The key thing you need to understand is that space and time are not two different things – they are different perspectives on the same thing. “Yesterday” and “the north pole of the moon” are both in the category “places you are not currently located.” It may seem strange to think of yesterday as a place, because you can’t go there like you could possibly go to the moon, but the fact is that we are all moving, at all times, at the speed of light, through spacetime. When you are at rest relative to me, then we are moving in the same direction. When you are in motion relative to me, we are moving in slightly different directions.
The idea that ‘space’ and ‘time’ are the same thing has been around a while and isn’t going anywhere or really challenged. To understand the multiverse, just think a bit about ‘tomorrow’ instead of yesterday. It, too, is a place you are not currently located. We are used to the idea that ‘there is one true history of what has happened, and there is only one way the future will play out’ – but there are many ways the future could play out. All you need to get, to understand the multiverse, is that possibilities are places, too. Some of them you could reach, and some of them you couldn’t.
Think about tomorrow, for example. I can state with confidence that there will be no birthday parties for elephants named frank at my house, tomorrow. In other words, the place – “a tomorrow where there is a birthday party at my house for an elephant named frank” – that place has no conscious observers who are present. When I imagine that place, and fill in details with my imagination – it’s like looking at the surface of the moon through a telescope. We use our imaginations and emotions to explore the multiverse, because with these portions of our consciousness, we explore possibilities and relationships between what is and what might be. So i think it’s entirely reasonable to say that “a birthday, party, tomorrow, at my house, for an elephant named frank” exists and is real but is uninhabited, in the same sense that the north pole of the moon exists, and is a real place, even though nobody is there right now.
The overall structure of tomorrow – the place we end up at – is determined by the collective choice-making of everyone in the world. It’s like we are a flock of birds, blasting through spacetime at the speed of light, all moving roughly in the same direction, making slight direction course changes here and there. We follow the typical flocking algorithm; maintaining personal space, matching the average velocity of people around us (which means thinking roughly the same way our peers do) and moving towards outliers.
A person who has a psychotic break is just someone who’s looking in a radically different direction through possibility-space-time than the direction they are going. That’s why they bump into people – they’re like a person who’s looking through a telescope while walking down a busy pedestrian street. The moon is still real, the person isn’t hallucinating – but they are bumping into people, which is frowned upon. If the people they bump into don’t understand what a telescope is, they’d deny the existence of the moon, and blame anyone who talked about it for the collisions on the street. “Every time someone goes off about this ‘moon’, they bump into us reasonable people who just keep our eyes here.” Meanwhile, many of those who’ve seen the moon respond to everybody else’s refusal to consider it by looking at it all the more closely. If the guy with the telescope bumps into an old man who’s studied the moon a long time, the old man would just smile and say hey, man, it’s always up there. I find it’s better to enjoy the moon from the comfort of my house – the motion here on the street is distracting. The other folks on the street would say the old man was a priest or a spiritual leader.
A leader is someone who gets multiple people around her to move in the direction she wants. She has gravity. Power – in the colloquial sense of the word – is easily seen as the ability to steer in the direction you want to go. The more power a person has, the more ability they have to choose possible outcomes they’d like. If I had a billion dollars, and i were so inclined, I could very easily choose to have a birthday party for frank the elephant at my house, every day. To make this happen, the chain of cause and effect necessary would require me to give money to other people, thus lessening my wealth and source of power. It’s almost like, moving from the center of the school of fish – where lots of people are following and mimicking my motion – towards the edge of the flock, where nobody was really going, because nobody imagined a birthday party every day for frank the elephant as being reasonable or a thing they wanted.
If I were capable of generating revenue from that birthday party, selling ads, taking pictures, promotional TV shows, ride the elephant, etc – then it would be as if I had moved the entire human race to a more energy dense portion of possibility-space-time. This is basically what entrepreneurs do. They see something in the distance – a new way to build spatulas, much better than the old way – and they get people to go along with them, to move in the direction towards spatula.ly, the first cloud spatula provider. Because these directional changes are tiny, the new things take a long time to come into the world. Everybody else course-changes along with them as its happening, because the shifts are tiny and we’re all basically mirroring each other when it comes to stuff we don’t directly affect. If the world as it is now means i own this plot of land, and then i go to a hardware store and buy stuff to build a structure there – it’s like the whole world just follows along as i set that tiny course, from a place where there was no structure, to the place where there is a structure. The first step is a place where there’s a pile of wood, the a place where there are some nails and hammers, then a place where there is someone making the building.
How does conflict work? Well, If you didn’t want me to build on that land, you’d need to convince enough people to move in that direction – the direction where i don’t build – with you. Maybe you could find a lawyer and pay him to file a lawsuit saying i was killing some endangered species – that would get other people involved, changing the ultimate direction taken by the human flock away from the places where there’s a structure on that piece of land. If i don’t pass through the ‘getting a permit’ step, on my way to having the structure, then many of the nearby, downstream destinations contain someone coming to say “hey, you can’t build here without a permit.” If i say yes, it’s a course change towards a place where i either file a permit, or take down the building. If i say, go away, it’s a course change towards a place where i am asked to go to court. If I keep saying ‘no, i will go my own way’, then it’s like i keep moving towards a direction that ultimately ends in my death, as i am shot by the police for refusing to come with them because i disobeyed the court order to be present for building on land without a permit. In that sense, the state exists through inflicting violence on persons who typically are hypothetical – a law against a large company using a specific type of manufacturing process, for example, is enforced violently in a faraway place, where a person who was the CEO but kept saying ‘no’ to society eventually resisted the police and was killed. That place is very unlikely to be inhabited, because the CEO can see it miles away through the telescope of her imagination, and so instead will subcontract that manufacturing process to another company.
The vast number of people just kind of going along with the herd is what gives consensus reality its coherent structure. If you were out alone in a space suit, far away from other humans keeping an eye on you, you’d probably start tripping balls and imagine all kinds of crazy things. How would you know whether you were hallucinating, or whether it was real? How many people need to hallucinate the same thing before it becomes accepted as real? Quick, name a presidential candidate who has a chance of winning and thinks the war on terror is a waste of money and says it publicly. The herd mentality is hard to challenge, especially when there’s an imaginary monster that’s keeping it moving.
I think a world of consensual interaction that’s free of coercion is desirable, necessary, and inevitable – it’s sort of like understanding that there must be a black hole at the center of the milky way, even if you haven’t seen it directly. What else is pulling us there? What else accounts for the massive increases of human liberty and the massive gains in wealth and prosperity we’ve seen since the magna carta, 800 years ago? When we move towards a world where people interact only with their own consent, it always seems to give us more energy. Sometimes it breaks down the stored energy of social configurations, but it seems invariably to lead to more energy for all of us. Maybe we’ll break Kardashev level 1 at the same time everyone on earth is guaranteed physical safety, the same way nobody worries too much about a gamma ray burster – if one happens, we’re all dead anyhow.
When people talk about ‘putting something out there into the universe’, and waiting for it to manifest, i think all they are really doing is setting a firm location down in their mind, and then moving towards it. I don’t think it’s ‘the universe’, operating according to a set of benevolent, wish-granting principles, which causes things to happen the way we want them to. I think it’s the navigational software that operates in everyone’s subconscious mind. Your stomach is the real GPS; the brain is basically there to add some desirable flavor.
So how do you change direction? It’s really all about thought. What you pay attention to is the direction you face in the multiverse; so pay attention to what you want, and you’ll get it. Of course, you’ll need to do steps to get you what you want, but if you think about it in sufficient detail, your body will do those steps for you. If you’re in a difficult situation and feel stressed, first focus on staying calm, and then focus on getting the outcome you want . When you’re out of danger, then go back and think about what’s wrong. Dissecting a problem when you aren’t calm is like driving heavy machinery while drunk – and anger is a powerful intoxicant. When you work towards an outcome, this is the result of focused thought about and attention to the desired outcome.
All the “new age” stuff about being grounded in the present moment, is really just saying “watch where you are going”. Thinking about possibly hypothetical ways the world could have turned out differently but didn’t is like thinking all the time about a specific layer of Jupiter’s atmosphere. Why? you’re not there, you’re here – so be present, take a deep breath, and happy travels through the multiverse.