The dark ages came to an end with an extraordinary leap in human consciousness. After half a millennium of stagnation, the light of science began to dawn. Since then, religion has gradually been losing its grip on our hearts and minds. But we have become increasingly soulless as concern and care for others withers. Egoism is not only seen as natural but even lauded as an ideal. And, as is becoming increasingly evident, our planet Earth is not going to be able to sustain eight billion egoists, let alone more.
Now another momentous change is dawning. The new physics means that egoism is its own worst enemy at a fundamental level because karma is a real phenomenon in the personal world. The things you do tend to ‘happen back to you’. And this means that undiluted egoism constantly increases the probabilities of harmful or even catastrophic events. It means that ‘enlightened self-interest’, doing as you would be done by, is the only intelligent way to live.
So this has the potential to reinstate the fundamental morality of the great religions, without the dogma. This in turn leads towards intelligent cooperation as the universal ideal, rather than the competition and greed that are currently characterised as success in so many of our modern cultures. But we are going to need a major shift if we are going to truly turn the tide of the egoistic culture. The new physics delivers.
As the AI specialist and futurist Hans Moravec states, when we die:
We lose our ties to physical reality, but, in the space of all possible worlds, that cannot be the end. Our consciousness continues to exist in some of those, and we will always find ourselves in worlds where we exist and never in ones where we don’t. (1998)
In principle, this is by definition the case. The consciousness is the perceptual reality, the world hologram. In the universe of all possible worlds, there has to be one in which my world hologram is somehow reproduced, and goes on.
Without question such a next world is fantastically unlikely, but that makes no odds. In the space of all possible worlds it must occur, as Moravec states. It is real because all possibilities exist in the quantum universe. As cosmologist Marcus Chown states:
If the Many Worlds is correct, it seems the only certainty in life is not death but immortality. We’re all gonna live forever. (2002, 40)
Immortality has a logical explanation. So we need not fear the annihilation which makes life meaningless. But this also makes real karma in the ancient meaning.
Heaven & Hell
It seems there is little evidence for karma in our everyday world. The news tells of many who do harm to others and seem to get away with it indefinitely. But the full force of karma happens in the transition from this lifetime to the next. All of the karma takes effect, all at once.
The world we are living in now is mostly very stable, but the opposite applies in the jump to the next world. Absolutely anything could be reality in the next lifetime. The only certainty is your world hologram. Logically, therefore, all the tendencies in reality defined by your world hologram, the karma, will define the nature of this next world.
It could be a heaven or a hell, and it all depends on how one has lived this life on Earth. This is the real and terrifying power of karma is how it will define what kind of world one will arrive in, next after death. Many of us manage to insulate ourselves from the worst vagaries of life through our position and wealth and good planning. This means we are able to ‘hold off’ the karma, seeming to have a charmed life. But all the karma takes effect in the blink of an eye at the point of death. The next life will be defined by the karma without any filters. The principles of the great religions echo real phenomena. They tried to warn us!
The new physics means we all go on after death. But how? The most likely reincarnation is a new body in an advanced civilisation. As Deutsch explains, we will soon have the technology to manufacture complete, functional human bodies:
Illness and old age are going to be cured soon – certainly within the next few lifetimes … by creating backups of the states of brains, which could be uploaded into new, blank brains in identical bodies if a person should die. (2011, 455)
In the versions of the world in which this technology exists, people are bound to experiment with creating completely new people, with adult world holograms chosen at random. And somewhere in all of that, the world hologram they happen to use is going to be yours. So you wake up in this other world. That would seem to be much the most likely type of physical reincarnation. Not, of course, a guarantee of a great welcome.
This of course is still fantastically improbable but that does not matter. However improbable it might be, it actually exists in the space of all possible worlds as Moravec (1998) states. So when you die, the chances are you wake up in a brand new body. It will be like the scene in Avatar where he wakes up in the new Naavi body. You will open your eyes to another world in a new body.
Immortality brings a major change to the meaning of life. We are just getting started. And anything is possible, especially the things we missed out on in this life. So this is the perfect opportunity for seriously creative visualisation. If we build a superb ideal as the hope and expectation, this visualisation becomes ever increasingly likely to reflect the new reality experienced. If one lives by it, of course, enacts the principles. So there is a fascinating and absorbing occupation for us, a wonderful challenge, especially as we approach the great transition. Planning your best next life. We will give up what we have in this world, but we can at least set out everything we would like to find in the next. Which of course creates a strange attractor. That is the whole idea.
So death is not the end, but a great leap into the unknown. Obviously, the body dies but the world hologram goes on in a new body, in an advanced technology culture. Personally I am hoping for a body with nanotech self management. It would mean that you have mental control over your physiology, such as being able to switch off pain at will. This also includes abilities such as gradually changing the structure of the body, facial features, height, biological sex, anything you like. This is fully realistic concept that will inevitably be part of future technology. This is described in the Culture series of science fiction novels by Ian M. Banks. This is ‘hard science fiction‘, meaning stories revolving around scientific and technical consistency. There is no question this is part of the possible future.
So in experience, there is always a next moment in life, somewhere in the space of all possible words. And karma takes on an immediate and dramatic significance. One reaps what one has sowed in a lifetime of living, in the blink of an eye. But will it still be you? Indeed it will because the mind is the whole of the person, as described in The Self. The mind, the world hologram, is the whole of you that is real in your personal world.
The Third Phase of Life
There is a longstanding concept of three great phases in life, youth, adult and elder. In many traditional cultures the third and final stage of life is when the individual withdraws from the commitments of the adult phase and engages with spiritual practice in earnest. But the modern Western culture has no such stage, which may account for the dire condition of the operational intelligence of the human culture.
This is the time to focus on the life to come. In the light of immortality, an obvious pursuit in this stage is to visualise exactly where we want to wind up, getting a clear of what kind of world you would like to arrive in next. The key point is that the visualisation of the ideal next life will build expectation, and so generate a strange attractor for this key transition. Naturally, it is important to live in accordance with being the kind of person who lives in that environment. This all makes it more and more real. And then death, and the ‘Moravec jump’ to a new life. And one by one we get to test the theory!
The next main section is The New Enlightenment.