How To Talk To Your God
You are doing it already.
When I was a young child attending the morning prayers in my school assembly, my mind used to spark imaginations about the school being subjected to a sudden terror attack or an alien invasion. Now my mind was busy reasoning how will I, a 10 year old skinny kid, save all my friends and teachers. I’m accustomed to losing my attention to random thoughts. To be precise, they aren’t just thoughts. Not even a story. It’s more like a simulation of data, concepts and constructs borrowed from my brain’s perceptual system. I have control and decision making powers over how to run this simulation and the direction to take it forward in. What scenes it will project and what responses will enemy agents return which satisfies my next intended actions.
After coming back home from school, I used to observe my younger sister playing with dolls and toy houses. She used to make different dolls interact with each other. Exchange greetings. And even make dinner with tiny toy dishes for all their toy friends. She was obviously murmuring the entire conversations herself whilst also controlling the movement of physical objects in the scene.
Not just that. She even used to talk to her dolls in her mind. And I used to talk to random imaginary friends, and sometimes archetype gods, like Ganesha or Zeus.
It wasn’t until I learned the mathematics and engineering behind machine learning that I finally understood what both me and my sister were engaging in. These were just ways for our mind to generate, what in deep learning we call, training data. Similar to how we make artificially intelligent models play against bots in games to learn it to train themselves.
As I grew older, I began talking to myself. No longer to that imaginary friend or god. And so did my sister. In fact, most people spend most of their time talking to themselves. So, I wasn’t broken.
Your mind looks at the universe as a game engine to make sense of the perceptual data. When you play a video game you don’t really care about the 0s and 1s running on the CPU or the GPU that is powering the graphics. You only pay attention to the properties in the game and how to interact inside it’s environment. Same thing happens when you interact with physics. You don’t care about the force between atoms, instead you simply interact with the environment available. World that you and I experience is not the physical world, it’s the dream world.
What you watch as a movie in a theater is a story. It has its own characters, scenes, voices, constructs, ideas and structures. But you can’t interact with this story or attempt to modify it. If, however, you could do that then it upgrades to a simulation. Like a video game.
Mind you, we do not live inside a simulation. The physical world definitely exists. But the world we interact with is a simulation that our brain generates for itself. It is the result of a machine learning process that the brain’s perceptual system runs in an attempt to make sense of the perceptual data.
Deep learning enlightened me about the idea that the imaginary host that I was talking to as a child, is the still the same mental construct but impersonating different personalities. From being a friend, to an individual god, to now my “self.”
This self is merely a simulated observer. It’s a control model. The motivation, reason and process that the mind employs to generate this self is the same one it uses to generate other actors or hosts.
This is where things get slightly tricky. Most of the times your “self“ retains its position as the primary host. And the mind generates a secondary host based on the personality of your god, or your friend. And then both these hosts engage in self-talk. That is, two different vision models communicating their representations with each other. But sometimes your god might possess you i.e. hijack your primary host. This is an anomaly. It’s not normal.
Some people believe they talk to not just an individual god, but a collective one. I will come back to this later.
But why does the mind generate this host?
Because it is useful.
Generating and maintaining these hosts as mental constructs is a very convenient strategy to build a control model that can inhibit customized personalities on my demand, and act as either a validator or a critic to my intentions. I can use this host to simulate what responses my god or friend or neighbor would return for my actionable input. In case this host is impersonating my god, its responses are subject to the principles that I impose on my god and the values that I hold him/her accountable for. This can, at times, be corrupted by my selfish interests.
This strategy allows my mind to game the story it is currently telling itself. And this control model allows me to reason against my own judgement, decisions and beliefs to improve my play score inside this mental video game.
We don’t act or take decisions because someone is throwing a dice on our behalf. We make informed bets.
Subject to the responses that this host returns to my initiatives, my mind takes one step forward to make better sense out of the information available in that circumstance. The training data generated from this exercise allows me to make informed bets on how to continue interacting with the universe.
The goal is to minimize the loss resulting from wrong bets.
Other option is to physically implement all actions directly in the real world and learn from my mistakes through much more painful feedback. Why not just create random actors, voices, scenes, constructs and structures virtually in my head, and test my concepts? And if it doesn’t work out - delete the game. The OG meta-verse.
In case of unwanted or bad results, we backtrack our decision tree and restart the simulation from our last correct milestone. To accurately predict the future, we not just have to predict from the past, but also from the future.
Now you know what I termed this strategy “useful.“ Because it allows us to reverse engineer our mind’s betting algorithm and increment its accuracy one step at a time.
My mind doesn’t need this observer, or god, or any other symbols and personalities, anymore than my sister needed an imaginary doll talking to her. That is, it will simply create one whenever it needs one.
Minds are softwares. And software doesn’t have identity. Generation and maintenance of either this host or other identities is not terminal to our existential nature. It’s merely instrumental in converging faster towards the next milestone.
Not Just an Individual God
Some people believe they talk to not just an individual god, but a collective one. You know, the same one that others also talk to? This collective god is fundamentally a self that spans multiple minds. These collective gods represent certain limits, conditions and maybe even principles on which you have consensus in your neighborhood.
The idea that you can live in someone else’s mind and shift your base from one mind to another is what represents these collective gods, at a subconscious level.
Our species, as conscious machines, has already been implementing this design, and we dynamically rotate our hosts subject to requirement.
When you start paying attention to this design, you want to divert your reasoning to another understanding of god subject to your beliefs. I will talk about beliefs, what births them and why you submit to them, in a different post.
Problem is these collective gods can also inject your understanding about the nature of our existence with a false notion of this existence being supposedly continuous. Which is a misplaced idea because the only thing that connects me with Mrinal Wahal of yesterday is that I have memories about him. Our existence is definitely not continuous in nature. If it was, it won’t remain computible.
You Can Switch Off Your God
Generally, your mind will automatically shutdown your god, or any other secondary host, when it is no longer required or helpful. But you can still retain its imagined form as a marker for your belief. In which case you have started identifying with this host.
Shutting down your primary host i.e. your self is more complicated. You can sit down with monks in India and learn to meditate your way into a state where you are still conscious, have active memory, can make sense out of sensory inputs, but no longer identify your hosts with the environment. That includes the agents, scenes, stories and constructs within that environment.
Once you achieve this state, you will realize you are nothing but an idea. You are just confused whether you are the one who is constructing this idea, or is this idea constructing you.