If you took algebra back in school you first became acquainted with the concept of a variable – “X” was a placeholder in a formula the “value” of which you wouldn’t know unless other factors were also known (life circumstances). And only then could the value of X be calculated through an operation—”equals.” If Y=5, then X=whatever; Life decides.
Similarly in software a programmer can “declare a variable” so that when the program runs, the value of the variable can “manifest” according to other circumstances – like user input.
In the case of a “string” variable, for example, it can be filled with text – so that when a user types his name into a form, it fills a variable with that value.
For example, when I fill out a form the variable “FirstName” is filled with the value Tom. When someone named Michael fills it out, the form’s variable assumes the value “Michael”.
Variables can also be numeric or hold any other kind of information. In this way, one variable can be used to count or calculate, and be divided by another – so that if a variable holds my age, another part of the form software can calculate if I’m old enough to be deemed a “senior” – another variable.
In this way a program will construct an If/Then statement—If Tom is a Senior, give him a coupon.
If Tom’s age > (greater than) 60 then variable Tom = Senior.
The important thing to remember is that all of this is calculated as a result of zeroes and ones by the computer – every present moment for a computer is either a 0 or a 1, and based on that everything plays out. The outcome is entirely dependent on an either/or duality.
But no 0 or 1 is “good or bad”. That judgment is left to the human reading the screen (or perhaps writing the program).
Rather the computer mimics the inexorable dichotomy (duality) of life – 0 or 1, life or death, yes or no, but neither value has a “value” in terms of its meaning until a human creates a story around it.
Another significant aspect of a variable is that is simply a “concept” – or representation of reality – but one that represents impermanence, change or on the deepest level “I don’t know.”
And when you think about it every word is exactly like that—we all speak English so we “know” what the word blue represents. Speak to someone who only knows Swahili and that group of letters, symbols or sounds, means nothing to him. The letters “blue” or the spoken word could signify anything.
But the software within the computer, which can hold a variable as we program it, is actually shadowing the sacred intelligence of the universe as it uses the perfection of mathematics to calculate and create desired outcomes. These play out without judgment, 0 or 1, life and death… Any meaning is overlaid by our consciousness.
In its infinite intelligence, Life is essentially software.
Now, again, consider that the DNA in in our cells is another set of programming code that works in the same way. Contemplate the vastness of an intelligence that operates according to these instructions using not silicon chips, but the energy of our brains and the biochemistry of our incredible organism, in harmony with an environment stretching out to infinite galaxies.
Life plays out according to an immensely vast and complex set of energetic natural Laws. But is “right and wrong” part of Life’s equation naturally, or is it a function of our human cranial activity?
Is the lion that eats the antelope evil, or wrong?
And further, does Life work in cause and effect – If/Then statements? Or is such causality also an interpretation overlaid by the human mind, as part of its inherent limitations and its fragmentary view of reality?
That is a deeper question for another time.
(This post is an update of one of the final chapters in my book, Presence of Mind: Journey to a New Operating System)
Nice post Tom! (And good choice of your use of names in your example! 🙂