If you were a kid born in the 1980s like me, chances are you played a computer game by watching a TV screen and using a controller.
When I was a kid the information that made up the computer graphics and sound and plot lines and character interactions was stored in a cassette tape. This would plug into my parents' Sinclair ZX Spectrum, and the whole lot would plug into our TV.
Things have obviously moved on since then! Ha.
Some time in the 1990s I first heard about virtual reality. The obvious difference between this and a TV or monitor is that it's a more immersive experience than watching the game play out on a screen. It's like you're surrounded by the virtual reality but all along it's being created by something.
But there's another level beyond this. A bit like the classic film The Matrix. A fully immersive virtual reality that is so realistic it can easily trick you into thinking it's real, but all along it's still a game. An illusion. At this level the only thing that gives the game away are some tiny clues - inconsistencies.
This final level is beyond even the most realistic computer game - it is how your mind works.
It seems like your perception of 'reality' is true. Everything you see, hear, feel, taste and smell is just like the creation of the ultimate virtual reality goggles, speakers and all the senses for the matter. The thing is though that 'reality' is as much a trick of the mind as the 80's glass TV screen with 8-bit graphics. The thing is that the quality of the technology involved can totally trick us.
On an 80's computer there's no fooling anyone that a pixellated picture of a monster is a real monster. A 90's computer's monster with a more immersive version of virtual reality would be more convincing and might trick you some of the time. But the ability of the mind to make you believe a thought is truly real - that's a a different level of trickery. And let's face it - it's very useful to be able to trust the reality we live in.
What would happen if an 80's kid was trapped in the misunderstanding that the pixel-monsters could actually eat him. Or that he could eat the squarely drawn picture of a cake on the TV screen. That would be to fall for the illusion and to forget that the illusion was fake. He'd be a victim of the system, rather than the one who enjoys the illusion.
So it is with the mind.
Remember that you are not your thoughts.
Your thoughts are not your instructions. They are the form the graphics of the game take in any moment, they aren't the 'objects' or 'characters' being represented by the pixels, powered by electricity.
Remember that electricity powers the computer, not the joystick doesn't power it.
Your intellect does not power your soul, you soul powers your intellect.
The world doesn't create your feelings thoughts or perceptions, your soul does that.
Mental health is the underlying power source, not the shapes on the mental 'screen'.
Pain and suffering are illusions. Trust me - I know that those 'graphics' really do seem real - but like every thought, feeling or perception they are still just mental graphics, not what they seem.
They never actually jump out of the screen. If we had a low tech mind, we'd see that. The trouble (and gift) is that we have a hi tech mind. The highest in fact.
Virtual insanity eh?