From my column in Ynet: “Yes, We Live in a Virtual Reality”
“Many scientists, philosophers and businessmen believe that it is highly probable that people are living in a virtual world which is simulated by a computer,” says a surprising report published by Bank of America. Could it be that we are living in a kind of matrix? Rav Laitman speaks about the origin of such theories.
The report, which was sent to millions customers of the second largest bank in the US and which was also widely covered by the world press, surprised everyone. Although its goal was to explain why we should invest in the area of virtual reality, the existential questions it brought up have intrigued the masses and started a debate on an issue that has almost faded out since the long-forgotten Matrix films.
The inspiration for this unusual theory is based on the ideas of entrepreneur Elon Musk, astrophysicist Neil de Grass Tyson, and Professor Nick Bostrom from Oxford University who claim that it is highly probable that our world is actually a simulation.
Are we actually living in a virtual reality, or are we perhaps part of a cosmic experiment? Is our universe nothing but giant computer software, a three-dimensional simulation of a reality in which matter, energy, electrical charge, our thoughts, and desires are merely the outcomes of complex mathematical calculations?
100 Percent Virtual Reality
According to the wisdom of Kabbalah, the “unique” idea of virtual reality is not surprising at all. Kabbalah has been engaging in it ever since the beginning of creation. Browsing through ancient Kabbalah books written more than 2,000 years ago, such as The Book of Zohar, reveals that it is not about a twenty to fifty percent probability that our reality is virtual, but a 100 percent certainty!
In fact, it is impossible to calculate the probability of whether or not such an immense reality exists. All of its details are totally controlled by clear and absolute laws like the laws of physics and chemistry, which cannot prove the actual existence and purpose of this reality, but only characterize its different components just as scientists do with regard to every little detail in our world. Kabbalists are the ones who decoded the concealed goal behind this “computer output,” which has spread before our eyes with all of its details since the Big Bang 14 billion years ago. Rav Kook wrote in his book Shmona Kvatzim “for greatest that have attainment, the tangible and temporary world does not occupy any place. They don’t consider or value corporeal life, as the people of the world that see this fixed image of the world. The constant problem of the greatest is eternity. This surrounds their soul and fills all their existence.”
Kabbalists tell us that the enormous matter that fills and surrounds the entire universe all the way to infinite distances is merely one thousandth of the matter that is revealed to us, and there is nothing real about it. So, we must explore not the revealed matter but the network of forces that are spread in the huge space and are concealed from us. These forces operate the software of the reality we live in, and the moment that we reveal them, just as thousands of Kabbalists did before us, we will be able to know where we came from, understand what the goal of creation is and how it is expressed in our world. Accordingly, we will be able to plan our future and manage our lives for the best.
According to the wisdom of Kabbalah, the software that manages the perception of the reality of our lives throughout evolution is called egoism. This means built-in self-caring, an inclination that is evil from our youth, a desire that is solely meant to find a bit more pleasure, even at the expense of others. The negative force of our egoistic nature drives us throughout life in an endless chase after satisfaction, and for which it operates all of our five senses and makes us labor all day long, from birth to death.
Our world is developing rapidly, and the technology that is becoming increasingly more sophisticated is an indication of this. At the beginning of the 1980’s, the first computer operating system was cumbersome, and based on one window and an obsolete graphical interface. A few years later, a new version already supported numerous users, numerous languages, and numerous options. Today, operating systems are even faster, more stable, more secure, and use very little of the system’s resources. Most of them are on the way to cloud computing, a service that provides access to information from anywhere and from any device. The difference between the different versions is only in how they can upgrade and improve our lives and to what extent they can offer us a better, cheaper, more convenient alternative. In fact, it is also all we ask for in life.
Try to remember your first computer. What would have happened if we had installed new advanced software on it? A bug. A crisis. It wouldn’t have worked. This is exactly what happens with the operating system of our lives. The egoism software that has been motivating us for thousands of years is no longer compatible with the new software that has entered our lives at the beginning of the 20th century, a global reality in which all of the components are interconnected and totally interdependent. The more we care only about ourselves, using the obsolete egoistic software, the more we operate totally in contrast to the new global reality, to the operating software that is being installed. The clash between these two opposites is destructive, painful, and expressed by infinite troubles, problems, wars, and different crises.
How do we upgrade the software?
The software for creating spreadsheets (Excel, for example) is made of the same components that make up the software for processing documents and textual material (such as Word), and the only difference is the way the components in each of the software programs communicate. The same goes for the software of our lives. All of the bugs that are created are the result of the lack of the right communication between us.
Changing our software means changing our relations. Instead of caring about ourselves, using others, and living in a doomed virtual reality, we must do the exact opposite: care about others, connect with them, feel what they need, and fill them with the positive force and love. Only when the software is upgraded to a more advanced version will a whole eternal reality open up before us.
By using the code that operates the software of our lives, “Love your neighbor as yourself,” a rule that includes the whole Torah, can we bring about a meaningful change in our lives. Rav Yehuda Ashlag (Baal HaSulam) says that the entire creation is prearranged only in order to reach this goal so that mankind will develop in it and become more virtuous until they are able to feel the upper force just as they feel each other. The virtues they acquire are like the steps of a ladder, arranged step by step until a person is whole and attains his goal (The Writings of Baal HaSulam).
In the new reality, we begin to feel the goal of the operating software according to the level of our concern for others and the way the entire computer system operates us. “When a person grows tired of receiving, he becomes free of all the restraints of the creation and roams freely in the Creator’s world; he is guaranteed that nothing will happened to him and that he will not be harmed or hurt forever” (The Writings of Baal HaSulam).
Different from the egoistic software, we are given full control of our lives for the first time, the ability to become the programmers and improve the software so that it will produce an even more perfect reality for us. Then, we will clearly see and feel the true software of reality by ourselves, the reality for which great scientists and philosophers have been searching for decades with only a twenty to fifty percent success rate as the report presented by Bank of America says.
From Ynet: “Yes, We Live in a Virtual Reality” 10/27/16