It’s rare that I finish a book I start to completion, and it’s even rarer that I finish a book and immediately read through it all again. Jed McKenna’s latest book felt like it was written specifically for me (maybe even by me?), so I had to pick it up again as soon as I finished it. McKenna originally wrote a trilogy of books about truth realization a few years ago and proclaimed that he was done writing and everything that needed to be said was said. However, the universe had other plans for him. He was inspired by a TV show about science’s drive for a unifying “theory of everything”, and that lead him to communicate his simple theory to explain everything.
The theory of everything is very simple. First of all, truth exists. This truth must be unchanging, all-encompassing, and infinite. So, if we can prove something exists, we also know that it is true because truth has no limits. I can say with certainty that I exist or “I am”, and the nature of this existence is consciousness. This leads to McKenna’s theory – If truth is all, and consciousness exists, then consciousness is all. For those objecting to my explanation, you can preview the first chapter where he breaks this down in a short conversation.
This theory flips the most common understanding of existence on its head. Just about everyone treats the universe as the source of consciousness. These people would say we are physical, conscious blips in an infinite universe made of matter (McKenna calls this perspective U-Rex, or “universe is king”). The “theory of everything” would mean that the opposite is true – that the universe is a subset of unlimited consciousness (dubbed C-rex, “consciousness is king”). McKenna compares consciousness to a blank sheet of paper that extends forever in all directions, and the universe is a tiny mark on the paper. What this means is that space, time, and all of physical reality is a non-true, illusion. “Physical” reality is the movie playing on the screen of consciousness. This idea isn’t too foreign to most people because of movies like the Matrix. However, most normal people would find this idea too dubious to take truly seriously. However, it is true. It has to be true (or so says McKenna). All of physical reality is a dream, simulation, mirage, movie, Maya. Perhaps our reality is a “full-sensory period piece we’re watching during extended interstellar space travel”. We really can’t be sure.
McKenna admits that the fact that all of the universe is not real sounds like complete bullshit to any sane person. However, he says that he’s done the math and this is the only correct answer. His process was questioning everything until he could say with absolute certainty that something was real (that something turned out to be “I am”). He invites everyone to not take his word for it, but to do the math themselves if they feel inclined. Of course, if your reality is pleasant, you’d have to ask yourself, is it really worth burning it down in search of truth? Do you really need to go jumping down suspicious rabbit holes?
So the (bad?) news is that all of reality is bullshit. The (good?) news is that its some entertaining bullshit. For me personally, I’ve been tugging on the loose thread of reality for several years, and Jed McKenna’s initial trilogy of books unraveled a lot of sweater. Because of my familiarity with where McKenna is coming from, this new book wasn’t really “new”. However, he did stray into some side-subjects not covered in his previous books that I found interesting, as they seemed more focused at me personally.
I was drawn to the book was it dealt directly with science and specific religions, which McKenna ignored for the most part in his initial trilogy. To sum it up, anyone who makes claims to truth, whether it be science or religion has to deal with the fact it’s impossible to prove anything past the idea of “I am”. There is no evidence for anything outside of consciousness. In that way, all of the arrogant proponents of science who slam religion, don’t realize that they themselves are standing on the faulty assumption of an unprovable physical universe. I’ve felt tugged on by Christianity and science, as they both played a major role in my life and the book tidied a lot ideas regarding these two that were still muddled in my mind. In addition to chapters about eastern/western religion, Jed also has a section dedicated to simulation theory, which I thoroughly enjoyed. I have to wonder if I was writing about it at the same time he was.
The funny thing about truth (and McKenna’s book) is that it will never go viral. There’s a reason why the vast majority of people would rather stay asleep than wake up. You don’t get any sort of prize for embracing truth. In fact, if you search for truth, you can likely lose everything that makes you “you”. It’s a possible path for total disillusionment with the life. McKenna describes it as standing alone in an empty parking lot outside an amusement park. “The Theory of Everything” gives the reader a glimpse into the truth realized state (more accurately described as “un-truth un-realization state” by McKenna), but doesn’t require or even ask you to live there permanently. It’s a postcard from a place where consciousness is king, and the physical universe is merely a mirage. If you want to live there yourself and you’re starting from scratch, you a lot of lies to unravel. Most people would say they want the truth, but they really just want their preferred version of reality to be the true one. This is why everyone gets so uppity and self-defensive with each other when topics like religion or politics are brought up.
It’s a quick read that isn’t as weighty as it might seem. If you made it the whole way through this review, it’s probably worth checking out. You can buy “Jed McKenna’s Theory of Everything” off Amazon here.