When the notice was sent out that the theme for the December issue of
Electric Dreams would be about the future, I was struck by the question
"Will virtual reality reach a point where one cannot tell the difference
between lucid dreaming and VR? (When is the holodeck going to appear?)"
I have heard many people compare lucid dreaming to "having a personal
holodeck", a place where "you create the program." You can walk
through walls, walk on water, fly and defy other laws of physics. You can live
your fantasies, practice public speaking, or sports activities, etc.
By definition, lucid dreaming requires that you become aware that you are in
a dream, while your body sleeps peacefully in the waking world of everyday
reality. Critical observation of your environment often aids in determining
whether or not you are dreaming. The dream state can appear so real however,
that sometimes you need to "reality test", to be certain that you are
in fact dreaming. These reality tests vary from trying to fly to reading printed
matter to see if it changes appearance the next instant you look at it.
But I wonder about those lucid dreamers who engage in VR (Virtual Reality)
games. I don't play video or VR games myself, so I am not up to speed on the
level of sophistication that is available at present. Does interacting with such
games, playing in virtual worlds, help one to become lucid in one's dreams? As
virtual reality becomes more sophisticated will it be harder to distinguish
between VR and dreaming, or between VR and waking reality for that matter? Will
our critical thinking become sharper, so that recognition of other than waking
reality is quickly discerned, or will our critical thinking grow lazy as VR
machines do more work for us. As we grow accustomed and comfortable with virtual
reality will we get sluggish in our ability to discern what is dreaming, what is
waking reality, and what is virtual reality?
Perhaps there is no easy answer. Perhaps it depends on the individual; after
all, each of us is unique in our perceptions and dreaming and thinking. It will
certainly be interesting to see what develops!
These questions reminded me of Arthur Gillard's pre-lucid dream "Living
in a Simulation" featured in the current issue of The Lucid Dream Exchange.
This dream is considered to be pre-lucid in that the dreamer is not *completely*
aware that he is dreaming, yet he is aware that he is not in everyday waking
Tuesday, Aug 24, 1999 3:05 A.M.
[Pre-lucid] "Living in a Simulation"
I'm at a house with a friend of mine and an older man who seems like a sort
of teacher/mentor. My friend and I seem young, maybe teenagers. The teacher sets
me a task of digging up an old grave next to the house. There are 2 graves next
to each other, I choose the one on the left. The one on the right, I notice, as
I start to dig, has things sticking up through the soil, pointy rocks maybe
[like stalactites]. I break through the soil, start pulling objects up. I can't
remember an actual body, I think I just pull up artifacts. I uncover more and
more things, and eventually it is becoming a sort of passageway. I shout to the
teacher "Can I ask you a question?" as he's heading for a ladder to do
some work on the roof. "No," he says, "Keep digging!" This
annoys me - I think that he doesn't realize I've already discovered the big
secret of this grave. I keep digging and uncover a whole other level of the
house. I go into this wonderful basement level, which is fully furnished and
full of beautiful and interesting things and furniture. It is a bright, happy
place and I think that I would like to stay here while I'm staying at the house.
I have a couple of fears, though. I say to myself, "You know this is a
basement apartment, right?" "Yes." "And you know what that
means, right?" "Yes - spiders." I look apprehensively at the
ceiling and the floor, but don't see any. I also fear being locked in - what if
somebody piles the soil up again, sealing me in? I walk up to a section of glass
panels that look like they would open to the outside, but instead open into more
of this underground space. It is around this time that I realize I'm living in a
simulation. I think maybe I get information, maybe in written form, from the
teacher [almost wrote "master"]. I think my first intimation is when I
realize that I'm not going to be spending a few days or weeks here -
subjectively it'll seem more like 2 years. Also, I know now that the master is
gone away for a long time or forever. I know that it is possible, here, to
change the parameters and characteristics of my mind, and want to learn how to
do this - I want to become more intelligent, better, more perceptive. I think my
friend knows how to do this but does not realize we are in simulation right now.
I go to him [upstairs I think] and try to break it to him gently. I say,
"What do this and this and all this [pointing to a few objects, then
indicating the outside] all have in common?" He doesn't know. I point out
more things, maybe including us. He's getting a bit annoyed. Finally I say,
"They're all simulations, that's what! We're in a simulation!" My
friend gets quite angry and denies it. He has a device that can tell if things
are real or simulated, and he gets it out [can't recall what if anything happens
with that]. Now I'm somewhere in the house; I'm either remembering what has
happened after that, or I'm thinking about what will happen: My friend freaks
out, eventually kills someone who comes to the house. He [friend] doesn't like
some of the things that are happening with this simulated world. I warned him
not to do anything like kill someone - he has to play by the rules of this
place. The others don't realize they are simulations. They lock him up for
killing someone. Meanwhile I'm still here, I'll be able to learn and grow.
The Lucid Dream Exchange is a quarterly issue of lucid dream experiences,
articles, and announcements submitted by individual readers. If you'd like more
information about The Lucid Dream Exchange contact Lucy Gillis at email@example.com.