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September 23rd, 2020
Entertain a thought experiment. Say your life has just ended and you are now in the afterlife and you discover that reincarnation is a thing, but it’s not exactly as religious traditions have lead some people to believe. Instead, it’s a bit like the matrix, and now you are tasked with setting up the conditions of your next life.
What would you choose?
Say you have control over quite a bit: you can choose where you will be born, you get to choose what sort of parents will or won’t raise you. You get to set the wealth variable on that family. You get to craft the sort of obstacles that you’ll face in life. Knowing now a bit of what life is like, what sort of conditions would you set for your new life? Would you glow giddy at the opportunity and start setting conditions that make life a dream, with everything served on a silver platter and gilded spoon? Or is a good fulfilling life a bit more complicated than perpetual pleasure and ease.
Reward without overcoming trial is empty compared to one earned by effort.
This is a platitude we all know despite our regular inability to act upon it. But given this simulation thought experiment, how would it inform your decisions about configuring your next life? Imagine if, in conjunction with this renewed memory about life being a sort of simulated game that we willingly configure and enter, your mind is again joined with memories of previous lives. No doubt, setting yourself up with an immensely pleasurable and easy life was one of the first lives you would have picked. This is certainly what most if not everyone would do.
But pleasure and ease is its own trap. The threshold of fulfillment is pushed every time we try to satisfy ourselves with stereotypical pleasures. This is referred to as Hedonic Adaptation - meaning, we get used to the good life we live, we become inured and soon it’s no longer the good life because we yearn for more. It’s a never ending process that can take people to unhealthy and even dangerous extremes - none of which appear to be fulfilling.
Given the obvious traps of pleasure and ease, how would you look at your next life? Would a curious and cheeky strain of humanity rise in you, wondering what sort of story you might be able to create…. Would you fill life with interesting obstacles if only to see how well you could rise to the challenge? It’s curious to wonder about the sort of people would would want to make life extra difficult for themselves, just to see how far they could go, how much of life they could scale, the depth of experience they might achieve and the breadth of ability that would have to be acquired.
Consider now if this was actually the case: what if, before you were born, you configured and planned the very life you are living right now. What if you consciously and purposely planted the obstacles that are causing you much stress? What if you are completely responsible for the reality you are experiencing?
Regardless of who configured or designed it: are you rising to the challenge?