If a tree falls on Google Maps…

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If  a tree falls on Google Maps and nobody sees it fall, did it fall in the real world?

An interesting conundrum explored in this short video by low-end production team The Vacationeers, whereby fictional users of a virtual world, by the click of a mouse, cause change in this world, a post-modern, Web 2.0 allegory if you will to the ageless Indian philosophy of Advaita Non-Dualism, a system of belief and practice which resolves existence and non-existence, self and others, this world and the one beyond to a single, undifferentiated reality. It’s kind of like imagining the entire universe as never ending menu of pizza toppings, baked upon a single, infinitely sized pizza.

Ramana Maharshi“If a man considers that he is born, he cannot avoid the fear of death. Let him find out if he has been born or if the Self has any birth. He will discover that the Self always exists, that the body that is born resolves itself into thought and that the emergence of thought is the root of all mischief. Find from where thoughts emerge. Then you will be able to abide in the ever-present inmost Self and be free from the idea of birth or the fear of death.”

“The world is illusory, Only Brahman is real, Brahman is the world.”

“There is nothing wrong with God’s creation. Mystery and Suffering only exist in the mind…”

“That which is not present in deep dreamless state is not real.”

—Quotes by Ramana Maharshi on Non-Dualism

Keanu Reeves in A Scanner DarklyHeady stuff, and hyper-intellectual mind-candy explored in better detail on film by The Matrix and A Scanner Darkly, which coincidentally both feature the exceedingly cosmic Keanu Reeves—although even this fan of serendipity defies drawing a bow long enough to find cosmic parallels in that.

Yes, the idea that an action in Google Maps can cause change in the real world may be completely non-sensical, but like most science fiction you can not deny that it is hyper-fascinating. And, as in the philosophy of non-dualism, what could be more fascinating than the idea that thought alone can change reality…

  1. Jan 29, 2008 2:33 am

    Funny clip, thanks for the laugh—a slightly nervous laugh as this might not be far from the truth soon 😉

    The infinitely-sized pizza sounds very sensible, but I didn’t have much room left in my head for a mind-candy dessert. I guess the mind (mine at least) is finite, which is a good thing:

    “There is nothing wrong with God’s creation. Mystery and Suffering only exist in the mind…”

    So the smaller the better (unlike pizza)?

    Sumangali

    Sumangali Morhall’s last blog post..Life’s a Peach, Love is Immortality

  2. Jan 29, 2008 11:08 am

    Thanks Sumangali. I’ve long been trying to fill my mind with pizza, but strangely it insists there is still room for dessert. Better pizza than suffering though in my book, although I’ll hold the mystery, for now at least…

  3. Feb 1, 2008 8:52 am

    You lost me John, but I was already lost… 🙂 Enjoyed the spooky-funny video though!
    Shardul.

  4. Feb 1, 2008 9:40 am

    I even lose myself sometimes. Thanks for reading though, and nice looking site you have there.

  5. Feb 4, 2008 12:17 am

    Contrary to the quote you share, I think a person can sense he or she was born without fearing death. To me this depends on a level of self-awareness and sense of connection to things beyond the physical dimension.

  6. Feb 4, 2008 5:37 pm

    Thanks for your comment Liara.

    While I really do hate to argue points of philosophy, it is my blog after all, so I reserve the right to occasionally indulge myself 😉

    My personal view, for what it is worth, is that in this case there is no “contrary,” for you have actually re-stated Ramana Maharshi’s words, but in another way: if one is aware of a self beyond the body, then the death of the body should hold no fear.

    Again, the world would be a far better place if we would all stop arguing points of philosophy, distinguishing shades of grey, and live a little more in the heart, where points and distinctions meld into one.

    That’s my own philosophy at least…

  7. Feb 5, 2008 5:56 am

    always a smile and a lesson here, sugar! thank you

    savannah’s last blog post..super bowl sunday or how i stopped thinking about the war and decided to flake out

  8. Feb 5, 2008 9:28 am

    Thanks, as usual, for reading Savannah—great to know you’re still out there.

    A lesson from moi? That would be the blind leading the not so blind surely 😉

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