The organizing principles of unity, love, and justice underlie the systemic interrelationships among all aspects of creation across multiple realities be they spiritual, physical, or virtual. As a result, any system as we choose to define it exists in accordance with those principles and in all three realities, concurrently.
We experience these realities simultaneously as a function of our total being: we attune our souls to receive inspiration and insight from spiritual reality; 1 we become aware of physical reality through our senses; and we play in the virtual reality of our minds to explore the complexities of the myriad systems to which we belong, i.e., develop ideas, construct scenarios, make decisions, formulate speech, etc. The more we experience the interconnectedness and complementarity of behavior across all three realities, the better prepared we will be to pursue the truth and let that knowledge gained guide our decisions.
The series of diagrams which will be presented below offer a framework that illustrates the interrelationships among these three realities.
To begin, a simple mirroring of Spiritual Reality in Physical Reality:
Spiritual Reality—assumes that despite a total absence of physical and virtual reality in tangible, material form at some point prior to “Big Bang” (occurs at the intersection of the two lines in the middle of the diagram), a preexistent, non-physical / non-material “spiritual reality” with sufficient imagination, will, and authority initiated it. 2 Given its preexistence and independence, spiritual reality enjoys none of the limits in time, space, form, or condition imposed on physical and virtual reality: it is eternal, ubiquitous, and infinite. Given these characteristics, it is difficult to understand the nature of spiritual reality since it cannot be detected and measured by physical world means nor extrapolated algorithmically in virtual space. Nonetheless, a wide variety of indigenous, ancient, and world religious belief systems maintain: spiritual reality has always existed everywhere without voids or breaks in continuity; we coexist simultaneously in multiple realities while physically alive; and, when our physical bodies die our spiritual lives continue in some timeless manner. Spiritual reality is, at once, the perfect medium 3 by which errorless communication occurs via messages delivered to and received from physical and virtual reality and the accurate and complete recording of any activity regardless of the form and condition taken by either reality.
Physical Reality—the cosmology of the universe since Big Bang and all manner of energy and matter, such as dark matter / dark energy, gravity / anti-gravity, magnetism and so forth that we know little about, which fill it. Whatever it is the result is that everything is connected to everything else (here’s a related posting by Maria Popova about interconnectedness: The Stuff of Stars: A Stunning Marbled Serenade to the Native Poetry of Science and the Cosmic Interleaving of Life). Some cosmologists postulate that gravity and entropy will apply interconnectedness in reverse, contracting and cooling the universe until it reaches singularity—the Big Crunch— or the “Omega Point” as postulated by Frank Tipler and others.
Virtual Reality—begins with the mind itself and the lifelike simulations it creates as it executes its genetically designed and physiologically-engineered functions. Your mental constructs, scenarios, interpretations, reveries, and dreams that occur while awake or asleep—maybe precipitated by considering this initial diagram—grant you access to “alternative universes” of unlimited possibilities unbounded by the principles and laws governing physical reality. Of course, when you combine this biologically-induced virtual reality as it emerges naturally from human thought and imagination with computer technology—such as the version you’re using now to read this—the scope, range, and variations of “parallel existences” apart from our current understanding of physical reality arise exponentially. These existences could be of such magnitude and sophistication that they embrace the whole of physical reality as we experience it. One of the key proponents of this view is Nick Bostrom who asks “Are We Living in a Computer Simulation?”. Another is Andrew Anthony of The Guardian who writes “What if we’re living in a computer simulation?”. Even though virtual reality requires a material reality for the creation and maintenance of a universe-encompassing simulation that includes our “lives” within it, we likely wouldn’t be aware of it until human consciousness and thought evolve much further. In the meantime, virtual reality which blends what’s in our minds with what’s in the computer serves to document how we as sentient beings behave under different circumstances in order to survive, adapt, and expand in number to explore the far reaches of The Matrix in which everything is interconnected.
At the outset of “Authority,” is a quote from the “Long Obligatory Prayer” revealed by Bahá’u’lláh in The Kitáb-i-Aqdas that addresses the onset of physical reality as a consequence of the Creator’s first message, “BE,” conveyed through spiritual reality. The opening section of this quote addresses characteristics of spiritual reality through which the Creator conveys messages to physical reality:
I testify unto that whereunto have testified all created things, and the Concourse on high, and the inmates of the all-highest Paradise, and beyond them the Tongue of Grandeur itself from the all-glorious Horizon, that Thou art God, that there is no God but Thee … 4
The second diagram in the series adds some of these characteristics to the “spiritual reality” aspect of the framework to emphasize the unique manner by which communication between the Creator and the creation continues unabated despite constant change occurring in physical reality and countless episodes of imaginative contemplation unfolding in virtual reality:
The diagram also includes characteristics of “physical reality” that mark the shift in orientation from meeting basic needs to developing a greater sense of self (or in accordance with Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, from physiological to self-actualization) that each and all can attain.
Humans possess physical bodies and spiritual souls. Endowed with the potential to acknowledge this dual nature bestows upon each person a unique capacity to interact with spiritual reality while still in physical reality.
It should be borne in mind, however, that when the light of My Name, the All-Pervading, hath shed its radiance upon the universe, each and every created thing hath, according to a fixed decree, been endowed with the capacity to exercise a particular influence, and been made to possess a distinct virtue.5
The utilization of one’s body and mind in this ephemeral existence to prepare the soul for eternal life in the spiritual realm is akin to an overall transition from physical to spiritual reality. The third diagram in the series below illustrates the evolution of individuals as they pursue their truths, further their education, and lead their lives in accordance to such principles and virtues that enable them to break free from the clutches of fear, greed, and power:
Due to our social nature, the behavior we exhibit as we progress along our individual spiritual paths impacts the behavior of others in the various social systems to which we belong. The more practiced we become in our personal pursuit of truth, education, and principled action the more our social systems loosen their grip on the millennia-long organizing principles of hierarchy, scarcity, and value and orient themselves to those of unity, love, and justice. The fourth diagram in the series below illustrates this phenomenon of individual development interlinked with organizational development thereby driving the emergence of a new World Order (see “Beyond the Century of Light” for further reference) from a disintegrating old order: 6
- ʻAbduʼl-Bahá. The Promulgation of Universal Peace: Talks Delivered by ʻAbduʼl-Bahá during His Visit to the United States and Canada in 1912. Edited by Howard MacNutt. 2nd ed. Wilmette, Ill: Baháʼí Publishing Trust, 1982, 183. https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/abdul-baha/promulgation-universal-peace/14#108215088 ↩
- Bahá’u’lláh. The Tabernacle of Unity: Bahá’u’lláh’s Responses to Mánikchí Ṣáḥib and Other Writings. Haifa: Bahá’i World Centre, 2006.
- An agency or means of doing something.
The intervening substance through which impressions are conveyed to the senses or a force acts on objects at a distance.
- Baháʾuʾlláh. The Kitáb-i-Aqdas: The Most Holy Book. Haifa: Baháʾi World Centre, 1992, 96, https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/bahaullah/kitab-i-aqdas/8#132648727. ↩
- Bahá’u’lláh. Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh (Wilmette, IL: US Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1990 189). ↩
- “We stand on the threshold of an age whose convulsions proclaim alike the death-pangs of the old order and the birth-pangs of the new. Through the generating influence of the Faith announced by Bahá’u’lláh this New World Order may be said to have been conceived.”
Effendi, Shoghi. The World Order of Baháʾ’uʾ’lláh: Selected Letters. 1st pocket-sized ed. Wilmette, Ill: Bahaʾi Publishing Trust, 1991, 169. https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/shoghi-effendi/world-order-bahaullah/10#924172496 ↩