves over time and how it ends depends on how we think and act. This, of course, is what makes it all so interesting. While our actions may often be predictable, based on prior actions and current thinking, we have free will to play the game any way we want.
"Our every thought builds our reality." ~ Edgar Cayce
"All that we are is the result of what we have thought. The mind is everything. What we think we become." ~ Buddha
“Whatever happens, happens to you, by you, through you; you are the creator, enjoyer and destroyer of all you perceive.” ~ Nisargadatta Maharaj
“The universe contains all possibilities waiting to manifest, and it supports whatever you create through your inner beliefs and intentions." ~ Jonathan Parker
“Each of us literally chooses, by his way of attending to things, what sort of universe he shall appear to himself to inhabit.” ~ William James
"Once you make a decision, the universe conspires to make it happen." ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
To better understand the idea of the Virtual Reality Game, an example may be useful. Let’s assume that you, in your original form as an immortal, bliss-conscious god, decide that it would be fun to choose a World War I soldier as your VR character and the trenches in war-torn France of 1915-18 as your localized portion of the simulated universe. Maybe that doesn’t sound like much fun, but remember, to your real self as a god beyond this created VR world, you are unaffected by what happens to your VR character. It is like watching a movie.
So the WWI simulation gets set up and you and many other gods watch your VR characters in their soldier body-suits. You and your war-time buddies occupy the muddy trenches in France and engage in fire-fights and hand-to-hand combat with the enemy soldiers in the muddy fields and trenches of the simulated battlefield. Of course, the enemy soldiers are god-souls, just like you, who have taken on the body-forms of the enemy soldiers. In actuality, the whole VR game is being entirely played by Spirit in multiple roles, for it is Spirit that has created these unique, individualized souls out of Itself.
And so the game begins. The whole time the game is being played, part of your consciousness associates itself with the VR body-form of the soldier and part of your consciousness remains outside the VR game and is a silent witness to the action. The body-form consciousness is, of course, your ego-consciousness and the silent witness to the action is your native god-consciousness. The ego-consciousness makes the action take on some “realness” to it, but your god-consciousness makes sure it doesn’t become too real. It is all just a game. Nobody is killed – it is just the illusory body-forms of light that appear to be killed (even if the body-forms seem “real” to your ego-consciousness). After many battles, some of your buddy friends may have been “killed” and have left the game. You yourself may be “killed in action” and leave the game. And, once again, it is worth repeating that, just like any other VR game, nobody is actually killed – it is all just an illusion of light (even if everything appears real for a time to the ego-consciousness). Once outside the game, the god-souls are back to their native, formless, infinite bliss consciousness. The ego-consciousness that is directly connected to the body-forms is dropped once the game is over. The simulated battlefield is gone.
“Open your eyes, for this world is only a dream.” ~ Rumi
“When the Spirit is known, and when we know ourselves as Spirit, there is no land, or sea, no earth or sky – all is He.” ~ P. Yogananda
This is how the game was originally played. But suppose the Supreme Being, who is the actual player in all the different body-forms and souls, decides to make the game a bit tougher on Itself.
“Now when God plays hide and pretends that he is you and I, he does it so well that it takes him a long time to remember where and how he hid himself. But that's the whole fun of it - just what he wanted to do. He doesn't want to find himself too quickly, for that would spoil the game. That is why it is so difficult for you and me to find out that we are God in disguise, pretending not to be himself.” ~ Alan Watts
Suppose that Spirit now decides that once inside the game, the “realness” of the action will be such that the players will for a time fall under the spell of cosmic hypnosis and get caught up in the action. They will temporarily forget that they are gods and temporarily think that they are the VR characters that they are playing, i.e. they will temporarily believe that these body-forms are their true identity. This is somewhat akin to today’s VR games, in which players putting on VR headsets may become overwhelmed by, say, a horror game that they are in and forget that they are just playing.
Everything is quite different now. The horror of the WWI trench warfare becomes quite real to those whose ego-consciousness have pushed the god-consciousness deep into the background and under cosmic hypnosis now believe their body-forms are their real selves. Now, your buddies are actually getting killed. And then your own body-form gets mortally wounded while engaging in hand-to-hand combat with an enemy soldier. The blood that flows from that gaping wound in your chest looks real and the excruciating pain feels real. Very real. And then you “die”. The cosmic hypnosis of maya and avidya is very, very strong.
However, this time when you “die,” you no longer go to your blissful god-conscious self outside the VR simulated world. You are still in an ego-conscious state, so now you move from a “physical” body-form to an “astral” body-form. You are still in the VR game environment – just on a different “level.” The astral body-form is composed of light that is less dense and so is the simulated astral world where you go for a time. More on this topic will be covered in the What’s New section, under the title Astral and Causal Worlds. Eventually, you find yourself back in the “physical” world in a new body-form, as an infant. You live another life in the simulated “physical” world level and then back into the “astral” simulated world level again at “death”. This pattern repeats itself until at long last, after many, many “lifetimes” of being lost in the game, you finally recover your god-consciousness and are able to escape from the VR game and get back to your blissful, native, infinite state as a god beyond this simulated world. And then you may choose to become Spirit, from whence you came in the first place.
Eckhart Tolle has made an interesting comment, “The secret of life is to ‘die before you die’ - and find that there is no death.” What he means is that the secret of life is to overcome the cosmic hypnosis and let your ego-self “die,” i.e. recognize that the ego-self is not your real self; it is only a play character. In so doing, your native god-self awakens. Once your god-nature awakens, you know yourself as an immortal being. As such, you “find that there is no death” – the only thing that gets “turned off” is the body-form, which is just the VR character that you assumed. The VR game ends for that character but you never die as the god playing the game and witnessing the action from outside the game.
I remember many years ago, I came across the following words from Paramahansa Yogananda - “I killed Yogananda many years ago.” I had no idea what he was talking about. I do now.
The scenario of World War I in Europe was chosen for the VR game environment in the above example for a purpose. It was regarding just such a scenario that Paramahansa Yogananda conversed with Spirit on several occasions. Yogananda was a great mystic who had been fully liberated prior to choosing to re-appear in the VR game during the first half of the twentieth century in order to help the VR players trapped in the game. Even though he could access his god-conscious mind at will, he chose to play the game, at least part of the time, with at a partial ego-conscious mind. As such, he would let himself be “fooled” by the game such that he could feel what his fellow players were feeling. And then he could switch to his god-conscious mind and converse directly with Spirit. He would say what his ego-conscious mind was feeling on behalf of his fellow VR game players. The stories and the conversations are remarkable. They appear elsewhere herein, but are repeated again below.
The following experience occurred to the twenty-two year old Yogananda in 1915.
The vision descended on me as I sat one morning in my little attic room in Father's Gurpar Road home. For months World War I had been raging in Europe; I reflected sadly on the vast toll of death.
As I closed my eyes in meditation, my consciousness was suddenly transferred to the body of a captain in command of a battleship. The thunder of guns split the air as shots were exchanged between shore batteries and the ship's cannons. A huge shell hit the powder magazine and tore my ship asunder. I jumped into the water, together with the few sailors who had survived the explosion.
Heart pounding, I reached the shore safely. But alas! a stray bullet ended its furious flight in my chest. I fell groaning to the ground. My whole body was paralyzed, yet I was aware of possessing it as one is conscious of a leg gone to sleep.
"At last the mysterious footstep of Death has caught up with me," I thought. With a final sigh, I was about to sink into unconsciousness when lo! I found myself seated in the lotus posture in my Gurpar Road room.
Hysterical tears poured forth as I joyfully stroked and pinched my regained possession of a body free from any bullet hole in the breast. I rocked to and fro, inhaling and exhaling to assure myself that I was alive. Amidst these self-congratulations, again I found my consciousness transferred to the captain's dead body by the gory shore. Utter confusion of mind came upon me.
“Well, I can stop my heart. Why am I crying? Why am I thinking that I am dead. I have practiced death, so I know what it is to stop the heart and go beyond. I am in that Eternal Joy.” But still, the body dream was so real – I said, “this is death that has happened to me at last – the death that I thought never would happen to me”…. Then I saw that Light and I said, “Cosmic Father, tell me, am I dead on the battlefield or am I sitting meditating in Calcutta?”
He said, “Neither – you have been dreaming that you are sitting and meditating and you have been dreaming that you are dead. You are neither of these two dreams. You are this Light that created those dream delusions.”…. and my delusion fled and I became that Great Light.
The remarkable response from Spirit is a reminder that none of the body-forms we occupy are real. They are merely the VR characters that we have taken on in order to play the game. They are merely frozen light forms. Our real essence is the Great Light that exists beyond this simulated world, outside of the VR game environment. We are gods.
A similar experience also occurred during World War I. Yogananda had gone to a theater in India to watch newsreel footage of the carnage taking place in the trenches of France. As he walked out of the theater, he called to Spirit and implored,
“Lord, why dost Thou permit such suffering?” To my intense surprise, an instant answer came in the form of a vision of the actual European battlefields. The scenes, filled with the dead and dying, far surpassed in ferocity any representation of the newsreel.
“Look intently!" A gentle Voice spoke to my inner consciousness. "You will see that these scenes now being enacted in France are nothing but a play of chiaroscuro ... as real and as unreal as the theater newsreel you have just seen.”
“chiaroscuro” - the dictionary defines it as “the distribution of light and shade in a picture” or “an effect of contrasted light and shadow created by light falling unevenly or from a particular direction on something.”
This time, Spirit is reminding us that the scenes of the VR game that we take to be so real are “nothing but a play of light and shadows, as real and as unreal as a movie (theater newsreel).” The VR game environment is nothing but projected light.
Yogananda had other conversations with Spirit over the years.
“There are many, Lord, millions who do not know that this world is only a drama. What about them?” ….. I know the answer but I don’t like it because so many do not know this is a delusion and when you are suffering from cancer, it is no fun.
In this case, the god within the VR game is telling the God outside the game that perhaps He has made maya, the cosmic hypnosis, a bit too strong. But then again, who suffers? All is Spirit in disguise.
Below is yet another conversation between Yogananda and Spirit.
I remember one day I was in the movies; movies have one fascination, because I see the whole world as movies. I was in the booth and I saw the operator was reading a novel and I saw this automatic machine was going on and the beam was causing on the screen a terrible horror picture. And I said, “Lord, how is it. I have the whole show of the universe in front of me. You are this operator who is thinking of new plays and Your Nature is throwing this beam in the sky. And I see the hero and the villain are nothing but pictures. Nobody is killed.” Many were being killed and shot in this picture but I saw from the booth it was the light that had created the villain and the light had created the hero.
And the Voice said, “….. there is no villain, no hero, they are both pictures of my beam ..… realize that all this world which you see, of terrible wars and troubles, is nothing but a picture show, cosmic motion picture show in the sky.”
“But Lord, look at the audience. They are howling and screeching downstairs at this horror show. I see it is nothing but pictures and light because I see the invisible beam. There are no murders in the beam, no heroes, no villains in the beam. But Lord, what about the audience – they don’t know it.”
Then the Voice said, “Tell them all to look at my beam within and they will realize that this show is given to entertain them, not to get mixed up with it.”
In this case, both Yogananda and Spirit are re-affirming that the VR game environment is not real – it is but a projected light beam that passes through the film of maya and thereby “creates” heroes and villains on the backdrop of space. And once again, a re-affirmation that in reality, “nobody is killed.” It is just frozen light.
But of course, while we are in our deluded ego-conscious state, it sure does feel real. And then the final line by Spirit, reminding us that the VR game is intended for entertainment purposes. When we get “mixed up with it” is seems real and then we suffer.
Now that we’re mixed up with it, how do we get out? “Tell them to look at my beam within.” As we will see next, it is an inward journey into our consciousness that will awaken us from the powerful cosmic hypnosis and maya.
“The only way out is in” ~ attributed to many