Rediscovering Identity

Physics Discussion Continues
June, ’80

“So tell me,” said Don, “Like what exactly has changed?”

“Like we can’t think of the universe as just a collection of objects
anymore,” Jade responded. “Rather, it’s more like a complicated web of
relations. Some physicists even go as far as to say that it is a
complicated web of relations between the various parts of a unified
whole. And that is what Dave meant when he said that Eastern mystics
were there first. In fact, Capra is saying the same thing. According
to him, even the language used by physicists and the language used by
mystics is starting to sound the same. Nagarjuna, a second
century Buddhist, preached that things were nothing in themselves;
instead, they derived their being from a mutual dependence with other
things. A particle physicist might say the very same thing about the
results of a cloud chamber experiment that records the trajectories of
colliding particles. Under certain conditions, an elementary particle
is no more than a set of relationships that reach outward to other
things. The world, on that level, is no more than a complicated tissue
of events that determines the texture of the whole.”

“Big deal,” snapped Don. “So what the hell is all that supposed to
mean? Physicists still do physics don’t they? They still make killer
weapons don’t they, weapons that when sold, produce mega bucks for the
seller. Who cares where destruction comes from? It’s still
destruction. Right!”

“Wait a minute.” I interrupted. “We need to start over, I know what
you’re getting at Don, and I totally agree. And I know Jade does too.
That’s why I said that it takes time, lots of it, for the implications
of new concepts to be fully digested. Maybe a hundred years for all I
know, but digested they will be, and when that takes place the world will
be better off. That’s all I’m trying to say. What is happening in
physics today is a far cry from what happened in the past, and its
telling us new and exciting things about the universe, and maybe even
about ourselves! This new vision does not exclude, it includes, and
therein hope lies. When humanity is brought into the mix with
everything else, a whole new ballgame arises; the center of balance
shifts, possibilities open, even if, in the short run, the rules
remain the same. If you ask me, humanity will be in for immense
benefits if this new vision catches on. Think about it. What’s
happening in science today is the rediscovery of our lost identity,
and that can’t be all bad.”

“How many beers are left?” said Don.

“What?”

“If we’re gunna start over,” Don replied, “and if you’re gunna get
metaphysical on me, I need to know just how patient I want to be. So
how many beers patient will I be?”

“Well,” Jade said after looking into the twelve pack, and handing
everyone another beer, “I’d say about two or three, depending of
course on how patient you want to be!”

“That sounds about right,” Don said. “Educate me. I’m ready now.”

“Jade, you’re the science teacher. You start,” I said.

“You don’t need me,” came the response, “you need Neil’s Bohr or
Warner Heisenberg.”

“That sounds good,” I said. “Start with those guys. Think of it as
practice. After all, in the classroom you won’t have such a patient
audience. We won’t heckle. Go for it.”

Advertisements

About bwinwnbwi

About me: Marvin Gaye’s song, "What’s Going On" was playing on the jukebox when I went up to the counter and bought another cup of coffee. When I got back, the painting on the wall next to where I was sitting jumped out at me, the same way it had done many times before. On it was written a diatribe on creativity. It was the quote at the bottom, though, that brought me back to this seat time after time. The quote had to do with infinity; it went something like this: Think of yourself as being in that place where infinity comes together in a point; where the infinite past and the infinite future meet, where you are at right now. The quote was attributed to Hermann Hesse, but I didn’t remember reading it in any of the books that I had read by him, so I went out and bought Hesse’s last novel, Magister Ludi. I haven’t found the quote yet, but I haven't tired of looking for it either.
This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Rediscovering Identity

  1. Mèo Lười Việt says:

    ,…things were nothing in themselves; instead, they derived their being from a mutual dependence with other things… Under certain conditions, an elementary particle
    is no more than a set of relationships that reach outward to other
    things. The world, on that level, is no more than a complicated tissue
    of events that determines the texture of the whole.”

    I think so too. People need to be loved and cared about. It’s so hard t live in solitude for so long.

  2. And of course in lab research the researcher is part of the whole and changing the relationships. All complicated, all wondrous.

  3. bwinwnbwi says:

    Nagarjuna, a second century Buddhist, preached that things were nothing in themselves;
    instead, they derived their being from a mutual dependence with other things. Which questions are deemed important? Which categories are used to slice and dice reality into questions? In Asian philosophy questions/categories seem to be at the heart of the matter.

    [According to standard Buddhist doctrine, the subtlest, deepest, and most dangerous false view held by humans is the belief in a permanent, independent self. Our sense of “self” derives from “misreading” the causes and conditions of experience….. Nagarajuna recognized that at bottom drishti hinged on the notions of “identity” and “difference.” Identity was simply another name for “difference,” another name for self-essence…..Nagarajuna constructed a methodology for ferreting out drishti such that the middle way between identity and difference might be realized. “Empty” signifies what occurs through causes and conditions and is therefore devoid of self-essence. Everything, when seen properly, is devoid of self-essence, and thus “empty.” It is the self-essence that is unreal, not the flux of conditions.] Great Thinkers Of The Eastern World, p. 184-85

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s