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Thread: New Buddhist Path - Implications to New Evolutionary Myth - PP 62 - 85

  1. #1

    New Buddhist Path - Implications to New Evolutionary Myth - PP 62 - 85

    Hey Fellow Products of Evolution,

    This week's reading is a little denser, so I might allow a second week (and also to allow folks to rest or catch up. Let's see how it goes. We are actually past the mid-point of the book now).

    The big ideas David Loy is proposing don't really come until the last few pages of the assignment (although he also touches on them in the "Implications" section). You have to wait to the last few pages to see what he is getting at. Much of these chapters deals with how Darwinian evolution has been seen, in the past and even today, as creating a cold, random, dog-eat-dog "survival of the fittest" vision of the universe, our place in it, and even human relationships in capitalist society. David, together with many other writers and scientists that he mentions in his essay, proposes that there is another way to interpret all this which is perfectly consistent with modern science and the evidence we have now for how the universe works.

    - Do you agree with him that modern human beings need, or would at least benefit from, a new story or "mythology" for our place in the universe?

    - Is it possible to have a "mythology" that is quite compatible with our understanding of the universe through modern science, i.e., a story that (unlike origin stories of the past) is not contradicted by science, but which is actually consistent with and backed up by scientific discoveries?

    ** SPOILER ALERT ** (the next questions reveal the perspective David is pointing to)

    - Do you believe it is possible to see the universe as a creative, fertile, self-organizing cosmos that has some properties that have actually allowed it to become self-aware? Do you agree with statements such as: "Instead of our eyes being the product of a mechanistic process driven by random mutations, can they be understood as having been created by the cosmos, in order to be able to perceive itself." Since you and your eyes are made of star dust, arising from materials which poured forth from the Big Bang, are you not the universe aware, looking at and thinking about the universe? "Walt Whitman is a space that the Milky Way fashioned to feel its own grandeur."

    I don't believe that David is saying that the universe necessarily and consciously planned out things in the way you might plan a vacation in Paris or an architect might plan a building. However, I believe that he (and other writers and various scientists) are saying that ... for whatever incredible reason, and whatever the amazing mechanism ... the universe somehow wound around to you and me despite the seeming need for so many factors of physics, chemistry, biology and history to have been precisely "just so" (or nearly so, without one single turn in another direction or variation along the way in needed conditions) to allow such an unlikely result (all as shown by it by your being here to think about it), and that ... when you plan a vacation in Paris, it is in fact the universe planning a vacation in the universe (because you and Paris are just the universe, are you not? Are you or Paris outside and separate from the universe, or just each and all an expression and manifestation of the universe and this planet in it?) The architect is just the universe become smart enough to use the mathematical and physical principles and properties of the universe to build a new part of the universe (what else is the architect but a thinking face of the universe?)

    Is there anything about the above which contradicts our modern understanding of how the universe works in any way?

    As a personal disclosure, I myself believe very deeply ... and have for a long time ... that such interpretations are valid and important. I am a true believer in all this. Am I mistaken?

    Gassho, J

    SatToday


    Last edited by Jundo; 03-25-2017 at 11:46 PM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  2. #2
    Thank you Jundo. =)

    Gassho
    Shingen

    s@today
    RINDO SHINGEN
    倫道 真現

  3. #3
    I felt like I was reading "you" in this section Jundo, because you've been saying the same thing (minus the scientist references) for as long as I've been here. No wonder you picked this book for us

    - Do you agree with him that modern human beings need, or would at least benefit from, a new story or "mythology" for our place in the universe?

    - Is it possible to have a "mythology" that is quite compatible with our understanding of the universe through modern science, i.e., a story that (unlike origin stories of the past) is not contradicted by science, but which is actually consistent with and backed up by scientific discoveries?
    Yes, but the old myths are so embedded in our collective psyche that it will take a long evolutionary time to modify them. Personally, I love the idea that the universe created me to help it know itself. I am glad to oblige yet humbled in the task.
    AL (Jigen) in:
    Faith/Trust
    Courage/Love
    Awareness/Action!

    I sat today

  4. #4
    The myths are vital. At least the ones that speak the truth. Many of us are afraid of superstitions. Why do so many western Buddhists feel they have to make it clear that Buddhism doesn't contradict science? What does that have to do with any of the problems Buddhism addresses? Stories speak to wide audiences. Buddhism is for everyone. Even superstitious people. Buddhism has been comforting superstitious fools for 2500 years. I'm one of them. I just haven't figured it out yet.

    Gassho

    Sat Today

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by Byrne View Post
    The myths are vital. At least the ones that speak the truth. Many of us are afraid of superstitions. Why do so many western Buddhists feel they have to make it clear that Buddhism doesn't contradict science? What does that have to do with any of the problems Buddhism addresses? Stories speak to wide audiences. Buddhism is for everyone. Even superstitious people. Buddhism has been comforting superstitious fools for 2500 years. I'm one of them. I just haven't figured it out yet.

    Gassho

    Sat Today
    Hi Byrne,

    If a fantastic fiction or superstition helps someone, I am all for it. The Buddha called this "Expedient Means", basically a means to help someone who needs that. It is like the father who, in the Lotus Sutra, promised his kids imagined toys to lure them out of a burning building. If it gives someone strength, comfort and a bit of understanding to think and feel in such terms, I honor that.

    The only issue for me is when people cling to these stories as truth, and are willing to excommunicate ... or worse ... anyone who does not hold to such "truths", be it very literal visions of rebirth or heaven and hell, the magic powers of a superhuman Buddha, faith healing (which actually does have some psychological powers, but that is a story for another day) over hospitals for child with a curable disease, a Virgin Birth, that the earth was created in 6 days, and the like. If folks need those stories, and it helps people to have faith in them as literally true, I support their doing so. Ok also to take much of this symbolically, holding that "6 days" is actually a timeless description of "6 Billions of years". In fact, it could even be that the earth was created in 6 days (of the ordinary calendar), and only my ignorance prevents me from seeing it as so.

    But there is also nothing wrong with insisting that science has shown us some solid evidence for how the universe, this planet and our brains work and are put together, and historians a bit about the past, so our myths and stories need not (and perhaps, best not) contradict such facts. In fact, ignorance of all kinds is dangerous, and all of us need to recognize the potential for ignorance within ourselves.

    By some recent surveys, such as this from Gallop ...

    More than four in 10 Americans continue to believe that God created humans in their present form 10,000 years ago, a view that has changed little over the past three decades. Half of Americans believe humans evolved, with the majority of these saying God guided the evolutionary process.
    http://www.gallup.com/poll/170822/be...n-origins.aspx
    I also believe that there is something a little dangerous in that, as much as their is danger in a cold and uncaring beiief in dog-eat-dog Social Darwinism, materialistic "scientific" Marxism and many other extreme beliefs that are just as narrow.

    Gassho, J

    SatToday
    Last edited by Jundo; 03-27-2017 at 05:42 AM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  6. #6
    I was most impressed in this reading by the evidence that the elements and bacteria show creative responses to their situations. I think that is the basis of a new story or mythology. Also interesting was the creative self-ordering of societies, and the idea that without something or someone guiding all the changes in nature, the mechanistic view falls apart. Thank you, Jundo, for making this a book for discussion. I see things differently now.

    Gassho,
    Onkai
    SatToday

  7. #7
    Jundo,

    One of my very favorite things that you ever said around here is that "the universe still needs you when it wants to make toast".

    Yes, we are infinitesimal specks on the rural side of a gigantic and (seemingly) uncaring universe.
    BUT: we are also amazing creatures who rescue stray dogs and run into burning buildings to save lives and look up at the stars and wonder "what's it all about anyway?"
    We MAKE meaning. Something as ordinary as a stuffed animal can become the most precious thing in the cosmos.

    So when you leave hydrogen alone long enough and it becomes rose bushes and giraffes and people and then those people wonder "what am I?" then that literally means that we are the universe manifesting curiosity about itself.
    And if that's not enough for you to "make meaning" out of your so-called "pointless life" then go make some toast.

    Gassho,
    Hoko
    #SatToday
    法 Dharma
    口 Mouth

  8. #8

    New Buddhist Path - Implications to New Evolutionary Myth - PP 62 - 85

    Quote Originally Posted by Hoko View Post
    Jundo,

    One of my very favorite things that you ever said around here is that "the universe still needs you when it wants to make toast".

    Yes, we are infinitesimal specks on the rural side of a gigantic and (seemingly) uncaring universe.
    BUT: we are also amazing creatures who rescue stray dogs and run into burning buildings to save lives and look up at the stars and wonder "what's it all about anyway?"
    We MAKE meaning. Something as ordinary as a stuffed animal can become the most precious thing in the cosmos.

    So when you leave hydrogen alone long enough and it becomes rose bushes and giraffes and people and then those people wonder "what am I?" then that literally means that we are the universe manifesting curiosity about itself.
    And if that's not enough for you to "make meaning" out of your so-called "pointless life" then go make some toast.

    Gassho,
    Hoko
    #SatToday
    I don't often "squee" but this got a squee outta me.
    Gassho
    Jakuden
    SatToday


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    Last edited by Jakuden; 03-28-2017 at 02:35 AM.
    清 道 寂田
    SEIDO JAKUDEN
    I am a novice priest. Any resemblance my posts may have to actual teachings about the Dharma, living or dead, is purely coincidental (and just my attempt to be helpful).

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by Hoko View Post
    Yes, we are infinitesimal specks on the rural side of a gigantic and (seemingly) uncaring universe.
    BUT: we are also amazing creatures who rescue stray dogs and run into burning buildings to save lives and look up at the stars and wonder "what's it all about anyway?"
    We MAKE meaning. Something as ordinary as a stuffed animal can become the most precious thing in the cosmos.
    Maybe okay to repost something I wrote a few times on why we are each standing at the center of a universe (but so is everybody and everything) ... a universe that is truly not "big" nor "small" when human measure and relative self-comparisons are taken out of the equation ...

    =======================================

    One Buddhist perspective to experience is that the whole of reality, all time and space ... is manifested in a grain of sand ... and all of the universe is held on the tip of each blade of grass.

    So. do not be so quick to judge either a grain as "big" or "small" ... a blade as "tall" or "short" or finite ... or the universe as vast and distant ... for to do so is perhaps each a relative value judgment, and saying how "small and insignificant" we must be is not much different from ancient man's subjective judgment in asserting how "grand" we are and that we are at the heart of it all, the universe spinning around us, the "center of creation".

    Mahayana Buddhists point out that "big and small" and "far and near" and "center and periphery" and the like are, more than we realize, measures of the human brain that are not the only way to experience reality. For example, the "center of the universe" and "place where the Big Bang is still happening" (even physicists will point out) is not some place far from here and long ago ... but here and here and here and everywhere in the Cosmos ... and now and now and now and all times ... and all is "the center". You want to know "where the Big Bang happened/is still happening?" Well, open your eyes, look around and in the mirror too! Space is expanding outward right from every particle in your body!

    As well, who is to say that an ant is "less important" than an elephant because one is smaller, or an atom is less than a star, in the whole scheme of things because of relative size? These are value judgments we make.

    In fact, we are at the heart of all, the center, for where in the universe is the heart, the center of all? Better said, where in the center of reality, all emerging, is not the center? Where in the heart is not found the heart? Every point in the universe spins around every point in the universe.

    ...

    It used to be thought that mankind was the center of the cosmos, thus very important. Then, Copernicus, Hubble and others showed that we are just fleas on a speck of dust in one galaxy among countless galaxies ... so apparently unimportant in our relative smallness. However we Mahayana Buddhists (and many modern physicists!) tend to see the cosmos as more like the surface of a sphere, like the surface of this ball or balloon ...



    For the surface of a sphere, no matter the size of the sphere, EVERY point on the surface is as much the center of the surface as every other point. In a sense. every point is just as important or unimportant as any other ... and is as much the ball or balloon as any other. We are all the ball, and playing ball, in the most radical sense. In our universe, every point can also lay claim to being a center around which all spins as much as any other too. In fact, each point of the ball's surface supports all the rest of the surface.

    Gassho, J

    PS - This was also recently posted ...

    http://math.ucr.edu/home/baez/physic...GR/centre.html

    [Physics FAQ] - [Copyright]

    Original by Philip Gibbs 1997.



    Where is the centre of the universe?

    There is no centre of the universe! According to the standard theories of cosmology, the universe started with a "Big Bang" about 14 thousand million years ago and has been expanding ever since. Yet there is no centre to the expansion; it is the same everywhere. The Big Bang should not be visualised as an ordinary explosion. The universe is not expanding out from a centre into space; rather, the whole universe is expanding and it is doing so equally at all places, as far as we can tell.

    In 1929 Edwin Hubble announced that he had measured the speed of galaxies at different distances from us, and had discovered that the farther they were, the faster they were receding. This might suggest that we are at the centre of the expanding universe, but in fact if the universe is expanding uniformly according to Hubble's law, then it will appear to do so from any vantage point.

    If we see a galaxy B receding from us at 10,000 km/s, an alien in galaxy B will see our galaxy A receding from it at 10,000 km/s in the opposite direction. Another galaxy C twice as far away in the same direction as B will be seen by us as receding at 20,000 km/s. The alien will see it receding at 10,000 km/s: ...

    So from the point of view of the alien at B, everything is expanding away from it, whichever direction it looks in, just the same as it does for us.

    The Famous Balloon Analogy

    A good way to help visualise the expanding universe is to compare space with the surface of an expanding balloon. This analogy was used by Arthur Eddington as early as 1933 in his book The Expanding Universe. It was also used by Fred Hoyle in the 1960 edition of his popular book The Nature of the Universe. Hoyle wrote "My non-mathematical friends often tell me that they find it difficult to picture this expansion. Short of using a lot of mathematics I cannot do better than use the analogy of a balloon with a large number of dots marked on its surface. If the balloon is blown up the distances between the dots increase in the same way as the distances between the galaxies." ...
    Last edited by Jundo; 03-28-2017 at 04:28 PM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  10. #10
    One thing that strikes me, as a scientist, is that Loy seems to think that scientists are attached to certain principles... such as Newtonian physics, as if we object to any concept of "intelligent design" in any way. Or conversely that we always look for patterns rather than randomness. This may be true to some degree in a basic science class, but once you get into more advanced education, there is much more of a sense of the fusion of the known with the unknown, IMHO. I remember learning almost 30 years ago how the seeming randomness of the DNA mutations that allowed for evolution to take place really are both random and not random. Mistakes built into the system that are not mistakes, but seeds of potential. Mathematical probability theory is wound so tightly into physics, chemistry and biology that the more you learn, the more they become interdependent and indistinguishable. Randomness and purpose are also "not two."

    Gassho
    Jakuden
    SatToday


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    清 道 寂田
    SEIDO JAKUDEN
    I am a novice priest. Any resemblance my posts may have to actual teachings about the Dharma, living or dead, is purely coincidental (and just my attempt to be helpful).

  11. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by Jakuden View Post
    One thing that strikes me, as a scientist, is that Loy seems to think that scientists are attached to certain principles... such as Newtonian physics, as if we object to any concept of "intelligent design" in any way. Or conversely that we always look for patterns rather than randomness. This may be true to some degree in a basic science class, but once you get into more advanced education, there is much more of a sense of the fusion of the known with the unknown, IMHO. I remember learning almost 30 years ago how the seeming randomness of the DNA mutations that allowed for evolution to take place really are both random and not random. Mistakes built into the system that are not mistakes, but seeds of potential. Mathematical probability theory is wound so tightly into physics, chemistry and biology that the more you learn, the more they become interdependent and indistinguishable. Randomness and purpose are also "not two."

    Gassho
    Jakuden
    SatToday


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    Beautiful and humbling perspective.

    Gassho

    Sat Today

  12. #12
    One possible interpretation of our oneness with the universe.


    Pickles, 3/31/17
    AL (Jigen) in:
    Faith/Trust
    Courage/Love
    Awareness/Action!

    I sat today

  13. #13
    I loved this section because I could ramble on at great length and with great pleasure in disagreement with David Loy. I'll just take one statement quoted in Jundo's opening post:
    Instead of our eyes being the product of a mechanistic process driven by random mutations, can they be understood as having been created by the cosmos, in order to be able to perceive itself?
    Sure you can see our eyes in such a way, but that wouldn't be science. One of many arguments comes from a wonderful 1959 paper in cognitive psychology by Jerome Lettvin et al called "What the Frog's Eye Tells the Frog's Brain". Most of the paper is about the technical details of the structure of the frog's eye and brain, but there's a nice pertinent section early on:
    The frog does not seem to see or, at any rate, is not concerned with the detail of stationary parts of the world around him. He will starve to death surrounded by food if it is not moving. His choice of food is determined only by size and movement. He will leap to capture any object the size of an insect or worm, providing it moves like one. He can be fooled easily not only by a bit of dangled meat but by any moving small object. His sex life is conducted by sound and touch. His choice of paths in escaping enemies does not seem to be governed by anything more devious than leaping to where it is darker. Since he is equally at home in water and on land, why should it matter where he lights after jumping or what particular direction he takes?
    Lettvin et al found what came to be called 'feature detectors' in the frog's eye - 'cells in a frog’s retina that are predisposed to respond when small, dark objects enter the visual field, stop, and then move intermittently'.

    The point is that the frog's eye doesn't present to the frog a 'true' representation of 'reality'. It works to create a reality for the frog that enables the frog to eat and avoid predators. There's no scientific reason to suppose that we human beings are more important or better than frogs, or indeed, anything special in the grand scheme of things. By this argument, the view we have of 'reality' is not to do with 'the cosmos perceiving itself'. Just like the frog's eye, the human eye has evolved by natural selection to ensure our continued success at surviving and reproducing ourselves. (Incidentally Donald Hoffman has a more modern argument to the same effect - https://www.theatlantic.com/science/...eality/479559/)

    Or do you think we're better than frogs croaking in a spring paddy field?

    Jeremy
    SatToday

  14. #14
    Jeremy,

    The Buddha often emphasized that it is incredibly rare to obtain a human form in this Universe. Of all the possible combination of atoms and molecules constantly rising and falling, human is just one of immeasurable possibilities. Humans aren't "better" than frogs but we have been reborn in the human realm which is considered the ideal realm to learn the Buddhadharma. Frogs aren't banned from entering this Sangha, and frogs have much to teach us, but frogs aren't equipped to study Buddhism. Their karma leads them where it leads them, just as ours leads us where it leads us. Nothing to add or take away.

    Gassho

    Sat Today

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jeremy View Post
    I loved this section because I could ramble on at great length and with great pleasure in disagreement with David Loy. I'll just take one statement quoted in Jundo's opening post:

    Sure you can see our eyes in such a way, but that wouldn't be science. One of many arguments comes from a wonderful 1959 paper in cognitive psychology by Jerome Lettvin et al called "What the Frog's Eye Tells the Frog's Brain". Most of the paper is about the technical details of the structure of the frog's eye and brain, but there's a nice pertinent section early on:

    Lettvin et al found what came to be called 'feature detectors' in the frog's eye - 'cells in a frog’s retina that are predisposed to respond when small, dark objects enter the visual field, stop, and then move intermittently'.

    The point is that the frog's eye doesn't present to the frog a 'true' representation of 'reality'. It works to create a reality for the frog that enables the frog to eat and avoid predators. There's no scientific reason to suppose that we human beings are more important or better than frogs, or indeed, anything special in the grand scheme of things. By this argument, the view we have of 'reality' is not to do with 'the cosmos perceiving itself'. Just like the frog's eye, the human eye has evolved by natural selection to ensure our continued success at surviving and reproducing ourselves. (Incidentally Donald Hoffman has a more modern argument to the same effect - https://www.theatlantic.com/science/...eality/479559/)

    Or do you think we're better than frogs croaking in a spring paddy field?

    Jeremy
    SatToday


    Hi Jeremy,



    I can't really talk about Science as I don't really know what it is. But I don't know if "feature detectors" is a problem. I think its just that a frog's world. That's the cosmos aware of itself as a frog. Perhaps the reason we find the distinction between a true representation and reality problematic is because its not a representation in the sense of realistic painting. But more like skillful means. Many objects of sense seem to be permanent but experience overtime suggests that they are not. This isn't something I learn from the senses alone. I look at my daughter now and I realize shes grown so much in such a short time. How I wish I could go hug that toddler in the pictures again but I can't because shes a little girl now (I will hug the shit out of her when I get home from work though .)

    I think there are other ways to look at this. Things like color arn't "out there" in the world. But the result of a combination of different wave lengths of light interacting nerves in the eye and then a electrical-chemical reaction takes place. We could also say this data is processed further. In either case, it hinges of the idea of an "out there" and "in here." But if we set aside that distinction for a little while I think we can see it as one unfolding process that is composed of smaller processes. Like a Rube Gold machine where a phone call ends with putting toothpaste on a toothbrush. Its just part of the process.




    I also wrote this but I don't know how sense able it is.

    1. The world is knowable
    2.1 The means of knowing enable knowing
    2.11 What can be known is limited to the product of the means of knowing
    3. Its possible to conceive of other means of knowing
    4. The world exhausts definition


    Anywho just some thoughts.

    Gassho

    Hoseki

    Sattoday

  16. #16
    Quote Originally Posted by Jeremy View Post
    I loved this section because I could ramble on at great length and with great pleasure in disagreement with David Loy. I'll just take one statement quoted in Jundo's opening post:

    Sure you can see our eyes in such a way, but that wouldn't be science. One of many arguments comes from a wonderful 1959 paper in cognitive psychology by Jerome Lettvin et al called "What the Frog's Eye Tells the Frog's Brain". Most of the paper is about the technical details of the structure of the frog's eye and brain, but there's a nice pertinent section early on:

    Lettvin et al found what came to be called 'feature detectors' in the frog's eye - 'cells in a frog’s retina that are predisposed to respond when small, dark objects enter the visual field, stop, and then move intermittently'.

    The point is that the frog's eye doesn't present to the frog a 'true' representation of 'reality'. It works to create a reality for the frog that enables the frog to eat and avoid predators. There's no scientific reason to suppose that we human beings are more important or better than frogs, or indeed, anything special in the grand scheme of things. By this argument, the view we have of 'reality' is not to do with 'the cosmos perceiving itself'. Just like the frog's eye, the human eye has evolved by natural selection to ensure our continued success at surviving and reproducing ourselves. (Incidentally Donald Hoffman has a more modern argument to the same effect - https://www.theatlantic.com/science/...eality/479559/)

    Or do you think we're better than frogs croaking in a spring paddy field?

    Jeremy
    SatToday
    I disagree. If you get down into the atomic structure of that frog's eye, you will find the same atoms that make up the rest of the cosmos, a knowledge science has given us. They are just arranged in the particular way that we call class II ganglia to detect motion. We and the frog are just different ways of the universe looking at itself!

    Gassho
    Jakuden
    SatToday


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    清 道 寂田
    SEIDO JAKUDEN
    I am a novice priest. Any resemblance my posts may have to actual teachings about the Dharma, living or dead, is purely coincidental (and just my attempt to be helpful).

  17. #17
    Quote Originally Posted by Jakuden View Post
    We and the frog are just different ways of the universe looking at itself!


    Gassho
    Shingen

    s@today
    RINDO SHINGEN
    倫道 真現

  18. #18
    Quote Originally Posted by Byrne View Post
    Jeremy,

    The Buddha often emphasized that it is incredibly rare to obtain a human form in this Universe. Of all the possible combination of atoms and molecules constantly rising and falling, human is just one of immeasurable possibilities. Humans aren't "better" than frogs but we have been reborn in the human realm which is considered the ideal realm to learn the Buddhadharma. Frogs aren't banned from entering this Sangha, and frogs have much to teach us, but frogs aren't equipped to study Buddhism. Their karma leads them where it leads them, just as ours leads us where it leads us. Nothing to add or take away.

    Gassho

    Sat Today
    Hi Byrne,

    I liked what you said earlier "Why do so many western Buddhists feel they have to make it clear that Buddhism doesn't contradict science? What does that have to do with any of the problems Buddhism addresses?" My post about the frog was from a scientific perspective, whereas yours (which I liked very much) came from the Buddhist point of view.

    Quite a few of the writers David Loy quotes in this section (Elisabet Sahtouris, Brian Swimme & Thomas Berry) start with a specific agenda of bringing together science and spirituality. I do think these people have an awful lot of interesting and valuable things to say, but from a scientific viewpoint, they have a tendency to spill over into nonsense and pseudoscience. Here's Elisabet Sahtouris, for example:

    The barriers between science and spirit are dissolving as scientists find cosmic consciousness in a non-local, non-time energy field that transmutes itself into electromagnetic energy, and, in turn, matter, in the creation of universes such as ours, as we have seen. Presumably it can also create itself -- self organize -- into other pure energy patterns in a myriad ways, including angelic realms, for example, and all the "worlds" we may exist in between lives, and eternally.
    and now Brian Swimme:

    I think that gravitational attraction is an early form of compassion or care. If there weren't that kind of care at the foundation of the universe, there would be no formation of galaxies...
    From a scientific standpoint, this is nonsense. From a spiritual point of view, I guess it's a question of taste. It's not my cup of tea, though

    Jeremy
    SatToday

  19. #19
    Quote Originally Posted by Jeremy View Post
    The point is that the frog's eye doesn't present to the frog a 'true' representation of 'reality'. It works to create a reality for the frog that enables the frog to eat and avoid predators. There's no scientific reason to suppose that we human beings are more important or better than frogs, or indeed, anything special in the grand scheme of things. By this argument, the view we have of 'reality' is not to do with 'the cosmos perceiving itself'. Just like the frog's eye, the human eye has evolved by natural selection to ensure our continued success at surviving and reproducing ourselves. (Incidentally Donald Hoffman has a more modern argument to the same effect - https://www.theatlantic.com/science/...eality/479559/)

    Or do you think we're better than frogs croaking in a spring paddy field?
    I would disagree somewhat. A frog is the stuff of the universe catching flies, also stuff of the universe. A frog is an expression of the universe catching flies.

    Shakespeare is the universe writing plays and poems, from the mind of Shakespeare, put onto paper with ink and performed on a stage ... each and every one the stuff of the universe. Thus, Shakespeare is the universe writing love sonnets which are also the universe.

    It may or may not be wrong to say that the universe had to, or was destined to, lead to where we sit ... yet here we are, the products of every twist and turn of universal history without a seeming miss ... every factor of physics, chemistry, biology, history and you name it that had to be "just so" for our births, in the end just so. Could it have been the product of universal dumb luck or blind processes, a roll of Darwin's Dice? Of course. Might the dice have somehow been loaded in ways we have yet to fully understand? Of course.

    Gassho, J

    SatToday

    PS - I do so agree that this can all spill over into new agey pseudo-science and quantum fuzzbucket baloney. We have to be very careful in reaching too far. Some of the quotes you posted by Swimme et. al seems to be just such claptrap. However, to say that you are the universe, down to the last atom, typing on a computer that is the universe down to the last atom ... thus the universe thinking about and writing about the universe ... is a conservative statement. Are you somehow outside or apart from the universe? I would say no more than the hairs on Jeremy's head, should they become conscious and start pondering the question, could assert that they are not an aspect of Jeremy.

    To say that, for whatever reason, every factor of physics, atomic chemistry, biology and all the rest happened to work out precisely as needed to allow you and me to be sitting here thinking about and writing about the universe and about how things worked out (while, under our present model of a random universe or universes, such seems not to have needed to be the case at all if one single left turn anywhere in events when things needed to go right to lead to where we sit) ... is a conservative statement. At present, there is no explanation for such an outcome except (1) dumb luck combined with a selection effect or (2) a multiverse of possibly universes in which about anything that can happen will happen somewhere and sometimes. To say that the dice may be loaded, or more afoot, in ways we do not presently understand in order to bring such an outcome ... is also a conservative statement To say that "the dice absolutely were not loaded, nothing more afoot, because our knowledge on these points is complete" is overreaching too.
    Last edited by Jundo; 04-01-2017 at 11:12 AM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  20. #20
    Quote Originally Posted by Hoseki View Post
    Hi Jeremy,
    I think there are other ways to look at this. Things like color arn't "out there" in the world. But the result of a combination of different wave lengths of light interacting nerves in the eye and then a electrical-chemical reaction takes place. We could also say this data is processed further. In either case, it hinges of the idea of an "out there" and "in here." But if we set aside that distinction for a little while I think we can see it as one unfolding process that is composed of smaller processes. Like a Rube Gold machine where a phone call ends with putting toothpaste on a toothbrush. Its just part of the process.
    Hi Hoseki,

    I like your way of putting this. I agree that 'the idea of an "out there" and "in here"' is central here.

    Jeremy
    SatToday

  21. #21
    Quote Originally Posted by Jakuden View Post
    I disagree. If you get down into the atomic structure of that frog's eye, you will find the same atoms that make up the rest of the cosmos, a knowledge science has given us. They are just arranged in the particular way that we call class II ganglia to detect motion. We and the frog are just different ways of the universe looking at itself!
    Hi Jakuden,

    Yes, that's a nice Zen way of looking at things. There's a reason David Loy and others talk in terms of the human eye rather than the frog's eye. They have a specific task in mind, and for that you need a critter with a full complement of mental faculties - intelligence, intentionality, self-awareness, boundless compassion, the lot. It also helps if you've been to the moon and seen what the earth looks like from up there. The task is, of course, to save the earth from the crisis we're in, particularly the mass extinction event that we seem to be entering and I don't think the frog is up to the task. If frogs ruled the world, we'd be doomed... then again, if frogs ruled the world, maybe we wouldn't be in the mess we're now in !

    Jeremy
    SatToday
    Last edited by Jeremy; 04-01-2017 at 03:37 PM.

  22. #22
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    To say that, for whatever reason, every factor of physics, atomic chemistry, biology and all the rest happened to work out precisely as needed to allow you and me to be sitting here thinking about and writing about the universe and about how things worked out (while, under our present model of a random universe or universes, such seems not to have needed to be the case at all if one single left turn anywhere in events when things needed to go right to lead to where we sit) ... is a conservative statement. At present, there is no explanation for such an outcome except (1) dumb luck combined with a selection effect or (2) a multiverse of possibly universes in which about anything that can happen will happen somewhere and sometimes.
    Hi Jundo,

    This sounds like the "Fine Tuning Argument" or 'The fine-tuned Universe". In case anyone else is interested, this is 'the fine-tuned universe' (from wikipedia):
    The fine-tuned Universe is the proposition that the conditions that allow life in the Universe can occur only when certain universal dimensionless physical constants lie within a very narrow range, so that if any of several fundamental constants were only slightly different, the Universe would be unlikely to be conducive to the establishment and development of matter, astronomical structures, elemental diversity, or life as it is understood.
    This is regarded by some as evidence for the existence of God, and by others as evidence for the existence of some form of intelligence behind creation.

    There are quite a few arguments against it, including one by Jay Garfield and Graham Priest. Typically they argue that the Fine Tuning Argument is fallacious, or that questions it is designed to answer are invalid.

    One that I like is the answer by "Star Lord" here http://www.askamathematician.com/201...ucive-to-life/
    (Some of it is gobbledegook, but the core of the argument is cool).

    Like I said earlier, I could ramble on at great length about this section of David Loy's book, but I'll save anything else for another day, as these themes come up again and again

    Jeremy
    SatToday

  23. #23
    Quote Originally Posted by Jeremy View Post
    Hi Jundo,

    This sounds like the "Fine Tuning Argument" or 'The fine-tuned Universe". In case anyone else is interested, this is 'the fine-tuned universe' (from wikipedia):

    This is regarded by some as evidence for the existence of God, and by others as evidence for the existence of some form of intelligence behind creation.

    There are quite a few arguments against it, including one by Jay Garfield and Graham Priest. Typically they argue that the Fine Tuning Argument is fallacious, or that questions it is designed to answer are invalid.

    One that I like is the answer by "Star Lord" here http://www.askamathematician.com/201...ucive-to-life/
    (Some of it is gobbledegook, but the core of the argument is cool).

    Like I said earlier, I could ramble on at great length about this section of David Loy's book, but I'll save anything else for another day, as these themes come up again and again

    Jeremy
    SatToday
    Hi Jeremy,

    Fine tuning has been used by many in the Christian community as evidence for a designer or deity. I find that unfortunate. I believe that there may be other explanations or mechanisms at work to explain why this universe in which we find ourselves possesses a very long list of factors with just the qualities falling within a fine range of strengths and other characteristics necessary for life, intelligent life and you and me in particular ... most or all of which factors seemingly did not have to be (and were more likely not to have been) just so. Change even one such key factor and we would not be here to discuss this fact.

    The fact that there might be a "multiverse" of myriad universes does little to explain, on a most personal basis, why you and I happened to "luck out" to find ourselves in apparently just the universe where we selfishly needed to be. Some intelligent life somewhere might have found itself in some universe ... and even some version of a Jeremy and a Jundo somewhere ... however, under our present understanding of how the universe works, you and I (not someone else and not a copy) had one chance to be born and, nonentheless, here we are. Lucky us.

    A friend, a physicist, once pointed out to me that someone has to win the lottery, and the winner will tend to be surprised at his luck. Surprise would be based on a fallacy. That is an obvious fact. However, we are in fact the winner, not of one lottery, but of an incredible and nearly uncountable series of moment by moment lotteries and rolls of the dice stretching back billions of years any single one of which ... should it have rolled to another number ... would seemingly have foreclosed our existence. He admitted that this is strange in the same way that, if heading into a shady casino and seeing the roulette wheel come up to the winning number 1000 times in a row, well, it could just be luck. Likewise for 10,000 or 10 Billion times. But at a certain point, looking at the incredible pattern, one might want to check for magnets placed on the wheel by a crooked dealer with a hidden pedal. At a certain point, cheating becomes a more likely explanation for the wild outcome. A person who did not assume cheating at a certain point would be a sucker to the con game, and broke. To be born, we are not the winners of 10 Billion spins in a row, but countless splns in each and every second since this universe was born ... all without a miss. One bad roll and we would not be present to note the fact. It may be time to look for the trick of the weighted wheel. What is the mechanism to explain this astonishing fact which complements our present understanding of evolution and how this universe works?

    The anthropic principle has predictive power, by the way. Scientists are coming more and more to employ it to predict qualities of the universe based on little more than the fact of our existence, which qualities later show themselves to be true. For example, Dark Energy is little understood. However, whatever it turns out to be, if it is assumed that it must have a certain set of qualities X to allow human existence ... but not a certain set of qualities Y which would foreclose human existence ... we can now predict with some confidence that it has qualities X. Later, we can confirm this if we are able to actually find Dark Energy and measure its actual properties. Here is one example, so many more.

    https://www.newscientist.com/blog/sp...rk-energy.html

    Gassho, J

    SatToday
    Last edited by Jundo; 04-02-2017 at 08:59 PM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  24. #24
    One of the the benefits I got out of this section was how I now better understand how all things are considered sentient beings. Rocks, for example, never made much sense to me as sentient beings. I mean, they are rocks, what could be less sentient than that? BUT Loy's point about how leaving hydrogen alone for billllllllllions of years until it eventually turns into you and me and all the rest made me realize I was looking at it from too narrow of a time perspective. Given enough time, hydrogen is sentient through me and you and all the rest of us. Given a somewhat shorter timeline, it is easy to see how coal and oil are sentient, too. Given that, rocks are now also just a hop, skip, and a jump away from sentience. I bow to all beings.
    AL (Jigen) in:
    Faith/Trust
    Courage/Love
    Awareness/Action!

    I sat today

  25. #25

    I also bow to all beings, and thank you all for your comments : I love this book.

    Jyūkatsu,
    sat today
    柔 Jyū flexible
    活 Katsu energetic

  26. #26
    Quote Originally Posted by AlanLa View Post
    ... Given enough time, hydrogen is sentient through me and you and all the rest of us. Given a somewhat shorter timeline, it is easy to see how coal and oil are sentient, too...
    This reminded me of a quote from Einstein:

    People like us, who believe in physics, know that the distinction between past, present, and future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion.
    That's taken out of context. In context, it's even better. Einstein wrote it in a letter to the family of a deceased friend:

    Now he has departed from this strange world a little ahead of me. That means nothing. People like us, who believe in physics, know that the distinction between past, present, and future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion.
    Step lightly, stay free,
    Jeremy
    SatToday

  27. #27
    I have mixed feelings about this section. I get concerned when non-scientists use science (or their lay interpretation of it) to justify their belief system. I'm not saying that is necessarily happening here, but I bring it up because if I read another post suggesting that science is catching up with the Buddha I am going to puke lol

    Science is a vague term, but science is a very rigorous and disciplined field. We hear the latest theories and they are exciting but I think there is a danger as a layman to misinterpret and misunderstand scientific theories, and to begin to extrapolate and in to apply these theories to fit our worldview; whreas scienxe is a discovery of truth. This is a problem with authors like Deepak Chopra who bastardize scientific principals into nonensical spiritual fluff that is complete bullshit but gets on the ny times top seller list. yes Im on a soapbox but I respect truth and science and zen.

    I think it's fascinating to think of the universe as an organism, but if I just subscribe to that I wouldn't be true to myself because I frankly do not understand all of the science or implications of that statement, so I dont want to jump on board a belief just because it sounds interesting.

    This leads to my next point; I'm not sure that I need a new mythology per se; rather, and what I like about zen, is keeping an open mind to possibilities rather than just accepting assumptions etc about how things are. This goes for traditional superstitions and theories like the multiverse; fascinating but hard for me to "believe". Again I dont know how that could be proven (or I dont understand the proofs) so Im hesitant to jump in agreement with a scientific theory I do not fully comprehend; after all that would not be very scientific; instead it would be treating science as a faith based religion which it is not.

    Gassho

    Risho
    -sattoday

  28. #28
    Quote Originally Posted by Risho View Post
    I have mixed feelings about this section. I get concerned when non-scientists use science (or their lay interpretation of it) to justify their belief system...
    I'll give my thoughts on this. Please bear in mind that I'm talking purely from a scientific, and not from a Buddhist or Zen perspective. I found the references to consciousness from this section particularly dubious.

    Starting on p 62:

    ... the experimental evidence is unambiguous: what we experience as reality does not become "real" until it is perceived. Consciousness is the agency that collapses the quantum wave into an object, which until then exists only in potential.
    First, let's take his claim that "the experimental evidence is unambiguous". This suggests there is near unanimity among the physics community on this, and that's simply not true. Some interpretations of quantum mechanics do not even involve wave function collapse, so to claim that the evidence is unambiguous doesn't hold. Second, the "consciousness collapses the wave function" interpretation is a particular interpretation called the Von Neumann-Wigner interpretation, which I don't think is popular nowadays (see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Von_Ne...interpretation and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wigner%27s_friend. Also see https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Obse...fect_(physics) for an alternative interpretation - paragraph 2 and the section "Quantum mechanics" are relevant).

    On p80
    quoting Freeman Dyson: "Matter in quantum mechanics is not an inert substance but an active agent, constantly making choices between alternative possibilities... It appears that mind, as manifested by the capacity to make choices, is to some extent inherent in every electron."

    In other words, what we perceive as randomness implies some degree of freedom, and freedom involves consciousness, even at the subatomic level. What does this suggest about "random" DNA mutations?
    Speaking as someone who cares about the science of psychology, this is nonsense. Most definitions of consciousness include a reference to 'awareness' and an apparent ability to make choices doesn't imply awareness of the choice making. Popular descriptions of experiments showing quantum weirdness quite often ask questions such as 'how did the electron decide which way to go?', or 'how did it know that there was some measuring apparatus down path A?', but to take this literally as saying that electrons make conscious decisions or have knowledge of the experimental setup is plain silly. From a psychologist's point of view, you cannot validly ascribe mental states or processes to inanimate matter such as electrons, water, or rocks. The idea that the choice making is only apparent is also relevant. For example, quite a few invertebrates such as leeches and nematodes have 'nociception' (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nociceptor) which means that they respond in particular ways to noxious stimuli. They might show an apparent choice to move away from the noxious stimuli, but this doesn't imply that they are making a mental choice, even less that they are aware of the noxious stimulus and then make a decision to move away from it.

    I won't comment on the biological studies David Loy referenced other than to say that the idea of 'purposive' or 'adaptive' evolution is hotly contested and to note that some of the studies he cites have been seized upon by religious groups as evidence of Intelligent Design.

    Overall, I got the feeling that the sources David Loy was using were writers who were more interested in bending scientific facts to fit their own ideological agenda than in any ideals of scientific objectivity. That's why I looked up Brian Swimme & Thomas Berry and Elisabet Sahtouris and found that they're writers who have an agenda of bringing together spirituality and science. To my eyes, there's quite a lot of bad science in this section.

    Jeremy
    SatToday

  29. #29
    Hi Jeremy,

    I also have some concerns about some of these statements going overboard and claiming too much. Some of it is a little fluffy perhaps. However, maybe I can offer a perspective on some of the points that makes them a little more acceptable.

    Most people these days (I am one) believe that the mind arises from the brain in some process we do not yet fully understand. The subjective mind, via the eyes, perceives light as photons reflected from a cluster of atoms of a certain structure outside the observer which, entering the eye and after being converted into electro-chemical energy, is then translated as an image of "beautiful green tree" in the brain. That is correct, but it is only one way to look at the process.,

    In Buddhism, the brain and subjective mind of the person who sees, the act of seeing, the photons and the object seen are part of a single feedback loop we sometimes call "mind". It is a single process that creates your subjective experience of self, as well as all images within you of a world in which you reside, and even turns a certain cluster of atoms into the concept of "beautiful green tree". There is no "beautiful green tree" in existence until our inner processing of light waves of a certain frequency bouncing off atoms of a certain configuration that are interpreted, labeled and simulated as the idea of "beautiful green tree" in the brain. There is something "out there" in all likelihood, but the idea and image "beautiful green tree" requires us to see it, interpret it , label it, color it, experience it.

    Likewise, "you" do not exist as "you" without a world in reflection, for a seer only exists when there is something to see. The self, your own self-definition of "you", only exists in reflection of the outside world in which it locates itself, and is in fact another subjective idea, interpretation and experience we call "self" in reflective contrast to all that we subjectively feel is "not myself". In other words, "Jeremy" needs an image of an outside world of trees and sandwiches in order to be the "Jeremy" experience which is dependent upon his identifying himself as located in, yet somehow separate from, the "not Jeremy" rest of the world.

    Right now I am eating a yellow cheese sandwich and it tastes good. There is no "taste" without my tongue (to create taste in its interactions with some otherwise tasteless configuration of chemicals), no "yellow" without my eyes and mind to create the color out of lightwaves of a certain frequency, and no "sandwich" without human hands to impose function on a certain structure of atoms otherwise lacking such function, thus in that sense no existence of a "delicious yellow cheese sandwich" in the universe absent a sentient human mind to interpret, label and experience some cluster of matter as "delicious yellow cheese sandwich." Likewise, there is no "me" without such a world of objects and images I have created, no "you" without a self-created world of "trees" and "sandwiches," and likewise, no "trees" and "sandwiches" without a self-created experience of "you" as the experiencer.

    One way to describe ourselves is thus as entities which bring taste, touch, image, feeling, name to a world otherwise barren of all that. We create all that in a universe where it does not seem to otherwise exist. (Much like a tv is just meaningless electrical pulses on a screen without our eyes and brains to give the dots meaning, and to identify objects in the patterns of dots, we bring meaning and objects into existence in the universe that are otherwise not present. There is no meaningful object, only a meaningless given pattern of dots, without us). Without us and other sentient beings, the universe cannot do that.

    And since (as we have previously discussed) we are the stuff of the universe looking at other stuff of the universe, we can be defined as points at which the universe creates meaning and experiences objects out of itself. We are a vital step in the universe turning star dust into both "trees" and "cheese sandwiches."

    It may or may not turn out that, in quantum mechanics, observation actually collapses the wave function and determines the constitution of the particle-wave realm in ways we do not yet understand. However, leaving that aside, I can say that the human mind very clearly makes beautiful trees and cheese sandwiches (and just about every other item and idea of this world without exception), i.e., all that exists above the mere fact of uninterpreted and unexperienced raw patterns of atoms, waves or particle themselves.

    Does a tree make a sound in the forest if nobody to hear it? No! There may be vibrations and sound waves, but no sound without an ear and hearer. Furthermore, no trees without an eye and seer. The world of noisy falling trees is created by us in a very tangible way.

    Is there anything in the foregoing that is contradicted by the perspectives of modern science in any way?

    Gassho, J

    SatTOday
    Last edited by Jundo; 04-14-2017 at 01:20 AM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  30. #30
    Jundo thank you! -- this is getting to the point of my questions that I will try to articulate; sometimes when I start questioning I lose the point; these are tricky topics But please bear with me as these are some core questions I have with Buddhist philosophy/thought. I've had these for quite some time, I just don't know how to ask them.

    So are you saying that there is no subjective experience without a subject to perceive it? I mean that makes sense to me, and that's how I understand it. "Beautiful" is a value judgment; green, beautiful, tall, short, etc are all relative comparisons to other things. Obviously without other stuff to compare it to, we could not make comparisons. Tall doesn't exist without short and so on.

    Even in our measurement systems, what is a gram, a pound, meter per second? It's all built on comparison; from that perspective everything is related.

    So I get that - I think that is pretty obvious. I think it's logical and experiential that none of us are separate, independent and/or unchanging entities too, i.e. the non-self. There is a self, but it's not this separate thing we think. So it's a self, but it's a "non" self which means that it's a slight tweak -- actually a radically different perspective from what we normally think of ourselves as human beings.

    The precepts all support this - In a way, maybe you could say that instead of behaving in ways that are traditionally self-centered (with a view on me, myself and I - separate from you and the world), we try to live in a way that is self-centered, with the understanding that this Zen self-centeredness is focused on the benefit to others. So we do not kill, but moreover we support life, etc. We take care of ourselves because that is taking care of others and vice versa.

    Now this is the kicker for me at least --> although that seems very logical and reasonable that I am not separate, I do not intuitively nor habitually behave that way. I do behave as if people are unchanging, static, separate, etc. I behave as if it is me vs. the world, that I have to "get" ahead. This limited idea of self is at the center of our dukkah.

    And at the same time, there are separate people and things - I mean forms is emptiness but emptiness is form. So there is (what we call a "tree") in the world; of course, "tree" is our invention to describe whatever a tree is, but we have to make these inventions so we can live in the world. At the same time, we don't really know what it is. It's very hard for me to not fall to one side or the other mentally, which is why this chapter raises a lot of questions.

    Further I think Zen practice (and obviously/ without saying this comes from a lay beginner) helps us to dissolve that limited perspective. By seeing our thoughts and not being controlled by them, by studying the dharma, dialogue with the sangha such as this, practicing the precepts, practicing gratitude (again practice itself) we begin to see how we are related and how we need to take care of each other - and we can learn to not be hooked or not reject our feelings of greed, anger and ignorance.

    Instead we can "shikantaza" those thoughts - we acknowledge they are there but we can learn to not be led around to take more positive action.

    Ok, with all that being said... the troubling part of this chapter, and with the bending of science to meet our belief systems is that we feel like we need to have science back us up so that it validates our practice.

    I would posit that from one perspective that makes sense; we want to make sure that our lives (and what we do) aligns with truth as opposed to superstitious nonsense.

    However, and this is where I take exception, beyond that, I think Zen practice is addressing something that science does not. So I really don't care if quantum physics aligns with the heart sutra. I think the Heart Sutra is addressing what it means to be a human being. I think practice addresses our subjective experience as human beings. I think it gives us this path to explore what it means to be alive and live in a meaningful way; something that science isn't really in the business of doing. It's not designed to do that.

    Anyway my clumsy way of expressing my thoughts.

    Gassho,

    Risho
    -will be sitting after work, but I had to get this out

  31. #31
    Wonderful response Jundo, thank you for that. =)

    Gassho
    Shingen

    s@today
    RINDO SHINGEN
    倫道 真現

  32. #32
    Hi Risho,

    Quote Originally Posted by Risho View Post

    So are you saying that there is no subjective experience without a subject to perceive it? I mean that makes sense to me, and that's how I understand it. "Beautiful" is a value judgment; green, beautiful, tall, short, etc are all relative comparisons to other things. Obviously without other stuff to compare it to, we could not make comparisons. Tall doesn't exist without short and so on.

    Even in our measurement systems, what is a gram, a pound, meter per second? It's all built on comparison; from that perspective everything is related.
    That is correct. But it is not just a "subjective experience" of these things. That "subjective experience" is their actual creation in a very real sense. Remove all sentient beings from the cosmos with our brains, tongues and eyes and our inner comparison making abilities and, insta-presto, all "trees" "sandwiches" "tall vs. short", grams, pounds and meters vanish instantly. POOF! GONE!

    Oh, don't misunderstand: Most certainly some matter in various configurations with certain properties remain, but without color, taste and everything else we bring to the show. And that "everything else" is something real that without us could not manifest and could be located no where. In fact, without us, the universe does become much like a theatre show with nobody to watch it (and in very many ways, with nobody to write it too because our brains create the images of scenery and story out of otherwise meaningless materials). Most people believe that the world still "would exist without us," that the "show would go on" even without us to see and act and interpret it all. They might think that it is really just the chemical and other physical properties that are the underlying reality, and our experience of them as ideas is just a derivative, superfluous, meta-phenomenon that is but an unnecessary subjective experience of the underlying reality of matter which would exist quite well without it. Yes, in some ways it likely would (and once did for billions of years before our appearance) roll on without us as the underlying chemical and physical structures of things. But all the rest of the "show" necessitates we, the sentient beings, to write much of the story with our creative interpretive brains, to act and to bring the show to life in our seeing. No "humans" and, perhaps carbon and other atoms and molecules yes, but no "trees" and no "cheese sandwiches."

    So I get that - I think that is pretty obvious. I think it's logical and experiential that none of us are separate, independent and/or unchanging entities too, i.e. the non-self. There is a self, but it's not this separate thing we think. So it's a self, but it's a "non" self which means that it's a slight tweak -- actually a radically different perspective from what we normally think of ourselves as human beings.

    The precepts all support this - In a way, maybe you could say that instead of behaving in ways that are traditionally self-centered (with a view on me, myself and I - separate from you and the world), we try to live in a way that is self-centered, with the understanding that this Zen self-centeredness is focused on the benefit to others. So we do not kill, but moreover we support life, etc. We take care of ourselves because that is taking care of others and vice versa.

    Now this is the kicker for me at least --> although that seems very logical and reasonable that I am not separate, I do not intuitively nor habitually behave that way.
    Frankly, I am not convinced that realizing we are "one with all things" and that (in one way of seeing) not separate from all the other sentient beings will therefore make us compassionate to them. It helps, and it can make us much less self-centered in many ways, but as soon as we return to our old way of living as separate beings, we will tend to return to our old habits and ways of treating other people. Sometimes folks like Thich Nhat Hanh imply that we can come to see and treat the whole world as "our children" or "our mother." Well, I believe that I treat my children or mother as "my children" and "my mother" because of hormonal and other chemical processes in my brain and body. (That does not mean that I do not love them with all my heart -- "Love" being another real something that needs sentient beings to bring into the universe. It just means that I do not believe that most human beings are biologically wired to love too outside their own group as much as within it). Perhaps, if someday we learn to expand the realm of fellow beings for whom we feel love and caring by expanding that chemical reaction more widely, we human being might actually come to treat others more as "my child" or "my mother." We can learn how to increase our tendencies within for altruism, to be giving, nurturing and concerned with others. I don't think that traditional Buddhist practices alone, including Zazen and the Precepts, are enough by themselves as a cure, although they certainly do much to treat the symptoms of our worst human tendencies toward selfishness and such.

    Ok, with all that being said... the troubling part of this chapter, and with the bending of science to meet our belief systems is that we feel like we need to have science back us up so that it validates our practice.
    I don't feel that what Loy or I are doing here is from a need to "back up" and prove aspects of Buddhist Practice and belief. In my view, science has a narrower focus centered on understanding the physical structures and processes of the universe. It is a bit like saying that, if I am a chef running a kitchen, I do not need science to confirm how I cook the pasta. Science might provide some helpful information on why the water boils, the chemical properties of a tomato, how much salt to use and why the body needs salt, etc. But the taste of the dish is up to the chef's creativity, the ingredients chosen for the sauce in the chef's experience (unlikely there is a practical equation for that, although science might help farmers raise better tomatoes by understanding the chemistry of delicious tomatoes and its relationship to the soil etc.), and the tongues of the customer. I know "delicious rigatoni" when I taste it, and I do not need science to tell me why. It is nice when science might add a viewpoint to explain why some sauces are more delicious than others, and how to raise better ingredients, but the proof is the tasting.

    It is simply that I do not wish to believe or advocate some view of the world that science indicates is likely false, superstitious, bunkum or the like. I do not want a religion that insists the earth is flat when it is simply not, or that babies are born walking and talking as fact.

    I will admit that there may be room for common ground. If Buddhists believe that "the small self, from a certain perspective is not separate and we are just a manifestation of the universe", and then physicists say the we, "from a certain perspective are not real and are just stardust, all fields of matter-energy" I think it very cool to share common ground.

    Gassho, J

    SatToday
    Last edited by Jundo; 04-14-2017 at 01:28 AM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  33. #33
    Great discussion. In these posts discussing Science, I have sensed the tendency of some to be referring to Science as something concrete, a belief system that is well defined, that is being compared to Buddhism and its doctrines. I feel that is mistaken. What we call "Science" is the investigation of the unknown, via forming a hypothesis, setting up a set of circumstances to test it, then deciding via mathematical statistics whether the hypothesis has been borne out. However, the result has to always be stated with a statistical "degree of confidence," which, said differently, is actually a degree of uncertainty. This practice has helped me view this process in the light of "don't know" rather than "we know this for certain." A hypothesis can be "proved" one day but then not really the next, for infinite reasons. That is in complete alignment with the "don't know," infinite nature of the Dharma. Science can only align with any belief system so much--it is by nature incomplete, a corner of a giant puzzle that we humans have miraculously somehow put together.
    Gassho
    Jakuden
    SatToday


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    清 道 寂田
    SEIDO JAKUDEN
    I am a novice priest. Any resemblance my posts may have to actual teachings about the Dharma, living or dead, is purely coincidental (and just my attempt to be helpful).

  34. #34
    thank you very very much Jundo; that was very helpful.

    Gassho

    Risho
    -sattoday

  35. #35
    Quote Originally Posted by Jakuden View Post
    Great discussion. In these posts discussing Science, I have sensed the tendency of some to be referring to Science as something concrete, a belief system that is well defined, that is being compared to Buddhism and its doctrines. I feel that is mistaken. What we call "Science" is the investigation of the unknown, via forming a hypothesis, setting up a set of circumstances to test it, then deciding via mathematical statistics whether the hypothesis has been borne out. However, the result has to always be stated with a statistical "degree of confidence," which, said differently, is actually a degree of uncertainty. This practice has helped me view this process in the light of "don't know" rather than "we know this for certain." A hypothesis can be "proved" one day but then not really the next, for infinite reasons. That is in complete alignment with the "don't know," infinite nature of the Dharma. Science can only align with any belief system so much--it is by nature incomplete, a corner of a giant puzzle that we humans have miraculously somehow put together.
    Gassho
    Jakuden
    SatToday


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    Jakuden,

    Your recent posts about science have been very concise and thought provoking. Thank you very much.

    Gassho

    Sat Today

  36. #36
    Member Hoseki's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2015
    Location
    St. John's Newfoundland, Canada.
    Hi folks,

    I don't have much to add at this point but I wanted to say I'm finding the discussion thought provoking.

    Gassho

    Hoseki
    Sattoday

  37. #37
    Hi all

    I found this section interesting but not a huge challenge since it is pretty much the viewpoint I hold as a scientist who worked within the paradigm of self-organisation in biological science and evolution. However, it is just what I see as the current best model for explaining how the universe works and may be replaced by something better at some point.

    The most interesting thing for me about the study of evolution is that self-interest has been demonstrated to be best served through altruism. Not unlimited altruism, though, but assuming goodwill at first and only stopping to give to people once they have proved to be only self-serving. Being altruistic is good, being a doormat not so much.

    As HH Dalai Lama says "If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy yourself, practice compassion."

    I am not sure that Buddhism needs a creation story. It is sufficient that things exist and we have to interact with them.

    The overlap between physics and Buddhist ideas of interconnection is also interesting but I would not care if physics did not show the same thing. Experience from meditative experience is enough for me. Science is good at what science does but while it can say what the brain is composed of, it cannot tell us what it is like to be human. Even though we know which hormones are produced when we are in love, they give no idea of how it feels.

    Zazen allows us to feel what it is like to be human. Some people such as Krishnamurti have criticised it for exactly that as it is always subjective, but that is not the case if zazen is the experience of the universe observing itself.

    Anyway, words.

    Gassho
    Kokuu
    -sattoday-
    ------------------------------------
    Feel free to message me if you wish to talk about issues around practicing with physical limitations. This is something I have been sitting with for a fair while and am happy to help with suggestions or just offer a listening ear.

  38. #38
    Quote Originally Posted by Byrne View Post
    Jakuden,

    Your recent posts about science have been very concise and thought provoking. Thank you very much.

    Gassho

    Sat Today
    Quote Originally Posted by Kokuu View Post
    Hi all

    I found this section interesting but not a huge challenge since it is pretty much the viewpoint I hold as a scientist who worked within the paradigm of self-organisation in biological science and evolution. However, it is just what I see as the current best model for explaining how the universe works and may be replaced by something better at some point.

    The most interesting thing for me about the study of evolution is that self-interest has been demonstrated to be best served through altruism. Not unlimited altruism, though, but assuming goodwill at first and only stopping to give to people once they have proved to be only self-serving. Being altruistic is good, being a doormat not so much.

    As HH Dalai Lama says "If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy yourself, practice compassion."

    I am not sure that Buddhism needs a creation story. It is sufficient that things exist and we have to interact with them.

    The overlap between physics and Buddhist ideas of interconnection is also interesting but I would not care if physics did not show the same thing. Experience from meditative experience is enough for me. Science is good at what science does but while it can say what the brain is composed of, it cannot tell us what it is like to be human. Even though we know which hormones are produced when we are in love, they give no idea of how it feels.

    Zazen allows us to feel what it is like to be human. Some people such as Krishnamurti have criticised it for exactly that as it is always subjective, but that is not the case if zazen is the experience of the universe observing itself.

    Anyway, words.

    Gassho
    Kokuu
    -sattoday-


    Gassho,
    Jakuden
    SatToday
    清 道 寂田
    SEIDO JAKUDEN
    I am a novice priest. Any resemblance my posts may have to actual teachings about the Dharma, living or dead, is purely coincidental (and just my attempt to be helpful).

  39. #39
    Quote Originally Posted by Jakuden View Post
    Great discussion. In these posts discussing Science, I have sensed the tendency of some to be referring to Science as something concrete, a belief system that is well defined, that is being compared to Buddhism and its doctrines. I feel that is mistaken. What we call "Science" is the investigation of the unknown, via forming a hypothesis, setting up a set of circumstances to test it, then deciding via mathematical statistics whether the hypothesis has been borne out. However, the result has to always be stated with a statistical "degree of confidence," which, said differently, is actually a degree of uncertainty. This practice has helped me view this process in the light of "don't know" rather than "we know this for certain." A hypothesis can be "proved" one day but then not really the next, for infinite reasons. That is in complete alignment with the "don't know," infinite nature of the Dharma. Science can only align with any belief system so much--it is by nature incomplete, a corner of a giant puzzle that we humans have miraculously somehow put together.
    Gassho
    Jakuden
    SatToday


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    Yes. Thank you.

    Doshin
    Sattoday

  40. #40
    I just read through this section of the book again to remind myself of the line of argument:

    David Loy argues that we need a new creation story, on the grounds that he doesn’t like the 'disenchantment of the world' (his description sounds a lot like Max Weber's idea by that name) and he holds the current neo-Darwinian story partly to blame. In order to 're-enchant' the world, as it were, he goes on to borrow an argument that neo-Darwinism and science as a whole is being replaced by a whole new paradigm about cosmic creativity and self-organisation. Some would call this a 'post-materialistic science'. Time will tell if this is true. On the way, he also tells us that subatomic particles make conscious choices, following up by implying that DNA mutations are conscious as well. No doubt he got those ideas from the same sources who claim there's a new paradigm in town. In my view, the argument doesn't work, not only because there's more than a hint of 'woo' in his conscious subatomic particles, but because the whole project of trying to inject spirituality into science is misguided.

    What's really interesting, however, is how David's argument in the next section of the book reveals that he didn't need to make this argument to find the meaning and purpose that he's looking for. In the next section he makes a more Buddhist argument to the effect that because we are part of the universe and we make meaning, it follows that the universe makes meaning. Curiously, this is a very Darwinian kind of argument, because a major part of Darwin's genius is that he found a way to account for the development of complexity and purpose in life without the need for an external guiding hand in the form of God or an intelligent designer.

    Jeremy
    SatToady
    Last edited by Jeremy; 04-14-2017 at 09:13 PM.

  41. #41
    As a (soft) social scientist, I feel like people are talking about the same stuff with different terms from different perspectives, whereas Loy the philosopher blends perspectives as part of the structure of his ongoing argument. It's an interesting read, both here and there, and I really appreciate all the background material here that Loy leaves out and/or possibly misunderstands, but I trust Loy knows what he is doing.
    AL (Jigen) in:
    Faith/Trust
    Courage/Love
    Awareness/Action!

    I sat today

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