Thursday, January 22, 2009

Form is Emptiness

Buddha once said that "form is emptiness". As an illustration, let's write down some simple equations.

0

1-1 = 0

(3*2-6)/(4.15/(0.3+8.85)) = 0

...I could go on and on and with infinite amount of time produce an equation of infinite complexity, which would still be equal to 0, nothing, emptiness.

And if the whole is nothing, can any part of it become something?

The Universe very nicely balances itself out into nothingness. The hints are openly available, like one of the Newton's laws (the force of action is always equal to the force of reaction - to balance the equation).

An interesting question is why it did not stop at the first, perfect 0, where there was only emptiness and no form?

Buddha also said that "emptiness is form". There is really no such thing as emptiness, so what am I talking about?

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Winners and Losers

A loser is somebody who does not have a clear opinion of what victory is. Because of that wishy-washy thinking, no matter how things go, the victory will never be definitive. Loser knows that his victories will always be spoiled by a "but...", and this knowing kills most of the motivation necessary to win.

In a way, only dumb people can be 100% winners, because only dumb people don't understand that every situation always has two sides. You win something, you lose something. Primitive or single-minded people see their lifes as black and white, so their wins are always just wins, and their losses are just losses. As a result, they don't fight with themselves as much as losers do, so achieving a "victory" is easier for them - at least when it does not involve much of thinking or moral judgement.

As an example, here is why loser has all chances to lose in a serios fistfight, even when the fighting skills of both sides are equal:

  • He knows that he may be hurt badly during fight, so even if he wins, it is still a loss (potential health problems, socially unacceptable bruises, pain and problems with the law - especially if the opponent is hurt).
  • He knows that the opponent is probably just an idiot who cannot see the consequences of his acts - so there is no fun in punishing that guy - what's the point?
  • Several forces are struggling in his head - ego, fear, reason, testosteron... No matter how things go, some of these forces are bound to be defeated. There is no clear victory to look forward to. This internal conflict makes him hesitate and, if the fight (or, usually, pre-fight exchange of threats) goes for too long, it will psychologically wear him out. That's why most of fights, even between animals, are finished before they start - one opponent sees that he has no guts to go all the way to the possible end, so he quits.
  • He is not a hero, his self-preservation instinct is strong - he is a loser, after all, so his priorities are geared more towards survival, not winning.
  • He is not used to conflict situations as much as the other guy, he does not know how to communicate, and his verbal threats sound lame. He is ashamed of that, and it evaporates the last drop of motivation left in him.

In contrast, the "winner" guy is not built in such complex way. For him, the goal is crystal clear and the promise of victory has a definitely sweet taste. He only has to fight with the opponent, not with himself - that is much easier. So, soon enough he enjoys his ego-inflating victory, blissfully unaware of all not-so-good "side effects" that were brought with it into his life in a long run.

Yes, what about the "long run"? Loser eventually finds his own victories in situations where there is no human opponent in sight (be it collecting Star Wars figures or hacking a bank). He learns how to live with a shame of loss and realizes that it is not the end of the world. So, he adapts - but maybe by doing that he forfeits his chance to reach for the stars...

Winner, on another hand, has several dangers waiting for him: he may get seriously addicted to the win/lose game, and eventually encounters an even stronger guy who splits his spirit in half and plants fear into him. Or he may start treating every life situation as a battle, and ruins his relationships with close people, or just wastes all of his energy by trying to break through an unbreakable wall. He may also run out of challenges - if there is nothing left that is worth winning, but you still need your dose of whatever narcotic that victory produces in your brain, what do you do?

Well, you might ask, what is the right strategy then? It goes beyound winning and losing. First, it comes to single-mindfullness, "taming the ox" in Zen words, and mastering the forces that act in your head. Then, to stop being a loser, you need to let go of an attachment to winning as well - just outgrow this whole game altogether. After all, winning and losing, unlike survival, are just illusionary concepts that exist only in our minds. There is no victory or loss to speak about, if you don't believe in social rules that draw a division between them.

Friday, September 12, 2008

A Little Something about the Meaning of Life

Here is an interesting idea to chew upon: God created the world but he could not understand his own creation. You know, kind of like when you struggle to solve a puzzle and then all of a sudden it is solved and you do not know what was that you did to solve it.

So, after creating the world and not understanding how it works, God decided to create us, so that we live in this world and learn about it from the inside, and God can discover it through our eyes and our experiences.

This is similar to what is called "evolutionary algorithms" in programming - algorithms that are created to find a best solution among all possible alternatives. It is also a viable possibility that our world was created to find a solution to some very complex problem, but, as I said before, it is possible that we were injected into it to act as God's agents and discover for him the principles that his creation is built upon.

Whatever that divine plan is, it's not really that important. The best thing you can do in given circumstances is enjoy the ride and live your life while you can. Every experience counts!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Of Structured and Unstructured

There are all kinds of structures present all the time. Each structure considers itself good and other structures bad or evil, simply because they are different from it. "Different" and "bad" are in a way synonymous - the only distinction is whether "other" structures are tolerated or not.

It is a natural tendency of all lasting structures to retain their form. All structures that cannot retain their form disappear soon after forming. This is just a natural law of evolution which is nothing but a game of big numbers. By "form" I mean not just a physical shape, but anything that can be thought of in terms of being different from something else. For example, 1 is a form that is different from 2.

And then there is chaos, which is a true source of everything. Chaos is that invisible force of life that animates. Without it the world would become just a frozen collection of empty forms, structures that never changes. Chaos is the blessing of our univerce, it is the only thing that makes it alive, moving and interesting. Naturally, structures hate chaos because it is the same very force that will eventually kill them against their tendency to retain their form at all costs.

What's interesting is that, being the source of life, at the same time chaos is something that by itself does not exist. It is an absence of existence. It is nothing that will make everything around you (including your own form) become nothing as well. But that is exactly what gives a chance for new things to appear and take their place, thus propelling the life forward.

Hindus call this chaos thing "Shiva", the destroyer and creator of the Universe. What many people don't understand though, is that Shiva is working non-stop, destroying and creating our world as you read this post.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Life is a mind-blowing example of how a person can get used even to a miracle.

What we all experience at this very moment is nothing less than a miracle: now. "Now" is an extremely rare thing - you can't find it anywhere else through billions and billions of years of the past or the future. Mathematically speaking, probablity of being part of now is about zero. It's like a lottery where you need to guess a million of numbers.

And yet, we all are the lucky winners. We stand right on this tiny edge, the only living place in the vast valley of death that is the past and the future.

We won't be able to ride this wave for long.

And yet, all we do with it is just getting bored.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

You think that you are someone else.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Define "real"

Reality is a totally human notion. Outside of our minds there is nothing that is either "real" or "not real". Something becomes real or not only because we care to make such a distinction using some rules that change with every generation. If you remove a person who makes the judgment, the characteristic of reality disappears and all forms become perfectly equal to nothingness.

In a way, "realness" and "importance" are very similar notions. "Important" things are what is important to us on emotional and moral levels. "Real" things are important in the similar way, but on a conceptual and less conscious level because they form a basis on which our model of the world is built. Without "real" things the model falls apart and our self-identity dies with it.

But if you admit a possibility that your self-identity might be just an artificial creation of your own mind, you can see that without that identity it does not really matter whether anything is real or not. And if it does not matter, the whole notion of reality falls apart.

Is soul real or not? For Christians it is, just as our sins. For scientists it is not because it cannot be detected in a physical experiment. For me, it is outside of the real/unreal scale. "Reality", "soul" and "scientific experiment" - all these things fall into exactly the same bucket.

In the end, everything that we know about comes to us as a set of perceptions. Whatever happens next, whatever you think of next, is just a new set of perceptions. It's like a dream or a movie - if you knew that what you see is a dream and lacks "reality", would you care so much about what scene you see next? Now what if there is no such thing as "reality"? Just stop worrying about the next scene and enjoy the movie as it unfolds!
© Andrei Palskoi 2004-2008. All rights reserved.