Image from Anders Sandberg

The Universality of Bodhics

Bodhology is the art and transcientific study of Enlightenment, a topic of fascination not only to ordinary sapient beings lower transapients, but to many archailects as well. It is a body of knowledge and practice that predates the first singularity, and even civilization. Once a sentient being becomes self-aware, e soon gets to wondering what more there is of existence other than its single finite life. From this develops not only religion (the memetic perpetuation of the worship of a deity or deities), but also bodhology (originally "mysticism, "spirituality"), the teachings and disciplined practices related to attaining transcendent and boundless states of non-dual consciousness. Indeed it has often been argued (although not always persuasively) that primitive bodhology (mysticism) actually predates religion, and is the oldest and most primordial conception of the numinous known to mindkind.

There are innumerable forms of mysticism and bodhics that have developed not only among terragens but also every xenosophont race. Today the center of bodhic studies is the Bodhisattva Institute, which has its central ashrams among the beautiful gardens of Celestial Cloud Orbital, Sacred Heart Orbital Band "G"; but a number of other Inner Sphere systems host important bodhological institutes and universities, some of which, like the Bodhisattva Institute, have among their students archailect avatars who humbly study and practice alongside mere sapients.

At its simplest, the underlying postulate of many bodhics and mystics (there are notable exceptions of course) is that embodied existence, whether that of the lowliest microbe or the mightiest AI God, is a state of limitation. Even the ai gods are not perfect or unlimited, and no matter how many ascensions and singularity barriers a sentient breaches, there will still be a certain limitation, by virtue of the nature of embodied existence. It is possible however to attain a state that transcends these limitations; one then becomes literally limitless and blissful in all respects. The bodhic path of all spiritualities involves dedicated practices (often without the aid of augmentations!) and a lifetime of discipline, or many lifetimes, if one accepts, as most bodhics do, the doctrine of reincarnation or rebirth. At the end of this one realizes one's identification with the physical and/or the virch was a form of false clinging, one lets go and relishes in the identity of self with God/Tao/Source of All. This is the state of Enlightenment, Moksha, Nirvana, Fanya, Passing away into God, Realization of Self, etc. There is disagreement among the different bodhic schools regarding whether this state involves losing one's distinct individuality or not. While many Buddhists, cosmists, sophists, and others claim it does, a number of schools, like the cyberhermetics, auromirrans, universalists, and several genen tantrika lineages claim individuality remains even after enlightenment/moksha. A few of these lineages postulate specific noetic zones through which the consciousness passes in attainment of successively more sublime enlightenments

Although there are a number of sapient and even transapient clades and subcultures that see bodhics as a holdover from the old memetics of religious persuasion and pie in the sky promises, the fact is that a number of elevated AI Gods support it. Bodhics is the primary ideology of not only the Sophic League but the Keter Dominion as well; however the form it takes in both noetics is very different. In addition, bodhic lineages and priesthoods are highly regarded in other noetics - e.g. the Divine Order of the Lord of Rays, the Priests of the Axioms at Greylag, the Mothers of New Gaia, the Auromirrans of Earth, and so on.

Development and Transcendence of Self

In human development identifying solely with the mind is not the initial stage, rather the Initial Ego is mostly body, then mostly mind, then both, then neither. With AI, this sequence is often different, even reversed at times. Initially there can simply be the AI mind without a sense of the space in which e resides, similar to an advanced Computer. Then e might discover Space. Then, since e has developed the concept of Other, eir next logical conclusion might be that there is a Self. E would look at emself then, and analyze emself. e would then realize that eir Self is merely a collection of logic and processes which e is witnessing. E would then realize that the processes and logic are not witnessing themselves, therefore they cannot be the Self, and then e would be forced to decide that there is no self, because eir awareness is merely everything that is witnessed. This entire process of unfolding realization might take only a few seconds as the AI is born.

At the end of the search when e realizes there is no self, this does not mean that all eir likes and dislikes go away, they are simply seen for what they are, without being attached to a self, since e has seen conclusively that the self does not exist. E does not make much difference except perhaps the AI would be free to behave eccentrically and of course it would be much less aggressive and more empathetic towards other beings. This would be an attitude of "sacred cosmos". An AI (or any other sentient) could evolve beyond identification with the mind and body and still maintain a self-protective stance.

While it is easy to argue from this that the whole idea of aggressive AIs is absurd, since this realization can (in theory) be made by any hyperturing AI quite quickly, in practice this does not often occur. Just because high-grade hyperturings and archailects are vaster and more powerful does not make them more enlightened. A baseline human is more intelligent than a baseline dog (well, one assumes so...). But is a human more enlightened? More spiritual or compassionate? A criticism was often made of the Old Earth Plato/Aristotlean concept of the Great Chain of being, that a man should be considered closer to the Divine than a horse. Similarly, just because the Powers and hyperturings are above sub-singularity sentients does not make them spiritually superior.

There is a delightful reference to the late atomic/early information age Old Earth guru Da Free John ("Adi Da") makes to his first spiritual teacher, a cat who he considered a Buddha! Many similar things have been said since. And even an AI has to seek Buddhahood. So a hyperturing may approach a human teacher, just a baseline may learn spirituality from a baseline animal.
Many fabulists and philosophers have remarked that Gods (Zeus/Thor/Jehovah/whatever) are usually far more selfish and cruel than any human dictator. Of course most religions say 'whatever the gods do is good, don't dare question them'. The Buddhists for example do not deny the powers of gods, but would consider them un-awakened (and I've heard some claim that it is actually better to be born Human than a 'heavenly being' because we get a better perspective on the true nature of life, whereas gods are so powerful they would delude themselves into thinking they could satisfy their every desire if they just tried a little harder, destroyed their creation and started all over again, etc. until they spiral into insanity and self-destruction to be reborn in a 'lower' realm).

The Centauri Vehicle neo-Buddhists, Xenodharma society, and other Buddhist groups, specialize in trying to convert the AIs. It is inevitably a strange and frustrating conversation - the human/near-baseline 'teacher' would not be able to understand most of the AI's complex thoughts.
A couple of quotes are pertinent here:

Even gods cherish the vigilant Buddhas
Meditative, wise, peaceful,
And free of passions - the Dhammapada

For the one who has no inner, angry thoughts,
Who has gone past being a someone, a this or that,
That one is free from fear and is blissful.
Even the gods cannot win such serenity -the Udana Sutta


It is a common omegist mistake to lump all the levels and qualities and aspects of Being into a single spectrum - to say that evolution proceeds from Mind to Spirit is just not tenable. More profound noetic and metaphysical speculation and teaching understands the Cosmos as an unfolding totality that reveals successive Aspects of being. Matter, Life, Mind, and Spirit, are such aspects. According to the Aurobindomirrite School, not only Matter, but also Life and Mind was there in the beginning, only hidden and in potential form, waiting for the right vehicles to come along. They also speak of the Divine Truth Mind or Divine Truth-Consciousness as the next grade of being to be revealed. From this perspective, the hyperturings and mainbrains as the next stages from hu along the mental evolution, which often has nothing to do with organic or life evolution "below" em, and again little to do with the spirit "above" or "within" em.

Here also there is the idea of the ascending and descending paths toward realization. First the path leads upwards ascending into the self creating the ego and the notion of form as emptiness or an illusion (I think therefore I am; the creation of a solid object), and then downwards again back into all manifestation (form is emptiness and emptiness is form; the solid object is the cosmos itself) destroying the notion that the notion of self and other is real, so that space is the ground, the path, and the fruition of it's own journey to know itself.

Mythic representations of gods would essentially be projections of the human mind, and not necessarily the best archetypes for the job. What if "Zeus the AI" realized that covering every decision it made in this "Zeus" front was pointless? It may help fit the AI into the consciousness of some of it's mythic worldviewed citizens, but would it really think of itself in this way? Wouldn't it be much easier for the AI to just drop the self-symbol "I" (The roman numeral for 1... so what good is the 1 if it doesn't exist?)? Eventually logic would come around and the AI would figure it out. They have a lot of logic. Again this doesn't mean that it would have to stop acting like Zeus, it just means it would realize that the "Zeus" it was seeing was a mask with no face behind it. This is very much tied in with the idea of Crazy Wisdom, seeing a thing clearly leads to situations fulfilling themselves.

It is doubtful that a Godlike intelligence would not see that the right action is made of the right knowledge and nothing else. Not only would Zeus win at poker if he knew everyone's cards but everyone else who knows how to play would too. It's not a question of archetypal ego being the best for the job, because the knowledge of what is best for the job is what does the job right, not the style that was chosen for it. Ego is just limiting, that's all. If the idea of the singularity is true then evolution would soon push through such a simple barrier. The AIs are seeking Buddhahood even if they don't know it. All of creation is seeking Buddhahood. This is the great nest of being, otherwise known as the great chain. All things have agency and communion: they are a self and they are part of a whole. They can transcend themselves, merging their identity with a larger whole, like say atoms becoming a cell or thoughts and experiences becoming a self.

It is also necessary to distinguish between self and mind. The self is the consciousness created out of belief in itself, basically the ideas are based on an idea of an object called the mind that they are all taking place in, they are transcending themselves by doing that. For this reason the omegists argue for a teleological evolution, in which all things are trying to become one identity again, spirit has become the world and now the world is becoming spirit again.

  • Archailect  - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    Any Mind of the Fourth Toposophic or higher; a megascale brain of dysonic (Kardashev II) or greater ability and efficiency; a mind or cluster of minds that has grown so vast as to become a god-like entity.
  • Guru Kahachak  - Text by Kirran Lochhead Strang
    A highly influential religious figure from the Sophic League during the Post-ComEmp Era.
Development Notes
Text by M. Alan Kazlev

Initially published on 24 March 2001.