From the moment I first saw the movie Inception, I was absolutely riveted. It struck a cord that seemed to ring true in so many subtle ways, much like the movie The Matrix did. It has that same premise of reality not really being real. Reality is portrayed as a kind of dream like state in both movies. This portrayal of reality as being only a dream resonates with people at such a deep level, because deep down, I think we all suspect this is may actually be the truth.
Truth has a way of banging on our subconscious no matter how deeply we cling to beliefs that run contrary to the truth. When truth is portrayed as fantasy, it allows us to accept the message without our egos getting in the way. If I was to tell you a story about a fantasy kingdom where the king didn’t tax his subjects, but rather accepted donations for preforming services such as adjudicating disputes and providing protection, you might say that’s a fine story. However, if I were to say taxation is theft, the ego, and all the fears associated with it, would block many of you from hearing the same message.
Who would protect us!? What if people couldn’t afford protection!? What if old people didn’t save and have no family, who will take care of them!? Who will stop the terrorists!? Who will save us from shoddy meat products!? – and so on and so forth. As if those things simply couldn’t be managed through voluntary non-violent transactions. Who would pick the cotton if there were no slaves!?
It’s fine to have truth in fantasy, but the ego will not allow for it in reality. A recent study by Yale law school professor Dan Kahan notes that people become incapable of calculating rational conclusions based on the data provided if those conclusions run counter to their preconceived political beliefs. This is the same as saying people become incapable of adding 2+2=4 if the conclusion disturbs their ego or raises fears in some way. This phenomena also pertains to scientists, who theorize about consciousness and climate change, and whose jobs depend upon presupposed outcomes. No one is going to rock the boat if it means getting fired or losing funding.
Here’s a fantasy story about the truth. Let’s say we live in a world made entirely out of blue Lego blocks. No matter how I ask you to arrange those Lego blocks, would you ever be able to build me a red object? Of course, the answer is no. Now here’s the unmitigated truth. Now let’s say we live in this physical universe of matter. No matter how I ask you to arrange that inanimate matter, would you ever be able to build me a conscious thinking and feeling machine? If matter is unconscious, it can never be made conscious through some configuration. This is called the problem of strong emergence.
It could be argued that matter is itself conscious, which would then allow for the creation of conscious objects. As in our blue Lego land, if red Legos existed, a red object could then be constructed. However, in a world made up of unconscious matter, the downward causation necessary to create a conscious entity creates a chicken or the egg paradox of which came first, matter or consciousness? Of course, if matter is itself conscious, then that is the same as saying matter is made of consciousness.
Quantum mechanics says consciousness either came first (free will) or consciousness is an illusion (there is no free will). If you don’t think you’re really thinking right now, raise your hand.
Inception is bringing you the unmitigated truth about reality. Time is illusory, reality isn’t made up of anything more than the energy of conscious thought and when we die, the dream we have created for ourselves will come to an end. When we die, we wake up to what is real. The thing is, we must not like reality all that much, otherwise we wouldn’t be here now.
If there is no time, there are no surprises. All futures that are perfectly known are pasts. There can be no surprises or excitement. There is nothing to look forward to without a future that is uncertain. The word hope becomes meaningless in a place without time. Hope for what? Something that you already know to be true?
Here’s some more unmitigated truth. You live for deceiving yourself. That’s the reason you are alive.
The deception is fear, created by the ego, for a few differing purposes. In world where everything is white, it is impossible to know what white is. As the story goes, a fish and a dolphin are talking about the ocean, and the dolphin mentions that he really likes the water today, and the fish asks, “what’s water?” This universe is a universe of polarities because polarity is necessary for experience.
The other is to entertain, not in the happy sense, but in the distraction from boredom sense. It may be boring to spend years in a jail cell, but try spending eternity in a place without a future, where every thing and every event is already known to you.
And the last is to bring knowledge about the self into existence. Experience (polarity) must take place for knowledge to be increased. You are finding out what makes you, you. And through that, God is finding out what makes God, God. - Or if you’re an atheist, what makes consciousness, consciousness.
Reality is a game of sorts. Those of us who are happy and fulfilled are playing the game on easy mode. Those of us who are unhappy and the least fulfilled are playing the game on hard mode. Notice I didn’t mention wealth. I’d take the life of a broke stoner with in an epic relationship who has no worries or cares over the life of a billionaire entrepreneur who works so hard and has so many responsibilities he can’t even enjoy the wealth he’s earned. The wealth it takes to live a comfortable life is fairly minimal. Studies suggest people in the middle ages only worked two thirds of the year.
How much worry, fear, happiness and fulfillment you have is a choice. However, it is the job of the ego to keep you from playing the game on easy mode. It’s rather difficult to change the playing mode once you’ve committed to the game. Many of us end up throwing down the controller and walking away in frustration. We call that suicide – something Inception also portrayed.