Saturday, December 18, 2010

Mind and life

Flipping through the "next blog" this evening, about 8 of the 10 I saw were hard-core Christian blogs. I find this frightening, and I'm a Christian. Not hard-core, though. Some were actually spewing about all the evil things happening in our world today. Like, preaching, fire-and-brimstone stuff. Wow. The people who talk like this are the ones who make war in the name of their god.

I am reading the Wu Li book and the Dalai Lama's book side by side, and certain utterances in one book eerily echo the other. Let's see if I can find an example that struck me.

Here is a quote from physicist (I assume) Henry Stapp: "If the attitude of quantum mechanics is correct ... then there is not substantive physical world, in the usual sense of this term. The conclusion here is not the weak conclusion that there may not be a substantive physical world but rather that there definitely is not a substantive physical world."

So far, so good.

Now, the Dalai Lama: "Buddhist analysis of reality concurs with the conclusions of quantum physics, according to which particles of matter are real while still being devoid of ultimate solidity. Similarly, in Buddhism the phenomena that exist in interdependence are empty of intrinsic, autonomous existence."

So what does this mean for you and me? It seems to imply strongly that the everyday tangles we get so caught up in are not just unimportant; they are quite likely nonexistent. The products of overactive imaginations.

The absence of absolute physical reality reminds me, in a way, of the book of Ecclesiastes, where the writer laments a life spent striving after wisdom and ultimate meaning that has yet to be discovered. "Vanity! All is vanity!" The writer says, then concludes we should go about our days working and deriving satisfaction from that.

I sense the writer of Ecclesiastes is still not satisfied, and I also finish reading with an unanswered longing. There is a joyfulness that is also needed. Joy, and a curious mind that tries to empty itself of preconceptions, continuously experiencing the world as a new and glorious creation (which it is).

I discovered another Mind and Life series on quantum physics, which has been of great interest to His Holiness. These periodic gatherings are attended by Buddhists and scientists in a collaborative effort to learn and enrich the practice of each side by carefully studying the other. Indeed, science seems to need a dimension of spirituality and ethics at this point if it is to continue to progress. I almost think the deeply spiritual practitioners are way ahead of the scientists, though they cannot express everything they have discovered, nor prove it. But can the scientists really prove their discoveries? It's all dependent on human observation. Nothing has been recorded in human history absent a human being recording it, based on his or her own observation. So all the seeming objectivity of scientific pursuit is a nice mirage.

I'm not siding with the creationists or the willfully ignorant who seem to be so afraid to use their minds. Lord, no!  But I'm saying nothing is black and white. Everything remains open to debate. Great minds cherish the opportunity to question everything!

By the way, Carol's latest post title -- "Endless Shock and Awe" about the way Christmas just sneaks up every year -- reminded me of a comic Dwaine showed me today. I didn't get it, he had to explain it to me. There are a bunch of people running around, arms up, hollering and screaming like it's the end of the world or something. In the midst, a long-haired hermit is walking around, waving a sign saying, "Calm down. Things will work out." But what threw me, I swear, was the description. It said "Modern-day iconoclast" and I got all hung up on that.

That running-around-crazy feeling is the feeling I have every Christmas season, as well! I have discovered that part of the reason is because it's my month to renew my CPA license, since it's my birthday month. And every year, I receive the renewal form from the state board and it's always a big surprise -- I need more CPE (continuing education)! Last year, I had to take 4 hours of ethics, so that I could become a more ethical person. So I found myself, a couple of weeks before Christmas, cramming my way through an online class so I could still be a CPA.

This year, I outdid myself. Although I already took 42 hours of CPE, it turns out I need a whopping 38 more hours. Holy crap!!! That was my reaction, when it finally sank in that the number 38 had meaning, and wasn't just a big ole typo. I won't bore you with the details, except to say I apparently shorted myself the prior two years and have to pay for it now.

So guess what I am going to be doing on my days off next week? Luckily, I am very good at cramming and taking tests with only days to spare. I have some experience in this area. Still, the unreal, insubstantial person that is Julie was very upset about this seemingly real problem when it happened. Luckily, she was soon able to brush it off with the existential knowledge that this whole life is nothing but a figment of our imagination.

Did I post this picture yet? I thought it was such a gorgeous picture that I've got a 5x7 of it hanging in my office. I have this big wall and have to put something interesting up there. My diploma's next.

It wasn't this exact photo; the other was more centered. Anyhow, this one gets the basic idea across. This was on a bridge overlooking the River Walk on my dad's birthday.

1 comment:

  1. Wow, Julie, seems like you are going to be quite busy - or are you, in reality?

    Love the reference to Ecclesiastes.


Search This Blog