You Have Been Warned
While this article may not uncover anything you cannot think of yourself, I know just thinking about this subject usually makes me feel very uneasy. In the description, I said that the very fundamentals of your perception of who and what you are will be shaken. This, as everything else in this world, does of course not apply to everybody. BUT, if you are one of those people who tend to overthink things, who can't sleep at night when something is bothering them, or if your perception of life is nothing but a pure wish to enjoy it to its fullest, I kindly suggest you stop reading now. This article may contain thoughts and ideas some people are sure to find hard to swallow, if not outright offensive, and at the very least a little bit unsettling. We will not be discussing the state of the economy or some conspiracy theory here. This article is purely about you conscience, your mind, everythink you take for granted, and everything that might or might not be true. None of this is fact, or even truly based on science, consider it food for thought, but beware - this might give you more restless nights than you would expect. I repeat, you have been warned, and read on at your own risk.
Introduction - The Human Concept Of Reality
"Cogito, ergo sum" - René Descartes
As most of you know, the above words are in Latin, translating into "I think, therefore I am". There is no clever meaning behind those words. The author was trying to doubt existance and came to the conclusion, that something must exist to do the thinking in the first place. To understand his thoughts better, we must first take a look at our perception of reality.
Check the back of your brain, the deepest, darkest corners, and try to pull out the oldest memory you have. You base everything you know of life, of death, of existence and of reality, on your experience from that memory until now. Everything you have ever experienced, heard, seen, been told, did and are still doing is locked away somewhere in that brain as memories - the interlocking connections form the current you, and five seconds from now, you will be an entirely new person; you will have more experience, which means your perception of reality will shift, if even the tiniest, unnoticable bit.
If someone would walk to you right now and poked you in your ribs, your reaction would be based on everything you have ever experienced and the situation of the world you percieve around you in that moment. You might giggle or you might punch them in the face, nobody knows, because as you can see, the factors to be taken into consideration (pretty much every event since the moment you were concieved) is much greater than what we can handle. Even you, who has been in your mind since the beginning, can only speculate.
To draw a line here, from now on, consider everything you are the sum of every event in existence since you came to be. This is your reality, you think based on it, based on the things you know or at least believe you know. Every new event affects you, changing you the slightest bit, and your reality changes along with you. In example, when you were a child, your home seemed enormous and misterious, with rooms that were perhaps forbidden and shelves you could not reach, with dark cellars and BIG furniture. Now, everything seems so normal, and you smile at yourself then, thinking how little you knew of life back then. And I can guarantee you a time will come when you will smile at your current self - most people eventually do.
But what if there was a chance your memories were wrong? That your reality was a fraud, the things you knew were wrong, that life itself never even existed, and there never was a beginning or an end? If you truly consider this, your mind should start panicking the slightest bit - I know mine does. What if your memories were false, your feelings based on lies, or worse? What if everything you knew and took for real never existed? If this gave you shivers, consider reading ahead - things get more interesting.
Doubt Everything But Doubt Itself
The seed of doubt is just the most dangerous thing in existance. Without a metaphorical rock to lean on, you could go insane purely from doubt itself. And doubt you shall recieve.
Let us start at the beginning, shall we? Not the ultimate beginning, but your beginning. Or rather, what you know was your beginning. If you paid attention in biology, and if you have some life experience, you know that all human beings are concieved by their respective parents, carried by their mother (or a tube in some cases), and born into existence to start their own lives. I asked you before to find your earliest memory. Have you? Was it conception? Your birth?
"Of course not", you think, "a baby doesn't develop memory until a certain age. I am sure I remember most things from then on."
Now think for a second. How do you know that? Were you born with the knowledge of where you came from? None of us were. You recieved that knowledge later in life from someone else, and took it for granted via proof - pregnant ladies, babies being born, everyday events that revolve around this knowledge. You are pretty sure you were born, although you have absolutely no recollection of it, because something in your surroundings points at the "fact". Those of you who watched the movie Inception will remember a conversation about dreams and reality. For those of you who didn't, the movie is about accessing and controlling other people's dreams. The conversation topic from the scene is about telling apart dreams from reality. A novice asks how it can be done, and the answer is, that you know only because you just "turn up" in a dream, with no recollection of previous events leading up to that. Sounds familiar? How is that first memory of yours doing? If you think about it, the first thing you remember is just you, somewhere, parhaps with someone, doing something as a child. As far as you know, that is where you "turned up", with no recollection of where you came from. So going by this movie, technically speaking, you could be in a life-long dream and never realize it. Another interesting thing about this movie? You get to have dreams within a dream, sort of like when you sleep at night.
Most readers who felt too uneasy have deemed all of this hogwash by now and given up - and most likely, hogwash is what it is. It's just a thought experiment after all. Those who fail to admit that the above is possible are too afraid to do so, not because they are of low intelligence or convinced it is impossible, they are just too frightened to think about the idea. If you are reading this, your curiosity is bigger than your fear - congratulations, you have what they call courage and persistance. Let us continue with the thought experiment, shall we?
Try and remember yesterday. What you did, what you ate, when you went to bed and woke up this morning. Is it all there?
"Yes, why would I not remember it?" most people ask me. Here's the catch - you can't remember why. Let this soak in for a bit. To start small, let's say you woke up in the night and went to the bathroom. You have no recollection of that whatsoever in the morning. Do you wake up in the morning and think "Huh, I feel like I'm missing some memories here". No, until something, like the toilet paper's position, arouses your suspicion, you have absolutely no reason to doubt your memories. It goes without saying that the same could go for a whole year of your life or more. Until something is amiss in your memories, you have no memories of missing memories. It's a bit difficult to swallow I guess, because it's practically near impossible and thus difficult to imagine, but we'll destroy that "practically" obstacle in a moment and see just how possible it all is.
Memmory Is Key. Or Is It?
OK, time to put your doubting abilities to the test. We've talked about your birth and how it seems to fit together only because you think it does. Did your consciousness truly come from your parents through birth, or did you just appear some day? "What are you talking about?", you say, "babies get born all the time, I've seen dozens of them, everybody knows that". Well, I guess it's time to crank things up a notch.
Imagine an entity. A little something in the middle of nothingness. This entity is a bit of hopes and dreams, a primordial thing, capable of thinking, deducting, and imagining. Now imagine that entity is you. Floating through the endless continuum for decades, millenia, eons, all alone, with nothing else in existence. Stop all your arguments here and keep reading, you will see why they make no sense in this imagined world.
One day, out of pure nothing, this entity gets two thoughts. "How could it get something out of pure nothing, that's not how the universe works!", you exclaim, happy to have punched a hole in my story at the very beginning. Well, you see, there is no universe. No laws of physics, no daylight, just a void with the tiny entity inside. Unlearn everything you have learned here, or you'll keep getting lost. So, the entiti got two thoughts. Combining these two, it got a third, and so on and so forth, until it had countless thoughts ziping around the void, enjoying the processes and its creations. This happened across and endless time period, and continued for much longer. The entity made up countless things, came to countless conclusions, and kept on thinking to infinity. At some point, this entity decided to try to limit itself. It decided to invent a human, a being made from something called flesh and blood, living in a world of something called atoms. You get the idea. The universe where these humans would exist would have limitations. It invents the concept of beginning and end for the thought it enjoys. A concept of life and death, a concept of light, and dark. It imagines the whole universe as you know it. And then it imagines what life would be like if it was a human. It puts itself in a two year old child's mind, and with that event defines a child. As time goes on, it invents new concepts, like adults, surroundings, colors, voices, sounds, and they get stored in a memory of a sort. Your memory. As it starts this experiment and invents the child, the knowledge from before is hidden in another part of the conscience to allow the humans to be thought out from scratch. If you followed along closely, you can see how you can learn about life, new inventions, meet new people, live your "life", yet nothing of it exists. What you live is only a simulation in the mind of the entity, being modelled and formed as time passes to greet every eventuality. None of the people around you are "real", meaning they don't really live, or die, and at the same time they do. How can this be? Well, you percieve death as the end of a human's life - in that sense, the entity's thoughts are death, and the same applies to life. But, nothing but you truly exists, so how can something die? If this is all too confusing, try stopping thinking in a "I am a part of reality and everything around me is reality" and start thinking in terms of "I am part of a reality, but the reality is being modelled around me", In other words, everything is real, just not in the sense you are used to. It is an existance in the form of the entity's thoughts, and an existance in the "physical world", which is part of those thoughts. Basically, everything you remember, everything that ever happened, or will happened, is thought up by you. Even what you are reading right now. It's far out there, I know, but is it possible? Anything is.
But What Does It All Mean?
Well, in a very general sense it can mean only one thing. For me, it means I am writing for myself, and there is no other entity around me, not really, that will read this, only my thoughts and simulations of someone reading it. For you, it means you are imagining yourself, reading an article by someone else who never truly existed. Not only that. It means everything bad that has ever happened, everything good that ever will happen, the concepts of good, bad, and events, are all in your head. The colors, picture, words, letters, all of it is your imagining. Is this giving you a headache? That would be your fault too. For me, it's just impossible to wrap my head around the whole concept, I can only extract pieces of it at a time. But here is the most important part of this: there is no life or death. No birth, nothing after it, no beginning, no end. Everything in that sense could just as easily be made up by you. You have seen other people die, and be born, but never yourself. While this sounds insane it could fall into a certain logic, made up by the "entity". This means that perhaps, you will never die. Your life will never end as other people's lives have. You were also never born as other people were. It sounds egotistic, I know, you being the center of the universe, but who is to say you aren't? Can you tell yourself you aren't? Well, so can somebody you made up. It's that simple.
On a more practical note, this means absolutely nothing. Does it affect your life? Not at all, besides you having a lot of doubt with you from now on if you don't get it out of your head. Will you die? No more and no less, no matter if this is true or not. Will you wake up tommorow to nothingness? You would anyway. Because there is only one reality, no matter where its origins are, and that reality includes everything that ever was, is, and will be, the truth of this theory would have absolutely no effect on you whatsoever. Could you fly until now? No? Well, bad luck, you won't be able from now on, either. Nothing changes. Cool, huh? Basically, what I'm saying is, you can believe whatever you want, and it makes no difference. At least not in theory.
Let's say little Tommy has read this, and figures, hey, what the heck, nothing is real, so I might as well do what I want. No dice, Tommy, you are still part of the same thoughts that still abide by the same rules. Your life mattered up until now as much as it matters from now on. Does this give you the right to kill people, commit crime and worse? No more than the concept of life does. Keep that in mind, fellow reader, as thinking about this stuff can get you all sorts of crazy if you don't keep your mind in check.
Well, that concludes my thought excercise for the night. I hope you enjoyed the trip, and that your thoughts will not be haunted by any of this for more than half an hour while you contemplate your next move. Try and live your life to its fullest no matter what. Untill next time, keep it real.