The Unknowable Nature of Reality and Its Relation to Human Consciousness

Octavio "qms" Maury, March 17, 2022
plaintext version of this essay

True reality is uncertain and altered states of consciousness should be studied
to help us gain a better understanding of our existence.

How do I know what I know? I know that I am typing on my keyboard right now
because I can see, feel, and hear my keyboard in front of me and my fingers
interacting with it. I remember turning on my computer and opening the text file
you're reading. But knowing that human senses are fallable, how do I know if I
even have fingers? Sure, I can feel and see and touch my fingers, but senses
depend on electrical pulses that could theoretically be replicated by a machine.
If I can have a dream where I become a butterfly and can truly believe myself to
be a butterfly, it could also be possible that I could falsely believe myself to
have fingers.

Given enough computing power, we could create a program within a supercomputer
that thinks that it's a real human in a real world. I could equip this simulated
person with fake memories, and in it's head, it would think that they have lived
a whole life, when actually the simulation could only have been running for a
few seconds.

Knowing this, we are faced with a question. How are we to know that our reality
isn't simulated? How do I know that my entire reality isn't just another person
dreaming? How do I know that anything exists? These kinds of questions the
philosophical branch of epistemology; the study of knowing. How do we know what
we know? Well, the long and short of it is that we can't know how we know
anything. We can't know anything for sure.

Some claim to have gained a better understanding of reality through accessing
altered states of consciousness. Through different means, whether it be
meditation, holotropic breathwork, or psychoactive drugs, people can achieve
something called 'ego death' -- Death of the self. Ego death is a spiritual
experience described as a "complete loss of subjective self-identity". When
experiencing ego death, one loses their sense of identity. Living normally with
the ego, one experiences life through a subjective perspective. You only know
reality from the perspective of a human, because that's just what your ego
allows you to experience, but letting go of the ego will allow you to observe
objective reality, free from any subjectivism blocking your conscience.
Individuals who have experienced this are left with the thinking that the entire
universe is just one interconnected system, and that every person is somehow
metaphysically linked to each other. LSD users can realize that the entirety of
everything is 'just one consciousness observing itself from different
perspectives'. On higher doses of LSD, you begin to see eyes everywhere. You're
looking at the walls and the walls are looking at you, then you realize you and
the walls are the same and you're just looking at yourself. Some DMT users who
experience ego death, come back from the experience feeling that their DMT trip
felt "more real" than their usual existence. The experience felt like pulling
back the curtains on reality and seeing the real thing.

So-called 'spiritual' phenomena are very often disregarded by scientists and
formal researchers (which isn't necessarily unreasonable), but there could
really be something of value in studying these kinds of experiences. Let's say
that these kinds of experiences are truthful, and they do provide some kind of
insight to the universe, it's reasonable to think it would be handy for humanity
as a whole to have a sort of 'meta-game' guide to reality. We could get a lot
more done with a lot less conflict. Through a better understanding of these
philosophical and meta-philosophical ideas, humanity could better work together
to a common goal. These sorts of spiritual phenomena could help us better
understand of our definition of right and wrong, better understand ourselves,
and better understand the universe we live in.