Brief Discussion Concerning the Metaphysical 'Origin' of Reality
Related: metaphysical ideas.
All words derive their meaning within a context and that context is generally our everyday experience of the world. But our experience of the world depends upon the sub-conscious metaphysical perspective from which we interpret the incoming sensory signals. Thus most words rest on a metaphysical foundation that has meaning ONLY within the "objective world mythology" so they cannot be used in any low level metaphysical analysis.
In regards to the concept 'matter', quantum physics shows that there is no material foundation to reality, classicality arises through an act of perception. Within this perceived classical context, when we perceive 'solidity' we conceive of the concept 'matter'. Thus matter is a conceptualisation of the "stuff of perception" and it only arises at a very high level of reality, only within our mythology of the "objective material world". As soon as one brings the concept of matter into a metaphysical discussion one has brought the whole discourse into a mythological context - just as if I tried to introduce the concept of "money" into a metaphysical discussion - I have brought the discourse into the mythological context of "economics" which derives from a socially constructed world of human relations. Any attempt to seriously accommodate such a concept into the low levels of a metaphysical discourse would be a confusion of levels and would irrevocably corrupt the discourse and lead to endless confusion.
At the lowest level there is 'information', information is discernible difference thus it too only arises through an act of perception, but it is a conceptualisation of the raw stuff of perception rather than a high level concept such as 'matter'. At the lowest level there is a closed, semantic, "self-excited circuit" (as the physicist Wheeler called it). It is both the medium within which the discernible difference manifests as well as the perceiver of the discernible difference, thus the information flows through the circuit and its meanining is sematically derived from the interelations within the closed circuit. It is the coherent flow of information that underlies the manifestation of ALL empirical forms and phenomena. It creates what I sometimes analogically refer to as a simulation space, not in terms of a simulacrum of something else but in the sense of a transcendent information construct that manifests an empirical context (like how a computer simulation creates a type of existential empirical context for the simulated systems). There are simply no secular words that directly refer to this kind of phenomenon because most words derive from an unquestioned belief in the ontological reality of the "world illusion". I could also use the analogy of virtual reality (but it is not 'virtual' since the perceiver dwells within the same information space) thus artificial reality is a little closer (but it is not 'artificial' in the sense that it was made by humans). One could also use the analogy of a computer game program and the virtual space of the computer game, or a book and a story or a movie projector and a movie but all of these analogies could be easily misunderstood if one focuses on the inappropriate particulars and overlooks the underlying general principle, which is the creation of an experiential context (a 'world') out of an underlying abstract information process.
Below I will run through a very brief description of the structure of reality from the lowest level up to the higher levels of our experience of reality, and then working from that perspective I will look back toward the metaphysical 'source' and discuss what can be known about it.
The transcendent process (TP) or cosmic computer is proposed as an initial crutch for materialist minds, just to get them started, but this crutch will soon have to be discarded. Just for now imagine the TP as some kind of futuristic quantum computer or maybe as the imaginative dream space of some "god-like" being, the more fanciful the better - just so that your mind doesn't become too attached to the image. The cosmic computer is the self excited circuit, it provides the memory space within which the discernible difference manifests, as well as the CPU that is the perceptual process that utilises the discernible difference as information which it then computes. The memory space and CPU provide a computational context within which information can flow in a coherent manner, this produces the transcendent space (TS).
Within the TS there is an idiom of information constructs and processes. These are similar, in their general principles, to a computational idiom of threads, processes, machine code, high level programming languages, data structures within such languages and so on. It is within the context of this computational idiom that the empirical process (EP) exists. It is the "simulator" or the "reality generative process". I model it as an SMN based "finite state automata" that coordinates all of the information flows and weaves them together into an information construct which creates an empirical context which I call the empirical space (ES).
We are presently discussing things from a transcendent perspective hence the empirical context is just a coherent flow of abstract information, but now we will pass through the EP/ES Membrane which is a virtual perceptual membrane that separates the two perspectives that I might refer to as "outside the game" and "within the game" (using the analogy of a computer game). From a perspective embedded within the game, one may perceive and experience empirical forms and phenomena. Beware of this analogy because a computer game implies the perceptual entity (the player) dwells in an external information space and interacts via an 'interface', but in this case the perceptual entity arises within the game, hence it is best to look out at the game world from the perspective of a game character that is intrinsically a part of the game itself. From such a perspective the experiential context is their whole world and any attempt to understand their world will be based upon empirical concepts such as space, objects in space, matter, energy, time and so on.
This is the traditional context from which the secular world has looked out at their universe and it is the context within which science has evolved. But such a science is bound entirely within the game, all of its core concepts only have meaning within the game and any attempt to understand the true metaphysical foundation in terms of these concepts leads only to confusion. However the transcendent and empirical contexts are intimately related, hence through exhaustive analysis science has worked its way through the empirical "world illusion" and has encountered the metaphysical 'floor' of the empirical world. Through quantum physics science has discovered that the world is not founded upon objects in space but instead is founded on abstract information processes that are non-local in the sense that they permeate the whole of the game world. This is empirical science's first taste of the absolute reality that underlies the world of relative reality. Through this science has come to conceive of the unified vacuum which, from its perspective, is the 'floor' of the world. But this vacuum is simply the EP/ES Membrane as seen from within the game. To explore any further, science must let go of its empirically founded concepts such as space and matter and must move into a very abstract context of information processes.
From an empirical perspective one can hypothesise the existence of the transcendent information structures such as the simulator, the transcendent computational space and the transcendent cosmic computer. From this one can apply information theory to understand the general principles of this context and thereby come to an understanding of how the transcendent context functions. This can then be modeled and one can explore how the empirical space arises. One can determine the fundamental constraints on the underlying computational process (such as it being finite and discrete) and one can then model the ramification of this on the nature of the empirical context. One then finds that these restrictions lead to phenomena, which when perceived from within the game, can be described as special relativity, quantum physics and so on. In this manner we may infer the existence and the properties of the transcendent context but we can never directly experience it because it is that which underlies our very capacity of experience, it is not a "thing in the world", it is that which manifests "the world".
In this manner we may extend our understanding of reality beyond the realm of direct empirical experience and come to look deeper into the underlying transcendent nature of reality. However, due to the nature of information processes there are strict limits on how far we can explore. A computer game character may conceivably explore the properties of the computational space within which it manifests, this is the inner aspect of the cosmic computer, but it can know nothing about the outer aspect of the cosmic computer. It cannot say who or what that computer is, where it is, what it looks like and so on, these are all a part of its outer nature. Hence our initial image of the cosmic computer, which we began with above, can never be verified or falsified, there is simply no information via which we can come to know anything at all about its outer nature (unless it provides some kind of interface, like a computer having a camera that allows programs running within it to have some image of the computer itself).
Hence we cannot even say whether there is a cosmic computer at all. Our minds insist that it must exist but that is because we are operating within a metaphysics derived entirely within the game. In the empirical context everything that exists is a mirage formed out of underlying information processes and anything that we call an information process within that empirical space is seen to have a 'physical' foundation. But the underlying information processes produce a physical mirage such as matter, which we may then construct into another higher level information process such as a physical computer. This configuration of matter harnesses the underlying information processes and allows us to utilise it in a coherent manner but the information processing itself derives from a far deeper source than matter - matter could not exist or exhibit coherent behaviour if it weren't for the underlying information processes.
Hence there isn't necessarily any logical need for there to be a physical-like cosmic computer that produces the transcendent computational space. It could just as well be the case that the computational space IS the foundation, hence all form may ultimately arise from abstract information processes or from a proto cosmic 'consciousness'.
Assuming that you, the reader, are an empirical being that believes themselves to exist within "the world", the most relevant issue arising from the above discussion is that "the world" is an empirical construct of the senses and the true nature of reality is not constructed out of the objects of sense perception such as matter, it in fact has a VERY different nature. For example, one may be a computer game character running through fields and corridors but the nature of ones reality is a transcendent computational process computing zeros and ones. This central point is simply a re-expression of the deepest metaphysical foundations of all the worlds ancient mystical traditions, but these have been grossly misunderstood over time, with their subtle analogies interpreted within an empirical context and thus leading to utter nonsense.
One may ask, given that the true nature of reality is so far removed from our everyday experience of "the world", how can one ever hope to align with it and dwell within it, rather than just intellectualise about it. This has been the underlying goal of all the ancient mystical traditions (although not the outer 'religions' that have formed around them). For example, the path of yoga recommends that one overcomes one's attachment to the objects of the senses and one purifies and un-knots one's inner energy centres (which underlie the phenomenon we call 'consciousness') thus one's consciousness gradually attunes more and more to the transcendent reality (Brahman) rather than the "world illusion" (maya). I personally primarily pusue a path that can be described as Jnana Yoga, which involves the holistic disciple of the intellect and this website is a product of my process of realisation.
Different paths suit different people and there are many ways of overcoming illusion, but the process is subtle and requires the utmost commitment. Any attachment to the story of one's life and the objects that populate that story may be cause for the subtle suspension of disbelief that brings one back "into the game" in a similar manner to losing oneself in the story line of a movie, whilst one is really staring at reflected light from a silver screen.