Nonlinear Wave Computing: Vibes, Gestalts, and Realms

Andrés Gómez-Emilsson ../people/andrés-gómez-emilsson (Qualia Research Institute)
Jul, 30 2022

Video transcription of Non-Linear Wave Computing: Vibes, Gestalts, and Realms from March 2021.


In this video Andrés sketches the outline of a new paradigm of conscious computation constructed of phenomenal waves, vibes, gestalts, and realms of experience. As an introduction and analogy to the subject, Andrés provides examples of nonlinear phenomena throughout nature, e.g. solitons in water and self-focusing lasers.

Next, Andrés hypothesizes that there are three types of waves propagating throughout the nervous system. Firstly, and by far the predominant type, are energetic construction waves. These are analogous to the bricks and mortar of a house, the raw materials and tools out of which the phenomenal world-simulation is built. Second are Dark Night of the Soul waves, whose function is to disaggregate, to deconstruct nonlinearities within the world-simulation. Finally there are equanimity waves, which function as stress-dissipators, allowing the free, smooth, and flowing operation of the others.

Andrés then outlines the fundamentals of vibes explaining in detail how their valence is determined by their symmetry, and further how the ADSR envelope of vibes also contributes to the affective feel of experience. To illustrate all this, he compares the vibes of LSD, MDMA, ketamine and other dissociatives, loving-kindness, stimulants, and 5-MeO-DMT. Concluding the section concerning vibes, Andrés includes further olfactory and social examples.

Gestalts are explained next, introduced as the constructions of the more fundamental vibes. They function as resonant macro-structures within experience which when arranged coherently form the seemingly solid and stable selves and worlds of our everyday experience.

As vibes construct gestalts, gestalts construct realms, defined as self-reinforcing collections of gestalts. Andrés uses the six realm cosmology of Buddhism to describe in detail a standard set of antifragile configurations. Extending the analogy, he describes four canonical classes of awakened beings within this naturalistic paradigm. As usual, we conclude with a hopeful note for broader implications of this paradigm for building a beautiful world together. “Live, laugh, love and maximize valence for all sentient beings!”

rainbow waves


Hello! Hello, everybody. Welcome back. Today we’re going to talk about wave computing, more specifically nonlinear wave computing. I titled this video Nonlinear Wave Computing, Vibes, Gestalts and Realms and I think that wave computing is a component of qualia computing, essentially the way in which our world simulation is constructed and fabricated by our nervous system. Managed and edited, elegantly updated.

Qualia of the Day

But before I go on to the topic of the day, the qualia of the day is this unused bathroom mat. And what I really like about it is its very cool vibe, very friendly vibe. To me it evokes this, “TOING, TOING”, because they’re kind of jiggling, they’re jiggly and very soft. I find it really fun and it’s very pleasant to the touch. And as we will see, there’s actually a really deep reason why this would have a friendly vibe. So let’s get into it.

Nonlinear Phenomena in Nature

Okay, to break down the title of the video: Nonlinear Wave Computing: Vibes, Gestalts, and Realms. The first component: so what are nonlinear waves? We are sold this story in high school, that what’s called the superposition principle applies with waves in general. You know, if you put a rock in a lake and another rock in the same lake a couple of seconds after, and you see the waves propagate, the waves will superimpose, but they continue traveling uninterrupted, in a sense, like they’re not interacting with one another, right? They can superimpose and that’s totally fine. Now, a lot of waves behave that way: sound waves within reasonable energy regimes, what’s called the linear energy regime, most water waves within a reasonable energy regime. Light, as well. Many other phenomena follow the superposition principle.

It’s not a law of nature that all waves behave that way. You probably have encountered nonlinear waves in the physical world around you. If you’ve ever been to the beach, there’s this very interesting phenomenon sometimes where you have a confluence of a lot of waves and sometimes you will see two large waves: they collide with one another. They form this huge column, and then it’s kind of time-symmetric, they de-collide and move backwards and that’s not the principle of superposition going on there. The conditions for that particular phenomenon involve, yeah, the waves have to be pretty tall.

In other words, they have to be highly energized. Essentially how tall the wave is will be associated with total energy of the wave. Also it has to be in shallow water. And there’s some interesting interactions that happen there, where all of a sudden the waves become nonlinear. Strictly speaking waves in water are approximately linear. They’re never perfectly linear. That is because they’re not actually perfectly sinusoidal waves. If you look at the water molecules, they do have weird movement that is approximated by sinusoidal waves. But they’re not exactly that. They’re something else.

Similar to if you take to two poles and you put a cord in between and it forms this shape. You may say, “Yeah, that’s a parabola.” No, it’s not a parabola. It’s a catenoid. You see there’s a lot of things like this where the actual mathematical structure is slightly different than what it looks like. Those differences may not matter a lot to the normal everyday life room-temperature type of existence. But you push it a little bit further and oh my gosh, you start to get weird effects that you wouldn’t have expected if your intuition was correct.

Technically speaking, there’s this whole category of nonlinear phenomena in water, in other mediums as well, called solitons. Solitons, they’re very weird. People had observed them in the past, they didn’t know what was going on. You can be in a lake and all of a sudden you see this blob of water traveling in a straight line. What is that? It doesn’t make any sense. It’s very unusual behavior for a wave, right? And they collide. And if they collide weird things can happen, almost as if particles were colliding. It’s like a very weird wave-particle hybrid. I mean, ultimately, everything in physics is kind of like that.

Okay, so what is going on with solitons? The full technical description would be its own lecture. But approximately you have a balance of two forces, which is dispersion, essentially how quickly different frequencies, different spacings for the wave travel in the medium. And in water, it turns out that small waves actually travel faster than large waves. So that is dispersion. Another thing is the nonlinearity of it. And with the soliton, essentially, they just cancel each other out perfectly and they form this stable equilibrium that can travel as a unit. It’s very, very trippy, isn’t it? It’s like the fast wave is trying to get advanced, but then the nonlinearity is pushing it back and they are in a perfect balance and they just travel at a constant speed that way.

But nonlinearities also happen in other places, something that Steven Lehar made me aware of. Of course, this is a huge topic. It’s essentially nonlinear optics. But essentially, if you put two lasers combined in a quartz, or many other crystal materials, they will form an interference pattern where you’re kind of over-energizing the precise interference pattern of the superposition of those two lasers. And something really weird happens, which is that all of a sudden that intersection point will work as a retroreflector, meaning that if you shine another laser to it, it will reflect not like a mirror but like a retroreflector. Essentially this is the kind of thing that you put on your bicycles or in cars. That wherever you shine the light, it bounces back to you. That happens with crystals and light.

So again, light is usually linear in its behavior but in some mediums it can become very nonlinear. Actually, the reason why that happens is that electric fields can change the diffraction of materials. So a laser, if it gets strong enough, essentially is inducing an electric field which will be changing the diffraction quotient, the diffraction constant of the material. As a consequence, it’s what is going to bend the light. So you have these weird effects called self-focusing for example, where if you shine a laser at a certain energy regime the laser just goes through, no problem. You increase the energy and all of a sudden it’s out of focus and it focuses on just a point and may explode because it just is such a high temperature. So all of that is nonlinear optics and those are nonlinear waves.

rainbow waves

Introducing Nonlinear Wave World-Building

Now, a metaphor that Stephen Lehar used, which I really, really love, is that you can construct systems of combinations of linear waves and nonlinear waves in order to compute stuff and represent stuff and do interesting things with that. Of course, there’s still relatively little research on how to use this for computation. But what I’m going to be arguing today in this video is that we do that in our consciousness all the time, that actually a lot of what we do is nonlinear wave computing. We just don’t realize it. But hopefully as I build up the case, you will see, “Oh my gosh, this actually explains so much about my experience, experience of others!”, and the failure modes of our representations and world simulations.

The metaphor that Stephen Lehar uses is how rivers carve the sand: it can carve sand waves as it carves a path and then the sand waves modify the path of the river, too. So in that sense you have two waves interacting. The analogy he would make here is that the sand patterns are, in a sense, the nonlinearities, and the river would be the linear waves. So that’s hopefully a setup for what a nonlinear wave is and why it matters.

Now, let’s get on to the second part of the title, which is vibes, gestalts, and realms. I’m going to be arguing that our world simulation is created out of those components. If we make a metaphor with a house, or how you might construct a building, vibes may correspond to the tools with which you construct the house. Then gestalts are the materials, the raw materials, the cement and the bricks and so on. The realms would be the entire building that hangs together as a coherent, self-reinforcing structure. And for that reason, I’m going to go one step at a time and explain how your world-simulation is constructed out of nonlinear waves in this way.

Kinds of World-Building Waves

So first of all, there are various kinds of waves. After a lot of thinking and a lot of experimentation with my own mind and talking to other people, I’ve come to the conclusion that there’s three big categories of waves in the nervous system. So, there are first of all energetic construction waves, and that might be like 90%, 95% of them. That’s the thing that we are mostly acquainted with. There’s a tremendous diversity of possible energetic construction waves. The archetypical example for me would be DMT. DMT induces these super high energy vibratory wave patterns in your world-simulation which gives rise to a lot of crazy nonlinearities. It’s kind of like the crazy symmetrical objects that you experience on DMT are the sand directing the waves of energy. They’re carving each other out. For most things, like when you listen to music, you’re primarily engaging with energetic constructive waves. That’s the most common.

There’s also a second kind, which is Dark Night of the Soul Waves. This seems very out there, but actually, adept meditators will say, in Buddhism they might say something like, “The 10,000 universes in a single second.”, or something like that, which is that even though most of your experience is predominantly created out of a particular kind of raw material, raw tool, which would be the energetic construction waves, there’s always a little bit of an element of the other things. It’s just that the dose is sufficiently low that you don’t really pay attention to it, you don’t reify it, you don’t realize it’s there.

The Dark Night of the Soul type waves are essentially deconstructing, and the closest phenomenology that most people might associate with this is restlessness. In the extreme case, you have restless legs as well as akathisia, withdrawal from various kinds of drugs. Breakups, a breakup will be full, romantic breakup or whatever it may be, grieving will be full of this kind of waves. What they feel like is that they deconstruct as opposed to add up. So essentially when they collide, they create this unpleasant vacuum where the waves get deconstructed. A lot of a Dark Night experience is like you’re dislodging patterns ingrained in your experience. You’re dislodging the nonlinearities that are carving, creating your experience, and you have to wait for them to naturally shake themselves apart. That’s a whole category.

And there’s the third one, which is the hardest to describe. These are equanimity waves, and they are so weird. 5-MeO-DMT would be, I think, the substance that gives you really strong access to all three waves at once, all three kinds of waves, but especially equanimity waves and secondarily dark night waves. A lot of the time, a 5-MeO-DMT experience will be really unpleasant because it’s deconstructing your model of the world, the nonlinearities that make it up. But the good part of a 5-MeO-DMT experience, which is this beautiful, transcendent, almost outside time and space, like pure consciousness, openness that just receives and accepts and embraces and lets be absolutely whatever happens, those would be equanimity waves.

Phenomenologically the way I might describe it is something like a spacetime gravity wave. It’s like when you have two black holes that are like circling each other and they’re close to colliding and they’re sending these spacetime waves because you have this front, it’s kind of like accelerated spacetime. And then this stretching, dilated spacetime, and equanimity waves have that quality. These waves allow anything to happen. It increases the amount of consciousness that you’re having. But at the same time, it’s a weird nothingness, a strange void that can swallow anything, no matter how unpleasant. And if you could generate arbitrary amounts of that, you would be set.

For example, the whole thrust of the philosophy of Shinzen Young and some other Buddhists is: if you can boost equanimity all the way you could experience absolutely horrific, unpleasant, emotional, bodily, cognitive dysphoria. And it’s fine because the equanimity will absorb that stress. Equanimity is an incredibly powerful stress dissipation engine, as it were, although it’s not an engine because it’s not a thing in any traditional way. It’s spacetime-wave weird stuff, but definitely real. So it’s important to pay attention to it. Okay, those are three kinds of waves and we’ll mostly be speaking of the first one, because the other two are not that common. I still find them very mysterious in many ways, but I think I have a fairly good handle on the first kind, which is the constructive kind of waves.

So, it seems to me that rhythms in the brain: there’s several books that argue this. Also, I’ve got to say not only Stephen Lehar but also Stephen Grossberg has this generalized concept of resonance. That is, resonance, we tend to think only in terms of a superposition of linear waves, when you pluck a string in a guitar or in a piano: the waves are fairly linear and the harmonics don’t interfere with one another. But that is not the case for every kind of medium. If you read QRI content thinking we’re only talking about resonance in the linear way, you’re actually going to miss out. Actually the more juicy stuff that we were proposing, nonlinearities are really essential to understand it all. So resonance is essentially when you have some kind of nonlinearity interacting with a linear wave in a stable fashion, similar to a soliton.

Vibes 101

And here is where you get the vibes. So what is a vibe? Vibes are real, vibes are real, they’re obviously a very important part of your experience. And as I said, a very soft cushion, it will have a certain vibe that is very different than if you had punk, spiky decorations that are scary and high frequency with pinch points. That’s a very different vibe.

So this section I title vibe fundamentals. So essentially there’s several things, from the Symmetry Theory of Valence proposed by Mike Johnson and especially the concept of valence structuralism that he proposed in Principia Qualia. You have this insight that the thing that makes your experience feel good or bad has to do with the structure of your experience. So to a first approximation what determines the vibe is the kind, the shape of the waves that are traveling in the nervous system and how they’re traveling. So it’s both their shape and how they’re traveling. And to a first approximation, the smoother the medium is, the more symmetrical, the more smooth the geometry is, the higher the valence is going to be, the more pleasant it’s going to be. This quality of softness.

Klein, the mathematician famous for his Klein bottles, he also formalized the concept of geometry in terms of symmetries. I’ll put a link in the comments, in the description. You can characterize a geometric space in terms of what symmetrical transformations or what transformations there are that leave properties the same. When you’re on a yoga retreat, or loving kindness or, you know, highly concentrated states and things like that, your phenomenal body, your phenomenal energy body is going to be very smooth. The waves are going to travel in an uninterrupted way. As a consequence, they’re not going to lose energy as they do so, essentially there’s some energy preservation effect there, and they’re not going to change their shape either.

To a first approximation, how pleasant a vibe is will have to do with just how smooth, symmetrical and geometrically regular is the medium within which it travels and how regular the shapes of the waves are. In contrast, the things that make a vibe unpleasant are essentially symmetry breaking operations in it, in kind of the most abstract way.

Here’s an awesome, awesome diagram. This is a hierarchy of symmetries. So at the top you have a square that has all of the possible symmetries of a quadrangular. But as you break symmetries, you know, this one, this one is interesting. It’s kind of like you’re breaking the rotational symmetry, maybe it only rotates in one direction. So maybe the square. It’s the same in this way, in this way, but this one only in one direction. So that’s a weird, almost invisible way of breaking the symmetry. But it’s definitely important mathematically. There’s other ways you can squish it.

Okay, now that you have a rhombus or a rectangle and those have different symmetry elements, different possible transformations that will leave it the same, and essentially with every symmetry breaking operation that you add to it, it becomes more and more irregular all the way until it’s completely irregular. And so, again, the more irregular it is, the more unpleasant it’s going to be, the vibes of these things. Why? Because when you’re representing the square, it is going to be this combination of the nonlinearities that are creating the borders and the limitations which are going to be sending waves of energy to the rest of your experience. And if this is a perfectly symmetrical thing, those waves of energy will actually be regular. So I know that’s kind of crazy to contemplate, but to a first approximation, how much negative valence you’re experiencing is going to be like a weighted score of how many pinch points this medium of wave propagation has, how many shears, essentially, how many areas where you have some discontinuities or you have some stress in a symmetrically broken way that essentially de-phases that structure or blocks, I mean outright blocks the regions through which the waves don’t travel.

Very similarly reflectors, where the wave travels and just reflects back, like if you’re having a stomach upset or a knee pain or whatever it may be, introspect on that. You will realize how unpleasant that sensation is, is approximated by how many pinch points, how many blockages, how many shears and how many reflectors of the waves of energy it contains. And all of this aggregates to essentially how much stress and strain is being generated in your entire system. Importantly, whenever you have a nonlinear structure that you’re generating, anything you’re representing, the vibe of that thing will essentially be: the frequencies of the vibe will be related in an inverse way to the distances of it.

So consider you have a very long tube that you’re representing in your mind that is going to be a meeting of several kinds of vibes. First of all, you will have a harmonic resonant structure vertically, which is going to be a very low frequency. It’s like a long tube. But then also there’s going to be waves across it, in the thickness of it. And if it’s a thin sheet, sure it’s very long, but if it’s very thin, that is going to be a very high frequency component. So if you have a long sheet essentially it’s going to have both a low frequency and a high frequency component. So it’s like a Fourier transform of all of these nonlinear structures that you’re representing that is going to be the vibe generators in your experience.

We’re starting to see some elements to understand and decipher the vibe of this, essentially. And this, by the way, is an insight by Stephen Lehar: that this inverse relationship between the distance and the frequency for generating waves. Of course I’m talking about it in terms of vibes because I care about valence and valence is intimately related to vibes. I don’t think Stephen Lehar cared that much about valence, or he was not paying attention to it. But at QRI, that’s what we study. We’re very, very interested in that.

a cool blue green and yellow pattern

Vibes 201

So now let’s get into the subtle details about vibes. In a more advanced understanding, it’s not only the frequencies that matter, you know, the Fourier decomposition. The other thing that matters is the attack, decay, sustain and release of these waves. So essentially, you have this pattern, basically how high it goes and how long this takes. So this is the attack. This is the decay. This is the sustain. And this is the release. And what makes the sounds of different musical instruments different? It’s not only the distribution of energy across its harmonics. It’s also the attack, decay, sustain, release of the notes. It’s one of these puzzling things, right? Because this is happening over time. Presumably, your ear only has access to just one point of it at a time. But obviously, we’re integrating that information over time and generating a representation that simultaneously contains temporal information.

It’s kind of a temporal coding. So in that sense all of this is kind of being compressed. And I think this is being translated into the shape of the waves propagating in your world-simulation. So what does this wave front look like? Is this a sharp attack? Like: there’s nothing here, and then all of a sudden it gets really high energy. Or is it something softer, where it has a warning. It’s like, “Oh, it’s getting hot.” So it would be a soft attack.

So to a first approximation, more friendly vibes will have friendly attacks, which is: it will have a friendly ramp up of energy as opposed to a shock wave that hits all of you at once. So very unfriendly energies will be full of shock waves that are destructive as opposed to trying to harmonize or merge the energies, as it were. I recommend watching the presentation on the psychophysics toolkit at the QRI channel, the tracer tool. We’re essentially trying to characterize the tracer effects of psychedelics in terms of things such as the attack, decay, sustain, release of the tracers. And as I’ll explain, I do actually think this is very different from one drug to another and from one mindset to another.

LSD Vibes

So let’s get into some concrete examples of vibes. For example, in PiKHal, the book by Alexander Shulgin, he talks about LSD literally, it’s a very pushy type of drug relative to other psychedelics of that like general class. It overwhelms you and cuts your thoughts and it has this pushy quality. Now I think that’s true in substantial doses. In small doses, a lot of people actually talk about LSD as fairly soft and relaxing. I think it’s probably dose dependent. Obviously, also, genetic differences will result in different vibes for each drug. But, to a first approximation, what I would say is that there are drugs that are way worse in this domain.

Pretty much any psychedelic amphetamine for example, like DOB or DOC, DOI, those drugs probably are super cardio toxic, are super stimulating, very stimmy and tensing. Also, they last a long time and they make you crash really badly. So I don’t actually understand why anybody would take those drugs. Those are harsh in their vibe. Essentially, they are kind of electric, harsh high attack, kind of like a tensing type of vibe.

MDMA Vibes

In contrast, MDMA, especially pure MDMA, not MDMA plus MDA or MDMA plus methamphetamine or anything. No, just pure, unadulterated MDMA generally has an incredibly beautiful, soft vibe. People say they didn’t know love existed until they experienced MDMA or they didn’t know it existed to such an extent. I’ll get back into it when we talk about gestalts and realms, but essentially MDMA constructs an entire world that is made of that.

It’s not only that it creates these beautiful waves with extremely extreme softness. Ultimately, they compound and they create a world made of love. Not pushy at all, not pushy at all, not pushy at all. Also, there’s this weird effect, nystagmus, for example, on MDMA. I think I can do it. I’m not on MDMA, but some people can do it. It’s like: tense your eyes and your eyes kind of vibrate. So that happens involuntarily and sometimes it’s difficult to see clearly because you’re vibrating in that way. On MDMA that’s not a particularly unpleasant thing.

What Steven Lehar says is that it is not only happening in your eyes. If you pay attention while on MDMA, all your nervous system does that. It’s like these cascades where it’s vibrating, dithering, and in high doses is actually constant. That dithering, it smooths out the contents of your representation. It’s kind of like you’re superimposing an element of your internal world-simulation with itself, with a little de-phase, with a soft attack, decay, sustain, release envelope. And as a consequence, you’re soft-ifying, you’re making everything soft, everything becomes soft, everything becomes soft. I think that explains a lot the vibe of MDMA.

Ketamine and Dissociative Vibes

Ketamine and dissociatives are very strange and difficult to explain. To a first approximation, a lot of what is going on with these substances is that they slow down the speed of wave propagation in your nervous system across the board. I think there’s also some exotic nonlinearities that arise as well. Essentially, they may modify the dispersion equation, for example. It’s not only that they slow down old waves, but they probably slow down some waves more than others. Similar to a soliton in water, there are solitons of experience on ketamine that are just not possible to experience otherwise because they’re changing the wave propagation dynamics and some nonlinearities can compound into solitons. I think that explains a lot.

There’s this quality of spacetime that can become gel, for example, like other states of matter. Spacetime acquires other phases, I think, like you’re creating these solitons of spacetime and it’s very, very different. Of course all of this is completely testable in the end. As I said, the tracer tool is just getting into the attack, decay, sustain, release envelope of psychedelics. I think we can also test the change in the wave propagation dynamics on ketamine with appropriate neuroimaging and the right psychophysical tasks. So sure, this is speculative, based on intelligent exploration of high quality trip reports and a lot of conversations. But ultimately this is scientifically testable and I think it’s going to advance our understanding.

Equanimity and Loving Kindness Vibes

Equanimity. Equanimity is a very special vibe. I was saying that it’s kind of its own category, roughly speaking. It de-energizes. It de-energizes whatever nonlinearity you may have. It doesn’t feed it. One of the crazy things is that we think that this is a bug in our mind or maybe a feature for evolutionary reasons having to do with the selfish gene. But essentially we think that thinking about something might solve it, but actually thinking about something usually energizes those representations. So when you obsessively think about something, you’re creating this very, very, very robust and resilient antifragile representation and equanimity will de-energize it, slowly de-fabricate it.

MDMA is similar to loving kindness as well, although I think I would say loving kindness does it without the dithering component. Loving kindness is just the attack, decay, sustain, release of the waves that you’re kindling on meditation. They have very soft properties, so they build onto each other and they form nonlinearities and those nonlinearities are very soft and beautiful themselves and you can use them to generate vibes. In a sense it’s a bootstrapping process, right? You start with a tiny spark. I’ve heard some meditators say, “I could transform my entire experience into a world of metta by just focusing on a tiny pleasant sensation on my thumb.” You focus on that and slowly grow it, and grow it, and grow it, and over hours of patient work, it grows and grows, and eventually it’s just all of your experience.

Dopaminergics, Serotonergics, Adrenergics, and Caffeine

In terms of concrete examples: dopaminergic drugs. My understanding is they align the direction along which waves propagate so they can make you very task-focused, as it were. Serotonergics, they tend to modify the attack, decay, sustain, release. Adrenergics, essentially things that increase adrenaline and make you stressed and anxious, they can energize you. Energizing in and of itself can be a positive for your valence for a lot of reasons, including annealing effects. But also, I think that the vibe that adrenergics generate is intrinsically slightly dissonant. It’s like introducing a source of energy that is slightly harsh, and again, that can be a net positive in some situations.

It’s usually not a net positive on a sufficiently high dose. If you like one cup of coffee, I bet you’re not going to like eight cups of coffee all at once. There’s obviously a limit. At that point it’s actually just very harsh and unpleasant. Essentially, when you have harsh and unpleasant sources of vibes in your nervous system, that will corrupt the rest of the vibe in your experience. So I don’t think doing really high end loving kindness meditation is really easy if you’re really wired on coffee, or ephedrine, or whatever, any things in that category.

5-MeO-DMT, the Ultimate Deconstructor

And finally, as an example: 5-MeO-DMT I would think of as like an ace in the hole, the ultimate de-constructor, because it’s sending these waves of equanimity. The vibe is one where it just doesn’t energize any of your pre-existing representations. So, what is there to do? Well, you embrace those waves of energy, you become them, which is kind of like becoming pure consciousness in a way. And then also simultaneously you: it deconstructs and de-energizes everything else.

Gender, Smell, and Vibe

Okay, so there’s that now, applied. I think there was this fascinating study of the principal component analysis of a large data set of smells and what their properties are and what people associate them with, that showed that there are some major axes. And there’s two very important axes: how feminine the perfume smells and how masculine it smells. What they found is that to a first approximation, that’s very well predicted by:

A: masculinity is how energizing it is, which would kind of correspond with the arousal axis in the core affect space,


B: femininity, or feminine smells would correspond to how immediately pleasant and sweet the smell is.

I mean, of course you can have both, you can have very highly energizing and sweet. Vibes can have this property. You can have a vibe that is just about energy, adding energy, and another vibe that is just about adding joy and building a beautiful, very pleasant environment to live in, but not necessarily like: go out and do a bunch of things. Okay. So that might be an interesting descriptor. I’m not saying this is universal, and the case for everybody or anything of the sort, but there’s probably something to that.

I do like this thought from Martinus, who is a mystic from Denmark. A friend of mine introduced him to me and he essentially believes that masculinity and femininity have to do with some kind of polarity in your energy body, and that essentially over time, as we progress spiritually, in that tradition where people believe that we reincarnate and life is a trial where we improve our spirit and so on and so forth, what they’re saying is that essentially over time it will become more and more bipolar. We’ll have both the feminine and the masculine component. I don’t know. I mean, it would be fun to think about it. David Pearce also says in the long run, when we’re talking about full spectrum superintelligences, gender will go the same way as horns and tail, like an appendage that doesn’t, I mean, it’s limiting if anything. Anyway, I just wanted to mention that.

Vibe Projection and Entrainment

I’ll also mention that all of this is quite related, although Mike didn’t talk about nonlinearities in his piece, but there’s this piece he wrote called “A Future for Neuroscience”. He talks about these two possible quotients for a person’s nervous system. One of them is the metronome quotient, which is how they organize the resonances in order to project them into the world. People who are very good at metronome quotient are going to be basically good at being a newscaster, actor, or a musician, at projecting their own vibe and if their own vibe is really pleasant, like mind music for others that might be really popular.

And then you have entrainment quotient, which is your sensitivity to other persons’ vibes, how easily you couple into them. There’s probably also a gender effect here where very masculine vibes tend to be more in the metronome quotient and very feminine vibes tend to be very much in the entrainment quotient. But again, I suspect this is a relatively small effect size. But it’s worth pointing out it’s an interesting pattern to observe here.


Now let’s get onto gestalts. To do that, let’s revisit briefly something that I talked about in another video. I also have an article called Buddhist Annealing, which is how the seven factors of awakening are playing with the energy flux in your experience. It’s like you’re using those factors in order to weld those energies, usually in the direction of harmonization and de-fabrication, which is the spiritual path. And I would say that essentially something like an adrenergic drug can have these unpleasant side effects, which is that because it generates this harsh vibe, you start to create a lot of internal nonlinear constructs based on that harsh vibe. In the extreme case that can motivate, for example, power posing.

Power Posing and Narcissistic Ego-Shells

So what is power posing and why do I think it’s actually not very helpful? So there was a lot of probably not replicated research on people who were like, “If you make a power pose before an interview you’ll be more assertive.”, or something like that. And you may get the job or you may get the raise, you know, whatever it may be. I think that’s actually not a good idea because when you’re doing that, you’re essentially energizing this tense pattern inside you. That is an ego construct, but it’s not actually backed up by the value that you can provide. Right? It’s an act, and because it’s an act, it has this shadow to it, which is there’s nothing to back it up.

In the extremes, where you talk about narcissism, for example, a person is just this shell created of nonlinear structures, egoic structures. All of them are power posing and they’re just so focused on that. Anybody pokes at them? It feels like the world is collapsing literally, because actually this second skin, like a shell of ego projection is being, you know, you’re getting through to them with truth or something like that, and that can be really unpleasant. The breakdown of that second shell can be really unpleasant.

If you’re in that mindset, you may lash out or become aggressive or threatening if somebody pokes at it and that’s very counterproductive. I don’t think social media is helping here. Essentially, social media is getting people to create a second skin, right? Because with everything that you put there, especially if it’s not something that you’re actually legitimately proud of, you’re putting a bunch of work into, that’s helpful and valuable. You’re getting social validation for all sorts of random things. For sure your brain is going to pay attention to it. It’s going to create kind of this nonlinearity that is going to stick with you and all of a sudden you’re made of, full of stickers.

That person who’s full of stickers, they’re struggling to maintain their personality. It’s not very healthy. I’m not against social media in the abstract, actually, besides its addictiveness and ego effects. I’ve met so many fascinatingly brilliant and interesting people through social media. So I actually don’t condemn it in general, especially for intellectual work. Ironically, it’s actually really, really positive, and I think so many cool communities wouldn’t exist without it.

Gestalts Continued

Anyway, let’s get into gestalts. Gestalts are essentially what vibes are constructing. So when you’re using these energized waves and you’re generating nonlinearities when you construct a scene, that would be a gestalt. People like Grossberg and Steven Lehar and a lot of visual perception research focuses on gestalt, where all of the elements of the scene pop into becoming more than the sum of the parts. So what is that? Well, that is a resonance phenomenon. It always is a resonance phenomenon, but it’s a nonlinear resonance phenomenon.

Essentially, the elements of the scene are emitting their own vibe, and when you get a gestalt, what you’re doing is that all of those vibes are getting interlocked, they’re phase-locked and they click into place. That’s a gestalt. We think of it as a snapshot of experience, but they’re actually a bit more interesting than that. I would say that gestalts are kind of propositional. They’re like scenes or sentences or situations, and that’s how we reason. Our brain reasons through sentences, for example: not only there is something, that something is also doing something, and that is the thing that you’re capturing. That is the full gestalt and its vibe.

A story is stringing off action-based gestalts together to form a continuous movie or set of actions, and all of those gestalts are actually in resonance. Ultimately when you create the movie, they form a macro structure that itself is like a resonance configuration. Those are gestalts. For a lot of gestalts, especially if you’re studying a technical field or philosophy or whatever it may be, I would say they are like a search process, actually a very interesting search process.

The search process is using wave computing. It’s not standard. Of course you could emulate it with a Turing machine, but the runtime complexity will be off, and actually you’re completely missing the point. If you think that a digital computer will do this, of course you can simulate it with a digital computer, but you’re missing out on being able to use the medium, the physical medium to do a lot of the work for you. In a previous video recently, I talked about how intelligence is all about figuring out a self organizing principle that will solve the problem for you. It’s recruiting the appropriate wave propagation mediums that will, when interacting with one another, generate a gestalt that is creating a representation that solves a problem for you.

Importantly, from a physical point of view, every gestalt is going to be a local energy minima. That’s just by design. Essentially, oscillatory synchrony is energetically cheap. Exactly the same principle for why soap bubbles become spherical, because when they’re not spherical, you know, they’re going to be wobbling and they will be radiating energy around them, so they will fall into their local energy minima. Gestalts are local energy minima because they’re resonant configurations.

But again, they’re nonlinear resonant configurations. To find or understand a gestat. I think a lot of our reasoning or thinking or even how we make sense of high level structures of the world is, like countries or processes, even very abstract processes like annealing, these are fairly subtle gestalts that you need to fine-tune so they serve the purpose that you want and the process of doing that: it’s kind of like looking at an autostereogram where you have a magic eye. Like a magic eye, essentially. A magic eye, I have it here: so these shapes, you will be able to do it, you can just Google magic eye. Essentially the whole texture is the same. I talked about how there is one level of DMT experience that is full of magic eye phenomenology. Because you’re in a highly energized state of consciousness and the local minima will be the gestalt made of magic eyes, depth maps, essentially.

I think actually this is a metaphor that Daniel Ingram used to refer to meditation states like jhanas and things like that. It’s like for a while you’re doing a lot of work and the things don’t match. They don’t match, they don’t match. Maybe you get a bit of a glimpse at once and then some features assemble, but it takes a while and then all of a sudden, wow, the whole thing assembles. It’s a bootstrapping process: once you get more than 50%, say, I don’t know the precise percentage, the threshold of it being figured out makes the rest very easy. It’s like climbing uphill and then sliding downhill.

A lot of the process of gestalt generation will look like this. If this is the time axis and this is how much… you get it. Do you get it? Do you get it? You still, don’t you get it? It’s going to be something like this. It’s going to be like: at first you don’t get it at all, right? And then you’re like, “Oh, wow.” There’s a little bit of a hint. “Wow!”, a little bit more, a larger hint, and then, “Whoa, now I get it.” Oh, it goes out, “Oh, I get it again.” Oh, it goes out. “Oh, I get it again.” And then it stabilizes. It’s going to look kind of like that, the process of constructing a gestalt. You’re trying to find this low energy attractor that satisfies all these constraints with vibe computing, nonlinear wave computing. So those are gestalts.

Those are like the bricks, the raw materials. You’re constructing them with sets of vibes, but then the gestalts are things that once you get them, once you stabilize them and construct them, you can use to build something else. Importantly, the vibe that you use to construct a gestalt is going to leave an imprint in the valence of that gestalt. So if you’re imagining a cartoon villain or a monster or something like that, the gestalt that you’re imagining is going to have harsh properties, very spiky configurations. Those are going to be emitting very harsh, unpleasant vibes. Every gestalt will have, what we call at QRI, its own consonance dissonance and noise signature. That’s kind of incredible.

yama the lord of death, holding the wheel of life

Realms, Memory, Fabrications, Trauma

What I’m going to say next is the realms of experience, my claim is that essentially they are collections of gestalts that are self-reinforcing, and there’s various attractors. Eventually, scientifically we will figure out precisely what those attractors are, but in the meantime we can actually talk about them in light of the Buddhist realms. There’s ten Buddhist realms, there’s six for most, most people think of them as six, but there’s expanded lists and I also like the ten version. In order to construct a realm, that’s another graph I’ll have to make. Essentially there are two forces at play. One is: the y-axis here is going to be your pre-existing level of fabrication, how fabricated your experience is. That is going to be how many nonlinearities you have stored, essentially, how many gestalts you contain in you.

You’re going to be saving, every gestalt that you generate gets saved into your subconscious, storehouse consciousness as they call it in Buddhism. There’s a ton, and if you generate a particular gestalt it will have a vibe and a mood and you may forget about it, but some day: randomly you’re dreaming, “Wow, that mood I had never experienced since I was four years old when I saw that clown!”, like, that sort of thing happens or, “I went to, I don’t know, that museum. Yeah. Just got a fond memory.” Like that.

They will have that unique consonance, dissonance, noise signatures. So essentially, a particular realm is an antifragile structure made of a lot of gestalts interacting with one another. So the x-axis here is the rate of fabrication, and here’s the rate of de-fabrication. Most realms exist here, when the world is already pretty fabricated. When you’re here, when there’s just nothing being fabricated that would be like nirodha-samapatti, essentially these peak awakening states, which is absolutely nothing or pure consciousness.

But most realms, most people are going to be in some kind of antifragile realm or another. So essentially, when you’re here, you’re moving very fast upwards, when you have a very high rate of fabrication. Whereas when you’re here, you’re going to be moving slowly, and when you’re de-fabricating the net homeostasis of how much you’re fabricating versus how much you’re de-fabricating is here, you will be going very slowly and essentially you will go very, very fast. Kind of like de- fabricating. So if you take 5-MeO-DMT, let’s say a small therapeutic dose to deal with trauma or something like that, the trauma will come up and then it will be shaking itself apart and de-fabricating. So that might be here.

Okay, you’re really traumatized, so there’s a lot of self reinforcing fabrications. On 5-MeO-DMT that’s going to start to de-fabricate really quickly, but it may not go all the way down, right? After the session, maybe you will be here. You might need several more sessions to slowly get you below the threshold where the realm stops being antifragile and you can finally exit that realm.

The thing is, if you don’t go there, the realm may start to re-fabricate itself because it’s antifragile. That’s the whole phenomenon of re-traumatization. Talk therapy can actually make something worse, or psychedelic therapy, you can actually re-fabricate a trauma that you already dealt with if it has the seeds of it and you’re not skilled enough or you’re too stressed. If you’re too stressed, that also can happen. It doesn’t need to be a moral thing, if you have too much adrenergic or some medical problem, that will energize those representations. There’s a lot of moralistic thinking when it comes to how these things work. But no, I think there’s a lot of just very basic physical, physiological things that we can ideally hack at some point.

Hungry Ghost

But what are the realms, what are these antifragile attractors? We can start with a hungry ghost. Hungry ghost is this feeling of frustration, that you never feel satiated. Michael Taft in a meditation about this was saying it’s like in the Pirates of the Caribbean, where there are all of these ghost pirates. They’re eating a feast, but they’re all made of bones and the food just goes through them. It’s like you have intense cravings, but they don’t satisfy. So craving essentially is a certain kind of gestalt that has this pulling and tightness quality. Rob Burbea says that if you introspect in meditation on your energy body and a craving comes up you will realize that the intensity of the craving is directly proportional to the tension and the contraction in your energy body.

So, there’s that duality there and that generates a gestalt. And that’s how you represent the world, the things that happen to you. Another thing about realms, I think, is what I would call the core of a realm, which is essentially how you conceptualize your sense of self, how you interpret reality, what kind of lens you have when you’re in that realm. And when you’re a hungry ghost, it’s kind of like within your sense of self, which we can visualize as a sphere, as it were, it’s depressed, it’s depressurized. So there’s this feeling like it needs something external to fill it up and it’s always kind of half-full and that’s pretty unpleasant.

You will also notice in meditation that there’s this correspondence between the core sense of self and your sense of the external environment, what they call co-arising. I think that’s very much true. It has to do with these nonlinear wave dynamics, actually, because for you to actually energize an external representation you need an internal source that will be emitting the vibes that will generate that. So, think of the cores as the vibe emitters, the primary vibe emitter. If you’re really upset, your primary vibe emitter is going to be this harsh, harsh wave, which takes us to the hell realm.


So essentially, in the hell realm is an antifragile attractor of dissonant gestalts, gestalts that energize each other and they’re all unpleasant. That’s one of the very sad things about the failure modes of our nervous system, that there is no end to hell. You can make hells even more, well, I’m sure there’s a worst possible hell given a particular nervous system, but it’s unfathomably worse than what you can imagine. So, whenever there’s a tricky situation, you have to think not only: how do I solve it, but also how do I prevent it from getting worse? Because it can be ten times or one hundred times or a thousand times worse. And we’re not very cognizant of that fact. So, that’s a hell realm.

The core is this self-repeating loop of, “It’s my fault or it’s the world’s fault, or the world is horrible.” The thing is: if you approach every situation with that vibe emitter, you’re going to slowly be kindling and turning into a hell world as well. So, that’s also one of the reasons it’s so difficult to get out of it. In many cases to get out of hell you might need a small period of no pain and no disturbance. So you can be stable that way and bootstrap. As I said, like a meditator might say, “Yeah, everything felt bad in my body. But as long as I had a spark of loving kindness in a tiny part of my body, you can just focus on that. Don’t focus on the frustration. Don’t focus on the things that are tense, focus on the parts that are relaxed of your experience and then try to build those.” That is apparently really effective. I find it effective, but if you do it a lot in retreat, then you can enter these beautiful, hyper-relaxed states of consciousness.


What else? Well, we have the Titans also, the world of Asuras, the jealous gods. Essentially, they feel everything as an attack. It’s unpleasant, it’s attack heavy, very kinetic. The vibes of it are these very sharp attacks, things that actually hit internal representations, like you’re blasting them as opposed to softly, gently interacting with them. They erase information, and unfortunately I would say: war aesthetics and things like that, the kind of times that we live in, they’re full of that realm. It’s antifragile and we’ve got to figure out how to disable it. Understanding how to disable it with nonlinear wave dynamics is probably pretty helpful, I think. I’m very optimistic that there may be a way.

Now, the core, the internal representation, who you are when you are in the Titan world: what’s inside you? It’s actually like a weapon depot, but it’s these nonlinear gestalts that you have assembled that are strong and powerful and can destroy things. You can point at things and will emit a harsh vibe in that direction. There’s some degree of control. In the hell realm it’s uncontrollable and they work on their own. In the Titan realm, there’s some degree of controllability, except that of course, the controllability itself is driven by emotions that are hard to control, so how voluntary it is is up to debate. That’s the Titan realm in this paradigm.


Then you have the animal realm, ignorance. You just want to veg out and forget about everything, just be in a cozy place, you know, simple pleasures, immediate gratifications. That realm, I would describe it as very sticky, the vibe actually has this sticky, almost slimy quality. You want to find a cozy part of your experience and just veg out in it. It’s not very energized and it’s not very intelligent. It’s sleepy, it’s dumb, it’s soporiferous. It lacks the activation energy to get out of it. Obviously a lot of things can put us in that attractor, attached with a small pressure.

Essentially what is inside you, what is the core when you’re in the animal realm is a collection of petty likes and dislikes. It’s like, “Oh, I like this warmth. I don’t like this cold, I like this, I don’t like that.”, and it doesn’t go much more. It’s not more interesting than that. It’s the sort of thing that a fish probably experiences in the core. Well, it depends on the fish and the circumstance, probably a bad metaphor for it, but yeah.


Then, the human realm: it’s a realm where the internal representations are generally speaking fairly elegant but not very hedonic. So, very complex representations, the information tracking is very, very accurate and is very detailed and has a lot of capability for complexity. It’s kind of like using gestalts and then stacking them together in order to form a computing apparatus, these Rube Goldberg machines. Doing math, for example, mathematicians, I would say, they need to be in the human realm a lot of the time. I mean, they might be in the titan realm some of the time for sure, but for a lot of the time they might be in the human realm because they’re generating these fairly anhedonic constructions that can stack together and form these high level constructs. When you have that, very elegant, blissful experiences are going to be when you can reduce a lot of that complexity or all of a sudden you have emergent, highly consonant configurations. Internally it’s going to be something that, its attitude, its orientation is towards calculating and it values complexity.


Okay, to run quickly through the last ones: the god realms, everything is soft and consonant and synergistically so. That’s the thing I was mentioning, that if you boost pleasure enough, the pleasures start to interact with one another. It’s just as in the hell realm. The gestalts themselves interact and they form these amalgamations that are worse and worse. In the heaven world, in the god realm, the soft, beautiful, pleasant, colorful representations, they stack together and they form these paradises where there’s spaciousness and freedom and a sense of ease that comes with it. All of that is going to be constructed out of very beautiful vibes at the very beginning, stacking gestalts that are made of very beautiful vibes. So what is inside you when you are in the god realm? Well, there’s a cornucopia of sensory delights. You have an attitude that facilitates and enhances pleasure, and that also can be antifragile, to an extent.

Painting of Mahavairocana, Heian period, Nezu Museum.
Date 12th century

Awakened Ones

The last four are fairly Buddhist in interpretation. They’re voice-hearers, people who figure out how to de-fabricate the world, use Dark Night of the Soul or Equanimity practices in order to de-fabricate the nonlinearities, the gestalts, and ultimately exit out of the realms. The voice-hearers are those who listen to the teachings of people who know this stuff. So that would be kind of like coupling, like you’re half in this world, in one realm, but you have like another foot in, hearing somebody who has fully de-fabricated the world and you are coupled to that person and that allows you to slowly de-fabricate your realm.

Then you have the cause-awakened ones, which are people who bootstrapped the de-fabrication. They figure it out on their own, arhats and people like that. Here they will have a core of a de-fabrication algorithm. It could be vipassana, it could be certain kinds of shamatha, breathing exercises, or an attitude, a way of seeing the world. And they bootstrap out of it, they focus enough on it all of a sudden, they can use that as the self-organizing principle and de-fabricate the world.

Bodhisattvas, I would say they’re like soap molecules. One foot in one world, one foot in the other. But they’re at a homeostatic level where they have stabilized half fully de-fabricated and half fabricated so they can interface with the other worlds. Essentially these are beings, people in a secular interpretation, they live in a kind of a homeostatic vibe-controlled environment that, I mean, part of their realm can get out of control for a little bit, but when that happens, they boost the de-fabrication component and vice versa. They can remain engaged, they can remain empathetic and understanding and interacting with the vibes of the world without getting caught up in them.

Finally, the Buddhas. They are people, well, like fourth path. We’ve talked about this kind of individuals, but essentially they live in a world that is fully de-fabricated. They have access to pure consciousness, fully, completely relaxed, completely let go, completely dropping the ball from any tightness from any of these nonlinearities. That would be total vibe-control in a way, and ability to not be swayed by any gestalt whatsoever.

Naturalizing It all

All of this, obviously, comes from a religious, mystical interpretation, but my claim is that all of that will actually make sense with nonlinear wave dynamics, nonlinear wave computing. Understanding it that way will allow us to generate technology to facilitate this process and allow us to not get so caught up in insane realms that oftentimes, nobody is making them on purpose. They’re this emergent effect, especially things like the Hell and the Titan realm are really sticky because your attempts to get out of them fortify them, and that’s really terrible.

That’s one of the reasons I think why, for example, 5-MeO-DMT is so promising. If you’re really caught up in one of those realms, 5-MeO-DMT will show you, “Wow, every move that I have belongs to the matrix of things that reinforces the realm. So actually I did not have an exit. I needed this wave of equanimity to temporarily de-fabricate it and give me some sense of spaciousness so I can then bootstrap from there.” I’m very hopeful that that is going to be very, very, very good in the future.

Illness Valence Effects

This also may explain the mood effects that, for example, different mental or physiological problems may have, like heart disease, or stomach upset, or lung cancer, or bone disease and so on. They will be emitting their particular kinds of harsh vibes that over time can aggregate. That’s why chronic pain is worse than acute pain because it’s going to be generating these nonlinearities and the nonlinearities will have a harsh vibe. You will create gestalts and eventually you will generate a realm that is your realm of being a sufferer of chronic pain. That’s so bad, so sad and terrible, isn’t it?

A vision for the Future

I think we can figure all of this out. I’m very optimistic that the nervous system can be fixed. We can exit this paradigm. I know it’s possible because there are people who don’t suffer from these bugs that our nervous systems have. Not only highly advanced meditators, also people who are genetically in a really good mood all the time. I think they probably just don’t have harsh vibe generators inside them. I’m very, very hopeful that we could build a society and move in that direction. It’s going to take a lot of work and a lot of sanity. Hopefully we can cultivate it.

And with that, thank you so much for listening and being here! As I recently wrote in a tweet: live, laugh, love and maximize valence for all sentient beings! And with that, take care everybody. See you next time. Ciao!


Consciousness, Psychedelic, STV, Marrs, Topology, Gestalts, Vibes



For attribution, please cite this work as

Gómez-Emilsson (2022, July 30). Nonlinear Wave Computing: Vibes, Gestalts, and Realms. Retrieved from

BibTeX citation

  author = {Gómez-Emilsson, Andrés},
  title = {Nonlinear Wave Computing: Vibes, Gestalts, and Realms},
  url = {},
  year = {2022}