Chilling, tingling, hot sensations of bubbly, proud, shocking but sad, boring, scratchy, pungent, exhausting happiness. EXPERIENCES are the tether with which we can all find common ground. It doesn’t matter what beliefs you have. If you’re shy, confident, sadistic, depressed, or think this reality is a simulation, we are all still existing through experiences. It’s the key component to life versus non-life.
We have our senses of taste, touch, sight, smell, hearing, space, and other more subtle, subconscious senses that together give us one collaborative, cohesive ‘thing’ called experiences.
Let me start with an example; jogging. It’s exhausting at times and euphoric at times; but what causes that? When we run, our muscles stretch and contract, and the blood pumping through our veins is given extra oxygen. Our heart beats quicker, and we breathe heavier, giving our brains a type of high; a kind of ‘premium rush’ that our ancestors felt when they were on the hunt. It would put them in the zone and once they were in, it was like unlocking a mental state where you can kill and not lose sleep over it. The phenomenological process of experience is something that, though it exists for all living things, only as a human has the potential to be self recognizing.
Also, that thing I said at the beginning about it being the key component to life versus non-life, well, that basic understanding has changed in the scientific community over time. It can be argued now to a startling degree that we mustn’t rule out experiential possibilities for non-life entities such as rocks. This scientific theory is called panpsychism. In the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, they write,
“Panpsychism is the view that mentality is fundamental and ubiquitous in the natural world. The view has a long and venerable history in philosophical traditions of both East and West, and has recently enjoyed a revival in analytic philosophy. For its proponents panpsychism offers an attractive middle way between physicalism on the one hand and dualism on the other. The worry with dualism—the view that mind and matter are fundamentally different kinds of thing—is that it leaves us with a radically disunified picture of nature, and the deep difficulty of understanding how mind and brain interact. And whilst physicalism offers a simple and unified vision of the world, this is arguably at the cost of being unable to give a satisfactory account of the emergence of human and animal consciousness. Panpsychism, strange as it may sound on first hearing, promises a satisfying account of the human mind within a unified conception of nature.”
In my own words I would say: consciousness is NOT an emergent phenomenon. Human evolution didn’t create self-aware consciousness, (as is the standard idea of why we are different from all other animals,) rather, human evolution in the brain developed and molded the neurology to access the universal bed of consciousness, just to a far higher degree than all other animals. Our species’ mental wiring tapped into a preexisting consciousness rather than developing it as a side effect of growingly complex thought pathways and instincts. It can be hard to make this theory easy for everyone to understand, but the way I continually think about it, is that just like how order can come from randomness in nature without an intentional maker behind it, so can our own self-awareness.
This theory doesn’t answer everything. It leaves bigger questions alone like how did the laws of physics come to be? Is it truly either by a creator or unanswerable? That comes with the caveat of setting aside that fact that were it by a creator, it would still be unanswered, with us just moving the goal post back one dimension.
This leads many who believe this universe to be a simulation to the understanding that if we were to create a simulated reality, what is to say that it has only just happened once, and not that what we just did is exactly what has happened to US? And same with our creators’ universe. Someone more than likely created theirs, and someone created that creator’s reality, and so on and so forth for infinity. But to that theory leading many great minds to think that it must be the case that we ARE in a simulation then, I say, but we haven’t created an entire simulated universe though. We haven’t done it yet, so this postulating is based purely on theory, like time-sing a number by infinity, or conceptualizing matter moving faster than light. We can think about these things- we can imagine about infinity, but physics has blockers. If we built a rocket to go as fast as possible, we could get it near lightspeed until tiny space debris tore it to sheds; or simply gravity from large objects might impede the time and distance needed to get it there. Or we could walk a half distance to a door, but rather than walking a half distance forever, never reaching the destination, eventually we would reach the door.
That’s all not to say that us imagining these things isn’t in a way, real experiences. Here’s an example of what I mean: when I think back to my earliest memory, I catch myself remembering walking alongside the rock path at my grandparents’ old cottage. However, when I think more about it, my first real memory isn’t a physical experience at all, but a dream; more specifically a nightmare, but that’s beside the point. It’s not like it doesn’t count as my first memory, that IS the first experience that I remember, it just feels weird to say because the experience only happened in my head. So like usual, our initial assumptions about what defines experiences, that maybe we didn’t even know we had, can be incorrect. The universe may be a conscious thing that our brains simply access to think, and we may choose to understand that dreams are as valid of an experiences as real life. I would only add that we shouldn’t be upset with people who did us dirty in our dreams. Keep the confrontation for the dream version of that person.
The final point on experiences I want to hit on is how our own presumptions and expectations can radically warp our perception of experiences. I’ve hit on this point throughout multiple Thoughts pieces so it would be redundant to cover it all again, but I do feel it still deserves to be mentioned here. Our state of consciousness determines our interpretation of events, not as they are, but as how we feel about them. There is a technique of meditation called mindfulness that taps into this aspect about ourselves. It has us sit, eyes closed typically, and focus on the breath. While doing this we are told to take in all thoughts, sounds, and physical sensations simply as they are. The point of this form of meditation is to shed light on reality as it is, and our own state of being. It’s also meant to give us a break from our standard, rather distracted, mental state. It’s ability to successfully do so is entirely dependent of each individual and their own ‘distractibility’, though there should be no judgment for anyone’s success at this. We are all wired differently, and some honestly do not have the ability to attempt this practice. I myself have undiagnosed A.D.D., but feel like I still have had successful moments of clarity, so all I would say is everyone should at least give it a try.
And that’s about all I have to say about the topic of experiences! There’s physical experiences, mental experiences, and out of body experiences. The range is wildly wide. I hope you all had a fun time reading this latest piece, from me, ya boy, Joe Van. I happily urge all those who found this interesting to GO OUT into the world wide web, and do your own research! I hope for nothing but love in your lives, and ask you to remember to keep on thinking. Bye for now.