Introduction Part 3: Consciousness Evolution According to My Big TOE

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We have seen that consciousness is a self-aware information system choosing to evolve towards greater complexity and lower entropy. It will now become clear that a natural consequence of this process was the creation of individuated pieces of consciousness like us. Our goal and purpose, therefore, are the same as the system’s: to learn to evolve towards lower entropy through greater caring and cooperation within our growing social system of conscious entities.

If you’re unfamiliar with the idea of consciousness being usefully modeled as an aware, intelligent, self-changing information system seeking to lower its entropy, it might be good to (re-)read Part 2 before continuing below.

To understand how we ended up in this virtual reality called the physical universe and what we’re doing here, it is essential to see how consciousness became an information system in the first place. How did the Fundamental Process of Evolution get started?

In trying to shine a light on the beginnings of consciousness evolution we’re facing a similar problem as physicists modeling the early days of the cosmos, or biologists tracing the evolution of life on our planet back to the very first cell: it all happened a very long time ago. None of us was present at the Big Bang to witness our universe’s birth. None of us was there on the early earth to observe how the first organic cell reproduced and got biological evolution going. And none of us was around when consciousness, according to My Big TOE, took its first baby steps on its way to evolving into the Larger Consciousness System (LCS).

Physicists and biologists have found ways to deal with this problem in their respective fields. Cosmologists look at the characteristics of our universe today (such as the expansion rate) and at remnants of the past (such as the cosmic microwave background radiation), and then they mathematically rewind the clock by some 13.8 billion years to conjecture what the universe might have looked like a tiny fraction of a second after the Big Bang. Evolutionary biologists do something similar: They look at the makeup of today’s cells and at fossils preserved in layers of ancient rock. Then they conjecture how the first cell in the primordial soup may have formed and reproduced, and how such reproduction may have led to an evolution from single-celled to multi-celled organisms, eventually leading to critters such as fish, reptiles, birds and mammals, including ourselves.

We can do the same with consciousness. We don’t have a consciousness fossil record or cosmic footprint, but based on what we know about our own consciousness today, we have sufficient evidence to conjecture how consciousness likely evolved to produce beings like us and virtual realities such as our universe. We already saw that consciousness is destined to evolve simply by virtue of being an aware information system moving toward states of lower entropy. If we pay close attention, we can even see consciousness evolution happening in real time, in both ourselves and others, as we fulfill our lives’ purpose by lowering our entropy in this virtual reality we live in (exactly how we best do this will be discussed in Part 6).

To these basic observations we can add one more. Unlike biological evolution on earth, consciousness evolution is not driven by the need to adapt to an external environment. For all we can tell, consciousness has no external environment – it is All There Is. If there should be anything more fundamental than consciousness we may never find out, because we are consciousness and cannot look at ourselves from the outside. Speculations about an external environment existing beyond consciousness are therefore irrelevant to any model in which consciousness is the foundation of all that exists. This is why My Big TOE explains the Fundamental Process of Evolution solely based on consciousness’s drive to improve its internal structure: consciousness evolves by exploring all its possibilities, all the things it can do with what it is.

So, how did that Fundamental Process take off?

AUO – Absolute Unbounded Oneness (AUO)

In the very beginning, consciousness evolution could not yet have been about lowering entropy because there was no differentiation, no complexity, no system yet. All that may have existed was an Absolute Unbounded Oneness (AUO) – an undifferentiated, elementary consciousness with a potential to evolve into the highly complex, unfathomably vast LCS of today. AUO was barely aware, but it did have the potential to develop all the attributes of consciousness we discussed earlier, including awareness, perception, cognition and free-will choice-making.

Thanks to its inherent ability to modify itself, the early AUO found it could change from its initial state into some other state and back. Flipping between “this state” and “that state” gave AUO a first taste of binary structure. And right with that first change emerged a first notion of time – not yet the regular beat of time we experience today, but some form of crude time perceived as irregular changes of states. If we want to talk of a beginning of time, this was it.

In addition to switching between states in sequence, AUO discovered it could also make changes in parallel – modifying a part of itself, then a part of a part, and so forth, leading to finer and finer differentiation akin to the exponential division of cells in a Petri dish. This gave AUO a basic structure – a metaphorical grid of countless “reality cells” – which it has kept ever since. Each reality cell could take on one of two possible states (this or that), and so was able to function as a binary digit (bit) of data for encoding any type of information required. Whether AUO’s basic data structure is really based on bits or rather on qubits or anything else, is not important – either way, AUO became an information system. From that point onward, its evolution was all about lowering entropy: creating information from all its unordered bits. The Fundamental Process was well underway.

At first, AUO may have explored its evolutionary possibilities randomly through undirected trial and error. Yet the more complex AUO became, the more it grew in awareness, in terms of both perception and cognitive capacity. It thus replaced the method of random trial and error with deliberate choice-making, generating patterns of bits, then patterns of patterns, then patterns of patterns of patterns, and so forth, with complexity increasing exponentially.

Patterns also proved useful in the form of sequences in time (then sequences of sequences, and so on). To make these sequences more orderly and less random, AUO “invented” regular time in the way mentioned earlier: it created a steady beat of state changes as a “metronome” ticking in the background, against which it would henceforth calibrate all other changes it was going to make.

With growing awareness also came several new abilities, thus actualizing more of AUO’s potential: the ability to have more varied types of perception and a richer experience; the ability to attribute meaning, value and significance to the patterns and sequences of its perceptions and experiences, thus generating more and more information; and the ability to assess the profitability of different states, and to memorize and compare them. Naturally, AUO would seek out states of greater complexity, richer experience, more possibilities and more information. Consciousness evolution went from being an affair of haphazard state changes to a purposeful pursuit and selection of the most profitable states.

This turned out to work rather well and so AUO’s evolution flourished: AUO evolved into an intelligent, highly aware system of relatively low entropy, able to generate a panoply of perceptions and experiences for itself and to purposely direct its own growth. With patterns and sequences consisting of quantities of 1s and 0s (binary bits) the concept of quantity and then the logic of quantity (mathematics) would be a natural part of its exploratory evolution.

But then came a time when progress started to level off. AUO had bumped into a natural limitation: it was still one big monolithic block of consciousness, and there are only so many things a single source of choices can do, however sophisticated its internal structure may be. If evolution were to press ahead, new ways of lowering entropy would be needed. Luckily, by that time AUO had become smart enough to understand where the solution to this problem was to be found: in diversification.

AUM – Absolute Unbounded Manifold

To multiply the chances of finding solutions to any kind of problem it’s useful to put multiple different minds to the task – we all know this from brainstorming meetings. Importantly, the more diverse the group of people involved, the broader the range of ideas and suggestions they’ll come up with. Not all ideas and suggestions may be equally valid or useful, but separating the wheat from the chaff is a management task that shouldn’t stifle individual creativity.

AUO arrived at the same conclusion. When it reached its evolutionary limits as a monolithic block of consciousness, a single source of choosing, it made a crucial decision: AUO split itself into unfathomably many interconnected but autonomous pieces, a process we can imagine like partitioning a computer hard drive into multiple partitions. The idea was for all the different pieces to build something more innovative and creative than a single mind would ever be able to come up with. At that fateful moment, the One became the Many: the Absolute Unbounded Oneness (AUO) turned into an Absolute Unbounded Manifold (AUM).

The pieces of consciousness born from that process are what My Big TOE calls Individuated Units of Consciousness (IUOCs). Each IUOC is made in the image of its source, containing all the attributes of consciousness like a hologram: awareness, intelligence, intuition, memory, free will, and purpose. Just like the whole, each IUOC is made up of countless reality cells which form its basic data structure. And thanks to its free will, each IUOC is responsible – with a bit of guidance from the system – for lowering its own entropy.

Graph visualizing the evolution of AUO into AUM/the LCS

The evolution from AUO to AUM represents the birth of the Larger Consciousness System (LCS) as My Big TOE postulates it to exist today: a social system comprising innumerable entities interacting with each other with their own free will. (We can use the terms AUM and LCS interchangeably – when speaking of the LCS, we may refer to just the management function as opposed to IUOCs, or to the system as a whole, depending on the context.)

Consciousness became a social system

In the short term, AUO’s irreversible division into AUM raised the system’s entropy quite a bit, as each IUOC was a new kid on the block with no prior experience, free to do its own thing and make its own free-will choices. In a long-term perspective, however, the potential for lowering entropy in the system as a whole – for creating structure, information, order and meaningful complexity both within each IUOC and amongst all IUOCs – had grown exponentially. That was precisely AUO’s hedge: by splitting itself up into AUM it gave up control over the finer details of its evolution, at the prospect of growing into something vastly greater than it could ever have been as one monolithic entity.

However, this meant that for the LCS to continue growing and evolving, it now relied on all the IUOCs growing and evolving as well. This is why AUM had kept a sizeable part of itself undivided to ensure an overall management function, a sort of operating system for enabling, guiding and monitoring the evolution of the whole. Seen from the extremely limited perspective of an IUOC, that LCS management function is unfathomably more powerful, intelligent, knowledgeable, aware, wise, loving, caring, cooperative and evolved in every respect – how much so, we cannot even begin to imagine. The overall setup, on the other hand, seems pretty familiar, with the most evolved part of the system aiding the evolution of the younger, less evolved parts – like parents helping their kids grow up.

Right from the start the LCS made one vital vow: it would never ever interfere with the IUOCs’ free will – they would have to make their own choices and learn from their own mistakes. Only this way would it be guaranteed that IUOCs could grow, evolve and optimally contribute to the evolution of the system as a whole.

The IUOCs, for their part, were keen to start exchanging information between them, because that’s what interconnected pieces of an intelligent, self-aware information system would do. So, in a first instance, the LCS set up communication spaces and protocols to define and structure possible interactions between the IUOCs. This marked the point when the notion of virtual reality (VR) first came up.

Virtual Reality: As Real as It Gets

In the broadest sense, any information-based environment in which conscious entities can perceive and interact with one another may be called a virtual reality (VR). All that’s required is a ruleset defining the possible interactions between the participating players and how they experience the virtual environment and each other.

Within the LCS, no reality frame is more fundamental than any other. All reality frames are real (which is why we call them reality frames) but none of them is fundamental – they’re all virtual because they only exist as information in our minds. Only consciousness is fundamental.

We can assume that, when experimenting with the creation of its first VRs, the LCS likely repeated a successful strategy it had devised during its time as AUO: trying different parameters and keeping those that worked best. It thus offered IUOCs the choice of participating in a variety of VRs governed by different rulesets. To do so, each IUOC would receive a data stream representing the VR in which it wished to participate.

You might wonder at this point how the LCS had acquired the ability to create entire virtual environments in the first place. But consider the progress we humans have made in creating virtual worlds in just a couple of decades since the first computers appeared on the scene. Given the vastly larger amount of time available to the LCS and its unimaginably superior resources, creating and running a couple of VRs doesn’t seem quite as miraculous an accomplishment in comparison.

What’s more, the first VRs created by the LCS were far from perfect. They served their purpose well enough for some time as they helped streamline the IUOCs’ interactions, thus lowering overall system entropy. But then, once again, the system’s evolution began to slow down. It became clear that the VRs created so far shared one basic flaw: the information exchanges they facilitated were not meaningful enough. To be sure, they helped structure information flows but they didn’t produce much valuable output for the system. Crucially, they didn’t do much to help individual IOUCs evolve and lower their own entropy. Participation was entertaining but not very educational – not unlike in some of today’s Internet chatrooms.

The Big Chatroom

At this stage of its evolution, we can think of the LCS as a Big Chatroom with different spaces for social interaction. In a typical chatroom, you can remain anonymous and the things you say are of little consequence. You can even lie about your identity, pretending to be a young girl from China when in fact you’re a middle-aged lumberjack from Canada. You can share all sorts of information, true or not, without having to fear any real-world consequences. In the worst case you simply log off and join another chat. Clearly, a chatroom-style VR provides no incentive for anyone to better themselves – to learn, grow and evolve – because the way one is, simply doesn’t matter that much.

It’s easy to imagine that for the LCS this scenario was far from ideal. If it were to evolve by enabling the IUOCs to lower their entropy, it had to figure out something more efficient, something that would speed up their evolution. What was needed were VRs in which the IOUCs would face real challenges – where they would have to take on responsibility by making meaningful choices that would have significant consequences. As many of us know from our own experience, it is often the most challenging situations that offer the greatest potential for learning and growth.

If entropy reduction were a kind of VR game, then what that game needed, first and foremost, was stricter rules. It would have to offer a more tightly constrained environment with a clearly defined decision space for each participating IUOC and provide accurate feedback on the choices they would make. Rules and constraints sometimes get a bad reputation, but they’re essential for any game to work. It’s impossible to play a game that has no rules, and it’s the rules that determine whether a game is challenging, educational and fun.

Thus, after some intensive trial-and-error experimentation with different ruleset parameters that would result in some exciting new features, the LCS was able to present the next big thing in consciousness evolution: a fast-track for growing up; an interactive multiplayer game in which bold and daring IUOCs would dive into a harsh environment unlike any they had known before; a fully immersive experience in which each IUOC would play a unique avatar and identify with it to the point of believing that it actually is the avatar.

If that type of VR feels strangely familiar to you, it’s because you’re in one.

Physical Matter Reality (PMR)

Our physical universe is what My Big TOE calls a Physical Matter Reality (PMR): a VR characterized by tighter constraints and more rigid causality than the non-physical reality frames (Non-Physical Matter Reality, NPMR) which were part of the Big Chatroom. PMRs are the most challenging and efficient type of VR within the LCS – and we are IUOCs playing human avatars in one of them. As it does with NPMRs, the LCS is running many PMR environments in parallel to see which ones turn out to be most effective. It then keeps building on those that work best, transferring lessons learned and best practices in running them.

From a system viewpoint, a PMR usually represents a specific subset of an underlying parent NPMR. Think of a hierarchy of reality frames: a VR within a VR, much like a video game or some other virtual environment created by human players within our physical universe.

From a technical perspective, the main difference between PMRs and NPMRs lies in their rulesets: PMRs have a much tighter rule-set than NPMRs.

My Big TOE groups virtual realities (VRs) into two broad categories: Physical Matter Reality (PMR) and Non-Physical Matter Reality (NPMR). In absolute terms, they can be defined as follows:

  • PMRs are VRs with relatively tight rulesets. In our physical universe, the mathematical laws of nature ensure that every physical action has a physical effect. This places tight constraints on what we can do and how we can move around and interact with others.
  • NPMRs are VRs with relatively loose rulesets, such as our dream reality. This may mean, for example, that we can teleport from one place to another, or that events appear to be less tightly linked in terms of cause and effect than in PMRs.

Alternatively, we can define PMR and NPMR in relative terms:

Whatever reality frame we’re currently in appears physical to us: while we’re dreaming, even our dream reality seems to be somewhat “physical”. All other reality frames appear to be non-physical in comparison: when we’re awake, we usually recall our dreams as seeming less physical than our waking reality. Thus, when speaking from the perspective of our PMR we may refer to all other reality frames as NPMRs, regardless of how tight or loose their rulesets may actually be.

The difference in rulesets, crucially, translates into very different kinds of VR experiences. PMR is such an efficient schoolhouse because it presents us with an endless series of challenges that force us to make meaningful choices. Our choices give us the opportunity to learn and grow because they have dramatic consequences: we can create well-being and suffering, joy and despair, for both ourselves and others. By unsparingly confronting us with the outcome of our choices, PMR accurately reflects our quality of consciousness – our level of entropy – and nudges us to gradually improve that quality and lower our entropy.

How exactly does PMR achieve that? This is worth examining in a little more detail.

First, PMR is highly structured. The mathematical laws of physics dictate that things behave in regular, predictable ways, and that two objects can’t occupy the same space. Such rules ensure a logical link between cause and effect, which is essential for us to make meaningful choices and assume responsibility for the consequences.

Second, PMR is immersive. While being logged on to PMR, we have little access to prior memories or outside information. As a result, we almost completely identify with our physical bodies, turning the PMR game into a matter of life and death. The ruleset, moreover, is multisensory: unlike our video games, it not only provides visual and audio data but also data for taste, smell and touch. This allows for a wide range of sensory experiences, from the terrifying to the terrific, from the heavenly pleasurable to the hellishly painful. All this means we have skin in the game – we are forced to take it seriously and learn to make good choices.

Third, PMR is a tough place to be. Our biological avatars are vulnerable and driven by multiple instincts, urges and physical needs. As adults we must find food, shelter and mating partners. We must ensure our physical safety and take care of those who depend on us. We must learn how to deal with sickness, natural disasters and scarcity of resources, with accidents, injuries, impairments, loss and death. PMR being a multiplayer game, we must also deal with the selfish choices made by other players: from careless casual behavior to intentional causing of harm through acts of deception, theft and abuse all the way to physical violence, murder and war. To this, modern life has added a whole catalog of new challenges such as financial insecurity or environmental destruction. The list goes on. To an IUOC entering PMR from the relative comfort and safety of NPMR, being confronted with only some of these challenges must feel like the proverbial fall from paradise.

Fourth, PMR encourages cooperation, caring and sharing. In the challenging environment of PMR, cooperation among individuals is essential for many species to survive, most of all, humans. At the most basic level, cooperation means jointly working towards a common goal. Often, this entails specializing in different tasks – ideally according to individual skills – and then sharing the spoils, creating a win-win for all. People often cooperate for purely selfish reasons, though, to the exclusion of those who have few skills or resources to offer. For most of our history, we only cared about those whom we identified as “one of us”: our tribe, village, culture or country, or perhaps a particular subgroup of these. All others we only cared about if they had something we wanted to trade or buy from them and there was no way to take it by force.

In the 21st century this no longer works. We’ve become so interconnected and our capacity to transform the planet so powerful, that we can no longer afford to consider anyone as not being “one of us”. Although most people still identify by their tribe, country, culture, ethnicity or any other arbitrary criterion, our social system now spans the globe, encompassing all human beings and, in fact, all life. PMR puts our global social system to the test by challenging us collectively as well as individually. As we’re beginning to learn the hard way, our planet’s space and resources are finite. If humanity is to survive, lowering entropy at the system level – to be achieved through global cooperation, caring and sharing that doesn’t exclude anyone – is the only way forward. This realization is slowly sinking in with more and more people.

What is not yet sufficiently understood, however, is the fact that low-entropy behavior cannot be sustainably imposed on high-entropy people. If low entropy is to become a permanent state of the system, then cooperation, caring and sharing must be a natural expression of who people are rather than an obligation they must grudgingly meet. You can force them to act in a certain way for only so long before their true nature will start to break through. Such is the way social systems work, and how the entropy of each individual impacts upon the overall entropy of the system.

Entropy, Love and Fear in Social Systems

The functioning of a social system depends on the choices made by its members. A social system functions optimally if all of its members cooperate, help and care for each other and if they share the available resources. Such choices lead to low entropy at the system level. A social system doesn’t function very well if everybody is in it only for themselves, trying to grab as much as they can for themselves, their family, tribe or nation. Such choices lead to high entropy at the system level.

Cooperation, helping and sharing may to a certain extent be imposed from the top, whether through legislation, social pressure, force or any combination of these. Self-centered individuals, however, will always find loopholes and ways to bend or break the rules to their advantage. Thus, as long as people are self-centered, ego-driven and full of fear of losing what they have (resources, status, power), there will always be conflict, fighting and warring. Those commanding the power and the resources will do all they can to keep what they have and gain even more. Those who have little or nothing will try to get their share of the pie, if need be using violence and destroying what others have built. In the long run, therefore, egotistical, fear-based choices are always self-defeating whereas other-centered, love-based choices build lasting, peaceful societies in which everybody seeks to ensure that everybody else is being cared for.

Of course, the key question is: why are most people ego-driven, self-centered and fearful in the first place? Many people, including many scientists, believe this is simply human nature and will never change. My Big TOE offers a different perspective. The fact that fearfulness and selfishness are ubiquitous in human beings doesn’t mean they’re inevitable or even necessary for us to function – in fact we could do much better without them. The reason why most of us have so much fear, ego and beliefs, is our high level of individual entropy. My Big TOE suggests that as we play the PMR game we develop fear, ego and beliefs inversely proportional to the quality of consciousness we bring to the game. The higher our entropy and the greater the challenges we face in life (especially during childhood), the more fear we develop in response to those challenges – the fears of not being good enough, of not being in control, or of not getting what we want, among others. The more fear we have, the more self-centered we become: we interpret most of our interactions with others to be either threats, from which we need to defend ourselves, or opportunities to be exploited to our advantage. In this way our fears, whether we’re aware of them or not, are the key factor informing the intent with which we make our choices.

The details of this will be fully developed in Part 6. For now, we can summarize the link between entropy, love and fear as follows:

  • High entropy within an individual consciousness produces an intent focused on self (What can I get? What’s in it for me?). It is generally expressed through fear-based, egotistical choices. These usually turn out to be poor choices with negative outcomes for others and self.
  • Low entropy within an individual consciousness produces an intent focused on others (What can I give? How can I help?). It is generally expressed through love-based choices aimed at cooperation, caring and sharing. These usually turn out to be good choices with positive outcomes for others and self.

In other words, the quality of our choices is determined by the quality of the intent with which the choices are made (whether the intent is self-centered and fear-based or other-centered and love-based). That quality of intent, in turn, is an accurate reflection of our individual quality of consciousness – our level of entropy. This is how the entropy of a social system reflects the average entropy of its members.

We can draw two key conclusions from this analysis:

  • We can only change the world by changing ourselves.
  • We can’t change anybody else everybody has to change themselves.

This is the logical explanation of why there’s no point in trying to get everybody else to be the way we want them to be. We can try to force or manipulate others to act a certain way, but we can’t change who they fundamentally are. (And even if we could do that, we would have to be omniscient and perfect to know exactly how everybody should be, which clearly we are not.) Everybody has to change themselves and lower their own entropy. What we can do, however, is help others to change themselves, by setting a good example and providing a safe environment for them to make fewer fear-based and more love-based choices. In Part 6 we will see how we can best use this PMR schoolhouse to grow up both individually and collectively.

Fifth, PMR gives us accurate feedback on our choices. Our physical reality holds up a mirror to us. If we dare to take an honest look, we’ll find in it an accurate reflection of our quality of consciousness – our level of entropy – at both the individual and collective levels.

At the collective level, the messy state of the world shows that our average quality is still pretty low. Humanity, obviously, is not yet very evolved – we’re still learning, still growing up. But that’s okay: lowering our entropy is precisely what we came here to do, the reason we decided to log on to this VR in the first place.

The state of the world reflects our collective quality of consciousness

At the individual level, the most reliable indicator for the quality of our choices is our general level of happiness and contentment. Happiness and contentment are not goals to be achieved in and of themselves – they are byproducts of making good choices, of expressing a love-based intent to be caring, cooperative and helpful, whether by contributing to some greater good or through individual actions benefitting others. Unhappiness and dissatisfaction, on the other hand, are byproducts of making poor choices, of expressing a fearful, ego-based intent that is concerned mainly with self.

Making good or bad choices not only refers to the things we say and do. Just as importantly, it refers to what we choose to think. How we interpret the challenges thrown at us depends largely on the beliefs we hold about the world and ourselves. It makes a massive difference whether we choose to believe we’re hapless victims being treated unfairly by life, God or other people, or whether we’re convinced that each day offers fresh opportunities to learn and grow; whether we choose to believe we’re inadequate and unworthy or whether we know that we have plenty to share and give.

As a general rule, whenever we feel negative in any way – unhappy, angry, upset, stressed, worried, regretful, aggravated, outraged – that’s a sure sign of our fear, our ego and our beliefs coming to the fore. This doesn’t mean that we have to accept or even like everything that happens, or let people take advantage of us. We shouldn’t be enablers of others’ bad behavior or remain apathetic when problems need fixing. We obviously need to make changes in our lives if a situation has become dysfunctional, be it at work or in a relationship. And we shouldn’t deny the mistakes we have made or disregard the ways in which we could have done better.

Feeling negative, however, is not a prerequisite for solving problems, dealing with difficult people or learning from past mistakes – all of this can be accomplished without negativity, and much more productively so. Many people cannot imagine how it could even be possible not to feel negative about what they did in the past or the challenges they face in the present. That’s because they still have some growing-up to do. In Part 6 we will see why negativity and suffering are ultimately optional, but why for the vast majority of people it doesn’t feel like it yet. On the bright side, whenever we do feel negative about something, that’s an excellent indicator of what we need to work on. PMR is such a powerful Entropy Reduction Trainer because it makes our individual quality visible if we know how to read the signs. This way it ensures that sooner or later, some way or another, we will learn all the lessons we need to learn.

Sixth, therefore, and finally, PMR gives us all the incentives we need to grow up. Our biggest incentives for lowering our entropy are our fear, our ego and our beliefs, because they shape the way we deal with all the other challenges we’re facing and the way we see the world. They’re the reason we continue to make bad choices, creating unhappiness, dissatisfaction and all sorts of problems for others and ourselves. The ultimate challenge here in PMR, then, is to get rid of our fears, our ego, and our beliefs. This is the way we grow up and lower our entropy. When we get rid of our fear, ego and beliefs, what remains are love, caring and compassion.

Fear is the natural expression of a high-entropy consciousness. Love is the natural expression of a low-entropy consciousness.

We lower our entropy by getting rid of our fear, ego and beliefs

We have thus logically derived the purpose of our human existence: to become more loving, compassionate and caring. Incidentally, that’s not unlike what some of the major religions and spiritual traditions are saying. There are two important qualifications to be made, though.

First, My Big TOE derives the insight into our human purpose from the understanding that we are fundamentally consciousness and the fact that consciousness is usefully described as both an information system and a social system – either of which function better the more their individual pieces or members lower their entropy. This is something everybody can verify for themselves: through first-hand experience, the evidence from science, and the logical reasoning laid out in this introduction and the My Big TOE trilogy. There’s no need to believe in scripture or to take anyone’s word for it. Beliefs are counterproductive. Finding out for yourself is the only useful way to accept or reject the My Big TOE model (or any other model for that matter).

Second, My Big TOE doesn’t suggest that we fulfill our human purpose by merely acting loving, compassionate and caring – we need to be loving, compassionate and caring. There’s a huge difference between acting good and being good. Good deeds done for selfish reasons and with ulterior motives (for example, being nice to others just to gain something in return) are not an expression of love but of ego. The moral quality of an action, therefore, is defined by the intent with which the action is done, not the action itself. You can be kind to somebody as a natural expression of who you are, or because you expect to receive rewards or benefits later on – same action, different motivation.

Love is about other, fear is about self

This is why we don’t grow up and evolve simply by acting good, be it by obeying religious rules, complying with our country’s laws, or living up to any other image of a good person we might hold. None of this helps us raise our consciousness quality and lower our entropy if our intent is driven by a selfish ulterior motive – whether it is escaping divine punishment, staying out of trouble with the law, or looking good in the eyes of others. All of these are expressions of fear, ego and belief, which are exactly the things we want to get rid of.

This, finally, takes us to the third paradigm shift My Big TOE seeks to bring about.

My Big TOE Paradigm Shift #1: We Live in a Virtual Reality
My Big TOE Paradigm Shift #2: Consciousness Is the Computer

My Big TOE Paradigm Shift #3: Love Is the Answer

We lower our entropy by learning to make choices motivated by an intent to be loving, cooperative and caring.

How, then, do we lower our entropy? How do we change the way we are, not just the way we act? How do we become love?

Personal Evolution in PMR

Getting rid of our fear, ego and beliefs is far from easy. It can’t be done by way of a simple wish or an intellectual decision. We can’t just choose to be a more evolved, fearless person. Getting rid of fear takes courage, and mustering that courage requires a strong motivation: we must be utterly convinced that it’s a worthwhile, even necessary, thing to do. We will only succeed in changing ourselves if we really want to.

This means that the intention to lower our entropy can’t merely come from our intellectual level. Since growing up is about changing who we are at the core – our being level – the intent to do so must come from that same place. This is why it’s necessary that we go through the PMR experience of being a human in this virtual reality. Just like we can’t learn how to swim by reading a book about swimming technique, we can’t grow up by theorizing about lowering our entropy. We have to experience the ramifications of who we really are – our current quality, our level of entropy – by making meaningful choices and living through the consequences. Only then can we develop a strong being level intent to improve our quality and lower our entropy.

PMR helps us develop that strong being level intent by providing both carrot and stick. Especially in the beginning, when we’re not that evolved yet and predominantly concerned with ourselves, our main motivation is avoiding the stick:

  • avoiding the negative practical consequences that our poor choices bring upon ourselves (such as pushbacks and other adverse reactions from other people, resulting in more conflict-laden relationships and more difficult life circumstances overall)
  • avoiding negative feelings about the poor choices we’ve made (the fear of negative consequences but also the debilitating feelings of embarrassment, guilt, self-blame and shame, which may further feed the fear of being inadequate)

The trouble is that it’s easy to fall into all sorts of belief traps about how to avoid feeling negative. Popular attempts include distracting oneself (TV, internet, video games, books), drowning out unpleasant feelings with sense pleasures (food, alcohol, sex, drugs), or soothing our ego (seeking validation from others in all sorts of ways). These are the solutions advocated by our materialist-consumerist culture, and they work temporarily at best. Relieving the symptoms rather than fixing the problems, they often only make the problems worse. It’s a mistake to believe the solution lies in changing others and the world around us so that we can stay exactly the way we are. Sooner or later most people realize that this is not how PMR works. We have little control over all the things that happen in this multiplayer game, but we have every choice in what we do and how we interpret the things that happen and thus how we feel about them.

Once we understand that it is we, not others or the world, who have to change so that we may feel better, we will set ourselves on the path to growing up. This is when we become ready to tackle our fear, ego and beliefs. To do so, we must pull ourselves up by our bootstraps to quit the vicious circle of making mostly high-entropy (self-centered) choices and enter a virtuous circle of making mostly low-entropy (other-centered) choices (exactly how we do that will be discussed in-depth in Part 6). The good news is that the more we evolve and grow up, the easier it gets to evolve and grow up more, and the less negativity we need to experience do so. The more we get rid of our fear, ego and beliefs, the less we are concerned with ourselves and the more we care about others. We’re no longer mere consumers of the PMR experience, trying to avoid pain and get as much pleasure out of it as we can, but become purposeful contributors to the well-being of all.

We move from being part of the problem to
being part of the solution

This is when we start getting to enjoy the carrot. We become aware of the happiness and contentment entailed in doing something for others and making a meaningful contribution to a greater good. The positivity this generates can pull us into a virtuous circle of growth. As we evolve and lower our entropy, we grow in awareness and widen our decision space. Making good choices – choices motivated by love, compassion and caring – becomes a natural expression of who we are. And what is natural feels naturally good.

Importantly, the more we focus on others rather than ourselves, the more motivation to learn and grow we derive from considering the effects our choices have on others. Just noticing how we could have been more helpful last time becomes incentive enough to do better next time. Realizing that we made a mistake no longer results in embarrassment, shame, self-blame or guilt – feelings that are as dysfunctional as they are unnecessary. Whenever we notice that we harmed someone or that we could have done something in a better way, we simply acknowledge that fact and set a strong intent to do better next time.

Intent is everything. Usually, our ego excels at deceiving us about our true intentions, hiding from view the fears driving our choices. But the more we get rid of our fear, ego and beliefs, the more we become aware of our intent. Since our intent reflects our quality of consciousness (our level of entropy), we can see from the combination of intent and outcome of choices whether our quality was sufficient for dealing with the challenge in question. If it wasn’t, we can develop a strong intent to become better – to improve our quality and lower our entropy – so that in a similar situation we will make a better choice next time. This, effectively, is how we grow up in the PMR schoolhouse.

Why the PMR Entropy Reduction Trainer Works

But how is entropy reduction supposed to work if most people on the planet have no idea that this is our purpose? How can PMR be an efficient Entropy Reduction Trainer if we’ve forgotten what we came here to do? Why weren’t we given a manual upon entering the game?

There are multiple reasons. First, as we already noted, not knowing what this game is about means we fully identify with our avatar. This makes the PMR experience feel like a matter of life and death, and so we take the game seriously. And if we knew right from the start what the game is about, there’s a good chance we might just be faking it by trying to act good instead of being good. Few things are more counterproductive than people acting in the name of some lofty spiritual ideal while staying just as ego-driven and fearful as they were before.

Second, we already noted that growing up is not an intellectual game – it’s about developing an intuitive understanding that we need to change the core of who we are. Overcoming fear is a matter of the heart, not the mind. Having an intellectual understanding of how things work can be useful, and this is where models such as My Big TOE come in. As with any game, if you know the goal and the rules, you can be a better player. It prevents you from wandering aimlessly around the game board, and from adopting false beliefs about your purpose here in PMR. Ultimately, however, no intellectual insight can spare us the hard work of growing up. Accumulating knowledge is irrelevant. We have to be authentic and face who we are to see that we need to change. Figuring this out through personal experience is the only way to do so.

Third, many people do get a glimpse of the Big Picture. Countless individuals have had transformative personal experiences – whether they might call them “mystical”, “spiritual” or “paranormal” – that convinced them beyond doubt that there’s more to reality than the physical world. Some have been given to understand that they have a task to accomplish or lessons to learn. They may not talk about these experiences if that’s just not done in their culture, for fear that even their closest friends or family might not believe them. But the number of testimonies published both in books and online has been growing to the point that they can no longer be dismissed.

Fourth, we do get help from those further ahead on the evolutionary path. As we noted in Part 1, in all eras and cultures there have been mystics and sages who saw bigger pictures. They conveyed their insights to their contemporaries using the metaphors of their time and their culture. Some of their teachings have been remarkably well preserved. Others have been warped beyond recognition or replaced with rituals and dogma to serve the power structures of organized religion. It is our task to figure out which teachings are helpful for our evolutionary path because they point to some deeper truth, and which ones merely represent unhelpful or outright dysfunctional beliefs.

These, then, are the reasons why to many people PMR may seem pointless or meaningless. We must come to an intuitive understanding of this game’s purpose – it couldn’t work any other way. This means that in the beginning we may have to learn things the hard way: we just live our lives, make choices and learn from the outcomes – or we may not. Some people may need to de-evolve somewhat before realizing they’re on the wrong path. This, too, is a valuable experience. The good news is that the more we grow up, the more we develop an intuitive understanding of our purpose and what we came here to do. And as with all learning, the more we have learned, the easier it becomes to learn more.

PMR helps us lower our entropy whether we’re aware of it or not

The neat thing is that for most of us, most of the time, the Entropy Reduction Trainer works whether we know we’re in one or not – at least in the long run. As horrible and dysfunctional as our world still is, it is much better in many places today than it was just a few centuries ago. Billions of people have been lifted out of poverty. Slavery and territorial conquest are no longer considered to be acceptable by most people. Women and minorities have obtained more rights in many cultures, even if a lot remains to be improved. Most people do care more about others than their forebears did just a few generations back. The fact that humanity has evolved considerably over the past centuries on the whole – despite temporary setbacks in individual places and periods – is testimony to PMR’s power as a schoolhouse for budding IUOCs like us.

Strange as it may sound to some, PMR is an extremely attractive place to be. Because it works surprisingly well for us most of the time, we choose to come back and play another round again and again. This, then, is the answer to the problem of evil: Yes, PMR can at times be an incredibly cruel place, but we choose to take part in it of our own free will because of the great learning opportunities it provides. By way of analogy: Most of us will remember going through tough times in our lives which in hindsight proved extremely valuable because of what we learned. This is exactly what an experience packet (a lifetime) in PMR is like. So, we can proudly say we were bold enough to have chosen to join the PMR schoolhouse rather than hanging out in NPMR chatrooms where we wouldn’t learn and grow up much.

We logged on to this physical reality of our own free will

Of course, things don’t always go according to plan. Sometimes we face challenges greater than we can skillfully manage. As a result, we may be making one poor choice after another, occasionally to the point that we develop so much fear, ego and dysfunctional beliefs that we paint ourselves into a corner: we stop learning and growing, and start de-evolving. Most of us can think of someone who makes poor choices all the time while blaming everybody else for their misfortune, and who looks like they will never be able to turn the tide.

It doesn’t have to get that extreme, though. Our growth might already stall or slow down if we adopt false beliefs about how best to deal with unhappiness and dissatisfaction. As we already noted, these may include distracting the mind, numbing the pain or soothing our ego – anything that makes us feel better because it keeps our fear under the rug of our subconscious. That, of course, only prolongs the time it takes us to find out that ignoring our fears is not the way to outgrow them. It’s for reasons like this that our avatar has an inbuilt expiry date, shaped by biological evolution, meaning it gets recycled after a few decades.

And even when we do relatively well, we need to wipe our slates clean from time to time and start over, to see things with fresh eyes and from a new perspective. Thus, once an experience packet is over and we’ve had a good rest in NPMR, we’re free to pick a new avatar and get back into the game. If that strikes you as resembling the idea of reincarnation, you’re not mistaken. Playing another round of the PMR game is neither a punishment nor a trap, though. Rather, it’s a fresh opportunity for growth which most of us will accept all too gladly.

In each new round of the game we pick up our learning exactly from where we left off, with the same level of entropy as we had before. We do not collect karma points nor do we get reprimanded for missed opportunities. There’s no judgment, no condemnation and certainly no punishment – how would inducing fear help anyone get rid of their fear? Rather, there is “assisted self-assessment”: if it turns out that the challenges during an experience packet were too big or too numerous so that we ended up making bad choices without learning from them, we may conclude it might be better to choose an easier setting next time. Entropy reduction is not a timed test – we can try as often as we want.

Limiting ourselves to just one type of PMR experience would be growth-stifling, anyway, however attached we may have grown to a particular avatar. PMR is to be explored from a multitude of different angles, by trying out avatars with a wide range of attributes and living in all sorts of different circumstances. We may play avatars tall or short, intelligent or dull, athletic or lethargic; avatars of diverse ethnicities, genders and sexual orientations, able-bodied or with impairments, prone to sickness or healthy as a horse. We may be born to parents destitute or wealthy, educated or illiterate, irresponsible or caring. We may live in countries rich or poor, dictatorial or democratic, plagued by conflict or long at peace. We may live in the desert, the steppe or the forest, among mountainfolk or in a bustling metropolis.

Each round we pick an avatar that is likely to provide us with the opportunities to learn what we need to learn most (how the probabilities are worked out in advance will become clear in Part 4). The varieties are virtually endless, and so are the challenges. How do you deal with being hideous, how with being handsome? How with being poor or being rich? If you’re influential and charismatic, do you use that good fortune to manipulate others or to serve as an example of how to make good choices? How do you deal with a mother who expects you to be perfect, or a father who thinks you’re good for nothing?

The diversity of avatars and life settings available in PMR is mind-blowing. It is multiplied yet again by the fact that each IUOC is just as unique as the avatar it is playing. Each IUOC has evolved its very own information structure and experience base over many experience packets. Each IUOC will thus see its avatar’s challenges and opportunities from its own subjective perspective and make its own unique choices.

This dizzying complexity not only makes PMR a highly efficient schoolhouse adapted to each student’s needs. It also makes it an ingenious expression of the evolutionary potential of consciousness in all its richness, diversity and beauty. Add to this the idea that ours is just one of innumerable PMRs and NPMRs within the LCS and your head will start spinning. Big Picture reality is unfathomably greater than anything our human minds can conceive.

With this understanding of consciousness evolution under our belt, we have completed the logical derivation of the existence of our physical universe. We have seen the reasons why the physical world is a product of consciousness: To ensure its continued evolution, the LCS’s best bet was to start computing reality frames such as our PMR in which IUOCs can make meaningful choices and then lower their entropy by learning from those choices. So far, those Entropy Reduction Trainers have served us pretty well.

Where will consciousness evolution take us from here? That is difficult to say.

Evolution Is Open-Ended

Just like time and consciousness itself, evolution is endless. It has no final state nor any ultimate goal. We will forever continue to grow and evolve, both as individuals and as a consciousness system. If you find the idea difficult to wrap your head around, consider biological evolution: It is open-ended, too, and nobody can predict how the Earth’s species will evolve in the future.

Even if the Earth were to become uninhabitable, we could use other virtual realities to continue to grow and learn. Since there’s no end to consciousness evolution, this means we’re never “done”. By way of analogy, just like you can’t get to absolute zero temperature, you can never get to zero entropy – you can only approximate it, and always have to keep working at it. As soon as we let our intent slide, we will relapse into de-evolution and our entropy will increase again (just like when we let a physical system run its course without applying work from outside – this is one more way in which the entropy metaphor is highly illustrative.)

We are never “done”

Of course, there may come the day when you make a great leap and start seeing a bigger picture, and that insight may change your life for the rest of your current experience packet. It may give you greater understanding and a new sense of purpose and direction. But that in itself won’t lower your entropy and turn you overnight into a being of love and compassion. Evolution is slow and gradual. It takes many experience packets and continued effort. That’s no reason for despair, though. Recall that the more we grow up, the easier – and the more fun – it becomes to grow up more.

Some spiritual traditions suggest that the purpose of our personal growth is to recognize the oneness of all consciousness and merge back into the One. My Big TOE disagrees with that idea. What would be the point of all our struggles, all our suffering, if the ultimate goal were merely to merge back into the One from which we all came? Evolution works differently: we learn and grow to become more and more refined and unique, yet we still remain connected with everybody else.

Other traditions suggest our goal is to escape from this troublesome place and disappear forever. Again, My Big TOE would disagree. If love is the natural expression of a low-entropy consciousness, then the more we grow up and evolve, the more we naturally care about others and the more we want to help them. Making a run for it and leaving others to their own devices would be the opposite of love. Highly evolved beings, therefore, may choose to return to PMR again and again not to work on their fears but to show the way and help others work on theirs. Other options include growing or helping in other VRs or taking on other roles within the LCS.

As for the system as a whole, it is already much more vast and powerful than we can even begin to imagine. So, it’s futile for us to try to ponder what the future may hold in store for the LCS. Fifty years ago, we were not even able to predict what human cooperation and innovation would bring to the modern world in PMR. Nobody foresaw the creation of the Internet and the applications it has since enabled, nor do we have the slightest idea of what else there is to come in the 21st century.

One thing is clear, though: Even if the world may be looking rather bleak today, consciousness evolution is bound to succeed. In the long run, consciousness evolution always takes a positive path, because a negative path is ultimately self-destructive. Fear-driven, selfish choices eventually pull everyone down in their wake until it becomes obvious that greed and egotism can only lead into a dead-end of conflict and destruction. Low-entropy choices, in contrast, furthering love, caring and cooperation, can be made and multiplied indefinitely. If everybody has an intent to care for those around them, then everybody will be taken care of. The sooner we understand this, the better for the world and ourselves.

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