Sound Self developer Robin Arnott is starting a publishing label named Orpheus Technodelics to curate and distribute consciousness hacking VR experiences. “Technodelics” are digital psychedelics that provide peak experiences, and Arnott hopes till open someone’s mind commit to deeper contemplative practices. He sees that spiritual traditions are steeped in level of tradition and seriousness that is a turn-off for a lot of people, and that he hopes to use the insights of game design in order to make transcendent experiences more readily available through virtual reality.
Arnott has been working on the Sound Self for over six years now, and he’s hoping to tap into the larger mindfulness market with other type types of similar immersive, consciousness hacking experiences. He’s working with visionary artist Android Jones whose MicroDose VR is a psychedelic particle painting program that cultivates flow states, as well as a mobile app called Breathscape, which helps cultivate regular breathing practices.
I talk to Arnott about the consciousness hacking movement founded by Mikey Siegel, his concept of what constitutes a VR “technodelic,” balancing peak experiences with the cultivation of spiritual practices using technology, takeaways from his GDC talk on designing a trance meditation game, and how he navigates his personal mission and role in helping tell the larger story and potential of transcendent technology and it’s connection to the larger mindfulness market and ecosystem.
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[00:00:05.452] Kent Bye: The Voices of VR Podcast. Hello, my name is Kent Bye and welcome to The Voices of VR Podcast. So Michael Pollan is an author who recently released a book called How to Change Your Mind, which is really diving into psychedelics and how people have been using psychedelics to be able to open up their consciousness to new experiences. It's mostly in the context of these different medical studies, whether that's in treating for depression, or addiction, or PTSD, or people who are at the end of their life and are going through hospice and they want to have a psychedelic experience to change their relationship to their own mortality. So psychedelics have really infused into our culture within the 60s. And there was a lot of also spiritual practices that were coming in from the Eastern traditions, whether that's meditation or yoga or these variety of different contemplative spiritual practices that were trying to, in essence, achieve the same thing, which is to open up your mind to different levels and dimensions of consciousness that take these different practices and a lot of rigor to be able to achieve. Well, Robin Arnett is trying to use virtual reality technologies in what he calls a technodelic, which is a technological psychedelic that is trying to give you some sort of peak experience to be able to open up your mind as to what might be possible with consciousness. And that, hopefully, if you have one of these peak ephemeral experiences, that would then lead you into diving into more of a contemplative spiritual practice. So he's been working on this game called sound self and the previous interview that I did with him He really went into all the things that he's doing in that game Which is in essence you using your voice to be able to have this feedback mechanism with these visuals that are on this spectrum between how much you are in control and how much you're out of control and there's kind of it's interesting balance between Having some control but not complete control and that allows you to I guess let go of a lot of your expectations as to your agency within the world and that that is trying to mimic some of the experiences that he's personally had with psychedelics. And so he's been continuing to work on SoundSelf, but he's also creating a new publishing label called Orpheus Technologies. And Orpheus is wanting to gather up all of these other variety of virtual reality experiences that are looking at modulating consciousness and doing some sort of either peak spiritual experience or actually cultivating a contemplative practice to be able to change and alter your consciousness. So that's what we'll be covering on today's episode of the Voices of VR podcast. So this interview with Robin happened on Thursday, June 7, 2018, while Robin was in Austin, Texas, and I was in Portland, Oregon. So with that, let's go ahead and dive right in.
[00:02:40.545] Robin Arnott: I'm Robin Arnott, and what I'm doing in VR is shifting. I've been developing a technodelic in VR. I've been developing SoundSelf, which is a VR entheogen, an experience that opens your mind in the same way that psychedelics or deep meditation might. And now I'm shifting gears to publishing projects like these. So looking for other virtual reality experiences. SoundSelf is the first. I'm also working with Android on microdose VR, who you've spoken to.
[00:03:10.296] Kent Bye: So yeah, I know we had a chance to talk a while ago when SoundSelf was still in development and I think you were in a beta and once you finally released it then I guess you had your own experience of what it's like to try to do a self-distributed title in virtual reality and so maybe you could talk a bit about what your experience was like and then what led you to decide to start your own publishing entity in order to kind of curate other experiences that were similar to yours so that you can really, you know, get them out there.
[00:03:42.637] Robin Arnott: Yeah, that's a really tasty question. So I've been developing Soundcell for about six years and I'm still working on it. It's not finished yet. It's not technically released yet. We're still in beta. Right now we're porting to PSVR and at some point I realized, I've kind of realized this for a while, you know, it's just like It's a really tricky sell, because people understand what a video game is, people even are beginning to understand what a digital experience is on VR, and why that might be interesting, but I think the significance of what I've been doing with Soundself is sort of... and understanding what that is, you know, like we are beginning in our culture to have some understanding of what altered states of mind are, even the word altered states of mind I think is not appropriate, just awakening, or stillness, or the kind of peace you get from meditation, and the kind of wisdom you can get from intelligent psychedelic use. But there's not really a market understanding of what a software that does this can look like or can be. And I've been, I guess, nervous about releasing Soundself into a market that doesn't have that understanding yet, because I just knew it would get missed. And I also knew that I'm not the only person developing software with this attitude, that the technology exists right now to be able to make this sort of stuff, and that other people are working in this domain, and it just seemed essential that somebody be orchestrating the whole field, somebody be helping us work together, somebody be sort of playing the coach, somebody playing the role of orchestrating the whole team, orchestrating all these people and helping consumers understand what this is, and that such a person and such a company didn't exist yet. And it just struck me that I have to do it, it has to be me. And it's better to do that now, before Soundself releases, because I think Soundself is a really great example of what these kind of technologies can be. I think it's better to put together this company now before the commercial release of Soundself than, say, a year afterwards. And so that's what's motivated me to start this company and to begin working with other people.
[00:05:53.724] Kent Bye: And after working on Soundself for so long, I'm really curious to hear from you what you think some of the primary components of what makes up one of these technodelic type of experiences and maybe some of your own experiences of these altered states of consciousness that you're able to achieve by going through and playing your experience of Soundself.
[00:06:14.747] Robin Arnott: Yeah, that's a good question. So let me just ask it back to make sure I get it clearly. It's like, it's like, what is a technodelic? And what have my experiences been in technodelics?
[00:06:26.324] Kent Bye: Yeah.
[00:06:27.733] Robin Arnott: So a technodelic is a piece of technology. It is a portmanteau of the word technology and psychedelic. So a technodelic is a piece of technology that works with your brain to just shift your experience and actually shift your brain state into witnessing the universe and yourself differently to how you do in your default neural network. I found it's pretty wild, you know, it's pretty wild that we can do this. And to me, the foundation of these sorts of technologies are video games. Video games just do a really incredible job grasping someone's attention and shifting it and morphing it and shifting their awareness. And we see this happen. When you play a video game, you really feel like you are the avatar. So video games, I think, create a really excellent foundation for grasping a person's attention structures and shifting what they experience themselves to be. Yeah, so to me, it's an evolution of a video game, but taking inspiration from, rather than from the history of video games and the history of narrative, taking inspiration from meditation technologies, things like mandalas, singing bowls, group oms, because these are game designs. These are systems that, when you meet them with your mind, change how you perceive yourself as being. And if you can do that with an external system like a mandala, you can certainly do that to the nth degree with a video game. You know, it's interesting, as a developer of a piece of software like this, the experience is only open to me in a limited way, because when I try Soundself or other sorts of experiences like these, my mind is engaged and looking for the systems and what's working about it, what's not. But even for me, when I just boot Soundself up to test something, I find myself getting lost in it, because the whole system is designed to actually numb out the narrative mind, make the narrative mind overwhelm and overstimulate the narrative mind, and give the narrative mind nothing to grasp onto so that it just sort of flutters away and you're left experiencing presence unmediated by the narrative mind. But what I've seen in other players as they play Soundself is, I mean, people often come out of it comparing it to 5MEO DMT. And for those in your audience who don't know what that is, that's the active ingredient in Ayahuasca. So I think what these experiences do that is different from a video game, what they do that is similar, let's start with what they do that is similar to a video game. What they do that is similar to a video game is that they shape the structure of your consciousness and they use systems of interaction to do so. So your mind comes and meets the system of interaction and where you meet the system of interaction and say, how do I meet you? How do I play with you? Your consciousness actually takes a shape in order to meet that. And normally when you play a video game that shape is pretty similar to the shape of consciousness that you normally occupy in your day-to-day egoic reality. What's different about what we're doing from video games is the systems when your mind meets them is actually designed to draw your mind into knots and silence it. so that you can witness yourself free from the fluctuations of narration, of mind, of compressing the universe into objects, which is what our mind does.
[00:10:00.828] Kent Bye: So in the process of me talking to a number of different people within the consciousness research realms, there's a book that I refer to called Living Deeply by Cassandra Beaton and Marilyn Schlitz, and in that book they lay out what they describe to be the four major components to any spiritual practice. The first one is that you have to pay attention. So you're like paying attention to something, whether it's your breath or something else. You're having some sort of intentionality for why it is that you're doing it. Are you trying to be mindful, cultivate some sort of focus? And then there's an element of practice where you are doing it like over and over again, where you go in and you actually have this practice you do every day. And then finally there's some element of guidance so that you're either getting guidance from some sort of spiritual tradition, through a teacher, through a book, but there's some sort of like framework that is allowing you to be on this pathway of development and growth. And I know that the last time that we talked, I think that you were really focusing on that peak experience of something that was going to maybe break somebody out of their stasis of life and maybe give them some sort of experience. And I noticed that some of these other experiences that you have are also trying to perhaps maybe cultivate this more contemplative practice that you come back to each and every day. I'm just curious to hear your take on those components of a spiritual practice and whether or not you see something like microdose VR or sound self VR as something that has the potential for people to start to take on as a spiritual practice.
[00:11:32.953] Robin Arnott: You know, they definitely have potential. They definitely have potential for people to take on as a spiritual practice. But I think there's this piece that I'm really interested that There's not really an expression of in, you'll call it the market or the ecosystem or the ecology of spirituality as we live it. And honestly, I don't think it's really ever been a part of the ecology of spirituality as we know it. I mean, maybe in the United States and with the emergence of festival culture, we're beginning to see something like what I'm about to talk about for the first time. But you mentioned, you know, these four measurements or markers of spiritual practice and there was intention, attention, repetition and guidance. So I look at the wellness space and the wellness space is exploding right now and it's really beautiful you know it's really just inspiring to see how Western culture is taking on and integrating in an embodied way spiritual wisdom from the East, and not even exclusively from the East, but it has a more and more American flavor. You walk down the street in any major city and you can't miss all the yoga studios and so on. And those yoga studios no longer feel Indian. They feel American. You know, they don't feel imported anymore because they're not. They're a part of our culture. And a yoga studio includes all of these four things that you're describing. But there's something about the narrative around spirituality that I think is, well, A, contradictory, and B, pushes a certain kind of person away. And this comes back to those four qualities, attention, intention, repetition, and guidance. There's a quality of seriousness, I think, that comes with a lot of spiritual practice. And man, I think that's the thing that I... There's something about that quality of seriousness. I mean, firstly, I don't trust that seriousness when it happens because you meet somebody who's really embedded in their own spiritual practice and the best spiritual teachers have such a sense of humor about what they're doing, you know? And then... It's worth asking, why is it when we look at our spiritual practices and meditation practices and so on and institutions around these things, be they religious or otherwise, why is there this quality of seriousness around it? Where's the lightness? Where's the fun? And we're beginning to see more and more of that lightness. I mean, okay, you go to Bali and you see how they practice Hinduism there and lightness and fun is built into the thing, right? But I think that, gosh, you know, the more I meditate and the more I touch into stillness, like, yes, there's this quality of stillness and presence and wisdom and all of that, but also, boy, I just enjoy life more and things are funnier. You know, when you're on the threshold of some sort of insight about reality and how you fit into reality, you can't help but laugh. You know, I know that the moments in my life where I've had the greatest insight on myself have brought me to tears of laughter. So, and it's not just laughter, you know, there's a sense of awe that you can get when you meet some deeper layer of truth that just stops you where you stand. And there's no room for seriousness in it because it just is and it takes you over and it moves you. And art does this, you know, art stops us in our tracks and has us gasp and shakes us to our core and really good art. I think art that takes itself seriously is pretty disposable, to be honest, but really good art. It just stops you and becomes you and it's enjoyable, you know? It touches you in your heart and it tickles you and it plays with you and so on. And so I see this domain of technodelics as being a place to meet people in a spiritual experience that's not serious. It doesn't even require any sort of devotion to practice, you know? Like when you don't have an expectation of what this thing's going to do for you, then you're actually freer and more open to let the thing affect you, which is part of why I think art moves us so much. Whereas if you go into an experience having an intention, you already have some sort of attachment in place that's stopping you from fully surrendering to it. If you're going into an experience believing it's going to fix you, which I think is part of the languaging around wellness, that you're broken and you need these practices to fix you, then you're actually already coming in at a handicap. I think creating experiences that stop people in their tracks, show them something they weren't expecting about themselves and do so in a way that doesn't set expectations or isn't framed in a way of like you need this and you need to make it a part of your life is a really beautiful way to enter people's hearts. And I think the institution of video games is uniquely well suited to deliver that sort of experience to people.
[00:16:23.813] Kent Bye: Yeah, I know that at GDC last year, you had given a whole talk about your philosophy around designing like a trance game and some of your big takeaways. And it seemed like that you were really synthesizing both, like to a certain extent, in order to do experiential game design, you have to have some sort of theory about what reality is or have some sort of framework around experience. And that it seems like you're really pulling from a lot of different spiritual traditions to kind of come up with that framework as you use your own trade-offs as you're creating your experience. So maybe you could just give a brief summary as some of the main takeaways of that kind of trance game design insights that you've gathered over, you know, this time that you've been working on Soundself.
[00:17:06.728] Robin Arnott: Yeah. Wonderful. Well, most of the time when you're making a video game, you're making a really big assumption about that, which is playing your video game. which is a person, which is a pretty reasonable assumption to make. You're making a video game for a person. Now, what is a person? What is a person? A person has a sense of self-awareness, a narrative about themselves, and built into person-ness is a boundary. Here's person, and here's not person, you know? Like I'm looking at you through this screen, and I have a sense of a person here, my person, and an environment, which is not a person, and then Kent in front of me, which is a person, but is different from this person, you know? And this is a really useful assumption, and we need it to do our work and to exist in the world. So I don't think we should be going around treating people like they're not people. But... But hey, you know, that's an assumption in our artwork that's so foundational to our artwork that you almost can't talk about it while removing that. But removing that is what I've done in my own philosophy of game design. I'm not working with a person. I'm working with a set of habits and a set of sensory organs. And I'm using those sensory organs and habits to sort of silence old habits and redraw new habits and in doing so creating a stillness for beingness to recognize itself. without the personal intermediary of separateness. And you can use game design to do that. I don't think this practice of game design is very prevalent yet and I'm determined to find other creators and work with other creators who are brave enough to work in this way and who honestly have a deep enough practice of presence in themselves to be able to relate to the being on the other side of the game design in a deep way that actually transcends the personal. So these first projects, right now it's SoundSelf, MicrodoseVR, and a really cool Android and iOS app called Breathscape that I'm working with. These are all projects that, they're all different, they're all really different. Breathscape is really just like, gosh, touches you deep into your breath and your sense of being. And Microdose VR is so playful and it has built into it Android Jones's psychedelic style of artwork, which itself is really, especially if you've had a psychedelic experience, it will, like Android's work really pulls up the memories of those experiences you might've had and brings them into the present. So yeah, I'm hoping to find as many people working in this domain as possible and bring us together and help. And really, I think the biggest challenge is help the public understand what this technology field is and say, hey, it's available and it's fun and you don't need to have an existing spiritual practice or even give a shit about spirituality to enjoy them in some sort of sublime way.
[00:20:18.345] Kent Bye: Yeah, and I'm curious if you personally identify yourself or your company with other movements like consciousness hacking, for example, or some of these other movements where they're trying to use technology in order to, you know, assist different spiritual practices.
[00:20:35.448] Robin Arnott: Yeah, I see what we're doing as being directly connected to the consciousness hacking movement. Mikey Seagal is a good friend of mine. I've been pretty deeply inspired by him. We've known each other for years since consciousness hacking was just sort of starting up. I mean he was starting it. He had this insight around technology and consciousness and so much has blossomed from his work and his insight and it's really only just beginning to blossom. I believe that the consciousness hacking movement is going to have a really profound effect on technology as a whole. I mean, it's already funneling at least many millions of dollars into consciousness opening projects. I mean, the mindfulness industry, which is a more general thing than the consciousness hacking industry, but the mindfulness industry is a multi-billion dollar business. So I've been so captured I think by Mikey's view on technology, on his attitude of technology as a mechanism of meditation is a technology and so is psilocybin. So can an app on your phone be a technology that can serve these same purposes? Absolutely yes. I think the question is how does this idea, the idea of meditation, the idea that we can create something, a technology that can help us know ourselves more intimately, how does this idea express itself into the mind? manifold technologies that Western culture avails to us. And there's a different answer for every field of technology. And I see Orpheus as an expression, a uniquely video gamey expression of the consciousness hacking idea.
[00:22:21.491] Kent Bye: Hmm. Yeah, I know that one of the things that I say is that we're moving from the information age to the experiential age. And I think that actually the next step after just having experiences are these transformational experiences that people at some point are not going to be satisfied with just having an experience. They want to have something that's deeply meaningful and transformative. Isn't that beautiful?
[00:22:43.848] Robin Arnott: Isn't that beautiful? I don't see how you can look at the emergence of technology, the cutting edge emergence of technology and still be a technological cynic. I think it's so beautiful to see how, I mean humans have always done this, we have always Asked what do we need and how can we create something to make our experience our universe more beautiful and Technology is the expression of that and I look around me and I see some oh my god. It's amazing you know, I think that the way people relate to technology in 20 years is going to I Gosh, it'd be such a different universe as far as consciousness is concerned than the way we relate to technology now. Yeah, so I agree. I think we're, what were you saying, we're moving from the information age to the experiential age?
[00:23:32.070] Kent Bye: Yeah. And then from the experiential age, the transformational experience age, so transformative experiences. But I think, you know, in terms of like the technologies, we have this sort of polarity that is always possible with the most exalted uses of the technology and then the more shadow unconscious dimensions of the technology that if you're not aware of what you're doing, you can create this escapist type of use for the technology. And it seems like this new publishing entity that you're creating is trying to be in that more exalted, but in terms of just looking at the overall landscape of what's happening in the culture, we kind of have this split between people who are, let's just call it like night clubbing to go out and have experiences versus something where people are trying to either transform themselves or to become more connected to themselves, more connected to each other and more connected to the planet. So I kind of see that there are these dual potentials here that, you know, I don't think it's like a necessarily inevitable that we're all going to take this exalted, enlightened approach to technology, but that it's going to take entities like yourself to be able to curate and provide those experiences. But at the same time, there are going to be the counterweight of these more escapist or nightclubbing type of experiences that are out there.
[00:24:50.025] Robin Arnott: Yeah, and I don't, I don't see that this duality you described between these exultant, introspective, transformational experiences and the nightclubby experiences. I don't see the nightclubby experiences as being wrong or bad. there's definitely expressions of technology that gross me out you know like the first thing that comes to mind is slot machines or candy crush which comes pre-installed on windows 10 and is just a... I mean even twitter and facebook have an exultant function but also have a darkness and I think that's inevitable because we're conscious but we're also unconscious and we're not necessarily conscious of what we are unconscious of and it's consciousness's nature to expand and first expand by recognizing the edge of what it's unconscious of and then growing into that. To whatever degree it is consciousness, I mean look if you notice something in your life that isn't working, you fix it, right? That's what you do, that is what consciousness does. If you notice you have a bad habit, you fix it. Or you just blame someone else for it and let it go unfixed. But that's not sustainable and eventually you're going to start suffering and then you're going to fix it. Unless you die first. But this is just what consciousness does. Consciousness grows. And the shadow aspect of these technologies, I think, is not actually a manifestation of evil. I think it's a manifestation of the edges of consciousness's ability to recognize where it is unconscious, you know? We don't have slot machines and addictive game designs because there are greedy evil people out there. We have slot machines and addictive game designs because we're coming to recognize certain unconscious habits as being not desirable and we're labeling those as addictive. You know, the thing we notice is the label, is not the practice itself. And once we have the label, it is consciousness's nature to make it better. And I think we become conscious just as we become more conscious as we grow older, unless you fall into alcoholism or something like that, which happens. I think as a collective, as a civilization, as a culture, we become more conscious. That just seems inevitable to me. And these spaces where we recognize darkness is actually our light just seeing where we haven't grown into yet or where we're growing into next.
[00:27:24.809] Kent Bye: I think a key thing that the entire virtual reality community will need to figure out is identifying the temperament of their experience as well as matching that temperament of your experience with the temperament of the people who want to have that experience. I think having language around that is going to be one of the biggest challenges I think moving forward is to kind of match up the people that want to have these experiences. Maybe that nightclubbing experience is precisely what somebody needs in order to remediate the parts of themselves that are not being proactive or active enough.
[00:27:56.832] Robin Arnott: Yeah. And you know, I want, I want to like, like just comment on that nightclub experience, right? If people are, we go to nightclubs for a reason and we distract ourselves for a reason. And we're not all like, we're all conscious, but we're also, we also have shitty habits that aren't serving us anymore. And to meet those people, like you got to meet people where they're at. And if people are addicted to things or if people are avoiding themselves, then God, we got to make technologies that meet them at the place where they go to avoid reality. And once you've met them there, bring them back into a more intimate connection to reality and themselves and the responsibility of being alive. Like meet them in the unconscious place and use that meeting to grow consciousness and expand consciousness.
[00:28:41.283] Kent Bye: Yeah, that's the thing, you know, because I sort of look at the overall context of what's happening in the world. And I see this, to some extent, this ecological and ethical crisis that is both happening at all the different dimensions of all the major companies, whether it's around biometric data and or whether it's just around the way that our systems of capitalism work, such that the ecology is not necessarily included within those equations. For example, if you want to increase the GDP, you can destroy a rainforest and the GDP will go up. And so right now the earth and the ecology is sort of an externality of these economic systems that we have. And so I think the deeper questions that I see is that we're, as a culture, we're kind of headed towards these almost like this reckoning towards these both ecological and economic systems that we have. And so that's more of like, in the context of these nightclubbing type of experiences, is that as a collective culture, we're kind of headed towards these brick walls and just trying to figure out like, you know, what is it that each individual's responsibility is? And the thing that you keep coming back to is, you know, being more connected to reality so that these experiences that you're creating or somehow connecting people more to themselves. And then hopefully it's at that point, they're able to perhaps tune into their intuitions a little bit more to figure out where they may fit into this larger drama that's playing out as a collective culture.
[00:30:05.745] Robin Arnott: Can you say that last part again?
[00:30:08.679] Kent Bye: so that the thing that you're working on is connecting the dots between going into virtual reality and then perhaps being more connected to reality. So becoming more present to what's happening both within their lives but also their relationship to other people and the planet. Because I think that the fear that I guess I would have is that we all go into our own filters and our own reality bubbles and that if we're all just completely focused on our like maximizing our peak experiences of what it means to be alive and have fun, then the risk is that you become out of relationship and harmony with what is happening in the collective story. And that if there's these deeper ecological and ethical crises that are happening as a culture, then I guess the one potential that I would see is that by going through these different experiences, people will then become more present to the reality of both their relationship to themselves, to each other, but also the larger collective in the earth.
[00:31:03.869] Robin Arnott: Yeah I think I mean it's just clear to me the more conscious we become of ourselves the more conscious we become of of the world because there's no difference. The more we know ourselves the more intimately we know ourselves the more intimately we're connected to our impact on our immediate world and the more intimately we're connected to our impact on the larger world and I think the humbler we become as well. And with that humility, there's a greater capacity for action, which is ironic. So I don't, you know, like I don't, I'm not. I'm not worried about the ecological catastrophes we're facing or even the catastrophes of addiction and unconsciousness that we're facing. I'm just not worried about that because I'm already seeing a pattern of just deeper self-awareness emerging at its own pace and it's suffering that does that, right? You know, if you have a bad habit, then that bad habit leads to suffering. And then when that suffering lands on your doorstep, you change your habit. That's what we do. And there are some bad habits we have as a culture that are announcing themselves on our doorstep that we just can't avoid anymore. And the ecological reality is one of them. You name capitalism and capitalism has a good number of realities that are kind of availing themselves on our doorstep. I think the technological addiction is another one of these habits that is availing itself on our doorstep. But I just don't worry about it because even the recognition of there being a problem is, is the problem beginning to, um, solve is the wrong word is the problem beginning to reconcile with a greater understanding of impact and awareness and a more adaptive behavioral pattern. So, you were asking a question about, or you were making a statement about, if you can help me clarify here, like you had a space of inquiry, sort of around the dark edges of technology, right?
[00:33:10.268] Kent Bye: Specifically, there's a bit of a, like, that statement of as people do these experiences they get more connected to themselves and more connected to reality and then my extrapolation to that is that once that would happen then they would become more aware to perhaps some of these deeper problems and then maybe want to find their part of how they're going to be in relationship to that.
[00:33:30.700] Robin Arnott: I don't think there's a difference between knowing ourselves better and knowing our impact on the world better because it's just a higher sensitivity to to reality and not only a higher sensitivity to reality but a greater discernment between what is real and what is imagined. And with that discernment we can focus our energy more effectively. This is interesting and kind of personal. I've noticed in myself, I used to be really, really concerned with, what would be the word you'd use to describe it? I mean, social justice is one word. I used to just be really concerned about the world. I used to be, that's it. I just used to be really concerned about the world. I used to be worried about the ecology. I used to be worried about how people are treated unfairly. I used to be worried about capitalism. And then at some point, my whole consciousness kind of shifted and I realized I have one job. As a conscious being, I have one job. I'm here to do one thing. And there are many expressions of that one thing. But I realized I have a responsibility here with my unique position as a technologist, as a person who's had these sorts of transcendent experiences and developed these sorts of practices. As a person really embedded in video games and as a person who's just recognized a certain potential for how this technology can be used, I have one responsibility to the world. And that responsibility is to chaperone these sorts of experiences into the mainstream. And when I realized that that was my responsibility, I just stopped caring about everything else. No, and that's not true. It's not that I just stopped caring about everything else. It's just that I realized that these other things, social justice, politics, capitalism, I just realized, like, that's not my thing to focus on. My thing to focus on is this one thing. And by bringing all of my attention and all of my humility and all of my awareness onto my labor and how to be as perfect Never perfect, but as perfect an expression of this emergence that I can be. To be as greatly of service in this one particular way as I can be. When you're on the right path, synchronicities just emerge all around you and you become happier and the people around you become happier. The more I focus on this one thing, the more that happens to me. And also the more trust I have. And so for me, like some of these issues, I'm not taking on as my personal responsibility. You know, I'm just like not taking on the ecology as my personal responsibility anymore, or the end of racism or anything like that. I am taking on the expansion of consciousness in this one particular domain that I'm uniquely suited to help the world in. And I believe all these pieces are connected. I believe all these pieces are connected and by expanding our awareness or expanding our consciousness in these becoming more sensitive, you know, you don't even need to. You know what, like if you're playing these and using these technologies and they help you grow in consciousness, which I hope they will, it doesn't necessarily mean you're going to be more ecologically minded. You might just realize that you need to be a better father. Because that's the clear thing showing up for you right now. And you might recognize that actually all the attention you're putting into the ecology is stopping you from being a good father. Or you might recognize that, you know, the thing that you're here to do is, I don't know, you know, it's different from person to person and everybody is different and I think we're all here for a different reason. And I think we all have something important to do here. But even, it's hard to take a long view without adapting or without taking on a sort of utopic projection of the world. But that utopic projection of the world is itself a utopia, is a fiction, is a fantasy and takes us away, if we focus too hard on it, takes us away from presence. So I find myself just, you know, a lot of these global issues, I'm not worried about them because people got it, you know. Like the way that an awareness of ecology is just growing in the world and an awareness of how we mistreat one another economically is just growing. And so by saying that's not my job, this one thing is my job, growing consciousness with video games. I think it actually creates a greater capacity for people to find their own niche and their own reason to exist that's sort of independent from but also deeply connected to a wide-angle perspective on the world. So all that's pretty abstract and also pretty personal. I wonder if that makes sense.
[00:38:20.892] Kent Bye: No, yeah, I think it really makes sense and it really resonates and just reminds me of the those ideas of like finding your gift and your daemon and once you find out who you are and why you're here then once you're on that path then it does seem as though those synchronicities start to collate around your life that create this feedback loop and that it's not everybody's path to think about every single issue that is wrong in the world.
[00:38:44.421] Robin Arnott: I think it is nobody's path to think about every single issue of what is wrong in the world. You know, that is the path of suffering and resentment. That's not a good path. That's not a godly path.
[00:38:56.288] Kent Bye: Well, I think that everybody has some role to play in all of this, I think, at the same time. And that, like, we are all in relationship to this larger collective. And I think at some point you pose the question, how could anybody ever not believe in the most, you know, exalted utopian vision? And that was my response. Well, there's actually a huge crisis. There's these other things that are happening in the world. So I can totally empathize with both sides of how there are some real challenges in our world and our political system and in the way that we structures our economy the way that we're in relationship to the earth and that to a certain extent we all come up with these different stories of our own personal mythologies of even just the mythology of the origins of America for example. just in talking to people from an indigenous background, they have a different mythology that, you know, the mythology that I buy into may actually be, you know, hurting other people in some ways of kind of propagating this injustice that have happened. And so I think that as time goes on, that's going to be the challenge is for each person to decide the degree to which that they're going to be invested in all the various things that you can pay attention to in the world. And that I think that's part of the spiritual path is, as Ken Wilber has said, it hurts more, bothers you less. It's a duality in the process of being able to actually empathize and fully feel the pain of the world, but you're able to not have it totally incapacitate you so that you could still do the thing that you're here to do. So I think that is the process of cultivating that empathy for the world, but also not being so bogged down as to be overwhelmed as to not do the gift that you're here to bring.
[00:40:33.772] Robin Arnott: Yeah, that's really interesting. And it's interesting to see a lot of, I just read about a research institution using VR to help people empathize, you know, abusers to help abusers empathize with the subjects of their abuse by giving them a virtual experience of being abused. And that's amazing. You know, that's an amazing capacity of VR and of technology in general. The development of that empathy. Yeah. You know, as I'm talking to you, I'm recognizing there are certain, I mean, there are, the development of consciousness has, it has many, many domains or many, what's the word Ken Wilber uses? I can't remember.
[00:41:14.242] Kent Bye: All lines, all levels. Yeah, yeah. States and stages. Lines.
[00:41:17.725] Robin Arnott: Development and. That's what I'm thinking. So the development of consciousness occurs across many lines and one of those is empathy. And that's really important. And there are, I think there are people doing really, really inspiring work in empathy. I also recognize that that's actually not the domain that I'm working in. The domain I'm working in is, I think, the domain of a capacity for wonder and a capacity for just presence. And asking one very specific question and leaving the other specific questions for other people to answer. You know, I think that's an important thing, not trying to answer all questions. What I'm trying to do is find the projects that are an elegant call to deeper presence in the moment independent of our personal identities. In fact free from our personal identities. So that maybe with repeated exposure to these sorts of technologies you might just hold your identity a little more loosely. You might just hold your beliefs about what reality is a little more loosely. So you might be a little more porous to just the mystery of reality and to letting it in to your life. That's the one focus of these technologies and it's a domain that I think hasn't really been explored with video games. It's been explored in fine art and in spiritual practices and in festivals and even in roller coaster design. But I think it's something that there's so much potential in the art of video games to deliver to people. It's just that intrinsic sense of awe that happens when you let go of the rigid forms that you use to contain the universe to feel safer. And you know, it's like this stuff's so new and I wish I had a like a sexier elevator pitch about it. But I think, you know, this is part of the problem is developing this, this sexier language form so people can can understand this stuff. And I think at the moment that really the best thing we can do is just say, hey, try this. Hmm.
[00:43:27.833] Kent Bye: Yeah, it reminds me of one of the things that Mikey Siegel said at the Institute of Noetic Sciences during his talk there was that he kind of imagines this future where at some point with this, you know, consciousness hacking movement, there's going to be like the Netflix of transformative experiences where you're able to have a selection from a whole variety of different experiences that could help transform your consciousness to a certain degree. And that the challenge here from the perspective of what you're kind of coming in from doing the video games is this almost like this game progression curve that is matched over with this kind of transformative journey or path that someone may be taking. And to be able to see how you're able to bridge that gap between these existing traditions that are out there that have an existing journey and guides that have walked on that journey, And then how, if it's possible, to break down the components of those experiences into what would be a step-by-step game progression curve so that you could basically have a transformative experience on demand just by playing the game.
[00:44:29.924] Robin Arnott: Yeah, that right there is the inquiry. And it's a really delicious inquiry. It's a, it's a really tasty one, you know, but okay. So I come to this thing. It's like, what do you reach out to a video game or a VR experience or a rollercoaster or a date or, or any of these things, any of these things that is other than other than what you're doing right now, you reach out into the universe for an experience. And why do you, why do you do that? And you know maybe you do that to meet some deep need or to meet some really superficial need. But I think whether you're reaching to pull the handle on a slot machine or to take a few micrograms of some psychedelic or to attend a meditation ceremony or to go to a movie, I think we're all reaching for the same thing which is which is to feel and to know ourselves. You know, if you're reaching to the handle of a slot machine to do that, it's not the most adaptive or effective way to do that, but that's, I think that's why you're doing it is the, the promise that, you know, this time, if you pull it, you'll feel more. It's really tragic. It's really tragic. Cause when you're outside of it, you can see that it doesn't work. And you can also feel the longing of, of the being who's pulling, And I see this as well in a lot of gamers. They're reaching for something, they're reaching to feel. And if you're addicted to a game, then that game has died in its capacity to let you feel anymore. And really what I mean when I say feel, it's just be more. The more you're feeling, the more you are. And I find this the more deeply I get in stillness. Ironically, the more I feel, you know, that's what presence is, right? I mean, do you think you're sort of a, quote, expert on presence? And I wonder if you would agree with my statement that presence and just feeling more seem like pretty tightly wound together.
[00:46:38.517] Kent Bye: Yeah, I think for me, I look at the four elements to really get inspiration in terms of different qualities of experience, kind of like the ingredients where the fire element's active presence and agency and the air element's mental and social presence and the water element is emotional presence and the earth element is embodied presence. I feel like as a combination of all the different dimensions of experience, there seems to be an embodied, emotional, mental and social as well as kind of a free will or agency component to all these different experiences. So in a lot of the contemplative spiritual practices seem to be trying to tamper down the extent that you're actually trying to actually make choices and take action, which is the essence of a video game. And it's much more about you focusing on the breath to be able to be embodied and to kind of be aware of this emotional body or your embodied presence. And so I kind of see most of the contemplative spiritual practices as embodied and more earth and water, but there's other paths as well. Indians, they had different, you know, paths towards enlightenment and one is reading and education and I think that there's going to be a fire one of you actually taking action and really exerting your will. So I think that of each of the different elements, there may be the one that you have a center of gravity towards that you really are trying to strive towards, but that most of these sort of Eastern traditions seem to be kind of really focused on the body and embodiment.
[00:48:01.829] Robin Arnott: Yeah, I think you're right. And I think that I think what we're doing here by importing these spiritual practices, by evolving the way that we create gaming content or VR content, by evolving the way we relate to one another economically, all of these things, I think what we're doing is bringing more and more presence in or bringing more and more of ourselves into contact with reality. What does this even mean? You know, like, gosh, it's like once you get into this domain, it's just like words start to fail me. I just see what we're doing as technology creators, if we're conscious about it, to use everything at our disposal to help people feel more. And maybe that is more in the earth domain or the fire domain or the water domain. Oh, my God. You know, like I go to them. I listen to music and play music even for that water domain. And each of these things, as I engage with these things, and as I witness other people engage with these things, I think our contact, like the surface area of our contact, becomes more expansive. And there's unconsciousness, but I think this is just what consciousness does. And I do see it as just the nature of life to expand and become more conscious. That just seems obvious to me. And I love this contemporary expression of it, but also I have no idea where it's going. You know, I have my ideas, but I've never once in my life looked back on what I thought about the universe two years ago and said like, oh wow, I was sure dead on back then. Maybe there were pieces of that that were dead on, and I'm sure right now, as I'm setting out to create a space in the market for these transcendent, and temporary, but transcendent experiences through VR, I'm sure that this is just the beginning, and not only the beginning, but a beginning, and a beginning that is limited by my own capacity to feel and the capacity of those I work with to feel. And as our capacities expand, it's going to change because it always does.
[00:50:15.415] Kent Bye: Yeah, no, I think the potential for VR to somehow unlock different latent human potentials or to even just help accelerate some of these paths that are out there. I think that's the, I think a lot of people that look to something like entheogens or these different psychedelics, they see them as to a certain extent, a shortcut that gives you a peak experience, but that is quite different than having an experience that is. kind of integrated into your body where you are able to really fully integrate the experience and kind of take it into your life. And so there's these peak experiences versus something that's sort of ephemeral. And I think that's the challenge is, you know, at the same time, give people these maybe peak experiences, but at the same time, have them be able to have these experiences where they're able to do step-by-step to be able to really fully integrate the experience and to be able to take it into their lives each and every day. And I think that's sort of the challenge here.
[00:51:09.131] Robin Arnott: Yeah, I think you're totally right. And I think you're sort of pointing to at least a direction for these sorts of experiences to more deeply evolve in their usefulness. At least the two VR experiences that we're starting with are more of that ephemeral thing. Microdose VR and Soundself are ephemeral, temporary experiences of something really deep. Breathscape is a little more integrated as a practice and designed to be a little more integrated as a practice and as such I think has more in common with what the mindfulness market creates. But I think you're naming here You know, I know for myself what I'm interested in creating is that temporary ephemeral experience right now. And partly because in my personal journey it was temporary ephemeral experiences that really triggered my curiosity to go deeper. And I think that's necessary for people who are not yet exposed to practices of presence. I think it's really necessary to just wow them. To just give them something that breaks their brain a little. Not breaks them into a dysfunctional space, but you know what I mean, like just shocks them and wows them. And maybe trust their curiosity to find themselves in a more integrated practice when they're ready for it. And I think the evolution of this stuff is certainly to help them along that path. But at least in my mission right now, I see myself with Orpheus as creating a beacon or a light for people who have never even touched that. And not only have never even touched that, but if you were to say, if you were to pitch something that might give them a deeper quality of presence or something like that, might outright reject it, you know, because it doesn't fit into their paradigm. And that's true of a lot of people. I think techniques of expanding consciousness are kind of coming at the Western world, and you could say Western market, you could say Western ecology, or the Western consciousness, are coming at the Western consciousness from a hundred different angles, and we have to. My angle is through the ephemeral, at least in this moment.
[00:53:26.946] Kent Bye: Great. And finally, what do you think is kind of the ultimate potential of these immersive experiences, consciousness hacking, and these types of games you're releasing through Orpheus, and what they might be able to enable?
[00:53:41.338] Robin Arnott: Yeah, that's your question. Let's see. Let me see if I can answer that question in a way that doesn't just harken back to how I answered it last time. You know, what's funny, like I have a dream, I have a projection of how I see these sorts of technologies evolving. But as I talk to you now, what gets me excited is not the things I can imagine. You know, I can imagine a future where VR technologies help people wake up to their true nature and help people share in that understanding with one another. And I even believe that we're doing that. And I can equally imagine a reality that VR helps people isolate themselves and become more unconscious, and that is also certainly happening. But I think what I'm most excited about, is that the question? What are you most excited about? The ultimate potential. What is the ultimate potential? Yeah, I think that what gets me excited when I ask myself what is the ultimate potential is that I have no idea. I am scratching the surface with these other creators, we're scratching the surface on a particular expression that is, I think, extremely juicy and useful. But I feel really excited, especially as I start a new company, for seeing how it unfolds in ways that I know I can't even really begin to picture right now. But there's something about Being a developer and committing to a project for six years means like committing to a particular vision for six years, which is why I think last time when you asked me this question, I had a very particular vision that I was sharing. Whereas shifting gears into being a publisher means instead of committing to a vision for the coming five years, six years, decade, or however long it takes to make a thing, and man, things take a long time to make, I'm already feeling myself kind of being more in the dance of how the whole field is changing and and one thing I know is that It changes a lot and I believe it changes for the better as a whole So it's a big fat. I don't know but I feel Really grateful to be in a position where I can keep talking to people and keep learning and keep helping projects that are right now on the cutting edge of what could meet an emerging market That's really exciting to me. I get to have conversations with people whose imaginings are far beyond my own, and I get to bring my own imaginings into contact with them, and we get to work together.
[00:56:19.249] Kent Bye: Great, and is there anything else that's left unsaid that you'd like to say to the immersive community?
[00:56:24.751] Robin Arnott: Yeah, hi. Yeah, you know, I do actually have something to say, and that's that if you've been listening this long to the whole podcast, then thank you. I am looking for collaborators and I'm looking for collaborators of a lot of sorts. I'm looking for developers to work with who are using neuroscience and practices of enlightenment to create these novel technologies. I'm also looking like I'm starting a business. It's a crazy adventure and I have a few positions that I'm looking for. As I speak right now, I'm, wow, I'm just gonna go ahead and just use your podcast as a job board. I'm based in Austin and I'm looking for a chief operating officer, someone who knows how to build a business from the ground up and has done the startup cycle before. And I'm looking for basically for a publisher person, someone with relationships with Sony and Vive and so on, so that we can help our developers put their best foot forward with them and help these bigger institutions kind of come on board to this larger narrative. And I'm also looking for a digital marketing strategist who can help get this meme out into the world. So yeah, to anybody who's listening to this and thinks that what I'm talking about is just the bee's knees, I invite you to come play with me.
[00:57:43.776] Kent Bye: Awesome. Well, Robin, congratulations on the launch of Orpheus. And yeah, I just want to thank you for taking the time today and to kind of share your journey, both with Soundself, but also this transformation into becoming a publisher and to really try to cultivate and grow this emerging consciousness hacking movement within the virtual reality community and to really see where this can go with curating these experiences and to allow people to basically improve themselves with this technology. So yeah, just thank you for joining me today on the podcast. Thank you, Kent.
[00:58:13.844] Robin Arnott: And I see, you know, honestly, I see you as a big player in this, you know, like what you do with your podcast and your work is you you take your really deep intelligence and knowledge and bring together these knowledge fields into a way that's really digestible to people. And I think your work is doing a lot to evolve the medium. So thank you.
[00:58:33.323] Kent Bye: Yeah, thank you. So that was Robin Arnott. He's been working on the Soundself game, as well as starting a new publishing label called Orpheus Technologies, where they're distributing a couple of other games, including Soundself, which is the game he's been working on, Microdose VR by Android Jones, as well as Breathscape, which is a breath-controlled experience for the iPhone and Android. So, I have a number of different takeaways about this interview. First of all, I think it's great that there's going to be somebody that's out there that's really trying to both promote and really spread this meme about consciousness hacking as a potential for virtual and immersive technologies. I think that there is going to be more and more interest in these types of embodied experiences and people will want to at some point move from just experiences into transformative experiences and I think that you know how to do that how to translate some of these spiritual practices into a game or into an experience that you can that's a lot more accessible. I think one of the things that really took away from this conversation with Robin was that, you know, there's a lot of rigor that happens with the daily practices and a lot of seriousness when it comes to these traditions that have been around for thousands of years. And he just finds that there's not a lot of levity that really resonates with him. And he wants to take some of these concepts and practices and turn it more into a game that is just a lot more accessible for people, but also just to have more fun and to not be taking ourselves so seriously. So I can really value that the thing that Robin is really identified here, which was his specific role and his path in terms of taking all that he's learned within the video game industry and working on Soundsoft for over six years now, and to really take all those lessons and be able to create this Orpheus Technologies publishing label to be able to really promote these other games. Now, the one thing that he said that really kind of set us into a little bit of a Hegelian dialectic or debate, I would say, is the moment where he said, I don't see how you can't look at emergence of technology and the cutting edge of the emergence of technology and still be a technological cynic. And to me, I see that technology is agnostic in the sense of it's really up to human consciousness to decide whether or not to go down these exalted paths or to, I guess, chase a distraction or to potentially play these games that were maybe at the benefit for somebody else but aren't really serving you and your deeper purpose for who you are and why you're here. And I said as a metaphor, as nightclubbing, but I think, you know, specifically going into like the gambling addictive loops that something like Candy Crush or these more, you know, slot machine types of experiences, I think it's a real risk that there are going to be these games and experiences that are out there and that they are going to be susceptible for people to go and experience. So I think that there's a larger, I guess, ethical question in terms of your role and responsibility to the collective story. I think that one of the things that really came out from talking to Robin was that he's got a very specific worldview. And actually his worldview is, is actually kind of pushing forward our concepts of consciousness. And I think, you know, I just want to sort of unpack one thing here, which is that He's not designing experiences for individual people. He is trying to go to the underlying awareness and being of somebody, and he's not even actually calling people people. He's saying that these people are these series of habits that are getting away from this underlying nature of someone's general awareness and being, and that he's trying to create these experiences to be able to address those habits and to allow people to get connected to that deeper awareness and being. And I think that Eastern philosophy and these other traditions tend to have a little bit different view as to the nature of consciousness and where it's at. I think in the reductive materialist perspective, we have this concept that our consciousness is emergent from our neurology and our bodies, but there are other concepts like either panpsychism or cosmopsychism that are trying to resolve this metaphysical dilemma that comes between materialism and dualism. Dualism has the mind-body split as these two entities that are separate, and there's clearly been these various different connections between the mind and the body, and how does consciousness have downward causation onto the body if it's emergent? And the way to resolve that is through the metaphysical assumptions that, you know, perhaps consciousness is this field that is either a fundamental field or a universal field, and that is carried through the metaphysics of either panpsychism or cosmopsychism or pan-experientialism. There's all sorts of different new modern names for that but in essence the eastern philosophies are talking a lot about those types of worldviews that have consciousness as this fundamental field. So to a certain extent what Robin is doing is he's trying to like bypass this sort of reductive way of looking at our bodies and saying hey he's trying to actually connect to that level of awareness and being that you have access to and to create experiences that you can really work with that. So just the way that he phrased that and the way that he thinks about it, I thought was, you know, kind of an interesting way to kind of unpack a little bit. But going back to the deeper sort of dialectic that we got into, which is the roles and responsibilities and your relationship to all these collective stories. And I think that Robin was really resistant to getting into a lot of, I guess, these stories that he didn't have a lot of agency over, whether it's around the ecology or politics or capitalism or social justice, all these bigger issues that, what he's saying is, you know what, I've figured out that that's not my role. My role is to do this. It's to create games that are able to really modulate consciousness. That's perfectly fine. I think actually every single individual has to find out what their role is and who they are and why they're here. I think the challenge is what are the responsibilities for people who do have certain amounts of power and privilege to be able to be in relationship to the rest of the community in different ways. I think there's different things that he's saying in terms of his worldview where he's saying things like, if you notice something that's wrong in your life, then you just go and fix it. That's what consciousness does. Well, I think that that may actually be Robin's experience where if there's been anything that's been wrong in his life, he could just fix it by his own free will. But I think that there's a lot of people that are out there that don't have that direct experience where actually there's a lot of things that are faded in their lives that are actually these institutional biases or the way that the economy is structured or all these ways that it's not everybody's experience to have the privilege to be able to just be able to fix whatever problem you have in terms of identifying what your individual free will is and what your habits are. And sometimes there's just things in life where they're completely out of your agency, whether it's just trauma, or the fates that you've been handed or different injustices in the world. And I think that as everybody is going in the world, you can't actually solve all the world's problems, no one individual. And I think what Robin's saying is that the more that you try to think about everything that's going wrong, the more that that's just a path of suffering. But I would say, yes, that is true. But at the same time, part of my role as a journalist is to be aware of all these different stories and to name those stories and to say, what is the relationship to those stories? And I think each of us have to navigate that to a certain extent of how do you be in relationship to these larger issues that are unfolding in our world and these different either ethical crises or these ecological crises, even if it's just being aware of the story and to identify that this story is real, and that there's a risk here of saying that this is going to be my role and I'm only going to be focusing about this, and what is the roles and responsibilities for everybody to be in relationship to the larger collective story. I think that looking at the Institute of Noetic Sciences, their model of spiritual transformation is really instructive here because I think at some point you have to do the work that you need to do as an individual to be able to be connected to your own gifts and who you are and what you have to give. But at a certain point of your spiritual journey, there becomes a point between where you are no longer just focusing on yourself, but you're thinking about some of these larger collective stories. And I think for Robin, he's saying, well, my collective story is to do games that allow people to transform their consciousness. And that's about all that I have capacity for. For me, as a journalist, I'm looking at all these other various issues. So when he says something, well, I have no capacity to be able to see how anybody could be anything other than a technological optimist about the potential future. I could say, yes, I agree. I totally am on board with that. But at the same time, there are really real problems with a lot of these big major companies and institutions that are, you know, having not really ethically evolved perspectives on surveillance and biometric data. And as a journalist, that's part of my role to be able to name those things, but also say like, this is actually also happening at the same time. Yes, we can evolve our consciousness and meditate and be able to find our path and to be able to find how we're going to bring change out in the world. But that doesn't mean that what I'm doing is just because it's serious, doesn't mean it's disposable. It doesn't mean that if it doesn't fit into what Robin is doing, both can coexist peacefully and that each of us can find our own part to play. And I think that's the important part here is that what Robin is saying is that, you know, he's found his role, he's going to play his role. I'm trying to do my role. And I think each of us, as we're listening to this, we have to find our own relationship to this. But We have to also recognize that not everybody has the power and privilege of being able to just fix all the problems that are facing us, but there's actually things that are fated to us that are completely beyond our control and that there's a bit of a collective responsibility for everybody to be aware of these various myths and stories and dynamics and to how we're gonna be able to come in relationship to that. So I think that evolution happens by having a thesis, an antithesis, and then some sort of synthesis. And so that's, I think, what was happening in the course of this conversation was different ideas coming out, and then, oh, what about this idea, and just kind of working it out. And so I don't necessarily think that consciousness just figures it out on its own. I think there is an actual process of this Hegelian dialectic where there is a back and forth and then there are people who are working towards social justice and these other ways of actually changing these collective decisions that are embedded within these institutions that are actually rippling out and having real impact on people's lives. And I think that's still going to be important. And whether or not either I or Robin end up specifically doing that, I think it's important that somebody do it and that we're able to all together be able to have access to these amazing experiences within VR that can help us get closer to, you know, who we are and why we're here. I think that the biggest potential to be able to transform consciousness collectively is to be able to actually find those practices within yourself, and to be able to transform your own consciousness. And from there, it does, I think, ripple out. And that you do end up finding your part to play, to be able to be in relationship to both yourself, to other people, and to the collective. So that's all that I have for today, and I just wanted to thank you for listening to the Voices of VR podcast. And if you enjoy the podcast, then please do spread the word, tell your friends, and consider becoming a member to the Patreon. This is a listener-supported podcast, and so I do rely upon your donations in order to continue to bring you this coverage. So you can donate today at patreon.com slash Voices of VR. Thanks for listening.